Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Holy And Pure

[Hebrews] 7:26 - There are two Greek words used for 'holy' in the New Testament -- hagios and hosios (hosios is used in this passage). The word most commonly used is hagios (corresponding to the Hebrew word kadosh). This, when applied to God, designates him as holy, knowing good and evil perfectly, and absolutely willing good and no evil. When applied to men, it designates them as separated, set apart to God from evil and from common use. The corresponding verb is commonly translated 'to sanctify;' and the word when used as a substantive is the ordinary word for 'saints.' The word hosios, on the other hand, conveys the thought of pious, that which is not profane. It speaks of God in mercy and grace, and of Christ, in whom all gracious qualities are concentrated, as well as perfect piety. It corresponds to the Hebrew chesed, of which the plural (chasadim) is the word translated 'mercies' or 'sure mercies' in the Old Testament. When applied to men, it is in general the sum of qualities which suit and form the divine character in man, as opposed to the human will. It refers to the exercise of gracious suitable affections in the relationships in which we are to God, and (e.g.) to parents. Hence, as suitable affections to God practically constitute holiness, the word is used in this sense for holy. The two Hebrew words are used side by side in Ps. 89.18,19, 'The Holy One (kadosh) of Israel is our king. ... Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One (Chasid).' The beginning of the Psalm speaks of the mercies or gracious ways (chasadim) of the Lord. (See, for hosios, Acts 2.27; 13.34, 35; 1 Tim. 2.8; Tit. 1.8; Rev. 15.4; 16.5.)

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on Hebrews 7:26


  1. It’s Sean: Interesting article on Hebrew vocabulary. The words surely must be different in meaning since they exist separately, but how? This tries to differentiate the two, not completely unsuccessfully, but yet I feel the reader comes out confused, because of the seeming overlap in meaning of the two definitions. Isn’t something that constitutes what would be characterized as divine, necessarily be separated from the world and it’s temptions?

  2. Sean,

    The Greek words and their Hebrew counterparts have related shades of meaning that are determined by the way they are used in context. By that, it is meant that the difference lies in how they are applied or to whom.