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Words from the Greek New Testament

Hagios: Holy, Separate or Different

Hagios: Holy, Separate or Different

In recent times we’ve been hearing again and again from church leaders (or maybe it’s just been those with a platform to speak) about the need for Relevancy. We’ve been told repeatedly that the church must be relevant to the world of today and tomorrow. Well, that’s understandable, after all, who wants to be irrelevant? And besides, relevancy is actually not a bad thing; in fact the message of the Cross is the most relevant message of all time and eternity. It’s more important, more relevant and more up to the minute than the nightly news or any media blog.

So if the reality is that Christ’s message is inherently relevant and doesn’t need any tampering or adjustment, is it really relevancy everyone’s worried about? Or is the cry for relevancy really just a cover for the age old desire to fit it with the world? Namely, the Cool Factor. I may be a Christian, but I’m way-cool!

No, the problem for the church and believers has never been lack of relevancy. The danger which has faced every believer in every age is not in being irrelevant to the world, but of becoming indistinguishable from the world. The Bible, that most relevant of all documents, uses a particular Greek word, Hagios. Hagios usually gets translated as Holy in our English New Testaments.

The central idea behind Hagios is that of being different or separate from other people and things. So when Peter says,

“but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” 1Peter 1: 15 (NKJV)

he’s talking about a distinct and deliberate act of differentiating ourselves from the world, by becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. The Christian is called to be separated, and to be set apart from the world. We’re different in every crucial respect, so don’t be surprised:

“When they think it strange that you don’t run with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” 1 Peter 4:4

A Christian is not supposed to be like the world; that’s the point. Peter is quoting the Father when he says in 1 Peter verse 16:

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.


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