What is the meaning of holiness and sanctification in the book of Hebrews?

Sanctification has many definitions. Being made holy is not the same thing as being made Christ-like. Holiness is the condition of being set aside for the service and worship of God. In Mat. 23:17, gold was made sacred (was sanctified) by the temple. Leviticus 27:28-33 shows that everything dedicated to the Lord is holy, whether it is good or bad. Holy is ‘set apart for God’ and most holy is ‘being set apart for God and never having been used for any other purpose’.

1 Corinthians 1:2 has the Corinthian believers having been sanctified, but they still were not like Christ. 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 indicates the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife. Sanctify can not mean saved, because in this case, sanctification is done to the lost. The author says in verse 16 that the unsaved-but-sanctified person may be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says that God chose people to be saved through sanctification – again, this speaks of a pre-salvation sanctification. In discussing sanctification, one usually thinks it is when the believer is made more Christ-like. But John 17:12-19 teaches that Christ sanctified Himself for our sakes. Exodus 31:13 teaches that God sanctifies the Israelites by living in camp, but they were not becoming like Christ. In Leviticus 20:7-8, God sanctifies the people. The presence of God in the camp sanctifies them, sets them apart for the service and worship of God, but does not make them like Christ.

Hebrews 1:14 speaks of inheriting, which in turn implies the familial relationship that must be present for one to be an heir and inherit salvation in the future. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to pursue sanctification. Hebrews 10:10 speaks of both the completed and the ongoing effects of sanctification and the ongoing process of sanctification. Hebrews 2:10-11 says we are the sons of God and brothers of Christ. The one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family, so Jesus is not afraid to call them brothers. This is the process of relational sanctification.  Where the brothers of Christ are is where the camp is. So an unsaved person can be sanctified by being where the camp is, the community of believers now called the church. This may or may not lead to salvation. One who remains in the community of Messiah with God’s sanctifying presence will get the blessings. If you are not saved, you can lose sanctification because you rebel or abandon those who are sanctified. Hebrews 2:11 teaches that it is the ongoing process of sanctification that will bring blessings. People should stay where Jesus is. Hebrews 3:13 teaches we need to encourage one another daily. Hebrews 6:3 teaches that pressing on to maturity is not automatic because one is sanctified. It is something God allows. God prepares us to learn and mature. In Hebrews, sanctification is being in the community of Messiah, which God can use to bring about salvation.


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4 Responses

  1. Also there is sanctification that is positional and that which is ongoing. In Hebrews its is ongoing. Heb.12:14, here translated “holiness” ESV.
    Fr. R.

  2. [...] What is the meaning of holiness and sanctification in the book of Hebrews? [...]

  3. The message is powerful and highly needed in the church of God today.

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