‘Be ye holy, as I am holy…’

The Apostle Peter quotes from the ‘old’ testament when he says, ‘Be ye holy, as I am holy.’  What does this really mean?  What does the ‘church’ tell us it means, versus what Scripture tells us it means?

We’ll look at the context of Peter’s quote in a minute, first, we must understand what the word ‘holy’ means.  The Greek gives us part of the picture, but the concept is rooted in the Hebrew.

From Strong’s Concordance, the Greek is:

G40  :  ἅγιος  : hagios  :  hag’-ee-os
From ἅγος hagos (an awful thing) compare G53, [H2282]; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): – (most) holy (one, thing), saint.

From Brown-Driver-Briggs, the Hebrew is:

H6918  :  קדשׁ  /  קדושׁ  :  qâdôsh
BDB Definition:
1) sacred, holy, Holy One, saint, set apart

Neither really spells out what ‘holy’ means…  How about we look at the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon:

Strongs #6918: AHLB#: 2700 (c)

2700) Sdq% (Sdq% QDSh) ac: Set apart co: Prostitute ab: Special: Set apart from the rest for a special function. [from: dh – separating and joining to something]
V) Sdq% (Sdq% Q-DSh) – Set apart: To set someone or something apart for a special purpose. [freq. 172] (vf: Paal, Niphal, Hiphil, Hitpael, Pual, Piel) |kjv: sanctify, hallow, dedicate, holy, prepare, consecrate, appoint, bid, purify| {str: 6942}
Nm) Sdq% (Sdq% Q-DSh) – Prostitute: A male prostitute set aside for a special purpose. [freq. 6] |kjv: sodomite, unclean| {str: 6945}
Nf1) Esdq% (Esdq% QD-ShH) – Prostitute: A female prostitute set aside for a special purpose. [freq. 5] |kjv: harlot, whore| {str: 6948}
bm) Sidq% (Sidq% Q-DYSh) – Special: One who is set apart as special. [Aramaic only] [freq. 13] |kjv: saint, holy| {str: 6922}
cm) Sfdq% (Sfdq% Q-DWSh) – Special: One who is set apart as special.  [freq. 116] |kjv: holy, saint| {str: 6918}
gm) Sdfq% (Sdfq% QW-DSh) – Set apart: Someone or something that has been separated from the rest for a special purpose.  [freq. 468] |kjv: holy, sanctuary, hallowed, holiness, dedicated, consecrated| {str: 6944}
hm) Sdqm% (Sdqm% MQ-DSh) – Sanctuary: A place set apart for a special purpose. [freq. 74] |kjv: sanctuary, holy place, chapel, hallowed| {str: 4720}

While some of the characters and Hebrew letters do not ‘cut-n-paste’ well, we can see the essence of the word highlighted:  ‘set apart.’

Those who belong to the Father are to be ‘set apart.’

He says, ‘Be ye set apart, for I am set apart.’

But, what does that look like?

To understand, we need to look at the context from which Peter gets this quote.

‘Now every swarming thing that swarms on the earth is detestable, not to be eaten. 42 Whatever crawls on its belly, and whatever walks on all fours, whatever has many feet, in respect to every swarming thing that swarms on the earth, you shall not eat them, for they are detestable. 43 Do not render [a]yourselves detestable through any of the swarming things that swarm; and you shall not make yourselves unclean with them so that you become unclean. 44 For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

46 This is the law regarding the animal and the bird, and every living thing that moves in the waters and everything that swarms on the earth, 47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten.

Have you ever noticed that?  Yahweh tells the children of Israel that one of the things that specifically sets them apart, that makes them ‘holy’ is what they do and don’t eat!  In fact, the phrase ‘be ye holy, for I am holy,’ appears twice, and only here in the entire ‘old’ testament.  It is bookended with clear dietary instruction such that that we have to willfully ignore the connection.

There are other places we are told to do something that sets us apart.  Exodus 31:13 (CJB) says,

“Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘You are to observe my Shabbats; for this is a sign between me and you through all your generations; so that you will know that I am Adonai, who sets you apart for me.

Most translations say, ‘I am the Lord who sanctifies you.’  One version I do not have a link to is The Scriptures 1998+.  It says (copied from e-sword 10.2),

(The Scriptures 1998+)  “And you, speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘My Sabbaths you are to guard, by all means, for it is a sign1 between Me and you throughout your generations, to know that I, יהוה, am setting you apart. Footnote: 1The only sign of יהוה setting us apart, the only sign of the everlasting covenant, is His Sabbaths, one of them being the seventh day Sabbath. This is repeated in Ezek. 20:12 & 20.

The ‘sign’ is reiterated a couple verses later in Exodus 31:16-17,

16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to [a]celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

So we see that the outward act of maintaining a certain diet and worshiping on a certain day ‘set a person apart.’  Are there more instances in Scripture?

37 The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying, 38 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. 39 It shall be a tassel for you [a]to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not [b]follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.”  Numbers 15:37-41

The tassels appear to do two things:  They remind and they ‘set apart.’  Hmmm.

There is still one more connected to this discussion.

These are the designated times of Adonai, the holy convocations you are to proclaim at their designated times.

Unlike the first two examples, where the keeping of that commandment is specifically declared to ‘set a person apart,’ or the third that has strong implication, this fourth is self evident.  Ten times, not three or four, but TEN TIMES in Leviticus 23 we are told that Yahweh’s appointed Feast days, HIS set times, are to be ‘holy convocations’ or ‘set apart meetings.’

Basically, celebrating a completely different holiday (holy day) schedule sets one apart from the world and sets one apart unto Yahweh.

[An aside that we will not explore, but worth pondering:  It is a very curious thing that the church would teach us that the very things Yahweh said would ‘set us apart,’ the things that ‘sanctify us,’ are the very things they unilaterally proclaim to be done away with.  Think about that!!]

Now that we understand what Yahweh defines as being ‘set apart,’ or being holy, and we clearly see that in each case it involves DOING something, let’s go back to Peter’s citation of the phrase, ‘be ye holy, for I am holy’ and read it in context.

14 As [a]obedient children, do not [b]be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but [c]like the Holy One who called you, [d]be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not [e]redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Peter is saying that because we are redeemed with the precious blood of Messiah, we are to DO the things that set us apart.  He speaks of ‘obedience,’ ‘walking as Messiah walked,’ ‘set apart behavior’ and being ‘judged according to (our) work.’

We sing, ‘holiness, its what I long for, holiness is what I need…’  Well, I’m here to tell you, it is not some squishy undefined state.  The Word, and particularly the Torah, defines exactly what holiness looks like.  Messiah redeemed us so that we can walk in His instructions!  They are, indeed, life to us.

because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Got Shabbat?  Got tzitzits?  Got Feasts?

I pray you find them…  They will make you ‘set apart.’


About Pete Rambo

Details in 'About' page @ natsab.wordpress.com Basically, husband of one, father of four. Pastor x 11 years, former business and military background. Micro-farmer. Messianic believer in Yeshua haMashiach!
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7 Responses to ‘Be ye holy, as I am holy…’

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  6. Bob in BC says:

    Note to Pete. Some of your links in this article are empty when you try to open.
    Great article.


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