Mini Word Study: Hagios (‘Áγιος)

‘Áγιος pronounced ha-gui-os, or hagios.

Hagios occurs in Colossians 1:22 as the adjective “holy”: “…to present you holy in his sight…” and as a noun “saints” in Colossians 1:2, 4, 12, and 26.

Definition: set aside, consecrated, for a specific purpose for and/or by God; as the quality of persons or things that can be brought near or into God’s presence  (Friberg). Example verse:

1Peter 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

An Old Testament word that sums up this particular aspect of the word hagios, or “holy” in English, is the word “devoted,” or set aside, consecrated, as the definition above suggests.

Psalm 119:38 (KJV) Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

The phrase “is devoted” is displayed with italics in the KJV to indicate that this specific phrase is not found in the original Hebrew text but has been added for clarity by the translators of the KJV. The meaning of the phrase, however, is embedded in the concept of “servant,” and brings out a certain characteristic of servanthood very well (think Downtown Abbey.)

In Scripture, when something was set aside as a tithe or offering for use by the Lord, this item merited the description “devoted.” Three biblical examples follow:

1. Leviticus 27:21 (NET) When it reverts in the jubilee, the field will be holy to the LORD like a permanently dedicated field; it will become the priest’s property.

2. Joshua 6:17-19 (ESV) And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.”

Joshua 7:1 (ESV) But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.

3. Mark 7:10-12 (NIV) For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)– 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.

We have examples of things “devoted” in our own lives: 1) Our tithes and firstfruit offerings to the Lord, 2) our “cookie jar” money that we save for that “special something,” or 3) a special, one-time-only income, such as an income tax refund or an unexpected inheritance, that we earmark, or set aside, for a special and specific purpose, such as a family vacation or college tuition fund for the kids.

So, getting back to the verse Psalm 119:38 (KJV), the Scripture is saying that the speaker of this psalm himself has been set aside, earmarked, for a special use by the Lord: to be his servant.

When we discover that we ourselves have been set aside by the Lord for his service (see 1Peter 2:9), this is at once an honor, a privilege (he’s the ruler of the universe, and he takes good care of what belongs to him), and a duty, or responsibility. Also, who does this make the BOSS in all we think, say, and do?

Prayer: Lord, thank-you for calling me to be “devoted,” or set aside, for you. Help me to be aware that this is why I am here and to step up to my role in Christ Jesus.

 NOTE: This Mini Word Study is an example of the kind of study that practice of S-O-A-P journaling can lead to. See the link below for the S-O-A-P SideBar in a prior post.



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