God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.


Holy God, Wholly God
A study identifying Jesus Christ as wholly God and the holy God.


Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007 


What does ‘holy’ mean?

We sing ‘holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty’ – but what does it mean? Where does the idea come from?’

The common idea of ‘holy’ is someone very, very morally good, or perfectly pure.

But many of the things the Bible calls ‘holy’ are not capable of moral perfection or moral purity – ground, clothes, water, year, fruit, basins, a city, a hill, ointment, oils, ‘things’, utensils, the tabernacle, the temple. All of these are called ‘holy’.

And the Bible calls God ‘holy’.

We need to ask ourselves:

What is this word ‘holy’?
What does it mean?

The Old Testament words qadas [verb], qodes [noun] and qados [adjective] are used in reference to ‘sanctification’ and ‘sanctify’ and to the related concepts:

set apart for God’s special use.


In the New Testament, hagiasmos, hagiosune, hagiotes, hagios, hagiazo, refer to ‘sanctification’ words:

make holy.


The common denominator in all of these words and all of their uses is the concept of

  • something that is distinctly different,
  • something that, one way or another, is set apart from everything else.
  • set apart by God for God’s special use and purpose.
  • No longer for common use


The concept that God is holy

Perhaps the root of our difficulty in understanding sanctification comes from our misunderstanding of the concept of God’s holiness. When the Old Testament teaches us that God is holy, his moral goodness is only a part of that description.

More specifically and more importantly the holiness of God speaks of

  • his absolute otherness,
  • his total uniqueness,
  • his complete disassociation and difference from all else that might call itself ‘god’ and from everything else that exists.
  • He is the only one of his kind: he is holy:
  • he is totally set apart .
  • He has no equal.
  • His beauty, his goodness, his perfection, his power, his majesty are all unequalled and unparalleled.
  • He cannot be likened to anything or anyone, for there is nothing and no one like him – there is nothing up there on the same level as he is to which he can be compared. Everything falls far short of this unique, one-of-a-kind, ‘holy’ God.


God’s holiness portrayed in these verses

Exodus 15:11

‘Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you –
Majestic in holiness
Awesome in glory
Working wonders?’

Joshua 24:19

‘You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God’

1 Samuel 2:2

‘There is no one holy like the Lord,
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.’

Isaiah 6:1-7

‘I saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. …
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.’

Isaiah 40:12-31

Read – verses, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 21, 25 ….

Isaiah 43:10-11

‘ … I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the Lord,
and apart from me there is no saviour.’

Isaiah 44:6-8

‘I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
Who then is like me? …
Do not tremble, do not be afraid…
You are my witnesses.
Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock.
I know not one.’

Isaiah 45:19-

‘For this is what the Lord says –
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; …
he says:
“I am the Lord,
and there is no other …
and there is no God apart from me,
a righteous God and a Saviour;
there is none but me.’’

Isaiah 46:5,8

‘To whom will you compare me or count me equal?
To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me. ‘

The fact that God is ‘holy’ means that 

  • he is not the kind of ‘god’ that one can swap and change for another;
  • he is not the kind of ‘god’ to whom one can display only a fickle, half-hearted allegiance;
  • he is not the kind of ‘god’ who is willing to share worship and honour with other ‘gods’ or with other powers, including human powers.
  • As Isaiah 40 graphically points out, this ‘Holy One’ is beyond comparison.
  • He is totally unique.
  • He is totally other.
  • He is totally awesome. Not just in his purity but in all that he is.
  • he is no common, ordinary ‘god’.



This holy God – awesome, incomparable, unique, beyond description, this almighty creator of all that is – 

  • How can we know him?
  • How can we see him – surrounded in brilliant and blinding light?
  • How can we get close to him?
  • How can we even survive in his presence?

What can we say to people when they demand that we show them this God we believe in?

What can we say to people who think that he is too remote, too extreme, too intangible?

This holy God – this unique God – became a man.

The Bible says:

'No one has ever seen God – but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known [John 1:18 ]

'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory’ [John 1:1, 14]

Someone might argue, maybe Jesus was just ‘like God’, or partly God, or godly.


But the Jesus said:

John 8:19

‘You do not know me or my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’

John 8:58

‘Before Abraham was born, I am.’

John 10:30

‘I and the Father are one.’

John 12:44-46

‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believe in me should stay in darkness.’

John 14:6-10

‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?” Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? …’


Other Scriptures state:

Colossians 1:15

‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ‘

Colossians 1:19

‘For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him’

Colossians 2:9

‘In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form’

Hebrews 1:3

‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by this powerful word.’

Jesus is wholly God. All that God is Jesus is. All that God does, Jesus does.


Our response

What should be our response to this Jesus? What does it mean for us here on the ground? It means that

  • We now know God
  • We are left without excuse for our idolatry
  • We can only bow before him in awe and adoration

John 12:41

‘Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.’

1 John 5:20-21

‘We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true god and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.’

1 John 1:1

‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim …’

John 8:24

‘… if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.’

Acts 9:1-5 [Read  these verses]

Revelation 1:12-18 [Read these verses]


This then is our God.

Holy God. Wholly God.

A God unseen, unapproachable, unknowable.

But a God who came and lived among us as a man who was also wholly God.

This is no ordinary God. This is no common God. He is utterly unique, utterly different, utterly other. Demanding our adoration, demanding our awe, demanding our allegiance, demanding our all.