“What is Sanctification Anyway?” Craig Keener Responds

Questions That Matter

I had the great honor of asking renown scholar and prolific author Craig S. Keener (PhD, Duke University, and F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary) a few questions regarding the nature of sanctification.


What does the Bible mean when it uses the term “sanctify” or “sanctification?” Does the English translation do the original Greek word justice, or should we find a different word?

Craig: I might prefer the translation “consecrate,” since there is less theological-historical baggage attached. The term means “set apart” for ritual purposes; in biblical usage this especially means set apart from what is profane for exclusively holy use (in the Greek translation of the OT, see e.g., Gen 2:3; Exod 19:14, 22; 28:41; 29:1). By Christ’s sacrificial death for us, God has consecrated us, or set us apart, as “saints” (literally, “the consecrated ones”) for his exclusive use…

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