A list of Essays:




“For in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”[1]

Sanctification occurs to magnify God’s glory.

Despite the various modes and methods proposed by which this God glorifying sanctification may happen, the goal is always the same. Anthony Hoekema put it well when he wrote, “The final goal of sanctification can be nothing other than the glory of God. As we think about this gracious divine activity, we should consider primarily not our own future happiness, but the glory of our wonderful God.”[2] So, although sanctification is the process by which God’s people are made holy, the end goal of sanctification is not merely that God’s chosen people would be holy. God’s people are made holy so that they might reflect the holiness of God and declare his attributes to the world. Sanctification occurs to magnify God’s glory.

There is a lot of discussion in the Protestant tradition on sanctification and there is not a unified view. Each view brings its own sympathies and motivations; each its own exegetical decisions and interpretations; and each its own strengths and weaknesses with regard to what is important when talking about sanctification. Often times, the view one espouses has to do with the way a particular theologian interprets and uses Paul’s letter to the Romans. Besides being the bedrock for the Protestant understanding of justification by faith alone, Romans is also the most extensive argument for the way God sanctifies His people.

The Protestant understanding of sanctification grew out of two basic motivations (as did the whole movement). The first is the return and availability to studying Scripture in its original language, Greek and Hebrew. As many clerical scholars began working through the Greek New Testament, discrepancies between the theology of the church built around the Latin Vulgate and what was originally written in the Greek started to rise to the surface. The second thing motivating the Reformation was an observation and reaction to the excesses and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. Not only was quite a bit of theology built around poor interpretations of the Bible, but the ethical integrity of the Church was near to non-existent in many places.

In many ways, the theological results of the Reformation were a positive return to the initial intentions of Scripture and the freeing doctrine of grace. However, because of the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church at the time, along with the development of Protestant theology next to the development of individual rights in the political sphere, Protestant doctrine started moving towards individualism. This trend was only heightened as Protestantism developed in America.[3] Now, when people talk about sanctification, it is almost always in the context of personal sanctification. The various perspectives discuss the different ways God brings about his holiness in people (individuals), but usually only pay lip service to the ways by which God brings about holiness in His people (community). Although it is not wrong to talk about individuals being saved and sanctified, it is a mistake to stop at that. As Fee writes, “While such a relationship (one-on-one) is included, to be sure, ‘to be saved’ means especially to be joined to the people of God. In this sense, the third-century church father Cyprian had it right: there is no salvation outside the church, because God is saving a people for his name, not a miscellaneous, unconnected set of individuals.”[4]

The theology of sanctification in the Protestant tradition is the result in many ways of good, strong exegesis by godly and brilliant theologians. It would be unfair to say that the current understanding is a total misinterpretation of Paul. From an exegetical standpoint, most views are brilliantly argued and, at least on certain points, biblically sound. However, due to the syncretic mixture of exegesis with the current cultural dispensation, the theology of sanctification does show a misinterpretation of emphasis in Paul. Although the prioritization of personal sanctification over corporate sanctification seems like a subtle issue of semantics, the effects of the confusion have been disastrous on the church. By missing Paul’s emphasis, the unity of church fellowship, the integrity of the witness of the church in the world, the miracle of reconciliation, and the eschatological goal of drawing all nations, especially Israel, back into a covenantal relationship with God have been undermined by the individual believer’s pursuit of personal holiness.

Paul’s priority when he talks about sanctification is that of corporate sanctification ending in the historical-eschatological sanctification of the elect. Personal sanctification happens only within the context and for the purpose of corporate sanctification. Starting in Rom 1 all the way up through 11, the priority of corporate sanctification helps to reshape and illuminate various views on sanctification and brings together Paul’s argument more cohesively. As was made clear at the beginning, the goal of sanctification is God’s glory. Hopefully by re-examining the Scriptures concerning sanctification with this new perspective, the full force of God’s sanctifying work might be realized and the church can become more God-glorifying in its witness to the world.

Current Views on Sanctification

Before correcting the current views on sanctification in light of Paul’s corporate priority, it is important to first examine them. Much of the methodology proposed by the various perspectives, the Reformed in particular, is rooted well exegetically and can be re-appropriated to better understand Paul’s argument for corporate sanctification. The three perspectives most relevant are the Wesleyan perspective, the Pentecostal perspective, and the Reformed perspective.[5] All recognize three different aspects of sanctification: positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, and entire sanctification (or perfect sanctification). However, they disagree on the means by which this sanctification is accomplished and especially the timeline by which these different stages can be enacted.

The Wesleyan Perspective

“[Wesley’s] distinctive contribution was his conviction that true biblical Christianity finds its highest expression and ultimate test of authenticity in the practical and ethical experience of the individual Christian and the church and only secondarily in doctrinal and propositional definition.”[6]

John Wesley’s perspective on sanctification is rooted deeply in the Reformed tradition with regards to its understanding of Original sin, the failure of merit to earn grace, and the inability to do a spiritual act outside of grace.[7] Falling in line with the priority of Scripture over tradition and the justification of believers by faith, the Wesleyan perspective shares a significant amount with other Protestant perspectives. Wesleyans, who are most significantly represented by the Methodist church, understand sanctification in three different ways, as mentioned above. The first is positional, or as Melvin Dieter calls it, definitive sanctification.[8] Starting in Romans 1:7, Paul describes the believers in Rome as “those called to be saints.” The term ἁγίοις here is the same word used for “holy” and “sanctified”. Paul begins his letter to the Romans recognizing them in a positional standing as saints. As he begins to close his letter in Rom 15:16, Paul again uses the verbal form of the word in the perfect middle participle, ἡγιασμένη, indicating an action that took place in the past but has effects that carry through to the present.

In both these places, Paul indicates that there is a sense in which anyone who is justified by faith is not only declared righteous, but is also declared holy. A believers standing in light of the gracious gift of God is both righteous and holy. However, if positional sanctification was the only aspect of sanctification, then there would be no point in exhortation and no way of explaining the lingering presence of sin in a newly sanctified saint. This is what brings Wesley to affirm the presence of a second element of sanctification, progressive sanctification. Despite the promises concerning holiness and the declarations made on our behalf, any one who has been a Christian for any period of time knows that the urge to sin is still present and the struggle to live perfectly holy and righteous lives is often times out of reach. It is this aspect of the Christian experience that progressive sanctification addresses.

Wesley does recognize the necessity of grace and the Spirit for any Christian to become more holy. Where Wesley departs from most other Protestant traditions is the belief that progressive sanctification, the everyday workings of the Spirit and the will of man to turn from sin and live in perfect love toward Christ and others, can accomplish entire sanctification (or perfect sanctification) in this life.[9] In some of the major sanctification chapters of Romans (6 and 8) Wesley finds much of his foundation for his belief in entire sanctification in this life. In Rom 6, there are multiple imbedded promises of a life lived in fellowship with Christ. In Rom 6:2, Paul asks the question “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Later in 6:11, Paul writes, “So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Again, reiterating his point, Paul writes in 6:22, “But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life.” After discussing the struggle found in living a life of holiness in Rom 7, Paul once again describes the new life we have in Christ in Rom 8. Beginning with 8:1, Paul declares affirmatively that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Although many exegetes look at these Scriptures as indications of our positional sanctification, noting that in each of these passages there is exhortation to live up to the aforementioned status given in Christ, Wesley believed that these were not merely declarations but also promises of reality attainable by anyone in Christ.[10] The term ἐν Χριστῷ was a very important phrase for Wesley. If it is in fact true that we are in Christ, why would the reality of the termination of willful sin be impossible in the life of the believer? To think anything less is to cheapen the gospel. If we are in Christ, we have been restored to his image. As Dieter writes, “Wesleyans maintain that to allow any lesser standard than this restoration of the image of God to the souls of men and women is to diminish the fullness of atonement in Christ.”[11]

The feasibility of perfect sanctification in this life is still the greatest point of contention people have with the Wesleyan perspective, seen by many as idealism rooted in sloppy exegesis and a low understanding of the nature of sin. Regardless, the Wesleyan perspective does bring with it an emphasis on faith lived out in the ethical daily life of believers. Even if someone is not willing to follow Wesley into his view on entire sanctification, he cannot ignore the impact Wesley has made on the restoration of holiness in the life of the church. Not only is this a view that needs to be considered, but its emphasis on practical holiness and the law of love has serious implications when rethinking sanctification with a corporate priority.

“Expression of the holy love of God out of an undivided heart is the goal of the Christian life. All else is commentary.”[12]

The Pentecostal Perspective:

The contribution of the Pentecostal perspective to the greater milieu of sanctification theology is often misunderstood due to the confusion surrounding the views espoused in its historical development and the views held now. Some of the more controversial issues that turn off many to Pentecostalism, such as the second definitive work of grace[13] and the Jesus only baptism[14], have been rejected by the majority Pentecostal movement. Stanley Horton, in his essay “The Pentecostal Perspective” does a great job separating out the modern perspectives of the Assemblies of God from the more radical views of denominations such as the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee and the Pentecostal Holiness Church.[15] The Assemblies of God, like the other perspectives mentioned, hold to a threefold understanding of sanctification.

With regard to positional sanctification, they follow in suit with the Wesleyan and Reformed tradition in recognizing that men are declared both righteous and holy at conversion.[16] The main distinctive in the understanding of progressive sanctification for Pentecostals is the idea of cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification. Reformed theologians have issues with this idea because it implies God is incapable of enacting sanctification on His own, thus belittling the full scope of grace.[17] Unlike the Wesleyans, the Pentecostals view entire sanctification as something that cannot be attained in this life. Horton lists two major ways entire sanctification is understood: (1) It is the perspective that, in spite of the reality of failing as a believer to live out a sinless life, we keep the victory we have in Christ always in perspective and thus participate in entire sanctification. Albert Hoy relies heavily on Rom 7 to explain the back and forth nature of sanctification and claims that even in the midst of the struggle, the believer can still have victory in Christ. There are some who reject this interpretation of Rom 7:14, taking the perfect participle πεπραμένος to mean that Paul is hypothetically speaking as an unbeliever. However, even in rejecting this interpretation they see the need to crucify the flesh frequently.[18] (2) Entire sanctification is also seen as the completed work of sanctification that happens to believers in Christ’s second coming. In this sense, entire sanctification would be another way of describing the concept of glorification found in other traditions.[19]

The most significant contribution of the Pentecostal perspective to the theology of sanctification is the role of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostalism as a movement arose out of an upsurge of experiential manifestations of the Spirit, mainly the speaking in tongues, and although much of the radical theology surrounding this “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is no longer espoused by the Assemblies of God, the experience of the Holy Spirit still plays a significant role in the life of the Pentecostal Church.[20] Pentecostal scholars make a distinction between the concept of being baptized in the Spirit, as is seen in such passages as Acts 1:8, and being baptized by the Spirit, as in 1 Cor 12:13. In both cases, the preposition ἐν is used, however with the second usage, they translate it with the force of means. The effect of being baptized by the Spirit points to the initial baptism of all believers into the body of Christ, whereas the baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost is a distinct and separate experience in which believers were filled with the Holy Spirit for the sake of receiving spiritual gifts.[21] Because Pentecostals rely so heavily on passages like Pentecost to understand the baptism in the Spirit, most agree that the initial evidence of a baptism in the Spirit is speaking in tongues. Although most believe that a second baptism in the Spirit is not necessary for regeneration, all would still strongly encourage seeking a baptism in the Spirit as a means of further sanctification.[22]

The reliance so heavily on the varied translation of a preposition and building an entire doctrine on a few unclear instances in the book of Acts does not make for good exegesis. Further, many Pentecostals ignore the insistence by Paul to seek other spiritual gifts beside the speaking in tongues, since the greater gifts are ones that edify the community, not just the individual.[23] Regardless of the misapplication of many of these verses, the Pentecostals are good to remind the church of the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside it and the presence of the manifestations of the Spirit inside believers. Seeing the Holy Spirit’s role as the means by which believers are brought into the body of Christ and remembering that the evidence of the Holy Spirit is the enablement of believers to exercise spiritual gifts is incredibly important to understanding Paul’s argument for sanctification, especially in the corporate sense.

The Reformed Perspective:

The Reformed perspective, rooted in Calvin, is the oldest of the three mentioned and in many ways laid the groundwork for the other current Protestant perspectives. Although it is often times held in contrast as polar opposites with the Wesleyan perspective, there is a actually a lot shared between the two. The main distinctions come with their underlying presupposition of the absolute depravity of mankind without Christ and the nature of sin being both willful and unintentional sin.[24] Wesleyans, when speaking about sin, are typically only talking about willful sin. Because they view sin this way, the idea of perfect sanctification in this life becomes at least tenable, although still difficult. The Reformed theologians reject the possibility of perfection in this life. It is true that Paul says that we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:2-11) but also tells believers they must continually put to death the sins of the body (Rom 8:13).[25] Because they reject entire sanctification as being possible in this life, they relegate the concept to that of the glorification of believers when Christ returns. To the Reformed theologian, the complete work of sanctification is accomplished and imputed in the initial conversion to Christ, but is not completely actuated until believers are brought into the presence of the Lord after death or in the second coming.

The Reformed perspective dwells mainly on the first two aspects of sanctification, that of positional (or definitive) sanctification and progressive sanctification. Definitive sanctification is the view that just as people are justified by faith and have imputed righteousness, so also believers have imputed holiness. This aspect is espoused by most Protestant positions. Writing on the nature of definitive sanctification as it relates to the presence of sin, Hoekema writes, “Believers, therefore, should see themselves and each other as persons who are genuinely new, though not yet totally new.”[26] As for progressive sanctification, the Reformed perspective recognizes the necessity of human responsibility in the process of becoming more holy as a Christian, but does not go as far as to say that there is a “cooperation” between God and man, as the Pentecostals suggest. Man’s sin is so pervasive, and God’s grace is so independent of human merit, that even the ability and active participation in the sanctification process springs from the enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit of God. To the Reformed theologian, man can do nothing outside of God’s grace.

It is in the Reformed perspective that a natural launching point into the re-assessment of sanctification in light of Paul’s corporate priority occurs. Wesleyans tend to stress the emphasis of ethical sanctification over declarative sanctification, and although they do see sanctification as being both corporate and personal, Wesleyans in practice tend to focus on the personal. The Pentecostal project is not as concerned with either the declarative or the ethical aspect of sanctification, but rather the manifestation of gifts in individuals as a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Reformed theologians emphasize God’s declarative work in sanctification, claiming that the ethical springs only from God declaring us holy. This emphasis is more consistent with Paul’s argument in Romans. Furthermore, since the focus is on God’s declarative work, the theology of election plays a key part in the Reformed understanding of sanctification. The Reformed insistence on the priority of declarative sanctification and the theology of election provide the perfect framework for a new understanding for the priority of corporate sanctification in Romans.

An Argument for Corporate Priority in Romans

Beginning in Rom 1:1-7, Paul makes clear that his priority is the gospel as it relates to the community of God. In 1:1, Paul begins by introducing himself as one set apart for the Gospel of God. This εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ is most easily explained as a genitive of possession.[27] However, given the nature of the following verses as talking about the relation of Christ to the messianic promise of Scripture (Rom 1:2-4) and the participation of people into His Son’s actions (Rom 1:5-7), a more nuanced view of the genitive relationship might be that of source[28]. The gospel Paul is talking about is not merely the Gospel that belongs to God, but the one whose source is in God, namely Christ. In Rom 1:5-7, Paul shows that the purpose of his apostleship is to bring about faith so that God’s name might be glorified in the nations. This faith includes those in Rome, who are “called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Since there is no distinction in the English language between the second person singular pronoun and the plural, the difference is often times missed by the English reader. Paul in 1:6, uses the plural pronoun ὑμεῖς and not the singular when addressing the Christians in Rome. Now this alone is not sufficient to build a case for corporate sanctification because it would make sense for Paul to be addressing the group of believers in Rome. What is interesting about the use of the plural here is the genitive relation it has to the singular person of Jesus Christ. Many translations take this as a genitive of possession[29] and translate it something like “the called of Christ” or “called to belong to Christ.” But this makes for an awkward translation. However, the alternative being a Partitive genitive doesn’t seem to make sense because it is absurd to talk about multiple people being part of one person.[30] Although it is understandable why most translations take this as a genitive of possession, it is worth arguing that despite the seeming absurdity of it, Paul here is relating those called in Rome as part of the whole, which is Christ. It is not outside of the realm of Partitive genitives to have the head noun be plural and the genitive be singular. But normally in those cases, the head noun consists of smaller things that logically are a part of the genitive. For example, one might say the fingers are part of the hand. Even though the fingers are plural, it makes sense for them to be part of a singular hand. In Rom 1:6, Paul is also relating the plural, those called in Rome, to a singular, Jesus Christ. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, taking this as a partitive genitive makes better sense of Paul’s understanding of gospel and is the key to unlocking his project in light of the corporate sanctification of the people of God. So it would be better translated, “Even you are among those who are called to be a part of Christ.”

The gospel as it is understood today is thought of as the good news that Jesus saves sinners from sin and brings them into heaven. Although this is not untrue, it is not the primary focus of the gospel as it relates to Paul. Taking 1:6 as a partitive genitive pointing to the miracle of bringing multiple people into the singular person of Jesus Christ better expresses Paul’s understanding of the gospel: the election of some to righteousness and holiness, first from the Jews and now from the Gentiles, to become part of the community of God, united by the Spirit into one body under Christ. Rom 1:16-17, considered by most to be the thesis statement for the book of Romans, reiterates this emphasis by making note that the gospel of righteousness is first given to the Jews and then to the Greeks. If Paul’s mindset was not a corporate one, there would be no need to mention the people groups, Jews and Greeks.

Having reframed Paul’s greater project in light of the gospel meaning inclusion into the body of Christ, his elect people, the development of the theology of corporate sanctification as argued in Romans has more meaning. Borrowing from the current perspectives on sanctification, Paul argues for the positional corporate sanctification as his declared work toward the Elect through inclusion into his Son (Rom 1-5), progressive corporate sanctification as the way the Spirit, over time, binds the Elect together into one baptism in Christ (Rom 6-8), and entire corporate sanctification as the eschatological union of the many into one holy church before God (Rom 9-11). Karl Barth, in his tome Church Dogmatics, sheds invaluable light into the understanding of this by redefining the concept of Election as seeing Christ as both the Elector and the Elected.[31] If the nature of election is found first in the person of Christ, then the means by which an individual is elected and declared sanctified is by being brought into the body of Christ. Barth thus describes the Church as the necessary and mediating election by which individuals become one with Christ.[32]

Barth, with his reshaping of election, has also re-shifted the priority back to community. He writes, “The Subject of this [election] is indeed God in Jesus Christ, and its particular object is indeed men. But it is not men as private persons in the singular or plural. It is these men as a fellowship elected by God in Jesus Christ and determined from all eternity for a peculiar service, to be made capable of this service and to discharge it.”[33] In a more traditional view of predestination, as mentioned by Barth, the doctrine starts with individual men being chosen and then only later forming community out of their personal relationship with Christ. Barth on the other hand starts with Christ as primary in election, turns to the body of Christ next, and then only as an after effect those individuals included in Christ’s body.

It is this reversal that brings to bear the full weight of the gospel according to Paul in Romans. If Christ is the grace of God, then inclusion into His body is the only way by which people can receive that grace, both for justification and for sanctification. Understanding the gospel in this way changes the force of key passages in Romans typically understood in the individual context. As was discussed earlier, seeing inclusion of the many into the singular Christ changes Rom 1:16-17. The dative τῷ πιστεύοντι in 1:16 could be taken substantivally instead of verbally, as it is in the ESV and NET, making the παντὶ an adjective and being translated as “to all the believing,” referring to the elect. This makes more sense with the use of the singular nominative ὁ δίκαιος in 1:17.[34] If Paul was trying to emphasize the multiple individuals, a plural would be more in line. But since the singular substantival “righteous” is used as a referent to “all the believing”, Paul clearly sees the primary recipient of the gospel the elect body of God, the multiple seen as the singular through Christ, filled with God’s righteousness.

Rom 6:3, specifically the phrase ὅσοι ἐβαπτίσθημεν εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, is also an indicator of this corporate priority. If Paul here was talking about individual baptism there would be no reason to include the prepositional phrase εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν. Paul frames Romans 6, a very significant chapter for the understanding of sanctification, with the idea of being brought into fellowship into Christ. The plural verb once again being brought into the singular Christ, the gospel is once again referring to inclusion. Therefore in the verses following this initial idea of baptism into Christ, Paul is not necessarily arguing for how individuals ought to look as a result of our fellowship with Christ, but how those “united with him” (Rom 6:5), the united body of Christ, ought to live and act as a result of the Elect’s initial baptism into Christ. This is not to say that there is no application of this section to the individual believer, but it is saying that the corporate sanctification of the people of God, united with Christ in baptism, is the priority that personal sanctification ought to serve.

So the positional sanctification of the corporate body, as understood through the Reformed model, aligns well with the argument through Romans on sanctification. The contribution the Wesleyan and Pentecostal perspectives make is the role of the Holy Spirit as the active unifier, the work of progressive corporate sanctification, and the fruit of corporate sanctification being an ethical community of God. Rom 8:4 ends by saying that it is the Spirit that is working through the Elect to bring about the fulfillment of the work of the law, which is sanctification to God of his people. The use of the plural “you” throughout the rest of the chapter, specifically in Rom 8:9, highlights even more the work of the Spirit in progressively sanctifying his people. This indwelling of the Spirit, a topic focused on by the Pentecostals, is stated even more explicitly in Paul’s other letter 1 Cor 3:16, when he refers to the plural church as the temple of God in which the Spirit of God dwells. As for what the Spirit of God is doing in his Elect body, Paul states in Rom 8:12 that because of the indwelling of the Spirit, the community of God is no longer under any obligation to sin. This is informed by the Wesleyan perspective that the evidence of the corporate sanctification is the moral fortitude and the freedom towards righteousness of he people of God.

As Paul gets to Rom 9-11, the argument seems to suddenly shift if it is not seen in the context of community. However, if the point of Paul’s excursus up until the end of Rom 8 is not the way an individual might be saved but rather the good news of God through the Election of Christ including both Jews and now Gentiles into his Elect body through the grace of his Son in the declaration of the Elect’s righteousness, then Rom 9-11 makes perfect sense as the crowning eschatological goal of the elect in Christ. Paul in this section goes back and forth between the willful giving of mercy and the willful hardening of others for the sake of his mercy. Paul is in turn saying that Israel is being hardened right now so that Gentiles might be brought into Christ’s election and that someday Israel, through the Gentiles inclusion, will be included once again, so that God’s promise for the Elect will be made complete (Rom 11:28-31). With all this said, the overall message about sanctification in Romans is that God is including his elect people into the elect body of Christ, the community in which his unifying Spirit dwells, so that his people might be set apart from the world and be a testament to God’s faithful promises.


Although it might seem subtle, shifting Paul’s priority from the individual to the corporate context makes an undeniable impact. As Paul begins Rom 12, he emphatically calls the elect of God to act in a manner worthy of their election, as unified in Christ as one body. The moral exhortation in Rom 12 and beyond is not merely a call to personal sanctification, but a call to live as one with each other. Too often, believers allow their personal holiness and convictions to cause disruptions in God’s community. Although the process of community sanctification is a tricky one, it is still the significant one. There is no point to personal holiness if it does not express itself in its unifying role in the body of Christ because it is the unification of the many into one that most deeply expresses the glory of God. It takes self-discipline to be pious, it takes a miracle of the Spirit to be a holy and unified community.

[1] Romans 12:4-5. All Scripture quoted from ESV, unless otherwise specified.

[2] Anthony A. Hoekema, “The Reformed Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification, 59-91 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987) 88.

[3] Gordon D. Fee, Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996). 64

[4] Ibid.

[5] In the book, Five Views on Sanctification, the editor mentions two other current perspectives: the Keswick perspective, and the Augustinian-dispensationalist perspective. The Keswick perspective, as noted by J. Robertson McQuilkin, is not a systematic view on sanctification but rather a gathering of multiple different viewpoints all with a passion for sanctification producing practical holiness. Although there is much to be gleaned from this perspective, it is not as relevant for the biblical understanding of sanctification. As for the Augustinian-dispensationalist view, J. Walvoord’s explanation is so similar to the Reformed perspective, with just the different focus on the warring of the two natures found in Rom 7, that it is not necessary to discuss this as an entirely different viewpoint. The application of dispensationalism is relevant to the scope of this paper, but not as it is used in Walvoord’s essay.

[6] Melvin Dieter, “The Wesleyan Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification, 9-47 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987). 11

[7] Ibid. 22

[8] Ibid. 16

[9] Ibid. 11

[10] Ibid. 34

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid. 30

[13] As the Pentecostal movement developed in its early stages, holiness preachers from a Wesleyan background began preaching that although believers were initially justified by faith, they had so much sin they needed a second definitive work of grace prior to receiving the Holy Spirit. In 1910, William Durham, preaching from a Baptist perspective, denied the necessity of a second definitive work of grace and preached that everything necessary for justification and sanctification was accomplished at Calvary. Although he was rejected initially by the Pentecostal church, eventually his theology grew within the movement and laid the ground work for the Assemblies of God denomination later. (Cf. Horton, 106)

[14] During the initial stages of the Assemblies of God movement, a few members, such as Frank Ewart, took issue with the idea of the Trinity and argued that Jesus was modalistically the whole Godhead. As a result, they called for everyone who had been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to be re-baptized in only the name of Jesus.

[15] Stanley M. Horton, “The Pentecostal Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification, 103-136 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987). 108

[16] Ibid. 115-16

[17] Hoekema, 139

[18] Horton, 124-25

[19] Ibid. 125

[20] Ibid. 128

[21] Ibid. 129-130

[22] Ibid.

[23] Cf. 1 Cor 12

[24] Hoekema, 83

[25] Ibid. 84

[26] Ibid. 74

[27] Wallace, ExSyn, 81

[28] Ibid. 109-110


[30] Wallace, ExSyn, 85.

[31] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. 4, 4 vols. (New York: T & T Clark, 1953-1967). 94-145

[32] Ibid. 198-99

[33] Ibid.

[34] Paul here quotes from Hab 2:4, where the Hebrew used is also in the singular. However, the argument that Paul uses the singular here just because it is singular in the Hebrew does not hold together because of the vastly different way Paul uses this quote from the original context. First off, it is not out of line for Paul to change between singular and plural in his usage of the Old Testament to better fit his context. In this context, the plural would seem to make more sense. So his usage of the singular instead is not indicative of sticking to the original citation but more likely due to an intentional way he wants the citation to be used. Further, the Habakkuk context is using the singular in the universal context to refer to any individual, whereas Paul is here using the singular to refer to a single group united in Christ.


By: Cody Kimmel

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Matthew 5:17[1]

The relationship between Jesus and the Judaic laws of purity and defilement is a constant theme throughout the Gospels. Many of the confrontations between Jesus and the religious leaders of the time were regarding Jesus’ radically different stance on the laws of purity and defilement. Although it is tempting to take Jesus’ differing stance to mean he rejected the old laws altogether, to do so would miss the point of Jesus’ self identifying remark in Matthew 5 that he is the fulfiller, not the abolisher of the Law and the Prophets. A proper understanding of Jesus with regard to the laws and traditions of purity and defilement must take into account the difference between those Laws found in the Torah and those passed down through tradition amongst the Pharisee and Essene sects of Judaism at the time. Jesus only rejected the traditions of purity and defilement not found in the Torah.  When it came to the written laws of defilement, such as leprosy and corpses, Jesus did not serve in an oppositional role, but rather in a fulfilling and God-identifying role. Both relationships were unprecedented in His time, but the distinction between his adverse reaction to oral tradition and his God-identifying actions as the “fulfiller” of the written Law is the key to unlocking the theological significance of Jesus’ relation to the Judaic laws of purity and defilement.

Judaic Laws of Purity and Defilement

The motivation behind the Law given in the Pentateuch is the holiness of Israel in the midst of the nations.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

“For I am the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45)

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6a)

It is with this motivation in mind that the Judaic laws of purity and defilement are properly understood. As a result of the evolution of language, the concept of purity and defilement is difficult to understand. The modern understanding puts those words in a health and hygiene context. Because of this, many have concluded that the purification rites and laws of dietary restrictions were given to protect the health of the nation of Israel. This however, when understood in the context of God’s motivation of holiness, is an inadequate explanation for the breadth and strictness of the Law given in the Pentateuch.[2]

In the Old Testament, there are two basic types of defilement. Jonathan Klawans, in his book Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the study of Ancient Judaism, refers to the two types as “ritual impurity” and “moral impurity”.[3] Klawans defines ritual impurity as follows:

As commonly understood, “ritual impurity” refers to the sort of defilement described in Leviticus 11-15 and Numbers 19. This defilement results from direct or indirect contact with any one of a number of natural processes and substances, including childbirth (Lev. 12:1-8), certain skin diseases (13:1-46; 14:1-32, funguses in clothes (13:47-59) and houses (14:33-53), genital discharges (15:1-33), the carcasses of certain animals (11:1-47), and human corpses (Num. 19:10-22)…In general, there are three distinct characteristics of ritual impurity: (1)the sources of ritual impurity are natural and more or less unavoidable; (2) it is not sinful to contract these impurities; and (3) these impurities can convey an impermanent contagion to people (priests and Israelites) and to many items within close proximity.[4]

In contrast, “moral impurity results from committing certain acts so heinous that they are considered defiling.”[5] Whereas ritual impurity is temporary and can be reversed through rites of purification, moral impurity is long-lasting and is purified through the atonement sacrifices, punishment, exile, and repentance.[6] Jesus challenged the Judaic understanding of both types of defilement.

Theological Significance of Ritual Defilement

According to numerous Old Testament scholars, purification laws are best understood through the contrast of life and death. The surrounding nations at the time all had various forms of necromancers and cults of the dead. All nations had some type of a god of the dead. For the Egyptians it was Anubis, the Sumerians, Neti, the Canaanites, Baal.[7] Israel, in contrast, had no such parallel. Emanuel Feldman makes the observation that God throughout the Bible is associated with life. He writes, “Throughout the Bible, hayim (life) is almost synonymous with God.”[8] He goes on to write about the way the Living God of the bible is always held up in contrast with the lifeless gods of the pagan nations surrounding Israel.[9] So it follows that the livingness of God is one of the major ways he presents himself as holy amongst the gods of other nations.

The laws of ritual defilement all have their source in death. Feldman makes this point clear when he writes,

…the primary element in all tum’ah (defilement), the “ultimate category,” is a human corpse. This carries the highest degree of tum’ah, the greatest power to convey this tum’ah to other things or creatures, and can convey this tum’ah in a manner more varied than any other tum’ah. It is the epitome and prototype—the ultimate nadir—of tum’ah.[10]

Death is even the driving force in lesser forms of defilement such as leprosy, seminal emissions, and menstrual blood. Leprosy was considered dead flesh and the reproductive secretions were life-givers, which, due to emission, were no longer life producing.[11] If one of the key points of God’s holiness is life, then it would make sense that his presence is incompatible with death. Mary Douglas puts it a different way when she states “it is the nature of the Lord to be in command of death and in contradiction of it.”[12] Douglas restates the point later by saying,

The biblical idea of purity is simple and coherent. The nature of the living God is in opposition to dead bodies. Total incompatibility holds between God’s presence and bodily corruption. God is living, life is his. Other gods belong to death and the contagion of death.[13]

Therefore, the laws of purity and defilement found in the Pentateuch were not meant for the physical health of Israel, but rather to further set Israel apart as holy amongst the nations surrounding them by separating them from death.

On top of the laws of purity and defilement found in the Bible, the Pharisees, and to a greater extreme the Essenes, followed thousands of purification laws and traditions passed down orally through the history of Judaism. Josephus, in his book The Jewish Wars describes the Essenes three-year purification process:

After he has given proof of his life self-control in this time, they bring him closer to their way of life: he participates in the purer waters for purification, but he is not yet received into the common ways of living. For after this demonstration of perseverance, his character is tested for two more years; and if he appears deserving, then he is admitted into the community.[14]

Although the Essenes did hold firmly to the Mosaic laws of purity and defilement, they also adhered to extra-biblical tradition to further set themselves apart from the corrupt Hellenizers living in Jerusalem at the time. Pharisees were not as radical as the Essenes. However, they did adhere to the oral law just as much as to the written one and in many cases placed the oral law above the written law.[15] The motivation of both the Essenes and the Pharisees was to set themselves apart from the world around them, which they did zealously.

Theological Significance of Moral Defilement

Moral defilement in the Bible is sin and can be understood in the same life and death scope as ritual defilement. Much of the same language applied to the ritual defilement and purification are used to describe sinful transgressions. Immorality is seen as the death of what God created to have life. Douglas remarks,

In the Bible all the various causes of disaster—from broken oaths to curses, trespasses into holy places, lying, stealing, false witness, all the misdeeds which we tend to treat separately—come under the heading of impurity. One may think of it like a rift in existence: on the one side there is God and everything he establishes, on the other side, inevitably and necessarily, there is impurity.[16]

Although there is no explicit connection made in the law between ritual impurity and moral impurity, the language implies an obvious connection. Adolf Buchler writes,

There was, certainly, in the minds of prophets and Psalmists nothing to connect the character of sin with that of levitical impurity, except that the inward effect of the moral and religious contamination of the heart was illustrated by the outward defilement of the body, and the estrangement from God and His will by the physical separation from His Sanctuary, the terms defile, unclean, polluted, uncleanness and filth being applied figuratively to grave transgressions.[17]

The outcome of both ritual and moral defilement was exclusion from the presence of the Living God, and the only way to purity was through God—either through God given purification rites or through God’s acceptance of repentance and forgiveness.

Jesus, Oral Tradition, and Moral Impurity

In Matthew 15, Jesus gets into an altercation with the Pharisees concerning the laws of purity and defilement:

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break  the tradition of the elders?  For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded,  ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

And he called the people to him and said to them,  “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered,  “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him,  “Explain the parable to us.”  And he said,  “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:1-20)

From this passage, Jesus makes his stance on both his view on laws of purity and defilement passed down through oral tradition and his view on moral purity very clear. Jesus rejects purification laws received through oral tradition and elevates the laws concerning moral purity. Neil Wolfe, in his Master’s thesis “The Theology of the Pharisees,” makes this same point by stating, “He (Jesus) exalted the written word at the expense of their oral law while they did the reverse.”[18] Jesus in Mark 7:8 says it again, “You leave the commandments of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

It is clear that one way in which Jesus differed from the Judaic laws of purity and defilement in the first century was the outright rejection of the oral tradition. Jesus refers to the oral traditions the Pharisees held to as plants His Father didn’t plant. Both the Pharisees and the Essenes were trying to separate themselves from the overwhelming influence of the Romans by strict adherence to the Law, including additions either passed down or created by them. Unfortunately, according to Jesus, they had missed the forest for the trees. The Pharisees had focused so much on the details of the law that they passed over the underlying spirit of the law.[19] This is why Jesus calls them “white-washed tombs” later in Matthew 23. Although they were ceremonially perfect, they were morally dead.

It is unfair to see all the Jews of the day as morally corrupt. Josephus, in his description of the Essenes, talked just as much about their commitment to moral purity and righteousness as their commitment to ceremonial purity.[20] The Bible mentions a number of Pharisees favorably, including Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. However, even with the presence of righteous Jews at the time, Jesus’ strong criticism of the Jewish leaders during his ministry, especially of the Pharisees, is unmistakable. Jesus saw through the religiousness of the Pharisees to their motivations: to keep the Law, both written and oral, so that others would see and respect them. The religion of the Pharisees was “ritualistic and professional and there was no individual responsibility except to follow the instructions contained in the traditions to the final degree.”[21] As a result, self-righteousness was the downfall of many of the Jews at the time, and Jesus didn’t want any part in it.

Jesus: The Fulfiller of the Written Law

It is difficult to read through the gospels and miss the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning the additional traditions of purity and defilement and the moral corruption those laws disguised. It was the extent of those conflicts that ultimately led to Jesus’ trial and execution. The point made is extremely important: Jesus values what comes out of the body (moral action, charity, service, humility) over ceremonial laws not found in the written Law. This reflects the attitude portrayed of God by the prophet Hosea when he writes in chapter 6, verse 6, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” The point often times missed in the analysis of Jesus and the laws of purity and defilement is how He relates to the ceremonial laws found in the written word, specifically in his treatment of lepers and corpses. God is the God of life and he separates himself from death to magnify His holiness from the dead gods of other nations.

The livingness of God is His fundamental and primary characteristic. Death, as the opposite of life, is the ultimate opposite of God. God is the Lord of life, and while He rules death and life, He consciously withdraws from death and separates Himself from it.[22]

With this theological perspective in view, Jesus’ treatment of the Judaic Laws of purity and defilement shown in the healing of the lepers, the raising of the Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and Jesus’ death and resurrection show two things. The first is that He does not oppose the Laws of Moses but rather fulfills them. The second is that these instances identify Jesus as the God of life and reinforce the deity of Christ. Whereas Jesus rejected the laws made by Jews apart from God, Jesus is zealous to uphold the law given by God, and through it, identify Himself as God.

Jesus and the Lepers

One of the laws of defilement made explicit in the Torah is the defilement through leprosy (Leviticus 13-14). Either having leprosy or coming in physical contact with someone with leprosy are defiling and require a purification ritual in order to enter back into the community of Israel and the temple. Jesus, during his ministry, came in contact with multiple lepers. In Matthew 8, the Evangelist records Jesus coming down from the mountain where he had just delivered his famous sermon in which he claimed to be the fulfiller of the Law and that righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees to enter the kingdom of heaven. Just as Jesus steps down from the mountain he is met with a leper asking to be healed.

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Matthew 8:2-4)

This brief interchange between Jesus and the leper raises a number of questions with regard to Jesus’ stance on the laws of purity and defilement. If Jesus did reject the Old Testament Law outright, then why did he tell the leper to present himself before the priests and offer the necessary cleansing gift? On the other hand, if Jesus regarded the laws concerning contact with lepers as authoritative, then why is their no mention of Jesus being defiled through his contact with the leper and going before the priests himself to be cleansed? It is obvious not only from Jesus’ command to the leper to go and be cleansed in the temple but also from his statements directly before in the Sermon on the Mount that he regarded the written law as perfect and authoritative. On this point he agreed with all three major Jewish sects at the time: the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the Essenes.[23] Understanding where Jesus and the Jews at the time disagreed can be found by dealing with the second question. It would seem at first glance that Jesus is a hypocrite by requiring the newly healed leper to go and be cleansed in the temple but not hold himself to the same standards of Judaic purification from contact with leprosy. And if Jesus were not God, it would be hypocrisy.

When Jesus touched the leper, Matthew wrote, “Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” There was no period of healing. The natural process of scabs and scarring didn’t occur. The moment Jesus touched him, it was as if the leprosy had never been there. One explanation is that Jesus was a hypocrite and disregarded the Law when it applied to himself. Surely many of the Jews at the time would have seen him this way, which is evident by the fact the religious leaders of the day wanted to and eventually did kill him. But if he was a hypocrite, how did he ever have the power to heal the leper in the first place? There is another explanation: Jesus never actually came in contact with leprous skin. Jesus was a man and as a man he was bound to the Judaic laws of purity and defilement. However, Jesus was also God, the God of life who separated himself and his people from death as an act of holiness. It is not that Jesus didn’t reach out and touch the leper, or that he didn’t reach out and touch the skin that had leprosy. At the exact moment the dead and defiled skin touched the hand of the Lord of life, it ceased being defiled and passed from impure to pure. Jesus didn’t need to cleanse himself because no defilement occurred.

Jesus and the Jews at the time did not disagree on the importance and authority of the Judaic laws of purity and defilement found in the Books of Moses. The Jews at the time, especially the Pharisees and the Essenes, spent their whole life trying to keep the Law to the very letter.[24] The point of departure between the Jews and Jesus came from the position they approached the laws of purity and defilement. The Jews approached the Law as men bound to uphold it. This is why Paul later in his epistles called them slaves to the Law. They had no other option than to strive and keep the law as perfectly as they could. Jesus did not approach the law as a slave but rather as the Lord of the law. He was the fulfiller of the Law coming to bring a New Covenant to God’s people. Therefore, the interaction of Jesus and the leper does not show Jesus to be breaking the Law, but using the law to show that He was God. Nobody but God had the power and authority to transform the dead and defiled skin of the leper into living and pure skin with the touch of His hand. Jesus never touched defiled skin because He, the living God, brings life to all he touches. If he didn’t, he would betray his own holiness.

Jesus and Corpses

This same principle can be applied to the way Jesus dealt with Jairus’ dead daughter. The most defiling thing, or at least the thing which had the longest period of defilement, was contact with a corpse (Numbers 19). Given that law, it would seem strange for Jesus to enter into the room of a girl who had just died and touch her hand. But that is exactly what Jesus does in Luke 8:40-56. After it is reported that Jairus’ daughter has died, Jesus follows Jairus to his home and enters the room where his dead daughter was laying. Luke records, “But taking her by the hand he called, saying, ‘Child, arise.’ And her spirit returned, and she got up at once.” (Luke 8:54-55) If Jesus weren’t God, this would have been a defiling act requiring him to be defiled for seven days. But there is no record of him purifying himself. Just as before with the leper, either Jesus is ignoring the laws of purification and defilement or he is showing once again that he is Lord of the law and the eternal giver of life. The corpse did not defile Jesus for the same reason the leper didn’t defile him; anything that touched him was given life and made pure instantly.

These two scenes, including numerous other ones, show the main difference between Jesus and the Jews of the time being Christ’s lordship and the nation’s slavery to the laws of purity and defilement. As offensive as Jesus’ rejection of the oral tradition and elevation of moral purity was to the Pharisees, his treatment of the written law concerning purity and defilement was what put Jesus in opposition to all Jewish sects at the time and ultimately led to his death. There were Jews who rejected the oral tradition (Sadducees) and many Jews who criticized the moral failure of the Jewish leadership. That aspect of Jesus’ stance on purity and defilement, although important, was not necessarily unique to him at the time and wouldn’t have inevitably resulted in his death. What made Jesus unique was the seemingly blasphemous way he treated the written Law of Moses. Regardless of the differences between the Jewish sects at the time, none of them tolerated a man claiming to be God or doing things, like healing lepers and raising corpses back to life without a need for purifying himself afterwards, that identified himself as God. By any Jews standard at the time, the punishment for blasphemy was death, which is exactly what Jesus received.

Jesus and the Crucifixion

Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. He lived his life as Lord of the Law and not as a mere follower of the Law. Although this point is difficult for the modern mind to see, it was obvious to the Jews at the time. It was so obvious to them that he was crucified because of it. When looking at the crucifixion through the scope of the laws of purity and defilement, the full impact of this great act of love and the nature of Christ as the fulfiller of the Law can be seen. Although Jesus had come in contact with things that were defiled during his ministry, he himself was never defiled because of His God-ness. Every defiled thing he touched immediately became pure. These acts were sufficient enough to make those individuals physically pure in the eyes of the Judaic law. However, Jesus did not come to only physically purify the few people who came in contact with him, he came to purify humanity. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

God knew the only way to purify humanity was to take the defilement caused by sin upon himself. By dying a sinner’s death, God gave up his livingness, forfeited his purity, and defiled himself by becoming a corpse. This was the first and only time in history in which God became defiled. Just as the slain goat takes on the defilement of the sacrificer by death, Jesus did the same. The God of life became death and thus exchanged his livingness for the deadness of humanity, making mankind pure and living. Furthermore, just as Jesus had the power to give life to the leper’s skin and purify Jairus’ daughter’s corpse by returning it to life, God not only took upon man’s defilement through death, but he conquered and purified it through his resurrection. Therefore, not only has defilement been removed from mankind through the crucifixion, but it has been purified and eradicated completely through the empty tomb. This is how the Law was fulfilled through Christ and the ultimate expression of how radically different Jesus was from the Jews at the time. Even in the tediousness of Judaic laws of purity and defilement, Jesus showed himself to be Lord and glorified His Father who sent him.


Jesus opposed the oral tradition held by the Pharisees concerning purification and defilement and elevated the moral purity as the priority to ritual purity. However, this is not what made him unique. Jesus’ uniqueness came in his role as Lord and Fulfiller of the written Judaic laws of purity and defilement. Jesus showed this stance in his healing of lepers, resuscitation of corpses, and ultimately through his own death and resurrection.[25] God, being a living God, separated him and his people from the contamination of death. When Jesus showed himself to be the giver of life through healing defiled people, the Jews perceived the actions as blasphemous and executed him. The Jews, who were bound to uphold the Law, could not conceive of a man acting to fulfill it. Thus, Jesus’ views of purity and defilement found in the written law were irreconcilable with those of the Jews at the time. And it was that conflict that ultimately led to the Laws fulfillment and the ushering in of a New Covenant.

[1] All Scripture quoted from English Standard Version

[2] Mary Douglas, In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) 21-22.

[3] Jonathan Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) 53.

[4] Ibid. 53-54.

[5] Ibid. 55.

[6] Ibid. 55

[7] Emanuel Feldman, Biblical and Post-Biblical Defilement and Mourning: Law as Theology, ed. Norman Lamm (New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1977) 9, 10, 19.

[8] Ibid. 25.

[9] Ibid. 26.

[10] Ibid. 34.

[11] Ibid. 35.

[12] Mary Douglas, In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) 23.

[13] Ibid. 24.

[14] Josephus, The Jewish Wars: 128 as quoted in Todd S. Beall, Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988) 19.

[15] Neil F. Wolfe, The Theology of the Pharisees, Master’s Thesis (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1954) 11.

[16] Mary Douglas, In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) 23.

[17] Adolf Buchler, Studies in Sin and Atonement in the Rabbinic Literature of the First Century, ed. Harry M. Orlinsky (New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1967) 237.

[18] Neil F. Wolfe, The Theology of the Pharisees, Master’s Thesis (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1954) 25.

[19] Ibid. 25.

[20] Todd S. Beall, Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988) 19.

[21] Neil F. Wolfe, The Theology of the Pharisees, Master’s Thesis (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1954) 15.

[22] Emanuel Feldman, Biblical and Post-Biblical Defilement and Mourning: Law as Theology, ed. Norman Lamm (New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1977) 29.

[23] John W. Wenham, “Christ’s View of Scripture,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler, 3-36 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980) 10-11.

[24] Neil F. Wolfe, The Theology of the Pharisees, Master’s Thesis (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1954) 11.

[25] This list is not exhaustive. There are numerous instances in which Jesus came across defilement and purified them through his touch. These are just the three this paper focused on.


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  1. Pingback: A 3-Pronged, 2-Tiered Foundation for Effective Evangelism | Shouts From the Wilderness

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