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If you missed the earlier installments of this excellent series from Teaching the Word Ministries, you can read them here: 

Part 1    Part 2

The Sinless Perfection of Christ in the Old Testament

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

The identity of Jesus Christ as the Holy One is not only a New Testament doctrine. We find in writ large for us throughout the Old Testament as well.

In the first two installments of this series we focused primarily on the false teachings to be found in the 21st-century church that deny the sinless perfection of Jesus Christ. We now turn to the Scriptures to set forth the truth about Christ.

The sinless perfection of Christ is a cardinal doctrine from the very beginning of Scripture. It is a primary element of God’s unfolding plan of redemption, from Genesis to Revelation.

Believers under the Old Covenant came to understand that sinless perfection would be a key identifying mark of the coming Messiah. The promised Savior would be “the Holy One of Israel.” Early Christians of the New Covenant recognized that the long-awaited Holy One had come, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. They recognized that His virgin birth, sinless life, and resurrection from the dead were all attesting signs of His perfection, as we will see in a later article.

Qadosh Yisrael

The doctrine of the sinless perfection of Christ is evident as early as Genesis chapter 3, as Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord in shame of their sin. The doctrine is continually developed throughout the Pentateuch as well as in the historical, poetic, and prophetic books of the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit further unfolds the doctrine of Christ’s sinless perfection as His written revelation progresses in the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse.

“Holy One” as a title of Deity first appears in the book of Job (6:10) which is thought to be one of the oldest books in the canon. In God’s unfolding revelation, the title “Holy One” is first used as a general reference to God, but later it becomes a more specific reference to the Messiah, especially in the title “Holy One of Israel.” This title (in Hebrew, qadosh Yisrael) appears 31 times in the Old Testament, mainly in the prophetic books – 25 times in Isaiah alone.

Frequently the Lord invokes this name in speaking against the sin of Israel:

Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel. (2 Kings 19:22)

Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 78:41)

Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward. (Isaiah 1:4)

This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: “Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perversity, and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant. And He shall break it like the breaking of the potter’s vessel, which is broken in pieces; He shall not spare. So there shall not be found among its fragments a shard to take fire from the hearth, or to take water from the cistern.” For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not, and you said, “No, for we will flee on horses” – Therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses” – Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! (Isaiah 30:9-15)

Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 37:23)

David and the prophets speak repeatedly of the salvation that is found in the Holy One of Israel:

As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 47:4)

Also with the lute I will praise You – and Your faithfulness, O my God! To You I will sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 71:22)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face. Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 89:14-18)

Isaiah speaks of the fact that the Gentiles would find salvation in the Holy One of Israel as well as the Jews:

Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you. (Isaiah 55:5)

The title translated “Holy One” (which in Hebrew is either qadosh or occasionally the word hasid) appears by itself an additional 22 times in reference to Deity. One of the most notable is the prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Psalm 16, which is quoted three times in the book of Acts alone:

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)

Hebrew Words Carried Into New Testament Greek

The Hebrew words for these titles are significant. Qadosh signifies one who is sacred, holy, and set apart for a holy purpose. Hasid signifies one who is faithful as well as holy. The writers of the Old Testament, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ascribed these names to the One who would save His people from their sins. He would be free from sin, set apart to do His Father’s will, and faithful in fulfilling the whole law.

The title “Holy One” is the crucial identifier of Jesus Christ as the sinless redeemer. It is carried over into the New Testament, as we shall see, in the use of the wordhagios, which is the Greek equivalent of qadosh, and the word hosios, which is the equivalent of hasid.

Next: Messianic Prophecies of the Holy One

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