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Reference: Purity


1. Ceremonial purity is acquired by the due observance of external rites. The Jewish law prescribed various regulations by means of which outward defilement might be removed and the 'unclean' person be restored to fellowship with God. But the OT recognizes that moral purity is essential to acceptable worship of the Holy God (Ps 24:4); the question of Eliphaz expresses the conviction of those who know how absolute is the Divine holiness: 'Shall a man be pure before his Maker?' (Job 4:17 Revised Version margin); only to the man who 'purifies himself' can such a God reveal His glory (Ps 18:26, the verb is reflexive). The writer of the Ep. to the Hebrews reminds Christians who were familiar with the OT ceremonial of purification that the voluntary sacrifice of the Son of God is the means of purification under the new and better Covenant; 'the blood of Christ' removes the inward defilement which unfits sinful men for the service of the living God (Ps 9:13 f.).

2. In the NT 'pure' has the more restricted meaning of 'chaste' in a few passages. Underlying the true reading of '/2-Corinthians/11/3'>2Co 11:3, 'the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ,' is the metaphor of 2Co 11:2 (RV), 'I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ' (cf. Tit 2:5; 1Pe 3:2). The same noun is tr 'pureness' in 2Co 6:8 (RV); cf. 1Ti 4:12; 5:2; also, for the wider meaning of the verb, Jas 4:8; 1Pe 1:22; 1Jo 3:3; and of the adjective, Php 4:8; 1Ti 5:22; Jas 3:17. See, further, art. Holiness.

J. G. Tasker.

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