Consecrate, Consecration

See also Consecrate

CONSECRATE, CONSECRATION. The verbal form, “consecrate,” connotes the induction of a person into a sacral office by means of a religious rite, or the declaration of a thing or object to be sacred. The nominative form “consecration” indicates an act by which a person or thing is set apart to a sacred cause or purpose. Involved is frequently the confirmation by religious ceremonies or rites; the word may also indicate an act by which a thing, event, or person becomes memorable or significant.

The major portion of the usages of the terms occurs in the OT and in portions of the NT which are most intimately related by content or symbolism to the Levitical system. In a few cases, particularly in the NT, the basic idea is carried by words other than those usually tr. “consecrate” or “consecration.”


The basic meaning of these terms is that of separation from common or profane use, and dedication to a sacral purpose or use. Implied is the motif of solemnity, as well as an act of will or purpose upon the part either (a) of that which is being set apart, or (b) the one so sacralizing a person or thing. The application of “consecration” to objects includes among other instances, the following: the furniture of the Tabernacle and Temple (2 Chron 7:9), the Temple itself (Ezra 6:16, 17). The booty taken at the conquest of Jericho was so set apart (Josh 6:19).

When applied to individuals, the terms suggest not only the motif of setting apart for a sacred service but the acceptance by the subject of such a dedication. Thus Aaron and his sons accept as the garb of their office the garments which symbolize it (Exod 29:29, 33, 35). The same sentiment is implied in the acceptance by Israel of the curses and blessings pronounced, respectively, from Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim (Deut 27 and 29).


2. NT usage of the terms. The words “consecrate” and “consecration” occur less frequently in the NT than in the old. Major words so tr. are ἐγκαινίζω, G1590, and τελειόω, G5457. The former of these occurs in Hebrews 10:20 in connection with “the new and living way” opened up by our Lord, a way “which he opened for us.” The latter is employed in Hebrews 7:28 to describe the Son, the high priest “who has been made perfect.” The former usage suggests the dedication of a thing to a sacred service; the latter describes the eternal dedication of Jesus Christ to the ultimate and final Priesthood, surpassing that of Aaron.

The RSV expands the number of usages of the term “consecrate” and “consecration,” particularly in the NT. Among these are, esp., the following cases of the tr. of hagiazo (John 10:36; 17:17, 19; 1 Cor 7:14; 1 Tim 4:5 and 2 Tim 2:21). As applied to the Lord, the usages signify the endowment with fullness of grace and truth, and his self-dedication to his redemptive work; as applied to the disciples it suggests political setting apart and personal sanctification; as applied to food it indicates it being rendered licit by prayer; and as applied to unbelieving marital partners, it suggests that Christian sanctity is, in some degree, passed over from the believing one as a concomitant of the intimacy of the relationship.

Usages of קָדַשׁ, H7727, in the OT which are rendered “sanctify” or “sanctified” in the KJV are frequently tr. by “consecrate” or “consecrates” or “consecrated” in the RSV while similar interchange appears between the VSS in the renditions of ἁγιάζω, G39.

The root idea of consecration is borne by certain other words in NT, as for example παραστῆσαι (Rom 12:1), where it is tr. “present.”

Ecclesiastical consecration forms a special subject, being treated historically and systematically, and in relation to modern liturgism, in HERE, IV, 58-64 (q.v.).

Bibliography Word Study. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890), 216; J. Hastings, “Consecrate, Consecration,” in HDB, I (1898), 475; T. Rees, “Consecrate, Consecration,” ISBE, II (1915), 703, 704; C. L. Felloe, “Consecration,” HERE, IV (1917), 58-64; Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible (22nd ed., [n.d.]), 198, 834; Nelson’s Complete Concordance to the RSV Bible (1957), 350, and cf. 1956.

Source Material: H. O. Wiley, Christian Theology, II (1940), 467; L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology (1948), 384-388; C. F. Henry, Basic Christian Doctrines (1962), 227-233; J. O. Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, II (1963), 205-215; C. F. H. Henry, ed., Christian Faith and Modern Theology (1964), 373-386.