sanctification, sanctify

The Greek that is translated in English as “sanctify” or “sanctification” is translated in Balanta-Kentohe “separated to God.” (Source: Rob Koops)

Other translations include:

  • San Blas Kuna: “giving a man a good heart”
  • Panao Huánuco Quechua: “God perfects us”
  • Laka: “God calls us outside to Himself” (“This phrase is derived from the practice of a medicine man, who during the initiation rites of apprentices calls upon the young man who is to follow him eventually and to receive all of his secrets and power. From the day that this young man is called out during the height of the ecstatic ceremony, he is identified with his teacher as the heir to his position, authority, and knowledge.”) (Source for this and above: Nida 1952, p. 147)
  • Mezquital Otomi: “live a pure life”
  • Hopi: “unspotted”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “clean-hearted”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “be servants of God”
  • Central Tarahumara: “only live doing good as God desires” (source for this and four above: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)
  • Mairasi: “one’s life/behavior will be very straight” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Enlhet: “new / clean innermost” (“Innermost” or valhoc is a term that is frequently used in Enlhet to describe a large variety of emotions or states of mind (for other examples see here).) (Source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff. )
  • Tibetan: dam par ‘gyur (དམ་​པར་​འགྱུར།), lit. “holy + become” (used for instance in 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Cor. 6:11, 1 Cor. 7:14, or 1 Thess. 4:3) or gtsang bar byed (གཙང་​བར་​བྱེད།), lit. “make clean” (used for instance in Heb. 9:13) (source: gSungrab website )
The choices for translation of “sanctification” in the Indonesian Common Language Bible (Alkitab dalam Bahasa Indonesia Masa Kini, publ. 1985) differed according to context. (Click or tap here to see details)

“In Romans, hagiasmos [“sanctification”] occurs twice in chapter 6, in verses 19 and 22. It is used in relation to believers who are called to be saints (1:7), who are under grace (6:15), who have been set free from sin to become slaves of righteousness (6:18). Therefore here hagiasmos not only refers to God’s act of consecration, but also to the believer’s moral activity arising out of this state. It is this aspect that the translators have stressed in verse 19: ‘… so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification’ has been translated untuk maksud-maksud Allah yang khusus: ‘for God’s specific purposes.’ So also in verse 22 ‘… the return you get is sanctification’ has been translated hidup khusus untuk Allah: ‘living for God alone.’

“!In 1 Corinthians 1:30: ‘… in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption,’ hagiasmos is put in a parallel position to wisdom, righteousness and redemption, and is rooted in Christ. In view of the parallel concepts, it is clear a result is indicated here. The believers are holy because they are ‘in Christ’ who is intrinsically holy. Hagiasmos here has been rendered as: umatnya yang khusus: ‘his own people.’

“In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, hagiasmos involves abstaining from unchastity (verse 3) and is contrasted with uncleanness (verse 7), while in verse 4 it is used as a parallel with ‘honor’ to modify the verb. Hagiasmos is here rooted in the will of God, and calls for moral conduct. The translators translate hagiasmos in verse 3 as hidup khusus untuk dia: ‘live for him alone,’ and in verses 4 and 5 menyenangkan hati Allah: ‘pleasing God’s heart.’

“The expression in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ‘sanctification by the spirit’ (en hagiasmo pneumatos), is generally understood as sanctification or consecration effected by the Holy Spirit. This consecration was effected at the moment of conversion. The translation here is umat Allah yang suci: ‘God’s holy people.’

“The noun also appears in the Pastorals once (1 Timothy 2:15), where, in view of the context, it clearly denotes ethical behavior. The translators translate as hidup khusus untuk Allah: ‘living for God alone,’ but perhaps it would be better here to translate it with hidup tanpa vela: ‘lead a blameless life,’ which would suit the context better.

“In conclusion then, to translate hagiasmos in a way that is meaningful to the average modern reader, it may often be necessary to render it by a phrase which brings out the primary meaning of the term. If it refers to the act of consecration, this phrase should include the notion of belonging to God, and if it refers to the conduct of the believer, the phrase should stress the idea of pleasing God and refraining from evil.” (Source: Pericles Katoppo in The Bible Translator 1987, p. 429ff. )

Father (address for God)

The Greek that is translated with the capitalized “Father” in English when referring to God is translated in Highland Totonac with the regular word for (biological) father to which a suffix is added to indicate respect. The same also is used for “Lord” when referring to Jesus. (Source: Hermann Aschmann in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 171ff. )

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

In the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017, God the Father is addressed with mi-chichi (御父). This form has the “divine” honorific prefix mi– preceding the archaic honorific form chichi for “father.”

If, however, Jesus addresses his Father, he is using chichi-o (父を) which is also highly respectful but does not have the “divine” honorific.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also Lord.

brother (fellow believer)

The Greek that is translated in English as “brother” or “brother and sister” (in the sense of fellow believers), is translated with a specifically coined word in Kachin: “There are two terms for brother in Kachin. One is used to refer to a Christian brother. This term combines ‘older and younger brother.’ The other term is used specifically for addressing siblings. When one uses this term, one must specify if the older or younger person is involved. A parallel system exists for ‘sister’ as well. In [these verses], the term for ‘a Christian brother’ is used.” (Source: Gam Seng Shae)

In Martu Wangka it is translated as “relative” (this is also the term that is used for “follower.”) (Source: Carl Gross)

See also brothers.

complete verse (Hebrews 2:11)

Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 2:11:

  • Uma: “Yesus makes us holy/clean from our sins. He who makes holy and we whom he makes holy, we all have one Father. That is why he is not ashamed to say that we are his relatives.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa cleansed mankind from their sins. He and the people he cleansed have all just one father. Therefore Isa is not ashamed to call them his siblings/brothers.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “As for Jesus, He has already removed our (incl.) sins. And today, as for us who have had our sins removed, and as for Him who removed our sins, we only have one father, which is God. And because of this, Jesus is not ashamed of us but rather He names us His younger siblings.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Jesus who is making-us -into the holy people of God and we whom he is making holy, there is one Father of us all, so Jesus is not ashamed to say that we are his siblings/cousins (henceforth brothers).” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because the Father of this Jesus who cleanses people from their sin, (he is) also the Father of these people that he is cleansing. Therefore Jesus is not ashamed to call them his siblings.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “And now Jesus has cleared our sins. His Father now is the one who is our Father. Therefore Jesus is not ashamed to say that we are his siblings.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Jesus

The Greek Iēsous is “only” a proper name but one with great importance. The following quote by John Ellington (in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 401ff. ) illustrates this:

“In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ, Joseph is told that when Mary gives birth to a son ‘you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ (1:21). This name is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name [Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ) which is a short form of a name meaning] ‘the Lord [Yahweh] saves.’ The name is very significant and is in itself especially dear to Christians around the world. (…) Unquestionably great importance is attached to the name of Jesus by Christians of all persuasions and backgrounds.”

While Iēsous (pronounced: /i.ɛː.suːs/) is transliterated as “Jesus” (pronounced /ˈdʒiːzəs/) in English (but was translated as “Hælend” [the “healing one”] in Old English — see Swain 2019) it is transliterated and pronounced in a large variety of other ways as well, following the different rules of different languages’ orthographies, writing systems and rules of pronunciation. The following is a (partial) list of forms of Jesus in Latin characters: aYeso, Azezi, Cecoc, Chesús, Chi̍i̍sū, Ciisahs, Ciise, Ciisusu, Djesu, Ɛisa, Ƹisa, Eyesu, Gesù, Gesû, Gesü, Ġesù, Ghjesù, Giêsu, ꞌGiê‑ꞌsu, Giê-xu, Gyisɛse, Hesu, Hesús, Hisus, Hisuw, Ià-sŭ, Iesen, Ié:sos, Iesu, Iesui, Iesusɨn, Iesusiva, Ié:sos, Ihu, Iisus, Ijeesu, iJisọsị, Iji̍sɔ̄ɔsi, Iosa, Íosa, Ìosa, İsa, I’sa, Isiso, Ísu, Isus, Isusa, Iisussa, Isuthi, Itota, Îtu, Isuva, Izesu, Izesuq, Jasus, Jeeju, Jeesus, Jeesus, Jeezas, Jehu, Jeisu, Jeju, Jejus, Jeso, Jesoe, Jesosa, Jesoshi, Jesosy, Jesu, Jesû, Jesua, Jesuh, Jesuhs, Jesús, Jésus, Jesúsu, Jethu, Jezed, Jezi, Jézi, Ježiš, Jezu, Jezus, Jézus, Jėzus, Jēzus, Jezusi, Jėzus, Jezuz, Jiijajju, Jíísas, Jiizas, Jíìzọ̀s, Jisas, Jisase, Jisasi, Jisasɨ, Jisasɨ, Jisaso, Jisesi, Jisɛ̀, Jisos, Jisọs, Jisɔs, Jisu, Jiszs, Jizọs, Jizɔs, Jizọsi, Jizọsu, Jòso, Jusu, Jweesus, Ketsutsi, Njises, Sesi, Sisa, Sísa, Sisas, Sīsū, Sizi, Txesusu, uJesu, Ujísɔ̄si, ŵaYesu, Xesosi, ´Xesús, Xesús, Yasu, Ya:su, Ɣaysa, Yecu, Yeeb Sub, Yeeh Suh, Yeesey, Yeeso, Yeesso, Yēēsu, Yēēsu, Yehsu, Yëësu, Yeisu, Yeisuw, Yeshu, Yeso, Yesò, Yëso, Yɛso, ye-su, Yésu, Yêsu, Yẹ́sụ̃, Yésʉs, Yeswa, Yet Sut, Yetut, Yexus, Yezo, Yezu, Yiisu, Yiitju, Yis, Yisɔs, Yisufa, Yitati, Yusu, ‑Yusu, :Yusu’, Zeezi, Zezi, Zezì, Zezwii, Ziizɛ, Zisas, Zîsɛ, Zjezus, Zozi, Zozii, and this (much more incomplete) list with other writings systems: ᔩᓱᓯ, ᒋᓴᔅ, Հիսուս, ᏥᏌ, ኢየሱስ, ያሱስ, ܝܫܘܥ, Ісус, Їисъ, 耶稣, იესო, ईसा, イエス, イイスス, イエスス, 예수, येशू, येशो, ਈਸਾ, ພຣະເຢຊູ, ජේසුස්, যীশু, ଯୀଶୁ, ཡེ་ཤུ་, ‘ঈছা, இயேசு, ಯೇಸು, ພຣະເຢຊູ, ယေရှု, ઇસુ, जेजू, येसु, เยซู, យេស៊ូ, ᱡᱤᱥᱩ, ယေသှု, యేసు, ᤕᤧᤛᤢ᤺ᤴ, އީސާގެފާނު, ਯਿਸੂ, ꕉꖷ ꔤꕢ ꕞ, ⵏ⵿ⵗⵢⵙⴰ, ଜୀସୁ, يَسُوعَ,ㄧㄝㄙㄨ, YE-SU, ꓬꓰ꓿ꓢꓴ, 𖽃𖽡𖾐𖼺𖽹𖾏𖼽𖽔𖾏, ꑳꌠ, ᠶᠡᠰᠦᠰ (note that some of these might not display correctly if your device does not have the correct fonts installed).

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In some languages the different confessions have selected different transliterations, such as in Belarusian with Isus (Ісус) by the Orthodox and Protestant churches and Yezus (Езус) by the Catholic church, Bulgarian with Iisus (Иисус) by the Orthodox and Isus (Исус) by the Protestant church, Japanese with Iesu (イエス) (Protestant and Catholic) and Iisusu (イイスス) (Orthodox), or Lingala with Yesu (Protestant) or Yezu (Catholic). These differences have come to the forefront especially during the work on interconfessional translations such as one in Lingala where “many hours were spent on a single letter difference” (source: Ellington, p. 401).

In Chinese where transliterations of proper names between the Catholic and Protestant versions typically differ vastly, the Chinese name of Jesus (Yēsū 耶稣) remarkably was never brought into question between and by those two confessions, likely due to its ingenious choice. (Click or tap here to see more).

The proper name of God in the Old Testament, Yahweh (YHWH), is rendered in most Chinese Bible translations as Yēhéhuá 耶和華 — Jehovah. According to Chinese naming conventions, Yēhéhuá could be interpreted as Yē Héhuá, in which would be the family name and Héhuá — “harmonic and radiant” — the given name. In the same manner, 耶 would be the family name of Jesus and 稣 would be his given name. Because in China the children inherit the family name from the father, the sonship of Jesus to God the Father, Jehovah, would be illustrated through this. Though this line of argumentation sounds theologically unsound, it is indeed used effectively in the Chinese church (see Wright 1953, p. 298).

Moreover, the “given name” of 稣 carries the meaning ‘to revive, to rise again’ and seems to point to the resurrected Jesus. (Source: J. Zetzsche in Malek 2002, p. 141ff., see also tetragrammaton (YHWH))

There are different ways that Bible translators have chosen historically and today in how to translate the name of Jesus in predominantly Muslim areas: with a form of the Arabic Isa (عيسى) (which is used for “Jesus” in the Qur’an), the Greek Iēsous, or, like major 20th century Bible translations into Standard Arabic, the Aramaic Yēšūaʿ: Yasua (يَسُوعَ). (Click or tap here to see more.)

Following are languages and language groups that use a form of Isa include the following (note that this list is not complete):

  • Indo-Iranian languages: Persian, Dari, Central Pashto, Southern Pashto all use Eysa (عيسی or عيسىٰ for Southern Pashto), Sindhi uses Eysey (عيسيٰ), Southern Balochi Issa (ایسّا), Central Kurdish (Sorani) and Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) use Îsa (عیسای and Иса respectively), Turkmen has Isa, and Tajik Isoi (Исои — compare Iso/Исо in the Tajik Qur’an)
  • Turkic languages: Turkish uses İsa, Kazakh, Kumyk, Nogai, Crimean Tatar all have Isa (Иса), Kirghiz has Iysa (Ыйса), Uzbek has Iso (Исо — compare Iiso/Ийсо in the Uzbek Qur’an), Bashkir uses Aaisa (Ғайса), North Azerbaijani İsa, Uighur uses Eysa (ئەيسا), and Kara-Kalpak İysa (Ийса)
  • Caucasian languages: Bezhta and Lezghian use Isa (Иса), Avaric has Aisa (ГІиса), and Chechen Iza (Иза)
  • Various African languages: Somali, a Cushitic language, has Ciise, Kabyle has Ɛisa and Tahaggart Tamahaq has Yeswa (both Berber languages), the Saharan languages Central Kanuri, Manga Kanuri have Isa, the Atlantic-Congo languages Dagbani, Mampruli, and Bimoba use Yisa, and the Chadian Arabic Bible has Isa (عِيسَى)
  • In Indonesian, while most Bible translations had already used Yesus Kristus rather than Isa al Masih, three public holidays used to be described using the term Isa Al Masih. From 2024 on the government is using Yesus Kristus in those holiday names instead (see this article in Christianity Today ).
  • Some languages have additional “TAZI” editions (TAZI stands for “Tawrat, Anbiya, Zabur, and Injil” the “Torah, Prophets, Psalms and Gospel”) of the New Testament that are geared towards Muslim readers where there is also a translation in the same language for non-Muslims. In those editions, Isa is typically used as well (for example, the Khmer TAZI edition uses Isa (អ៊ីសា) rather than the commonly used Yesaou (យេស៊ូ), the Thai edition uses Isa (อีซา) rather than Yesu (เยซู), the Chinese edition uses Ěrsā (尔撒) vs. Yēsū (耶稣), and the English edition also has Isa rather than Jesus.)

In German the name Jesus (pronounced: /ˈjeːzʊs/) is distinguished by its grammatical forms. Into the 20th century the grammatical rules prescribed a unique Greek-Latin declination: Jesus (nominative), Jesu (genitive, dative, vocative), Jesum (accusative), from which today only the genitive case “Jesu” is still in active use. Likewise, in Seediq (Taroko), the morphological treatment of “Jesus” also occupies a special category by not falling under the normal rule of experiencing a vowel reduction when the object-specific suffix an is added “since it was felt that the readers might resent that the name has been changed that drastically.” (Compare Msian for “Moses” (Mosi) as an object, but Yisuan for “Jesus” (Yisu).) (Source: Covell 1998. p. 249)

In Lamba the name ŵaYesu consists of a transliteration Yesu and the prefix ŵa, a plural form for “proper names when addressing and referring to persons in any position of seniority or honor.” While this was avoided in early translations to avoid possible misunderstandings of more than one Jesus, once the church was established it was felt that it was both “safe” and respectful to use the honorific (pl.) prefix. (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff. )

In virtually all sign languages, “Jesus” is signed with the middle finger of each hand pointing to the palm (or wrist) of the other in succession (signing the nails of the cross). In the context of Bible translation this has been pointed out as theologically problematic since the “semantic connections of the original name Jesus do point towards ‘salvation,’ they do not naturally lead to crucifixion.” (Source: Phil King in Journal of Translation 1 (2020), p. 33ff.)


“Jesus” in German Sign Language (source )

Following is the oldest remaining Ethiopian Orthodox icon of Jesus from the 14th or possibly 13th century (found in the Church of the Saviour of the World in Gurji, Ethiopia). As in many Orthodox icons, Jesus’ right hand forms the Greek letters I-C-X-C for IHCOYC XPICTOC or “Jesus Christ.” Another interpretation of the right hand is that it shows three fingers pointing to the Trinity, while the two other fingers point to Jesus’ two natures.

source (c) Jacques Mercier and Alain Mathieu

Orthodox icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

The style of the following drawing of Jesus by Annie Vallotton is described by the artist as this: “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their imagination and freedom. That is when the drawings begin to communicate.” (see here )

Illustration by Annie Vallotton, copyright by Donald and Patricia Griggs of Griggs Educational Service.

Other visual representation of Jesus in TIPs include several non-Western styles of art: traditional Korean art, traditional Chinese art, modern Chinese abstract art, northern and central Thailand’s popular art, Japanese prints.

See also this devotion on YouVersion .

Honorary are / rare constructs denoting God (“say”)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the usage of an honorific construction where the morphemes rare (られ) or are (され) are affixed on the verb as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. This is particularly done with verbs that have God as the agent to show a deep sense of reverence. Here, iw-are-ru (言われる) or “say” is used.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

Translation commentary on Hebrews 2:11

Since verse 11 may begin a new paragraph, it may be useful to introduce the subject as “Jesus”; for example, “Jesus purifies people from their sins.”

There is nothing in the Greek corresponding to He purifies people from their sins, and no CLT other than Good News Translation sees the need to add this clause. Good News Bible does so in order to make a rather sudden transition more smooth. The transition is from God to Jesus as the subject and the central person in the sentence, and from the language of salvation or rescue to the language of sanctification. However, the change is not completely unprepared. Both make … perfect in verse 10 and purifies here refer to the work of a priest.

Purifies people from their sins must in a number of languages be expressed as a causative; for example, “causes people to no longer have sin” or “… guilt.” In some instances it may be necessary to express in figurative language the means by which sins are removed; for example, “causes people’s sins to be blotted out” or “… wiped away.” In other instances it may be the attribution of guilt which is involved; for example, “causes people no longer to be guilty.”

The rendering of those who are made pure will depend on the manner in which the first clause has been translated, namely, He purifies people from their sins.

Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch follows a different interpretation which may fit the context better. It notes (a) that sins are not mentioned in this section until verse 17 (compare 1.3), and (b) that the basic meaning of “to make holy” or “sanctify” is “to claim as God’s possession.” Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch therefore continues the thought of verse 11 by translating “The one who leads men to God and those who are led by him to God are all descended from the same Father.” This has the additional advantage of making a general statement such as is perhaps more natural at the beginning of a new paragraph. Barclay has “For the consecrating priest and the consecrated people have one Father” (similarly New English Bible).

Have the same Father is literally “(are) all from one,” and “one” may be either masculine or neuter. (a) If it is neuter, the meaning will be “one origin,” as in Revised Standard Version, Bible de Jérusalem, and Traduction œcuménique de la Bible. (b) If it is masculine, the most likely meaning is that given by Good News Translation, other common language translations and Translator’s New Testament. (c) Some translations give the masculine a more general meaning, such as “one stock” (New English Bible) or “common humanity” (Phillips). (d) Older translations (King James Version, Segond [Segond], [Luther 1984], Zürcher Bibel) translate ambiguously, unclearly, and unnaturally “from one.” Meaning (b) fits much better than (a) in the wider context, which speaks of personal relationships between Father (1.5), Son (1.5, 8), brothers (2.11-12), and children (2.13). However, (c) is possible and would fit in well with verse 14.

The mere use of capitalization with the term Father may not be satisfactory in some languages for showing that God is meant, especially since many more people hear the Scriptures read than read them for themselves. Therefore it may be appropriate to translate have the same Father as “have God as their Father” or “have the same one, namely, God, as their Father.”

Ashamed is often used to describe the “loss of face” felt by someone who is treated without respect for his position or status. The meaning is that although Jesus is supreme, he nevertheless has so much in common with men that he can call them his brothers without any risk of losing his status. In some languages it may be necessary to replace is not ashamed by a positive expression. If so, “is happy” or “is content” may be used; “is proud” would be too strong.

Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers may be expressed as “Jesus does not feel bad when he calls them his brothers.” But it is often better to render this statement as “Jesus does not hesitate to call them his brothers” or even “Jesus is ready to call them his brothers.” Sometimes shame is expressed as a reaction to ridicule; for example, “Jesus is not worried if he is laughed at, when he calls them his brothers.”

Quoted with permission from Ellingworth, Paul and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on The Letter of the Hebrews. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1983. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .