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In Mark 1:24, a demon tells Jesus "I know who you are—the Holy One of God!" This title is surprising since the title "the Son of God" is used to introduce Jesus in 1:1. Obviously the title denotes Jesus' holiness here, but what connotations would it have had? Is it a kingly title? Priestly title? Divine title?

In the New Testament it's used in the parallel passage in Luke 4:34, but also in John 6:69 in a passage reminiscent of Peter's confession in Mark 8 of Jesus as the "Son of God." But I couldn't find other usages of the title in a wider search. Was this a known title at the time? If so, what are its roots?

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I found this very interesting. – John Martin May 19 '14 at 0:51

3 Answers 3

The Septuagint (LXX) mentions the "the Holy One of Israel" (τοῦ θεοῦ ... τοῦ ἁγίου Ισραηλ) in Isaiah 55:5, and the reference is to King David, who is the anointed one. (Ps 16:10 also mentions "your Holy One," but uses instead "οὐδὲ δώσεις τὸν ὅσιόν σου ἰδεῖν διαφθοράν" in reference to the anointed one, who appears to be King David in the immediate context.) The spirits addressing Jesus as the "Holy One" appear to be referring to him as the anointed, because he (Jesus) later admonishes them not to disclose that he is the Christ (Luke 4:41). For those demons who did not heed, their apparent fate included consignment to the torment of the abyss (Luke 8:28-31).

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The Greek word here is hagios, and Strong's concordance defines this as 'set apart', 'holy' or 'sacred'. To this extent, the words of the demon are not unexpected.

The Oxford Annotated Bible, page 1792, says , “Son of God is missing in the earliest manuscripts.” It is, for example, missing in the Sinaiticus manuscript. Also the third-century Church theologian Origen omits the phrase ‘Son of God’ in Mark 1:1. The import of this is that the words 'Son of God' was missing in the original version of Mark 1:1. Thus, there is no incongruity between verses 1:1 and 1:24 (Holy One of God).

I have noted that, in Mark's Gospel, only outsiders ever refer to Jesus as "Son of God," an observation that would be out of place with this as an assertion in verse 1:1. It is as if the gospel's author was being cautious to protect the early Christian community from Jewish claims of blasphemy. The other New Testament gospels, being later, were increasingly willing to ignore Jewish sensitivities.

The overwhelming consensus of modern New Testament scholars is that Luke's Gospel was substantialy based on Mark's Gospel. We see this in Luke 4:34, which is therefore not an independent witness to this event.

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You aren't going to like this answer, but ... please be gentle!

The "Kosher" Answer:

Perhaps this was in reference to Holy, Holy, Holy, in Isaiah 6:1

The Un-Kosher Answer:

References to the Messiah, as "the Holy One", can be found in the First Book of Enoch, Chapter 1.

The canonization of Scripture obviously did not occur until well after the Disciples walked the Earth.

The first Book of Enoch was considered a very important part of Scripture.

During that period of time, and in that culture, it was unmistakable as to what was being referred to.

This is not the only place in the New Testament where the Book of Enoch is referenced.

One of the translations of the First Book of Enoch

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