The following English Bible translations varied in how they render the phrase ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος.

''in the sanctification of the Spirit'' (ESV)

''by the sanctifying work of the Spirit'' (NASB)

''His Spirit has made you holy'' (NLT)

I think that the ESV reading is the most literal. However, I doubt that it's the case. I did some research and I found out that the the Greek preposition ἐν in this verse is in the instrumental dative.

How can we accurately translate the Greek phrase ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος into English?

up vote 1 down vote accepted

While the ESV is the most literal, it remains vague; the NASB conveys meaning.

God has chosen (elected) us before the foundation of the world (i.e., by His foreknowledge) “to be holy and blameless before Him in love.”1 It is the Holy Spirit that effects this sanctification (process of becoming holy).

Albert Barnes wrote,2

The election that was purposed by the Father was carried into effect by the agency of the Spirit in making them holy.

Hence, «ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος» may be understood as “by means of the sanctification of the [Holy] Spirit.”

Finally, the genitive «πνεύματος»—“of the Spirit”—may be best understood as a genitive of producer. That is to say, “by the sanctification produced (effected) by the Holy Spirit.”


Footnotes

1 Eph. 1:4
2 Barnes, p. 113

References

Barnes, Albert. Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude. Rev. ed. New York: Harper, 1875.

The two important words in 1 Peter 1:2 are:

  • "sanctification" which is a noun, dative case, and so should be "by/for sanctification"
  • "Spirit" which is a genitive noun here and so should be "of the Spirit"

However, our English word "sanctification" does not convey the force of the Greek ἁγιασμῷ which is having been set apart or separated/dedicated for special use. (The Latin word "sanctus" means the same as the Greek "hagios" and the old English "holy" but "sanctified" this has a specialised meaning in modern English.) In the case of the "saints" it is obviously "separated/dedicated to God (and His service)". see BDAG, and Vine etc.

Thus, we could translate this 1 Peter 1:1-3 as:

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to chosen exiles of [the] dispersion … according to foreknowledge of God [the] Father by separation of [the] Spirit, [resulting] in obedience ....".

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