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?


6 Answers 6


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).


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.


Question Restatement

Why did the demons refer to Jesus as the "Holy One" -- and why would they have associated this with their "judgment"?

Alternative Answer

As an extra-biblical alternative to Psalms 16:10, Habbakuk 3:3, etc ...

References to the Messiah, as "the Holy One", can be found from the very beginning of the First Book of Enoch.

"Holy One/(s)" is used throughout this book, (chapter 25 and 37 esp.).

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

CCEL, Enoch 1:3-5 -

Concerning the elect I said, and took up my parable concerning them: My Holy Great One will come forth from His dwelling, 4 And the eternal God will tread upon the earth, (even) on Mount Sinai, [And appear from His camp] And appear in the strength of His might from the heaven of heavens. 5 And all shall be smitten with fear And the Watchers shall quake, And great fear and trembling shall seize them unto the ends of the earth.

NOTE: CCEL, et al do not use "My", but rather "the" -- although "mou, (Greek Text)" is in the Greek. Either way, I cannot understate the translation questions with this book. Although its dating is certainly before Jesus -- the oldest manuscripts are in Ethiopic and Aramaic.

Enoch, Authenticity:

In order for the reply by the "demons" to make sense -- it has to meet fulfill three requirements: (1.) It has to reference "the holy one of God"; (2.) Has to be in reference to prophecy that predated Jesus; (3.) and it would have had to also prophesy their judgment.

Enoch fulfills all three requirements, (but just the first book of Enoch).

The first Book of Enoch was considered a very important part of Scripture, and cited even in the New Testament.


Because of this, when rereading Isaiah, etc, it raises the question whether "holy one" is actually a distinct identity in all of those passages -- though this would not be understood without the context of Enoch.

One of the translations of the First Book of Enoch http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/boe/boe004.htm


This title is surprising since the title "the Son of God" is used to introduce Jesus in 1:1

Jesus has many titles:King of kings,Lord of lords,Lamb of God,Son of man,Faithful and True,Lion of the tribe of Judah.Holy One is one of them.

but what connotations would it have had? Is it a kingly title? Priestly title? Divine title?

It is both a divine and kingly title

I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, and your King Isaiah 43:15

The Holy One is also connected with the narrow path spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14

Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" Isaiah 30:11

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Matthew 7:13-14

Conclusion : Jesus is the Holy One and creator of Israel.The only legitimate King of Israel(Zechariah 9:9)

  • Not so fast. The OT clearly identifies God (the Father) as the Holy One of Israel. Jesus is the Holy One of God. These are two different titles for two different individuals.
    – moron
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 20:55

The Holy one of God and the other 'Son of God' descriptors are quite telling - being that they come from sources in the spirit world that are not Godly, but quite other - evil.

They knew exactly who Jesus was and what his credentials were. They were quite specific in NOT calling him God at any time, but one who was of God in senses of holy and son.

Jesus wasn't just a sinless man - they knew that! They also knew, because of his sinless, uncorrupted state, he had a connection with God that was not seen since (the first) Adam.

Something important was going on here and they had better behave in his presence - and obey as required. Mark 3:11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." They weren't worshipping, they were in fear and awe.

What is indicated is, God was doing something new - something spoken of for millennia - before the world was re-created in Genesis. This second Adam was going to shake things up and they would never be the same again - their days of running amok were almost over!

The disciples/apostles were able to 'tap into' the connection Jesus has with his Father and God and they also had power and authority over evil spirits - in Jesus holy name.


Mark 1:24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"

ὁ Ἅγιος Υἱὸς, the holy of God

Only 2 chapters later,

Mark 3:11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."

ὁ Υἱὸς Υἱὸς, the Son of God

Mark 5:6 When the man saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees before Him. 7And he shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God not to torture me!”

All three refer to the Holy Son of the Most High God. Strictly speaking, it was a new divine title known to the angels and demons as announced by Gabriel in

Luke 1:35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

It was public knowledge to the angels and demons that Jesus was the one and only Son of God.

  • Actually, angels are also Sons of God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Angels were created, Jesus was begotten of the Father, he literally came out of the Father in eternity past.
    – moron
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 20:59

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