Holy and Wholly.

I wonder, how many of us know the difference between the two?  When I first saw the word “wholly”, I have to admit that I thought maybe it was just another way to spell “holy”.  Still…I was curious about the difference.  It seemed like there must be a reason for the “w”. 

I saw “wholly” in a song that our praise team sings at church.  The song speaks of wanting to be “wholly”.  Then, in my bible reading, I began to see “wholly” again.  Many times over the last two weeks, I have read the word “wholly”.  With my curiosity at an all-time high, I began to search out the difference between the two.

“Holy” as defined by the dictionary is:  “Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred; set apart for a religious purpose; regarded or deserving special respect or reverence.

Some biblical examples of “holy” are:

  • 1 Peter 1:15-16            “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy“.”

  • Revelation 15:4            “Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify Your name?  For You alone are holy.”

“Wholly” is defined as:  “Exclusively; to the fullest extent; without exception; in its entirety; completely; purely.”

Some biblical examples of “wholly” are:

  • Numbers 32:11 & 12          “…because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.” 
  • Deuteronomy 1:36             “except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord.”

So, what I have learned, and what I would like to share with you today is that God is BOTH “Holy” and “Wholly”….exclusively and entirely deserving special respect and reverence.  He wants us to consider Him as our complete, without exception, one and only God, sacred, set apart, and exclusive. 

Consider these praise song lyrics: 

“Holy is the Lord, God Almighty,

The earth is full of His Glory.

Holy is the Lord, God Almighty,

The earth is full of His Glory.

The earth is full of His Glory.”

Holy means sacred.  God is sacred, and worthy of reverence.  He, in Himself, is the definition of the word “holy” and no action of ours can or will change that.

Now…sing the same song, and add a “w” changing the word “holy” to “wholly” would make it mean something like this:

“(Exclusive) is the Lord, God Almighty,

The earth is full of His Glory.

(Exclusive) is the Lord, God Almighty,

The earth is full of His Glory.

The earth is full of His Glory.”

As we consider the state of our hearts, how many of us can sing this with conviction?  Although God is exclusive in His own being, we often fail to recognize Him as the exclusive God in our lives.  The word “wholly” requires action for us.  If we do consider God “wholly”, then we will put aside our other “gods” and follow Him.  Money, fame, fortune, popularity, habits, hobbies, family, friends, time, pride, selfishness, and many other things become our “god” so easily. 

We must remember that our God is complete — pure and exclusive, and far more valuable than any other.   




Filed under Bible, Children, Church, Commitment, Contemporary, Ethics, Family, Father, Friends, God, Holy, Identity, Priorities, Wholly, Wisdom, Worship

2 responses to “Holy and Wholly.

  1. It’s so easy to put other things, even people, ahead of God. We have to be willing to put those things on the altar and give God our all. Not always easy, that’s for sure!

  2. Julie

    Hi Beverly! Welcome to “God Is…”! Thanks for your thoughts! You stress a very good point about putting people ahead of God. The bible says that we should love God more than people, including our family. When I stop to think about that, I realize that it means more than my husband, and more than my children. If there came a day where I had to choose against my family, it would be very difficult. The thought of it certainly puts a greater perspective on our Christian walk, huh? Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll return soon 🙂

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