In Scripture, God is described as Holy, Holy, Holy.
We find this in the writings of the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6:3, and also of the Apostle John in Revelation 4:8. Both had a vision of God on His throne and they see angels worshiping God and saying, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty…”
Why is God’s attribute “Holy” repeated? Wasn’t it enough to just say “God is HOLY”? Of course, to say, “God is HOLY”, means to say there is nothing else like Him in His Holiness.
“God’s holiness is a single perfection that would perhaps come closer to describing the eternal Creator than any characteristic He possesses. It is the union of all other attributes, as pure white light is the union of all the colored rays of the spectrum.”Harold L. Willmington
In Hebrew, when a word is repeated, it signifies greater emphasis and intensity. So, to say, “God is HOLY, HOLY” (repeating it twice), is to say, His Holiness is beyond anything else to an infinite degree.
I think we have a similar thought in English. There is a difference in emphasis if I said, “A LONG time ago…” compared to “A LONG LONG time ago…”.
Or “It happened FAR away..” compared to “It happened FAR FAR away…” We picture a degree of distance that cannot be easily comprehended, for instance.
So then, why THREE times, Holy Holy Holy? Why not TWICE, since that already would show emphasis to an infinite degree?
Holy Holy Holy is known as the “trihagion.” (In Greek, it means ‘thrice holy’).
Note: The word ‘trihagion’ itself (like the word trinity’) does not appear in the Bible. That does not mean there is no teaching of trihagion or trinity in Scripture.
This trihagion threefold expression of God’s holiness, points to not just His SUPREME holiness but also the Triune nature of God!
Note that it does not say, “Holy Holy Holy ARE the Lord God Almighty.” Both Isaiah and John records, “Holy Holy Holy IS the Lord God Almighty.”
“… I have no doubt that the angels here describe One God in Three Persons.”Calvin
The Father is Holy.
The Son is Holy. (Luke 1:35, Acts 3:14).
The Holy Spirit is Holy.
Hence, HOLY (is the Father), HOLY (is the Son), HOLY (is the Spirit) IS the Lord God Almighty.
“God alone is holy in Himself. The word holy is used as a synonym for His deity and calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, His justice is holy justice, His mercy is holy mercy, His knowledge is holy knowledge, and His spirit is holy spirit.”R.C. Sproul
In the Bible, there are things described as holy. The Sabbath is holy. The temple of Jerusalem was the holiest site, the epicentre of the nation and in the Jewish mind, it was the center of the world! As holy as it was, it was never described as holy, holy, holy. Only the eternal Triune God is holy, holy, holy.
Is the Islamic God holy, holy holy?
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”Isaiah 6:3
“… they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”Revelation 4:8
A final note, the two identical visions and descriptions of God as holy holy, holy, the first, of Isaiah in 700 BC in the Old Testament and the second, of John in 90AD, in the New Testament clearly indicates that God is one and the same.
Skeptics tend to argue that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. However, both Prophet Isaiah and Apostle John record for us a unified picture of our holy holy holy God.
God’s holiness is eternal, everlasting, unchanging.
“For I the LORD do not change…”Malachi 3:6, Old Testament
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8, New Testament
Let me close with this beautiful three-fold blessing from 2 Corinthians 13:14.)
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”