Thursday, August 4, 2011

MrsDrPoe: Biblical Definitions

It's another Theology Thursday, folks! Please open up your Bibles with me as we look at a few passages from God's word. Today's topic stems from one of the things that our friend, Ms. Long, loves about language- the fact that it's a living organism, constantly growing and changing. Because of this, there are several Bible words in the current vernacular that may bring different ideas to mind than the ideas the Biblical contexts present. We'll look at two for now: profane and visit.

1) not connected with religion or religion matters; secular 2) not initiated into the inner mysteries or esoteric knowledge of something 3) not hallowed or consecrated 4) showing disrespect or contempt for sacred things; irreverent*

- permitted to be trodden, accessible (related to koinos - common)**

Typically when we think of the word profane, we think of the related word profanity, which then leads to the thought of trash or filth. Even the phrasing of the dictionary definition above brings to mind that to profane something means to drag it through the mud. But examining the Biblical definition, we see profaning something doesn't just mean heaping trash on it, but also simply making it accessible or common.

So if we consider what it means to "profane the name of [our] God" (Lev 18:21, etc.), we need to realize that it doesn't just mean pairing "God" with curse words. Any time we use His name other than when we are consciously speaking of Him or to Him, we are profaning His name by making it common. We need to be mindful of flippantly using phrases such as "Oh, Lord" and "Oh my God," realizing that there is a context in which these phrases should be used and a context in which they should not. We must take great care to not make common anything that is holy.

1) to go or come to see out of friendship or for social reasons 2) to stay with as a guest for a time 3) to go or come to see in a professional or business capacity 4) to go or come to in order to inspect or investigate 5) to go or come to for a time so as to make use of , look at, etc. 6) to occur or come to 7) to bring suffering, trouble, etc. 8) to inflict (punishment, etc.) upon someone; to afflict (with punishment, etc.); to avenge*

episkeptomai - to inspect (a late form of episkopeo - to look upon, care for, exercise oversight)**

When I say something like: "I'm going to go visit ___," I am usually employing one of the first six dictionary definitions of the word, meaning I'm visiting someone for social or business reasons. But these definitions don't encompass the full Biblical meaning of the word. Take Ruth 1:6 for example: "
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread." Prior to this visit by God, there was a famine in the land of Israel (Ruth 1:1), and this verse tells us that God visited the children of Israel by giving them bread. Here we can see the Biblical definition of "visit"- to supply a need.

So when we are told in Jas 1:27, "
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world," we know this doesn't necessarily mean stop by and say hi (although social interaction is important and can be a valid need- especially for shut-ins). To truly visit orphans and widows in their trouble, we must help supply their needs in whatever area their lives are lacking; this is pleasing to God (Matt 25:36-46).

Another verse that talks about visiting is Ex 32:34, "...Nevertheless, in the day when I
visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin." In this verse we see God planning to visit to supply another need- the need for justice and punishment for sin. We should remind ourselves daily of this need and strive daily to remove sin from our lives, seeking the grace of God when we stumble. Ironically, in a world full of sin, visiting to supply the specific need of punishment has remained a valid dictionary definition for the word "visit."

I hope these thoughts have been helpful to you, and until next time...happy studying!

*From Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition
**From Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words


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