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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Nave's Topical Bible
Everlasting fire
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Children, & sin of fathers
Coals of fire
Fire destroyed them
Hezekiah; passed through fire: & Molech
• Torrey's Topical Textbook
• Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
Baptism of Fire
Furnace of Fire
Lake of Fire
• Easton's Bible Dictionary
Flame of fire
• Fausset's Bible Dictionary
• Smith's Bible Dictionary
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Baptism of Fire
Fire Baptism
Fire, Lake of
Fire, Strange
Fire, Unquenchable
Lake of Fire
Strange, Fire
Tongues of Fire
Unquenchable Fire
Greek - fire of coals, charcoal fire
Greek - coals of fire
Greek - set on fire, sets on fire
Greek - fire, firelight
Greek - hell fire
Greek - of fire, fire
Greek - fire
Greek - fire
Greek - be on fire
Hebrew - fire, fires
Hebrew - fire
Hebrew - fire
Hebrew - fire
Hebrew - fire, offering by fire, offerings by fire
Hebrew - fire
Hebrew - fire
Hebrew - pile for fire
Hebrew - coals of fire
Hebrew - set them on fire
Hebrew - fire, make a fire
Hebrew - fire(s), fire
Hebrew - fire
Hebrew - set on fire
Hebrew - set on fire, breathe forth fire, sets on fire, sets the on fire
Hebrew - makes a fire

The product of burning which produces heat, light, and flame. One of the earliest human discoveries, probably first seen as a result of lightning. Humans soon discovered ways to use it and found it to be not only a very useful servant, but also a dreaded master. The invention of fire antedates history, but no nation has yet been discovered which did not know the use of fire. According to Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Olympus, when Zeus denied it to immortal beings, and gave it to humans. For this crime he was punished by being chained to a rock in the wilderness of Scythia. The Bible does not explain the invention of fire. In the account of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15:17), one reads of a smoking furnace and a flaming torch. Fire has been from early times the object of man's worship. This worship among the Canaanites is frequently mentioned in Scripture with the adjoining prohibition for God's people to refrain from the abominable practice (Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31; 2 Chronicles 28:3).

Fire is a consistent element in the relationship of God with His people, often being used as an instrument of His power, either in the way of approval or destruction. The Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15:17), the appearance of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), the pillar of fire by night to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land (Exodus 13:21-22), and God's appearance in fire on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18; Exodus 24:17), are well known illustrations of such. The appearance of Christ in John's vision (Revelation 1:14; Revelation 2:18), was with eyes “as a flame of fire,” and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3), was accompanied by “tongues like as of fire.” Fire is used often as a symbol of holiness and often equates the idea of God's presence with God's holiness. God Himself is compared to fire not only to illustrate His holiness, but also to illustrate His anger against sin (Isaiah 10:17; Hebrews 12:29).

Our English word “purify” is a cognate of the main Greek word used in the New Testament for fire. As such, it denotes one of the main metaphors of the use of fire, namely as purification. God uses the fire of experience to test us (Job 23:10). Ultimately all of our works done on earth in our lifetime will be tested “as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

In the context of biblical religion, fire was used to consume the burnt offerings and incense offerings. Fire was to be continually burning upon the altar as a visible sign of the continuous worship of God. If for some reason the fire was extinguished, according to the Talmud, it was to be rekindled only by friction. If fire was used for sacred purposes and obtained other than from the altar, it was called “strange fire” (Leviticus 10:1-2), for which use Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron, were punished immediately by divine execution.

The law prohibited any fire to be kindled on the sabbath, even for cooking purposes (Exodus 35:3). Anyone kindling a fire that caused damage to crops was compelled by law to make restitution (Exodus 22:6). Capital punishment was occasionally made even more shameful by burning the body of the criminal after death (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9; 2 Kings 23:16).

Fire is also used to symbolize: God's people victorious over all enemies (Obadiah 1:18); the word of God (Jeremiah 5:14); the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 4:4; Acts 2:3); the zeal of the saints (Psalms 39:3; Psalms 119:139); of angels (Hebrews 1:7); of lust (Proverbs 6:27-28); of wickedness (Isaiah 9:18); of the tongue (James 3:6); and of judgment (Jeremiah 48:45).

The final destiny of all the enemies of God is the “lake of fire” (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10). The earth will be consumed by fire (2 Peter 3:7-12). See Baptism of Fire; Molech; Lake of Fire.

C. Dale Hill

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'FIRE'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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