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Dictionaries :: Fire

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


(1.) For sacred purposes. The sacrifices were consumed by fire (Gen 8:20). The ever-burning fire on the altar was first kindled from heaven (Lev 6:9,13; 9:24), and afterwards rekindled at the dedication of Solomon's temple (2Ch 7:1,3). The expressions "fire from heaven" and "fire of the Lord" generally denote lightning, but sometimes also the fire of the altar was so called (Exd 29:18; Lev 1:9; 2:3; 3:5,9).

Fire for a sacred purpose obtained otherwise than from the altar was called "strange fire" (Lev 10:1,2; Num 3:4).

The victims slain for sin offerings were afterwards consumed by fire outside the camp (Lev 4:12,21; 6:30; 16:27; Hbr 13:11).

(2.) For domestic purposes, such as baking, cooking, warmth, etc. (Jer 36:22; Mar 14:54; Jhn 18:18). But on Sabbath no fire for any domestic purpose was to be kindled (Exd 35:3; Num 15:32-36).

(3.) Punishment of death by fire was inflicted on such as were guilty of certain forms of unchastity and incest (Lev 20:14; 21:9). The burning of captives in war was not unknown among the Jews (2Sa 12:31; Jer 29:22). The bodies of infamous persons who were executed were also sometimes burned (Jos 7:25; 2Ki 23:16).

(4.) In war, fire was used in the destruction of cities, as Jericho (Jos 6:24), Ai (8:19), Hazor (11:11), Laish (Jdg 18:27), etc. The war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt (Jos 11:6,9,13). The Israelites burned the images (2Ki 10:26; R.V., "pillars") of the house of Baal. These objects of worship seem to have been of the nature of obelisks, and were sometimes evidently made of wood.

Torches were sometimes carried by the soldiers in battle (Jdg 7:16).

(5.) Figuratively, fire is a symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power (Exd 14:19; Num 11:1,3; Jdg 13:20; 1Ki 18:38; 2Ki 1:10,12; 2:11; Isa 6:4; Eze 1:4; Rev 1:14, etc.).

God's word is also likened unto fire (Jer 23:29). It is referred to as an emblem of severe trials or misfortunes (Zec 12:6; Luk 12:49; 1Cr 3:13,15; 1Pe 1:7), and of eternal punishment (Mat 5:22; Mar 9:44; Rev 14:10; 21:8).

The influence of the Holy Ghost is likened unto fire (Mat 3:11). His descent was denoted by the appearance of tongues as of fire (Act 2:3).

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


fir ('esh; pur): These are the common words for fire, occurring very frequently. ?Ur, "light" (Isa 24:15 the King James Version; compare the Revised Version (British and American); Isa 31:9, and see FIRES), nur (Aramaic) (Da 3:22 ff) are found a few times, also ?eshshah (Jer 6:29), and be?erah (Ex 22:6), once each. Ac 28:2,3 has pura, "pyre," and Mr 14:54; Lu 22:56, phos, "light," the Revised Version (British and American) "in the light (of the fire)." "To set on fire," yatsath (2Sa 14:31), lahat (De 32:22, etc.), phlogizo (Jas 3:6).

Fire was regarded by primitive peoples as supernatural in origin and specially Divine. Molech, the fire-god, and other deities were worshipped by certain Canaanitish and other tribes with human sacrifices (De 12:31; 2Ki 17:31; Ps 106:37), and, although this was specially forbidden to the Israelites (Le 18:21; De 12:31; 18:10), they too often lapsed into the practice (2Ki 16:3; 21:6; Jer 7:31; Eze 20:26,31).


1. Literal Usage:

Fire in the Old Testament is specially associated with the Divine presence, e.g. in the making of the Covenant with Abraham (Ge 15:17), in the burning bush. (Ex 3:2-4), in the pillar of fire (Ex 13:21), on Sinai (Ex 19:18), in the flame on the altar (Jud 13:20). Yahweh was "the God that answereth by fire" (1Ki 18:24,38). In the Law, therefore, sacrifices and offerings (including incense) were to be made by fire (Ex 12:8,9,10; Le 1). Fire from Yahweh signified the acceptance of certain special and separate sacrifices (Jud 6:21; 1Ki 18:38; 1Ch 21:26). In Le 9:24 the sacrificial fire "came forth from before Yahweh." The altar-fire was to be kept continually burning (Le 6:12,13); offering by "strange fire" (other than the sacred altar-fire) was punished by "fire from before Yahweh" (Le 10:1,2). Fire came from heaven also at the consecration of Solomon's Temple (2Ch 7:1).

According to #/APC 2Macc 1:19-22, at the time of the Captivity priests hid the sacred fire in a well, and Nehemiah found it again, in a miraculous way, for the second Temple. Later, Maccabeus is said to have restored the fire by "striking stones and taking fire out of them" (10:3).

Fire was a frequent instrument of the Divine primitive wrath (Ge 19:24; Ex 9:23 (lightning); Nu 11:1; 16:35, etc.; Ps 104:4, the American Standard Revised Version "Who maketh.... flames of fire his ministers"). Fire shall yet dissolve the world (2Pe 3:12). It was frequently used by the Israelites as a means of destruction of idolatrous objects and the cities of their enemies (De 7:5,25; 12:3; 13:16; Jos 6:24; Jgs, frequently); sometimes also of punishment (Le 20:14; 21:9; Jos 7:25; #/APC 2Macc 7:5).

The domestic use of fire was, as among other peoples, for heating, cooking, lighting, etc., but according to the Law no fire could be kindled on the Sabbath day (Ex 35:3). It was employed also for melting (Ex 32:24), and refining (Nu 31:23; 3:2,3, etc.). For the sacrificial fire wood was used as fuel (Ge 22:3,1; Le 6:12); for ordinary purposes, also charcoal (Pr 25:22; Isa 6:6, the Revised Version, margin "or hot stone"; Hab 3:5, the Revised Version (British and American) "fiery bolts," margin "or burning coals"; Joh 21:9, "a fire of coals" the Revised Version, margin "Gr, a fire of charcoal"; Ro 12:20); branches (Nu 15:32; 1Ki 17:12); thorns (Ps 58:9; 118:12; Ec 7:6; Isa 33:12); grass and other herbage (Mt 6:30; Lu 12:28).

2. Figurative Use:

Fire was an emblem

(1) of Yahweh in His glory (Da 7:9);

(2) in His holiness (Isa 6:4);

(3) in His jealousy for His sole worship (De 4:24; Heb 12:29; Ps 79:5; perhaps also Isa 33:14);

(4) of His protection of His people (2Ki 6:17; Zec 2:5);

(5) of His righteous judgment and purification (Zec 13:9; Mal 3:2,3; 1Co 3:13,15);

(6) of His wrath against sin and punishment of the wicked (De 9:3; Ps 18:8; 89:46; Isa 5:24; 30:33, "a Topheth is prepared of old"; Mt 3:10-12; 5:22, the Revised Version (British and American) "the hell of fire," margin "Greek, Gehenna of fire"; see Isa 30:33; Jer 7:31; Mt 13:40,42; 25:41, "eternal fire"; Mr 9:45-49; see Isa 66:24; 2Th 1:7; Heb 10:27; Jude 1:7);

(7) of the word of God in its power (Jer 5:14; 23:29);

(8) of Divine truth (Ps 39:3; Jer 20:9; Lu 12:49);

(9) of that which guides men (Isa 50:10,11);

(10) of the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:3);

(11) of the glorified Christ (Re 1:14);

(12) of kindness in its melting power (Ro 12:20);

(13) of trial and suffering (Ps 66:12; Isa 43:2; 1Pe 1:7; 4:12);

(14) of evil (Pr 6:27; 16:27; Isa 9:18; 65:5); lust or desire (Ho 7:6; #/APC Sirach 23:16; 1Co 7:9); greed (Pr 30:16);

(15) of the tongue in its evil aspects (Jas 3:5,6);

(16) of heaven in its purity and glory (Re 15:2; see also Re 21:22,23).

Written by W. L. Walker

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

Fire: Can Be Increased in Intensity

Dan 3:19,22

Fire: Though Small, Kindles a Great Matter

Jam 3:5

Fire: Things Connected With

Burning coals

Pro 26:21


Sgs 8:6; Isa 66:15


Job 18:5; Isa 1:31


1Ki 13:3; 2Pe 2:6


Isa 34:10; Joe 2:30

Fire: Kept Alive by Fuel

Pro 26:20; Isa 9:5

Fire: Characterised As


Eze 1:13


Jam 3:5


Psa 78:14; 105:39


Mar 14:54


Psa 68:2; Isa 64:2


Num 31:23; 1Pe 1:7; Rev 3:18


Job 15:30; Joe 1:20


Jdg 15:4,5; Psa 46:9; Isa 10:16,17


Pro 30:16

Fire: Sacred

Came from before the Lord

Lev 9:24

Always burning on the altar

Lev 6:13

All burn offerings consumed by

Lev 6:9,12

Incense burned with

Lev 16:12; Num 16:46

Guilt of burning incense without

Lev 10:1

Restored to the temple

2Ch 7:1-3

Fire: Frequently employed as an instrument of divine vengeance

Psa 97:3; Isa 47:14; 66:16

Fire: Miraculous

In the burning bush

Exd 3:2

Plagued the Egyptians

Exd 9:23,24

Led the people of Israel in the desert

Exd 13:22; 40:38

On Mount Sinai at giving of law

Deu 4:11,37

Destroyed Nadab and Abihu

Lev 10:2

Destroyed the people at Taberah

Num 11:1

Consumed the company of Korah

Num 16:35

Consumed the sacrifice of Gideon

Jdg 6:21

Angel ascended in

Jdg 13:20

Consumed the sacrifice of Elijah

1Ki 18:38

Destroyed the enemies of Elijah

2Ki 1:10,12

Elijah taken up in a chariot of

2Ki 2:11

Fire: God Appeared In

Exd 3:2; 19:18

Fire: Christ Shall Appear In

Dan 7:10; 2Th 1:8

Fire: Punishment of the Wicked Shall Be In

Mat 13:42; 25:41

Fire: In Houses

Lighted in the winter

Jer 36:22

Lighted in spring mornings

Jhn 18:18

Not to be lighted on the Sabbath

Exd 35:3

Made of charcoal

Jhn 18:18

Made of wood

Act 28:3

Fire: Injury from, to be made good by the person who kindled it

Exd 22:6

Fire: Illustrative Of

God's protection

Num 9:16; Zec 2:5

God's vengeance

Deu 4:24; Hbr 12:29

Christ as judge

Isa 10:17; Mal 3:2

The Holy Spirit

Isa 4:4; Act 2:3

The church destroying her enemies

Oba 1:18

The word of God

Jer 5:14; 23:29

Zeal of saints

Psa 39:3; 119:139

Zeal of angels

Psa 104:4; Hbr 1:7

God's enemies

Isa 10:17; Oba 1:18


Pro 6:27,28


Isa 9:18

The tongue

Pro 16:27; Jam 3:6

The self-righteous

Isa 65:5

The hope of hypocrites

Isa 50:11


Luk 12:49-53


Isa 43:2


Jer 48:45; Lam 1:13; Eze 39:6

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
A-1 Noun Strong's Number: g4442 Greek: pur


(akin to which are No. 2, pura, and puretos, "a fever," Eng., "fire," etc.) is used (besides its ordinary natural significance):

(a) of the holiness of God, which consumes all that is inconsistent therewith, Hbr 10:27; 12:29; cp. Rev 1:14; 2:18; 10:1; 15:2; 19:12; similarly of the holy angels as His ministers, Hbr 1:7; in Rev 3:18 it is symbolic of that which tries the faith of saints, producing what will glorify the Lord;

(b) of the Divine judgment, testing the deeds of believers, at the judgment seat of Christ, 1Cr 3:13, 15;

(c) of the fire of Divine judgment upon the rejectors of Christ, Mat 3:11 (where a distinction is to be made between the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the "fire" of Divine retribution; Act 2:3 could not refer to baptism); Luk 3:16;

(d) of the judgments of God at the close of the present age previous to the establishment of the kingdom of Christ in the world, 2Th 1:8; Rev 18:8;

(e) of the "fire" of Hell, to be endured by the ungodly hereafter, Mat 5:22; 13:42, 50; 18:8, 9; 25:41; Mar 9:43, 48; Luk 3:17;

(f) of human hostility both to the Jews and to Christ's followers, Luk 12:49;

(g) as illustrative of retributive judgment upon the luxurious and tyrannical rich, Jam 5:3;

(h) of the future overthrow of the Babylonish religious system at the hands of the Beast and the nations under him, Rev 17:16;

(i) of turning the heart of an enemy to repentance by repaying his unkindness by kindness, Rom 12:20;

(j) of the tongue, as governed by a "fiery" disposition and as exercising a destructive influence over others, Jam 3:6;

(k) as symbolic of the danger of destruction, Jud 1:23.

Note: See also under FLAME.

A-2 Noun Strong's Number: g4443 Greek: pura


from No. 1, denotes "a heap of fuel" collected to be set on fire (hence Eng., "pyre"), Act 28:2, 3.

Note: In Mar 14:54, the italicized phrase "of the fire" is added in the Eng. versions to indicate the light as coming from the "fire."

B-1 Adjective Strong's Number: g4447 Greek: purinos


"fiery" (akin to A, No. 1), is translated "of fire" in Rev 9:17. In the Sept., Eze 28:14, 16.

C-1 Verb Strong's Number: g4448 Greek: puroo


is translated "being on fire" (Middle Voice) in 2Pe 3:12.

C-2 Verb Strong's Number: g5394 Greek: phlogizo


"to set on fire, burn up," is used figuratively, in both Active and Passive Voices, in Jam 3:6, of the tongue, firstly, of its disastrous effects upon the whole round of the circumstances of life; secondly, of satanic agency in using the tongue for this purpose.

Smith's Bible Dictionary


is represented as the symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power, in the way either of approval or of destruction (Exodus 3:2; 14:19 etc.). There could not be a better symbol for Jehovah than this of fire, it being immaterial, mysterious, but visible, warming, cheering, comforting, but also terrible and consuming. Parallel with this application of fire and with its symbolical meaning are to be noted the similar use for sacrificial purposes and the respect paid to it, or to the heavenly bodies as symbols of deity, which prevailed among so many nations of antiquity, and of which the traces are not even now extinct; e.g. the Sabean and Magian systems of worship (Isaiah 27:9). Fire for sacred purposes obtained elsewhere than from the altar was called "strange fire," and for the use of such Nadab and Abihu were punished with death by fire from God (Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 3:4; 26:61).


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.