From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The term ‘fire’ is used literally to denote the familiar process of combustion, with its accompaniments of light and heat. In nearly all the passages in which it occurs from Acts to Revelation, it is used in a figurative sense. (1) A few of these have affinity with passages in the OT in which fire, as one of the most impressive of natural phenomena, is a form of the Divine manifestation. In some of the theophanies, in which fire is a prominent feature, it seems to express the conception of God as He is in Himself and in His nature ( e.g.  Ezekiel 1:4;  Ezekiel 1:27); in others it is a manifestation of Him in His character as Avenger or Judge ( Exodus 19:16;  Exodus 19:18,  Psalms 18:8;  Psalms 50:3,  Isaiah 30:30). The NT furnishes some analogous cases in which the theophanic fire is simply a manifestation of the Divine presence or attributes ( Acts 2:8,  Revelation 1:14 f;  Revelation 4:5), and others in which it is an accompaniment of the Divine judgment ( 2 Thessalonians 1:8,  2 Peter 3:10-12), (2) The use of fire as a testing and purifying agent has led to its figurative application as a criterion for distinguishing between what possesses genuine moral worth and what does not, and as a means of purifying human character ( 1 Corinthians 3:12 f,  1 Peter 1:7). (3) One of the most patent characteristics of fire is its destructiveness, with the inevitable effect of suffering in the case of all forms of organic being. The vivid and forcible appeal which it makes to the imagination is due to the acute sensations it produces in the physical organism by the combination of intense brightness with intense heat. Fire is thus fitted to serve as an appropriate symbol of the Divine judgment upon sin. The OT frequently applies imagery borrowed from this source to denote the punitive aspects of God’s nature, or punitive instruments employed by Him, and thus lays the basis for the use of similar imagery in the NT.

1. Fire as a form of Divine manifestation .-( a ) In this section may be grouped passages in which fire is simply an indication of the Divine presence , or symbol of Divine attributes other than those specially displayed in the punishment of sin. (α) in  Acts 2:3 one of the two outward manifestations attending the descent of the Spirit on the disciples seated in the upper room is compared with fire. The appearance of fire (ὡσεὶ πυρός) assumed by the tongues referred to the Divine presence, which, in this instance, conferred on those assembled together the ‘gift of tongues,’ symbolized by the tongue-like fames that sat on the head of each. The reality corresponding to the appearance was the miraculous power of ecstatic utterance, now displayed for the first time, but afterwards a familiar feature in the worship of the Apostolic Chinch ( Acts 2:4; cf.  Acts 10:46 f, 1 Corinthians 14 passim ). That the gift thus imparted had a Divine origin was certified by the visible accompaniment of fiery tongues.

(β) The Christophany described in  Revelation 1:13-15 depicts the Risen Christ in the midst of the churches with eyes like a flame of fire (cf.  Daniel 10:6. ‘his eyes as lamps of fire’). The flame-like eyes ( Revelation 2:18;  Revelation 19:12) are emblematic of the glance of omniscience, which penetrates the depth of the soul with its radiance, and reads the true meaning of the thoughts and actions. ‘All things,’ it is implied, ‘are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do’ ( Hebrews 4:13; cf.  Psalms 11:4,  Proverbs 15:3).

(γ) ‘The seven torches (Authorized Versionand Revised Version‘lamps’) of fire burning before the throne’ ( Revelation 4:5) describe the Spirit of God in His manifold powers, ‘the plenitude of the Godhead in all its attributes and energies’ (Alford, ad loc ), under the emblem of fire. ‘Fulness, intensity, energy, are implied in the figure, which reflects the traditional association (in the primitive mind) of fire and flame with the divinity, and especially with the divine purity or holiness’ (J. Moffatt, Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘Rev.,’ 1910, p. 379). There appears to be a reference also to the illuminating power of the Spirit, by which the prophets, with whom the apocalyptic writer identifies himself, were qualified for bearing their testimony, especially with regard to the future ( Revelation 2:7;  Revelation 4:2; cf.  Revelation 19:10).

( b ) Passages in which fire is an accompaniment of the Parousia .-(α) According to the rendering of  2 Thessalonians 1:7 f. in Authorized Version, fire is the instrument with which Christ, at His Second Advent, executes vengeance on Gentile and Jewish enemies of the Gospel. The Revised Version, mare accurately, separates the first clause of  2 Thessalonians 1:8, ‘in flaming fire’ from what follows, and connects it with  2 Thessalonians 1:7. The ‘flame of fire,’ an expression containing a reminiscence of OT theophanies of judgment, is the element or medium by which the glory of Christ is revealed at His Return, not the means by which He inflicts punishment on the wicked. Like the lightning, which is everywhere visible at the same time ( Matthew 24:27), this feature is fitted to arrest the attention and impress the mind of all beholders.

(β) Literal fire is associated in  2 Peter 3:10-12 with the Parousia (‘the day of the Lord’) as the means by which the visible universe is to be destroyed. Once temporarily destroyed by the waters of the deluge, the earth and the heavens have been ‘stored up for fire’ ( 2 Peter 3:7) and now at the Coming of the Lord ‘the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat’ (v. 12). The old creation is to be dissolved, and pass away in the final world-conflagration which prepares the way for the advent of new heavens and a new earth. Other passages of Scripture anticipate that the present material order, having had a beginning, is destined to come to an end. They also foreshadow the emergence of a new order, free from the defects of the old, which is to be the future abode of the redeemed ( Isaiah 65:17;  Isaiah 66:22,  Hebrews 12:26-28,  Revelation 20:11;  Revelation 21:1). In the NT these great cosmic changes are associated with the last Advent. In 2 Pet, alone are the means described by which the transition destined to result in a renovated universe is effected. It is to be by fire, which is the only agent adequate to the accomplishment of a destruction so thorough and complete. Science maintains that the end of the universe, as at present constituted, is to be brought about by the gradual loss of radiant heat. The steady reduction of temperature is to render the continuance of life on the planet impossible. Mayor ( Ep. of St. Jude and Second Ep. of St. Peter , 1907, p. 209) suggests that this theory requires revision, in view of ‘the stores of energy in the chemical elements, and of the varieties of radiant energy to which attention has been prominently directed by the discovery of radium. But assuming the reasonableness of this conjecture, the passage under discussion sheds no light on the constitution of the new environment in which a spiritual body takes the place of a natural body ( 1 Corinthians 15:44).

2. Fire as a testing and purifying agent .-Fire and water are the two elements used for purification, and of the two, fire is the more drastic and searching. In the process of refining, fire is the means of separating the precious metals from dross or alloys ( Zechariah 13:9). In the art of assaying, the same agent is employed for testing the quantity of gold or silver in ore or alloys.

( a ) The use of fire for these purposes has led to the word being figuratively applied to the trials, especially in the form of severe persecutions, which the early Christians were called on to endure at the hands of their heathen oppressors ( 1 Peter 1:7). From the searching ordeal by fire, it was the Divine design that their faith might emerge, more precious than gold, thoroughly tested and approved as genuine. In a later passage ( 1 Peter 4:12) the extremity of their sufferings, arising from the same cause, is compared to a burning or conflagration (πύρθσις) by which character is tested and purified; and the sharp discipline they are undergoing is spoken of appropriately, considering its extreme severity, as judgment (κρίμα) already begun, from which the righteous escape with, difficulty ( 1 Peter 4:17 f; cf.  1 Corinthians 3:13).

( b ) The figure is used in a somewhat similar manner to describe the judgment by which the work of Christian teachers is to be tested at the Parousia. ‘The day (of. Christ’s Second Coming) is to be revealed in fire’ (cf.  2 Thessalonians 1:7 f.), ‘and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is’ ( 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Revised Version). The fire in which the whole fabric built on the One Foundation is involved, detects and exposes the flimsy and worthless materials by consuming them, but leaves uninjured the solid and durable materials that are fire-proof. In the one instance, the skilful builder has the gratification of seeing his work survive, and himself rewarded. In the other, the unskilful builder has the mortification of seeing his work destroyed and his labour lost; and although he himself escapes, it is with difficulty, as one escapes from a burning house-‘saved, yet so as through fire.’ The picture presented is that of a general conflagration. It may have been suggested by ‘the conflagration of Corinth under Mummius; the stately temples standing amidst the universal destruction of the meaner buildings’ (A. P. Stanley, Epistles to the Corinthians 2, 1858, p. 67). The main point of the illustration is not the purification of character, but the decisive testing of the difference between solid and worthless achievement. The fire is not disciplinary, and, needless to say, it contains no allusion to ‘purgatorial fire, whether in this or in a future life’ (J. B. Mayor, ‘The General Epistle of Jude,’ in Expositor’s Greek Testament , 1910, p. 276).

3. Fire as an instrument of Divine punishment .-( a ) In this section may be grouped together passage in which fire is a symbol of God’s temporal judgments on human sin . Such passages have a close affinity with frequent references in the OT, in which God is represented ‘as surrounded by, or manifested in, fire, the most immaterial of elements, and at the same time the agency best suited to represent symbolically His power to destroy all that is sinful or unholy’. (S. R. Driver, Daniel [Cambridge Bible for Schools, 1900], p. 85; cf.  Genesis 15:17,  Numbers 16:35,  Psalms 50:3,  Isaiah 30:27,  Isaiah 33:14,  Jeremiah 4:4;  Jeremiah 21:12,  Ezekiel 21:31,  Daniel 7:9 f.,  Amos 5:6;  Amos 7:4).

(α) In accordance with this usage, fire is employed in  Judges 1:23 to represent the present judgment which overtakes the second of the three classes enticed into licentious living by the antinomian teachers (cf.  Judges 1:4). There is no reference here to the fire of future judgment. There is an evident allusion in the phrase, ‘snatching them out of the fire’ (Revised Version), to  Amos 4:11, where persons who had just escaped with their lives from the earthquake, are referred to; and to  Zechariah 3:2, where the high priest Joshua is described as a brand plucked out of the Babylonian captivity. Fleshly indulgence exposes those addicted to it to present penalties as well as to future ones, and it is from this perilous position that their rescuers are to snatch them hastily, and almost violently.

(β) Fire, as an image of God’s temporal judgments, appears in the symbolism of the Apocalypse. When the Church was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with Imperial Rome, her members regarded terrible visitations, in the shape of the three historic scourges, war, famine, and pestilence, as signs of the approaching end of the age and Christ’s Return. The NT Apocalyptist heightens the effect of the lurid pictures in which he forecasts the judgments impending on the enemies of Christ and His Church, by the introduction of fire, in one case literal, material fire, as a token of those judgments. In answer to the prayers of suffering saints, the angel fills the censer with fire from the altar, and casts the burning contents on the earth, as a sign that the Divine vengeance is about to descend upon it ( Revelation 8:5; cf.  Ezekiel 10:2). The horror which the countless host of horsemen is fitted to inspire, is intensified by the circumstance that fire and smoke and brimstone issue out of their mouths ( Revelation 9:17 f.). In  Revelation 14:18 it is the angel who has power over the fire-in this instance the symbol of Divine wrath-that brings the angel with the sickle the message that the vintage is to begin, because the world is ripe for judgment. The sea of glass before the Throne, by the side of which stand the victors in the conflict with the Beast, is flushed red with the fire of impending judgments-the seven last plagues which are the precursors of the downfall of Babylon ( Revelation 15:1 f;  Revelation 15:5 cf.  Revelation 17:1).

(γ) Literal, material fire is the means by which the total and final destruction of the harlot-city, mystic Babylon, is effected (18 passim ). Nero Redivivus and his Parthian allies, to whom the burning of the city is attributed, are only the human instruments in God’s hand for executing His judgment upon her ( Revelation 18:20;  Revelation 18:24;  Revelation 19:2).

(δ) Supernatural fire is the agent by which the nations, Gog and Magog, are consumed, and their attempt to capture ‘the beloved city’ frustrated ( Revelation 20:9).

(β) Fire is the symbol of God’s future and final judgment on the wicked .-(α) In view of the near approach of the Parousia ( Hebrews 10:37), those in danger of the wilful sin of apostasy from the Christian faith are reminded of the terrible consequences which await those succumbing to the great temptation-‘a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries’ ( Hebrews 10:27 Revised Version). The solemn reminder is repeated in connexion with the declaration that the present transient order of things must give place to the new and eternal order ( Hebrews 12:27). In contrast with the material fire that manifested His presence at Sinai, God is Himself in His very essence what that consuming fire denoted-immaculate purity which destroys everything incompatible with it ( Hebrews 12:20; cf.  Deuteronomy 4:24).

(β) Outside the Synoptic Gospels, there is only one explicit reference to the penal fire of the future world as the fire of hell (Gehenna). The Epistle of James traces to it as the ultimate cause the wide-spread mischief caused by the tongue, which is compared to a spark setting fire to a great forest  Deuteronomy 3:6).

(γ) The only parallel to the expression Eternal Fire , used in the Synoptic Gospels to denote the future punishment of the wicked, is found in  Judges 1:7, where the writer declares that the cities of the Plain are ‘set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance (Revised Version‘punishment’) of eternal fire’ (πῦρ αἰώνιον). According to the renderings of Authorized Versionand Revised Version, which regard πυρός as grammatically depending on δἰκην, the burning of these cities is spoken of as still persisting. In favour of this idea  Wisdom of Solomon 10:7 is cited, and appeal is made to the volcanic phenomena in the region of the Dead Sea as likely to suggest the continued existence of subterranean fire. Further confirmation of the idea is sought in the Book of Enoch (lxvii. 6f.), where it is said that ‘the valley of the angels burned continually under the earth.’ An alternative rendering to that of the Authorized Versionand Revised Version, takes δεῖγμα with πυρός in the sense of ‘an example ( or ‘testimony’) of eternal fire,’ the punishment which began with the destruction of the cities, and still continues, fitting them to serve as such example. Whichever view be taken, it is evident that the example, in order to be effective, must point to the fate which awaits the wicked after the Last Judgment. Whatever may be the condition of the impenitent between death and the Judgment, it is implied by the uniform teaching of the NT on the Last Things that the decisive sentence which determines their ultimate condition is not pronounced till the Last Judgment. The πῦρ αἰώνιον would have little relevancy to the warning which the passage seeks to enforce if that expression had no relation to future retribution. That being so, the much-debated question as to the meaning of αἰώνιος arises. ‘This verse,’ remarks Charles ( Eschatology 2, 1913, p. 413), ‘shows how Christians at the close of the first century a.d. read their own ideas into the OT records of the past. Thus the temporal destruction by fire of Sodom and Gomorrah is interpreted as an eternal punishment by fire beyond the grave.’ The attempts made to substitute the expression ‘age-lasting’ for ‘eternal’ as the meaning of the Greek adjective, so as to prove that it does not imply the idea of unlimited duration, are not particularly convincing. ‘It is surely obvious,’ says Moffatt ( British Weekly , 28 Sept. 1905), ‘that the NT writers assumed that the soul of man was immortal and that its existence beyond death, in weal or woe, was endless, when they used this term (αἰώνιος) or spoke of this subject. How else could they have conveyed what corresponded in their minds to the idea of “eternal”?’. It must be admitted, at the same time, that the term takes us out into a region where the categories of time and space do not apply, and where ‘objects ate presented in their relation to some eternal aspect of the Divine nature’ (A, Bisset, article‘Eternal Fire,’ in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels vol. i. [1906] p. 537:b; see the whole article for a thoughtful and temperate discussion of the expression ‘eternal tire’ in its eschatological bearings).

(δ) In the Apocalypse the Lake of Fire is the place of final punishment to which are consigned (1) the Beast and the False Prophet ( Revelation 19:20), (2) Satan ( Revelation 20:10) (3) Death and Hades ( Revelation 20:14), (4) the dupes of Satan, whose names are not written in the Book of Life ( Revelation 20:15; cf.  Revelation 13:8;  Revelation 14:9 f.;  Revelation 19:20;  Revelation 20:8). The figure of ‘the lake of fire,’ otherwise described as ‘the lake of fire burning with brimstone,’ seems to have been suggested by a shallow pool (λἱμνη) of blazing; sulphur such as is sometimes found in volcanic districts. Nothing is said as to its locality. ‘Volcanic forces, indicating the existence of subterranean fire, might well lead the ancients to place their Tartarus and Gehenna in the under-world’ [W. Boyd Carpenter, ‘Rev.’ in Ellicott’s NT Com . iii. [1884] 622). Swete ( Apoc. of St. John 2, 1907, p. 258) remarks that the conception o£ ‘the lake of fire’ may have already been familiar to the Asian Churches, and that ‘possibly it was a local expression for the γέεννα τοῦ πυρός which was familiar to Palestinian Christians.’ The expression does not occur in the apocalyptic writings, but in the Book of Enoch ‘the abyss or fire’ is the doom in store for the fallen angels in the Day of Judgment (x. 13; cf. xxi. 7-10), and in the Secrets of Enoch (x. 2), among the torments of ‘the place prepared for those who do not know God’ is ‘a fiery river’ The terse outline in the Apocalypse referring to the place of woe, appears in these writings as a finished picture filled in with elaborate details. The reference in the imagery to ‘fire and brimstone’ is evidently derived from the historical account of the destruction of Sodom in  Genesis 19:24, mediated by passages such as  Isaiah 30:33, in which Topheth is a symbol of God’s burning judgments, and  Isaiah 66:24, in which the valley of Hinnom, with its fire continually burning, is the scene of final judgment on God’s enemies. In the interval between the close of OT prophecy and the time of Christ, the idea of penal fire, confined in the OT to the present world, was projected into the unseen world as an image of endless retribution. During this period the writers of the apocalypses sought relief from the glaring anomaly presented by the contrast between character and condition in the present life, by transferring the scene of rewards and punishments to the world beyond the grave. In accordance with this view-the view recognized throughout the NT-the enemies of God and Christ, who often escape His righteous judgments here, are reserved for the severer penalties of the world to come. There, deceivers and deceived together share, one common doom in ‘the lake of fire,’ which is identified in  Revelation 20:14 with ‘the second death,’ ‘the nearest analogue [in the new order] of Death as we know it here’ (Swete, op. cit. p. 274). ‘It is not certain,’ says Swete again, in his commentary on v. 10 (p. 270), ‘that these terrible words can be pressed into the service of the doctrine of the Last Things, … It is safer to regard them as belonging to the scenery of the vision rather then to its eschatological teaching. But beyond a doubt St. John intends at least to teach that the forces, personal or impersonal, which have inspired mankind with false views of life and antagonism to God and to Christ will in the end be completely subjugated, and, if not annihilated, will at least be prevented from causing further trouble. From the Lake of Fire there is no release, unless evil itself should be ultimately consumed; and over that possibility there lies a veil which our writer does not help us to lift or pierce’

Literature.-articles ‘Eschatology of NT’ (S. D. F. Salmond) In Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , ‘Eternal Fire; (A. Bisset) ‘Eternal punishment’ (W. H. Dyson) in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels , ‘Eschatology’ (R, H. Charles), ‘Fire’ (T. K. Cheyne), ‘Theophany’ (G. B. Gray) in Encyclopaedia Biblica  ; Commentaries on the relevant passage. For the meaning of αἰώνιος, and for the eschatological bearing of the passages. see H. Cremer, Bib.-Theol. Lex, of NT Greek 3, 1880; F. W. Farrar, Eternal Hope, 1878, Mercy and Judgment , 1881; J. A. Beet, The Last Things , new ed. 1905: C. A. Row, Future Retribution , 1887; J. Stephen, Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography , 1907, Epilogue: A. Jukes, The Second Death and tin Restitution of All Things 12, 1887.

W. S. Montgomery.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [2]

 Genesis 22:6 (c) This represents the judgment of GOD.

Abraham representing GOD, the Father, was going forth to sacrifice His son.

Isaac in this case represents the sinner.

The fire and the wood represent GOD's wrath poured out at Calvary.

The ram represents the Lord Jesus who took the place of Isaac (the sinner), and died in his stead.

Fire when used as a type usually indicates wrath, judgment, punishment or other expressions of anger. (See also  Numbers 11:12;  Numbers 21:28;  Judges 6:21;  Isaiah 10:16;  Jeremiah 4:4;  Isaiah 66:15).

 Exodus 3:2 (c) This may be taken as an illustration of the fact that Israel, though under the judgment of GOD from time to time, was not and would not be destroyed by the Lord. He punished them severely with the fire of His wrath many times, but He has never cast them off completely nor caused them to cease from being His own people.

 Exodus 12:8 (c) We may understand this to represent the judgment of GOD on the Lord JESUS at Calvary when He went through the burning billows of GOD's wrath against sin and sinners. When fire is mentioned in connection with sacrifice, it represents the judgment of GOD upon the animal for our sakes. The animal in each case represents in some manner the Lord JESUS who is the Lamb of GOD. (See also  Leviticus 1:8,  Leviticus 1:12,  Leviticus 1:17;  Leviticus 3:5;  Leviticus 9:24;  Judges 6:21).

 Exodus 19:18 (c) Probably we may take this to mean that GOD dwells in the midst of the holiest of judgment. His glory, His brightness, His justness destroy all evidences of sin, evil, wickedness and every other thing that does not conform to His holy character. (See  Deuteronomy 4:11;  Deuteronomy 9:15;  Deuteronomy 18:16;  Isaiah 47:14).

 Leviticus 6:9-13 (c) Our Lord is telling us by this message that Calvary was to be always effective day and night. Any time any person wants to come to the Lord JESUS to be saved, He will find that He is ready any hour of the day or night, and that the precious Blood of His sacrifice is available on every occasion, no matter when nor where.

 Leviticus 10:1 (c) We may understand from this expression "strange fire," human energies, human devices, human judgments, human exercises, human decisions which did not come and do not come from GOD. We see this graphically displayed in the expression "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service."  John 16:2. The true fire is mentioned in  Numbers 16:46. That fire was taken from off the altar of incense for that fire came down from GOD, and was holy fire. The two sons of Aaron should have used that fire for their censors. Instead of this they rebelled against GOD, they refused to obey GOD's rule and follow GOD's order. They substituted their own judgment and desires for the plain command of GOD. They were earnest, they were zealous, they were apparently doing that which priests should do, but the fact that they used unlawful fire, strange fire, proved that their hearts were wrong.

 Leviticus 10:2 (c) It is only natural that the judgment of GOD should have fallen on these two men who, as leaders of Israel, were apparently carrying out GOD's will, and yet in their hearts were rebels against GOD's law. GOD will not have as a substitute for His Word any of our schemes, plans and zealous efforts. When we substitute our judgment for GOD's judgment, we may expect only the wrath of GOD. (See also  Numbers 3:4;  Numbers 26:61;  2 Kings 1:10-12).

 Leviticus 16:13 (c) Here we see the sweet savour of the sacrifice of Calvary. This lovely perfume caused by the offering up of Christ Himself on the Cross fills Heaven, the holy of holies. It also fills the hearts of those who have enthroned CHRIST as Lord and King.

 Numbers 16:46 (c) This unusual passage reveals in more detail the same truth that we found in  Leviticus 10:2 We find in chap16, vss  6,7, that the rebellious men took censers, placed in them incense of their own making, and fire of their own procuring. Aaron took his censer, placed the holy incense in it, and put the holy fire from off the altar in it. All those with the false fire and the false incense were killed, while Aaron with the true incense and the true fire, lived. Notice this same truth also described in1Ch  15:13. Judgment fell upon Uzza as described in1Ch  13:10, because he and David imitated the Philistines in handling the ark of GOD. In1Ch  15:13 David discovered his mistake in following the plan of the heathen in doing the work of GOD. He therefore corrected it.

 Judges 6:21 (c) This fire indicates the judgment of GOD expressed through Christ Jesus the Rock, which tries every man's work to see of what sort it is, and this takes place at the judgment seat of CHRIST. (See1Co  3:13).

 Judges 9:15 (b) The anger of Abimelech was to be poured out on Israel. He would prove to be their enemy after they appointed him their leader.

 1 Kings 19:12 (c) Three great calamities are mentioned in this passage, and each one represents some form of the judgment of GOD. The Lord is telling us that He does not speak to people through such calamities, but rather through His Word. It is the Word of GOD which brings conviction of sin. Calamities only bring the fear of death and the fear of punishment. Great calamities cause "the cry of distressed nature." The Word of GOD causes the cry of a convicted soul who realizes his sin against GOD.

 2 Kings 2:11 (c) This strange picture probably teaches us that those of us who go to Heaven go because of and by virtue of the wrath of GOD which fell upon the Saviour, thereby bringing to us forgiveness, cleansing and fitness.

 Job 18:5 (c) This probably refers to the usefulness and the ministry of wicked men, all of which shall be brought to an end, and their works burned up.

 Job 41:19 (c) This metaphor may describe the terrific power and the force of the jaws of this tremendous animal. Or it may refer in prophecy to modern weapons of war which actually do spout fire, both from the front and from the rear.

 Psalm 39:3 (b) This is a type of the strong desire in the heart of the Psalmist to make known GOD's goodness, and His grace. He just could not keep still.

 Psalm 66:12 (b) Here is described the great sufferings and tribulations of the people when they disobeyed the Lord.

 Proverbs 6:27 (b) In this way the Lord is telling us that the secret life is revealed by its effects on the outward life. That which men see outwardly is a result of what is done secretly. (See also  Isaiah 9:18).

 Proverbs 16:27 (b) By this figure we understand that the words of this person injure and harm the hearer.

 Isaiah 9:5 (b) Here is indicated the fact that the coming of CHRIST would mean sorrow, division and trouble on the earth. (See also  Matthew 10:34).

 Isaiah 31:9 (b) This is a type of the judgment of GOD which rested in Zion, the place where GOD put His Name. GOD deals with the nations according to the manner in which they dealt with Israel. (See  Matthew 25:41-46;  Isaiah 33:14).

 Isaiah 33:14 (a) No doubt this is a plain reference to the fires of hell. Men have made a type out of it saying it refers to a burning conscience. Nowhere is this indicated in the Scripture. The fire is always presented to us as real flame, both in hell and in the lake of fire.

 Isaiah 43:2 (b) Here the word is a genuine type and it refers to earthly sorrows, sufferings and difficulties. GOD has not promised to keep us out of the fires of difficulty. He has promised to preserve us from any injurious effects when these tragedies come into our lives.

 Isaiah 50:11 (b) This is a type of self-illumination, home-made philosophy, individual reasonings. All such end in disappointment, for only GOD's Word and GOD's plan would endure.

 Isaiah 66:24 (a) No doubt this actually represents the eternal judgment of GOD in the lake of fire. There is literal fire in hell, which is in the heart of this earth. There is literal fire in the lake of fire, where sinners are sent after the judgment of the Great White Throne. Here is expressed to the fullest extent the righteous justice and judgment of GOD, whereby the sinner suffers forever because of his wickedness, his rebellion, and his refusal to believe GOD.

 Jeremiah 5:14 (a) This is a type of the power of the Word of GOD when spoken by a servant of GOD in the power of the Spirit of GOD. The Word of GOD destroys the enemy. The word spoken by the Saviour in Gethsemane caused the enemy to fall backward to the ground. The Word of GOD spoken by Peter caused Ananias and Sapphira to die. (See also  Exodus 20:19;  Deuteronomy 5:25;  Hebrews 2:2-3).

 Jeremiah 20:9 (a) When Jeremiah decided that he would not speak again for GOD, he found that the Word of GOD hidden in his heart and mind was just too valuable and too precious to keep. He must speak to be refreshed. It was a burning in his soul. (See also  Psalm 39:3).

 Jeremiah 48:45 (a) Here is a type of the hatred of the enemies of Moab who planned the destruction of that nation.

 Jeremiah 51:58 (c) Probably this represents the vain labors of the inhabitants of Babylon as they sought to prevent its destruction by the invading enemy.

 Ezekiel 1:4 (b) This may be a picture of the mighty power, the destroying force of GOD in His righteous anger and judgment. The four living creatures are four symbols or types of CHRIST. (See  Ezekiel 1:13).

 Ezekiel 10:6-7 (b) No doubt this fire represents the consuming power and judgment of GOD which was to be poured out on disobedient Israel. (See also  Ezekiel 21:31;  Ezekiel 22:20;  Ezekiel 24:12;  Ezekiel 28:18;  Amos 5:6;  Amos 7:4).

 Ezekiel 36:5 (a) This is a type of GOD's wrath against the enemies of Israel for their hatred of His people. (See also  Ezekiel 38:19).

 Daniel 7:9 (a) Wheels always represent motion or progress. This fire must represent the action of GOD in judging the people. His righteousness and His holiness destroy all pretense, hypocrisy and sin before Him.

 Daniel 10:6 (a) By this is represented the piercing look of our Lord in the day of judgment, He destroys all hypocrisy by the look of His eye. (See also  Revelation 1:14).

 Hosea 7:6 (a) This is a type of the burning passion of sin which ruled the lives of the people of Israel.

 Obadiah 1:18 (a) By this is represented the wrath of Israel against the people of Esau, their enemies. This same kind of truth is found in  Zechariah 12:6, where Israel punishes all her foes.

 Habakkuk 2:13 (a) By this figure GOD is telling us that those who build up violence and hatred in their sinful rebellion shall not see their labor succeed.

 Zechariah 3:2 (a) The unclean sinner (Joshua), is taken out of the company of those who are under the wrath of GOD, and who are to be punished by GOD. He is clothed in GOD's righteousness after being delivered, and becomes one of GOD's servants, a priest of and for GOD. It is a picture of that blessed experience which we call the "new birth"; we too are made priests of GOD.

 Zechariah 13:9 (c) Probably this is a picture of the destruction of Jerusalem when most of Israel were slain and only a few survived. Titus slaughtered the Jews on that terrible occasion. Those living in the country districts escaped.

 Malachi 3:2 (a) This is a type which represents the way GOD puts His people through trouble and sorrow in order to make them pure, in order to remove evil from their lives.

 Matthew 3:10 (b) Here is a real type of the genuine and real fire in hell into which all hypocrites and professing Christians will be sent for eternal punishment. (See also  Matthew 7:19;  Matthew 13:42,  Matthew 13:50).

 Matthew 25:41 (a) This fire is not a type but is real, literal fire of hell. (See also  Matthew 18:8;  Mark 9:44).

 Luke 22:56 (c) This may be taken as a type of a backslider who having lost his love for the Lord seeks to warm himself by the attractions of the world. He seeks satisfaction in the pleasures, the business, and the various pursuits of the men of this world.

 John 15:6 (a) This fire is used by the Lord JESUS to describe the fierce criticism and the repudiation which fellow-men will give to those who profess to be Christians, but live like sinners. Such men who take the place of belonging to CHRIST, but do not walk with the Lord are repudiated as Christian leaders. It is men who gather them, and men who burn them. This has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of the soul, nor with eternal conditions. It relates entirely to this life, and to the rejection which is given to a Christian leader who lives for the Devil.

 Acts 2:3 (b) This may be taken as a symbol of the power and the anointing of GOD by the Spirit. This purging, cleansing power is for both saint and sinner, therefore the tongues are cloven. The Spirit of GOD convicts both the sinner and the Christian and He reveals the will of GOD to both.

 1 Corinthians 3:13 (a) Here we find a type of the judgment and the discerning power of GOD at the Throne. By means of His piercing investigation and His thorough understanding, all that is not profitable to GOD will be burned up.

 1 Corinthians 3:15 (a) People are saved by grace alone, with no reference of any kind to merit or to good works. There are those whose works after they are saved are not what they should be. Sometimes the works are really wicked, sometimes they are just injurious, and sometimes they are just of no value at all to GOD or man. Sometimes these works are works of charity, in which GOD is omitted, and therefore have no value to GOD. At the judgment throne, all such works are burned up. The person, however, is saved (by the skin of his teeth). He gets into Heaven because he trusted the Lord Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of the Saviour made it possible for GOD to blot out his sins. He lives in Heaven with no crown, no reward, no works to his credit. He is there wholly on the basis of GOD's grace, but receives no reward for service rendered.

 Hebrews 1:7 (a) The angels of GOD permit no foolishness nor pretext. They demand honesty and genuineness. Therefore, they are compared to flaming fire which destroys all dross, and leaves only that which has GOD's approval.

 2 Thessalonians 1:8 (a) The Lord JESUS is described in this passage as returning to earth with omnipotent power, with holiness and purity. His presence will destroy every form of evil, wickedness and sin. His righteousness will take vengeance on the unrighteous sinners who had no use for Him on the earth. This will be a terrible day of judgment when sinners receive from the reigning CHRIST that just due which rebels should receive.

 Hebrews 11:34 (a) This type reveals the severe persecution which was endured by faithful men of GOD in the Old Testament. (See  Daniel 3:17).

 James 3:6 (a) By this type there is revealed the destructive power of an evil tongue. The tongue of the ungodly, and sometimes the tongue of the godly, sears and injures the hearts, the souls and the lives of others. Words are sometimes like poisoned arrows. They injure and destroy those who hear them.

 James 5:3 (a) This represents the terrible remorse that shall burn the heart and the soul of the one who rebels against GOD.

 1 Peter 1:7 (a) Here is represented the persecution which is to be endured in the life of that one who will live godly in Christ Jesus The world does not want him. Society will not receive him. The business world sneers at him.

 Judges 1:23 (a) Probably the meaning of this is that there are those who are close to eternity, very near to being sent to hell. They are about through with this life. These are to be reached for the Lord, even though their lives have been wasted. Let us remember that in the Gospel work, as long as there is life there is hope.

 Revelation 3:18 (a) The Lord is telling us by this picture that all the blessings which He is offering to us have been tested through the centuries, and are worthy of our complete trust.

 Revelation 4:5 (a) The Holy Spirit is presented to us in this manner, both because of the illumination which He gives in a seven-fold manner, and also because of His power which is seen in seven ways. (See also  Revelation 1:4).

 Revelation 8:5 (c) This may represent the terrible judgment of GOD, and His fierce wrath against sin and sinners. He sends His angels to execute His decrees upon men. The mountains in verse  Revelation 8:8 are a figure to represent the amount and the stupendous volume of the wrath of GOD which men must endure who reject him.

 Revelation 9:17 (b) By this type there is probably conveyed to us some idea of the burning and destroying power of these messengers of GOD. The breastplate was for keeping GOD's servants from being injured. The fire from the mouth describes the withering power of their words as they spoke GOD's messages. (See also  Revelation 11:5).

 Revelation 15:2 (b) By this type is described the transparent judgments of GOD. There is no trickery or hidden evidence here. There is no hypocrisy in GOD's presence. GOD's fierce anger is displayed in all its justice, righteousness and purity.

 Revelation 20:10 (a) This reference, as all other references to fire in hell indicates literal, actual fire. This is not a type. (see vss.  Revelation 20:14-15: also  Revelation 21:8. The fire described in  Luke 16:24 is literal fire. Those who seek to spiritualize the word, and make it mean the "torment of a conscience" have no ground whatever for their philosophy).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [3]

Is one of the great elements in nature by which the Lord is pleased to carry on the purposes of his holy will in the kingdoms of his government. But in Scripture language it is used upon many occasions. Jehovah himself is compared to a consuming fire. ( Deuteronomy 4:24;  Hebrews 12:29) And agreeably to this, we find numberless appearances made of the divine presence in fire. To Moses at the bush,  Exodus 3:2 at the giving of the law on Mount Siani,  Exodus 19:18-19. To Isaiah in the vision,  Isaiah 6:4. To Ezekiel at the river Chebar,  Ezekiel 1:4. And to the beloved apostle John at Patmos,  Revelation 1:14.

Add to these, the Lord is pleased to reveal himself under the similitude of fire, in several parts of Scripture. Thus the prophet Malachi describes Jesus in his priestly office as a refiner's fire. ( Malachi 3:2) And John the Baptist, when drawing a comparison between the Lord and himself, in order to exalt his master, and set forth his own nothingness, saith, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." ( Matthew 3:11)

And it is worthy of farther remark, that many manifestations of the Lord's, under the Old Testament, were made by fire. In the covenant manifestations to Abraham, it was the representation of a "smoking furnace, and a burning lamp." ( Genesis 15:17-18) In the church in the wilderness, the going of the Lord before his people was under the form of a "pillar of fire." ( Exodus 13:21) Yea, the unceasing representation of the Lord on the altar, was by the "holy fire that never went out." ( Leviticus 6:13) And in short, the many manifestations made by fire of the Lord's presence and favour in the answers of the Lord to his servants, all shew the vast solemnity of the thing itself. (See  Leviticus 9:24;  Judges 13:19-20;  2 Chronicles 7:1;  1 Kings 18:38)

It must not be omitted either to observe, that the ministering spirits and servants of the Lord from the upper and brighter world, are frequently spoken of under the same similitude. The Lord is said to make "his angels spirits; and his ministers a flaming fire." ( Psalms 104:4) And the Psalmist elsewhere speaks of the chariots of God as chariots of fire, when at the Lord's brightness that"was before him, thick clouds passed, hail stones, and coals of fire." ( Psalms 18:10-12) And Daniel, in his lofty description, saith, that "a fiery stream issued, and came forth from before him." ( Daniel 7:10) And Habakkuk also, "Before him (saith he,) went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet." ( Habakkuk 3:5)

The word of God is compared also to fire. "Is not my word like a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" ( Jeremiah 23:29) And hence, in allusion to the same, the Lord Jesus declares the purpose of his coming is to this effect. "I am come (saith Christ,) to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" ( Luke 12:49) And one of the apostles declares that in the end of the dispensation of the gospel, "every man's work shall be tried by fire." ( 1 Corinthians 3:13)

And lastly, to mention no more, the torments of the damned are uniformly described in Scripture under the image of fire. Some of the most sublime, and at the same time most awful passages in Scripture, are made use of in the description. Moses introduces the Lord as speaking in this language. "A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell; and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the nations." ( Deuteronomy 32:22) And Isaiah, as if in contemplation of the horrors of this eternal fire, exclaims: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites: who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" ( Isaiah 33:14) And our blessed Lord adopts the same language in allusion to the same awful destruction of the wicked. He speaks of a worm that never dieth, and a fire that never is quenched. And this Jesus repeats three times, following each other, in the same chapter. ( Mark 9:44-48) And in his solemn description of the last day, in the tremendous judgment of it, he hath already recorded the very words with which he will speak to the sinners. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and all his angels." ( Matthew 25:41) John also, more largely dwells upon the subject in his book of the Revelations. (See  Revelation 20:1-15 throughout.)

Whether this fire is to be considered as the common, natural, and elementary fire, or whether the expressions are figurative, hath been the subject of much enquiry among persons whom the world hath been accustomed to call learned. But the world have sadly mistaken their name, in calling those learned who would fritter away the plain truths of Scripture into metaphor and figure. Indeed, nothing can more strongly mark the weakness of the human understanding, than the disputes which have been brought forward, in different ages of the church, by way of doing away the doctrine of the eternity of hell-torments. For unless men could persuade themselves, that God is not able to punish sin (of which the miseries and sorrows of the present life too plainly prove the contrary,) or that God will not make good his word in doing it (which his truth and veracity too awfully declare he will,) it matters not in what that punishment consists. Exactly suited to the deserts of sin, in every instance, we may be sure it will be. Too wise to err, too just: to do wrong, becomes a decided answer to all the indecent and unbecoming objections of unbelievers.

Here, therefore, let the faithful rest. The plain, the sure, the unalterable language of the word of God on this momentous point, is summed up in a few words.—"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." And at the same time it is said: "For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever." ( Psalms 9:17-18) This is enough to ascertain the fact. The farther enquiry in what that hell for the wicked consists, or what will be the fulness of the Lord's remembrance to his poor and needy, both these points may be very safely left with him. The apostle Paul makes a full conclusion of the subject, for the exercise of faith to the church, and such as may be sufficient to answer all the cavils of men, until the whole comes to be realized. Speaking to the church concerning the unjust sufferings the people of God endure from the ungodly, he saith, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus should be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." ( 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [4]

One of the most arresting and suggestive metaphors in the Bible is that of fire, a phenomenon common to all cultures ancient and modern and one that lends itself to a variety of imagery. The most prevalent term for fire in the Hebrew Bible is es [   Mark 14:54;  Luke 22:56 ). The usual word for fire in the New Testament is pur [Πῦρ], the regular Greek translation of Hebrew es [אֵשׁ] in the Septuagint.

As a commonplace in ancient Israel, fire obviously is to be taken literally in most of the several hundred references to it in the Bible. Its figurative or theological attestations are also numerous, however, generally relating to some manifestation of God's being or action.

Fire, as theophany of existence, communicates, first of all, the very presence of God. This is especially evident in the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses ( Exodus 3:2-6 ). Here fire is a manifestation of God himself, for Moses turned away from the sight "because he was afraid to look at God" (v. 6). Similar to this is Yahweh's descent upon Mount Sinai "in fire" ( Exodus 19:18; cf.  Deuteronomy 4:11-12,15 ,  33,36 ). In the New Testament Paul describes the second coming of Christ as "in blazing fire" ( 2 Thessalonians 1:7 ), an appearance that carries overtones of judgment as well as mere presence. Also akin to Old Testament imagery is John's vision of Jesus with eyes "like blazing fire" ( Revelation 1:14;  2:18;  19:12 ), again in judgment contexts.

It is not always possible to distinguish the presence of God from his glory for, indeed, glory is frequently a figure itself for divine presence. However, a number of passages focus on fire as synonymous with or in association with God's glory. For example, to the Israelites at Sinai "the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire" ( Exodus 24:17; cf.  Leviticus 9:23,24;  Deuteronomy 5:24 ). In visions of God in his glory in both Old and New Testaments, fire is a regular phenomenon.

A special use of fire imagery in the New Testament is that connected with baptism with fire. John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would baptize "with the Holy Spirit and with fire" ( Matthew 3:11; cf.  Luke 3:16 ), a promise that was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Then "tongues of fire" rested upon those gathered in the upper room with the result that they "were filled with the Holy Spirit" ( Acts 2:3-4 ). The fire here is a manifestation of God, in the case of the Third Person of the Godhead, a theological conception unknown to the Old Testament.

Fire as theophany of action reveals God at work in a number of ways. One of the earliest and clearest of these ways is his appearance in a pillar of fire that led the people of Israel out of Egypt and through the Sinai deserts. Another instance of God's use of fire as an active manifestation of his presence is his sending fire from heaven to consume sacrifices offered up to him on special and unusual occasions. The first of these inaugurated Aaron's ministry as priest. Having blessed the people, Moses and Aaron witnessed the appearance of the glory of the Lord, a striking manifestation of which was fire that "came out from the presence of the Lord" to consume the sacrifices already placed on the altar ( Leviticus 9:23-24 ). Other examples of fire as the expression of God's acceptance of offerings are those of Gideon ( Judges 6:19-24 ) and of the father and mother of Samson ( Judges 13:15-20 ). In both cases Yahweh is present in the person of the angel who touches the altar, causing the sacrifices to erupt in flame.

Because of fire's heat and destructive capacity, it frequently appears in the Bible as a symbol of God's anger and of the judgment and destruction that sometimes are extensions of that anger. The psalmist employs fire as a simile for divine displeasure when he asks the Lord, "How long will your wrath burn like fire?" ( Psalm 89:46 ) Isaiah, referring to God's coming in judgment, sees him "coming with fire" and bringing down his rebuke "with flames of fire" (66:15). Jeremiah says in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem that Yahweh "poured out his wrath like fire" ( Lamentations 2:4 ). Ezekiel uses the term "fiery anger" to speak of God's outpoured judgment, especially when speaking of the impending Babylonian conquest (21:31; 22:31). This is also the language by which he describes the overthrow of Gog in the end times. In his "zeal and fiery wrath" he will bring about massive calamity (38:19).

In other passages, the anger of God is not only metaphorically represented by fire, but fire becomes a literal vehicle of his wrath. At Taberah in the Sinai desert Yahweh's "anger was aroused" and "fire from the Lord burned among" the people ( Numbers 11:1 ). And the rebellion of Korah and his followers also resulted in many of them perishing by fire, a manifestation of God's hot anger ( Numbers 16:35;  26:10;  Leviticus 10:2 ). A most impressive display of fire as an instrument of judgment is the destruction of the messengers of Ahaziah of Israel who attempted to seize Elijah the prophet only to be struck with fire "from heaven" ( 2 Kings 1:10,12,14 ). This is probably an example of lightning, which otherwise is clearly a means of inflicting divine judgment and destruction (cf.  Exodus 9:23-24;  Job 1:16;  Psalm 18:13-14 ).

The same imagery of fire as a sign of God's anger and judgment continues in the New Testament. James and John asked Jesus whether or not they should invoke fire from heaven in order to destroy the Samaritans ( Luke 9:54 ). Paul speaks of fire as a purifying agent capable of testing the quality of one's life and works ( 1 Corinthians 3:13 ). Most commonly, fire is associated with the judgment of hell ( Matthew 3:12;  5:22;  18:8-9;  Mark 9:43,48;  Luke 3:17;  16:24;  James 3:6;  Jude 7;  Revelation 20:14-15 ), or with the destruction of the old heavens and earth in preparation for the new ( 2 Peter 3:10,12 ).

Eugene H. Merrill

See also Hell; Judgment; Day Of Judgment; Lake Of Fire; Theophany

Bibliography . E. M. Good, IDB, 2:268-69; J. Patrick, Dictionary of the Bible, 2:9-10; J. C. Slayton, 5:372-73; H. Van Broekhoven, Jr., ISBE, 2:305-6.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

Ever burning on the altar, first kindled, according to Jewish tradition, from heaven ( Leviticus 6:9;  Leviticus 6:13;  Leviticus 9:24). But Scripture represents the altar fire as lighted naturally before this. Knobel observes the rule  Leviticus 1:7, "the sons of Aaron shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire," must refer to the first burnt offering; the rule afterwards was to be that in  Leviticus 6:13;  Exodus 40:29;  Leviticus 8:16;  Leviticus 8:21-28;  Leviticus 9:10;  Leviticus 9:13-14;  Leviticus 9:17;  Leviticus 9:20. The heavenly fire in  Leviticus 9:24 did not kindle the fuel but consumed the victim. So God testified His accepting sacrifices ( Judges 6:21;  Judges 13:19-20;  1 Kings 18:38;  1 Chronicles 21:26;  2 Chronicles 7:1; probably  Genesis 4:4). Hence, the Hebrew for "accept" is "turn to ashes" ( Psalms 20:3 margin).

The ever burning fire symbolized Jehovah's ever continuing sacrificial worship; so in the New Testament,  Hebrews 13:15;  1 Thessalonians 5:17. This distinguishes it from the pagan idol Vesta's fire, the Magian fire, that of the Parsees, etc. The fires of Moloch and the sun god were nature worship, into which Sabeanism declined from the one God over all; the Jews often fell into this apostasy ( Isaiah 27:9;  2 Kings 23:11-12). The "strange fire" ( Leviticus 10:1) is generally explained common fire, not taken from the holy fire of the altar. But no express law forbade burning incense by ordinary fire, except the incense burned by the high priest in entering the holiest place on the day of atonement ( Leviticus 16:12), and probably the rule was hence taken as to the daily incense offering. They presented an incense offering not commanded in the law, apart from the morning and evening sacrifice.

Being an act of "will worship" it was "strange fire." Nadab and Abihu probably intended to accompany the people's shouts with an incense offering to the praise of God. The time and the manner of their offering were "strange" and selfwilled. So, the fire of the holy God ( Exodus 19:18), which had just sanctified Aaron's service, consumed his two oldest sons. So the gospel that saves the humble seals death to the presumptuous ( 2 Corinthians 2:16;  Colossians 2:23). (See Aaron .) Fire by its pure, penetrating, all consuming agency, symbolizes the holiness of God which consumes sin as a thing that cannot abide in His presence ( Hebrews 10:27;  Hebrews 12:29). The risen Lord's "eyes are like a flame of fire" ( Revelation 2:18;  Revelation 2:23) "searching the reins and hearts." He shall come "in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that, know not God and obey not the gospel" ( 2 Thessalonians 1:8).

The flaming fire marked His manifestation in the bush ( Exodus 3:2). Again the same symbol appeared in the pillar of cloud and fire ( Exodus 13:21-22), in His giving the law on Sinai ( Exodus 19:18); so at His second advent ( Daniel 7:9-10;  Malachi 3:2;  Malachi 4:1;  2 Peter 3:7;  2 Peter 3:10). John the Baptist, as the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament dispensation, declared of the Messiah, "He shall baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire," referring to His judicial aspect, "burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire" ( Matthew 3:11-12). Fire also symbolizes the purifying of believers by testing dealings ( Malachi 3:2), also the holy zeal kindled in them as at Pentecost (Acts 2;  Isaiah 4:4). The same Holy Spirit. who sanctifies believers by the fire of affliction dooms unbelievers to the fire of perdition.

In  1 Corinthians 3:13-15, "every man's work ... the (judgment) day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is ... if any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." As the "gold," "hay," etc., are figurative, so the fire. Not purgatorial, i.e. purificatory and punitive, but probatory; not restricted, as Rome teaches, to those dying in "venial sin," the supposed intermediate class between those entering heaven at once and those dying in mortal sin and doomed to hell; but universal, testing the godly and ungodly alike ( 2 Corinthians 5:10;  Mark 9:49).

This fire is not until the last day, the supposed fire of purgatory is at death. The fire of Paul is to try the works, the fire of purgatory the persons, of men. Paul's fire causes loss to the sufferers, Rome's fire the supposed gain of heaven at last to those purged by fire. A Christian worker, if he builds converts on Christ alone, besides being saved himself, shall have them as his crown and special reward ( 2 Corinthians 1:14;  1 Thessalonians 2:19;  2 John 1:8). But if his work be of unscriptural materials, that the fire will destroy, he shall lose the special "reward" of the work so lost, but himself shall be saved because in Christ, "yet so as by fire," i.e. having a narrow Escape ( Zechariah 3:2;  Amos 4:11;  Judges 1:23).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [6]

A — 1: Πῦρ (Strong'S #4442 — Noun Neuter — pur — poor )

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

 Hebrews 10:27 12:29 Revelation 1:14 2:18 10:1 15:2 19:12 Hebrews 1:7 Revelation 3:18 1—Corinthians 3:13,15 Matthew 3:11  Acts 2:3  Luke 3:16 2—Thessalonians 1:8 Revelation 18:8 Matthew 5:22 13:42,50 18:8,9 25:41 Mark 9:43,48 Luke 3:17 Luke 12:49 James 5:3 Revelation 17:16 Romans 12:20 James 3:6 Jude 1:23Flame.

A — 2: Πυρά (Strong'S #4443 — Noun Feminine — pura — poo-rah' )

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

 Mark 14:54

B — 1: Πύρινος (Strong'S #4447 — Adjective — purinos — poo'-ree-nos )

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

C — 1: Πυρόω (Strong'S #4448 — Verb — puroo — poo-ro'-o )

is translated "being on fire" (Middle Voice) in  2—Peter 3:12 . See Fiery.

C — 2: Φλογίζω (Strong'S #5394 — Verb — phlogizo — flog-id'-zo )

"to set on fire, burn up," is used figuratively, in both Active and Passive Voices, in  James 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.

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 15:17 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 ( Psalm 39:3;  Psalm 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

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [8]

God hath often appeared in fire, and encompassed with fire, as when he showed himself in the burning bush; and descended on Mount Sinai, in the midst of flames, thunderings, and lightning,  Exodus 3:2;  Exodus 19:18 . Hence fire is a symbol of the Deity: "The Lord thy God is a consuming fire,"  Deuteronomy 4:24 . The Holy Ghost is compared to fire: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,"  Matthew 3:11 . To verify this prediction, he sent the Holy Ghost, which descended upon his disciples, in the form of tongues, or like flames of fire,  Acts 2:3 . It is the work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten, purify, and sanctify the soul; and to inflame it with love to God, and zeal for his glory. Fire from heaven fell frequently on the victims sacrificed to the Lord, as a mark of his presence and approbation. It is thought, that God in this manner expressed his acceptance of Abel's sacrifices,  Genesis 4:4 . When the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, a fire like that of a furnace passed through the divided pieces of the sacrifices, and consumed them,  Genesis 15:17 .

Fire fell upon the sacrifices which Moses offered at the dedication of the tabernacle,  Leviticus 9:24; and upon those of Manoah, Samson's father,  Judges 13:19-20; upon Solomon's, at the dedication of the temple,  2 Chronicles 7:1; and on Elijah's, at Mount Carmel,  1 Kings 18:38 . The fire which came down from heaven, first upon the altar in the tabernacle, and afterward descended anew upon the altar in the temple of Solomon, at its consecration, was there constantly fed and maintained by the priests, day and night, in the same manner as it had been in the tabernacle. The Jews have a tradition, that Jeremiah, foreseeing the destruction of the temple, took this fire and hid it in a pit; but that at the rebuilding of the temple, being brought again from thence, it revived upon the altar. But this is a fiction: and the generality of them allow, that, at the destruction of the temple, it was extinguished; and in the time of the second temple, nothing was made use of for all their burnt offerings but common fire only. The ancient Chaldeans adored the fire, as well as the old Persians, and some other people of the east. The torments of hell are described by fire, both in the Old and New Testament. Our Saviour makes use of this similitude, to represent the punishment of the damned,  Mark 9:44 . He likewise speaks frequently of the eternal fire prepared for the devil, his angels, and reprobates,  Matthew 25:41 . The sting and remorse of conscience is the worm that will never die; and the wrath of God upon their souls and bodies, the fire that shall never go out. There are writers who maintain, that by the worm is to be understood a living and sensible, not an allegorical and figurative, worm; and by fire, a real elementary and material fire. Among the abettors of this opinion are Austin, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Jerom, &c. The word of God is compared to fire: "Is not my word like a fire?"  Jeremiah 23:20 . It is full of life and efficacy; like a fire it warms, melts, and heats; and is powerful to consume the dross, and burn up the chaff and stubble. Fire is likewise taken for persecution, dissension, and division: "I am come to send fire on earth,"

 Luke 12:49; as if it was said, upon my coming and publishing the Gospel, there will follow, through the devil's malice and corruption of men, much persecution to the professors thereof, and manifold divisions in the world, whereby men will be tried, whether they will be faithful or not.

King James Dictionary [9]

FIRE, n. The radical sense of fire is usually, to rush, to rage, to be violently agitated and if this is the sense of fire, in coincides with L. furo. It may be from shining or consuming.

1. Heat and light emanating visibly, perceptibly and simultaneously from any body caloric the unknown cause of the sensation of heat and of the retrocession of the homogeneous particles of bodies from one another, producing expansion, and thus enlarging all their dimensions one of the causes of magnetism, as evinced by Dr. Hare's calorimotor.

In the popular acceptation of the word, fire is the effect of combustion. The combustible body ignited or heated to redness we call fire and when ascending in a stream or body, we call it flame. A piece of charcoal in combustion, is of a red color and very hot. In this state it is said to be on fire, or to contain fire. When combustion ceases, it loses its redness and extreme heat, and we say, the fire is extinct.

2. The burning of fuel on a hearth, or in any other place. We kindle a fire in the morning, and at night we rake up the fire. Anthracite will maintain fire during the night. 3. The burning of a house or town a conflagration. Newburyport and Savannah have suffered immense losses by fire. The great fire in Boston in 1711 consumed a large part of the town. 4. Light luster splendor.

Stars, hide your fires!

5. Torture by burning. 6. The instrument of punishment or the punishment of the impenitent in another state.

Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?  Isaiah 33 .

7. That which inflames or irritates the passions.

What fire is in my ears?

8. Ardor of temper violence of passion.

He had fire in his temper.

9. Liveliness of imagination vigor of fancy intellectual activity animation force of sentiment or expression.

And warm the critic with a poet's fire.

10. The passion of love ardent affection.

The God of love retires dim are his torches, and extinct his fires.

11. Ardor heat as the fire of zeal or of love. 12. Combustion tumult rage contention. 13. Trouble affliction.

When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt.  Isaiah 43 .

To set on fire, to kindle to inflame to excite violent action.

St. Anthony's fire, a disease marked by an eruption on the skin, or a diffused inflammation, with fever the Erysipelas.

Wild fire, an artificial or factitious fire, which burns even under water. it is made by a composition of sulphur, naphtha, pitch, gum and bitumen. It is called also Greek fire.


1. To set on fire to kindle as, to fire a house or chimney to fire a pile. 2. To inflame to irritate the passions as, to fire with anger or revenge. 3. To animate to give life or spirit as, to fire the genius. 4. To drive by fire. Little used. 5. To cause to explode to discharge as, to fire a musket or cannon. 6. To cauterize a term in farriery.


1. To take fire to be kindled. 2. To be irritated or inflamed with passion. 3. To discharge artillery or firearms. They fired on the town.

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( n.) Torture by burning; severe trial or affliction.

(2): ( n.) Anything which destroys or affects like fire.

(3): ( n.) Splendor; brilliancy; luster; hence, a star.

(4): ( n.) Liveliness of imagination or fancy; intellectual and moral enthusiasm; capacity for ardor and zeal.

(5): ( n.) The burning of a house or town; a conflagration.

(6): ( v. t.) To inflame; to irritate, as the passions; as, to fire the soul with anger, pride, or revenge.

(7): ( v. t.) To animate; to give life or spirit to; as, to fire the genius of a young man.

(8): ( n.) Ardor of passion, whether love or hate; excessive warmth; consuming violence of temper.

(9): ( v. t.) To light up as if by fire; to illuminate.

(10): ( v. t.) To feed or serve the fire of; as, to fire a boiler.

(11): ( v. t.) To drive by fire.

(12): ( v. t.) To cauterize.

(13): ( v. i.) To take fire; to be kindled; to kindle.

(14): ( v. i.) To be irritated or inflamed with passion.

(15): ( v. i.) To discharge artillery or firearms; as, they fired on the town.

(16): ( n.) Fuel in a state of combustion, as on a hearth, or in a stove or a furnace.

(17): ( n.) The evolution of light and heat in the combustion of bodies; combustion; state of ignition.

(18): ( v. t.) To set on fire; to kindle; as, to fire a house or chimney; to fire a pile.

(19): ( v. t.) To subject to intense heat; to bake; to burn in a kiln; as, to fire pottery.

(20): ( n.) The discharge of firearms; firing; as, the troops were exposed to a heavy fire.

(21): ( v. t.) To cause to explode; as, to fire a torpedo; to disharge; as, to fire a musket or cannon; to fire cannon balls, rockets, etc.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

In Scripture, is often connected with the presence of Jehovah; as in the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai,  Exodus 3:2   19:18   Psalm 18:1-50   Habakkuk 1:1-3:19 . The second coming of Christ will be "in flaming fire,"  2 Thessalonians 1:8 . In the New Testament it illustrates the enlightening, cheering, and purifying agency of the Holy Spirit,  Matthew 3:11   Acts 2:3 . By sending fire from heaven to consume sacrifices, God often signified his acceptance of them: as in the case of Abel,  Genesis 4:4; Abraham,  Genesis 15:17; Manoah,  Judges 13:19-20; Elijah,  1 Kings 18:38; and at the dedication of the tabernacle and the temple,  Leviticus 9:24   2 Chronicles 7:1 . This sacred fire was preserved by the priests with the utmost care,  Isaiah 31:9 , in many ancient religions fire was worshipped; and children were made to pass through the fire to Moloch,  2 Kings 17:17   Jeremiah 7:31   Ezekiel 16:21   23:37 . The Jews had occasion for fires, except for cooking, only during a small part of the year. Besides their ordinary hearths and ovens, they warmed their apartments with "a fire of coals" in a brazier,  Jeremiah 36:22-23   Luke 22:30 . The were forbidden to kindle a fire on the Sabbath,  Exodus 35:3 a prohibition perhaps only of cooking on that day, but understood by many Jews even now in the fullest extent; it is avoided by employing gentile servants. Another provision of the Mosaic Law was designed to protect the standing corn, etc., in the dry summer season,  Exodus 22:6 . The earth is to be destroyed by fire,  2 Peter 3:7; of which the destruction of Sodom, and the volcanoes and earthquakes which so often indicate the internal commotions of the globe, may serve as warnings.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [12]

God was early revealed in fire. The searching character of His righteous judgement was thus set forth, whether in the acceptance of good or the condemnation of evil. When Moses at Horeb approached the burningbush he was cautioned not to draw near, but to remove his shoes, for theground was holy. God spake to him out of the burning bush.  Exodus 3:1-6 . On Mount Sinai "the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire."  Exodus 24:17 . Moses declared to Israel, "The Lord thy Godis a consuming fire."  Deuteronomy 4:24 . When Aaron began his ministrations in the tabernacle fire came out "from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat."  Leviticus 9:24 : cf.  1 Kings 18:38;  1 Chronicles 21:26;  2 Chronicles 7:1-3 . Nadab and Abihu offered 'strange fire,' and fire went out from the Lord and consumed them.  Leviticus 10:1,2 . Thus God manifested Himself in fire to Moses. He showed His acceptance of the sacrifices by fire from heaven; He vindicatedHis servant Elijah, when he stood alone against the prophets of Baal, by consuming the sacrifice, the wood and the stone, by fire from heaven ( 1 Kings 18:38 ); and He vindicated His own honour by fire, by destroying those who were disobedient in approaching to Him. The general idea in 'fire' is that of judgement.

In the N.T. it is repeated, "Our God is a consuming fire" ( Hebrews 12:29 ), to consume the dross in the Christian, as gold is tried and purified in the fire; and to judge and punish the wicked with unquenchable fire; who are also described as being Baptised With Fire  Matthew 3:11,12 . One of the most awful things connected with this word is the description of the place of eternal punishment as THE Lake Of Fire  Revelation 19:20; Rev.20:10,14,15. What mercy to be delivered therefrom!

Easton's Bible Dictionary [13]

  • Figuratively, fire is a symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power ( Exodus 14:19;  Numbers 11:1,3;  Judges 13:20;  1 Kings 18:38;  2 Kings 1:10,12;  2:11;  Isaiah 6:4;  Ezekiel 1:4;  Revelation 1:14 , etc.).

    God's word is also likened unto fire ( Jeremiah 23:29 ). It is referred to as an emblem of severe trials or misfortunes ( Zechariah 12:6;  Luke 12:49;  1 Corinthians 3:13,15;  1 Peter 1:7 ), and of eternal punishment ( Matthew 5:22;  Mark 9:44;  Revelation 14:10;  21:8 ).

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

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Fire'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Smith's Bible Dictionary [14]

    Fire. Fire 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;  Exodus 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; for example, 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;  Numbers 26:61.

    Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [15]

    ' Êsh ( אֵשׁ , Strong'S #784), “fire.” Cognates of this word occur in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Ethiopic. The 378 occurrences of this word in biblical Hebrew are scattered throughout its periods. In its first biblical appearance this word, 'êsh represents God’s presence as “a torch of fire”“And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a [flaming torch] …” (Gen. 15:17). “Fire” was the instrument by which an offering was transformed into smoke, whose ascending heavenward symbolized God’s reception of the offering (Lev. 9:24). God also consumed people with the “fire of judgment” (Num. 11:1; Ps. 89:46). Various things were to be burnt as a sign of total destruction and divine judgment (Exod. 32:20).

    “Fire” often attended God’s presence in theophanies (Exod. 3:2). Thus He is sometimes called a “consuming fire” (Exod. 24:17).

    The noun 'êsh , meaning “an offering made by fire,” is derived from 'êsh .

    Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [16]

    FIRE . See House, § 7 , and next article.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [17]

    (properly אִשׁ , Esh, Πῦρ ). On the origin of fire, see Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. i, 94. The applications of fire in Scripture are susceptible of the following classification: I. Religious.

    1. That which consumed the burnt sacrifice and the incense-offering, beginning with the sacrifice of Noah ( Genesis 8:20), and continued in the ever-burning fire on the altar; first kindled from heaven ( Leviticus 6:9;  Leviticus 6:13;  Leviticus 9:24), and rekindled at the dedication of Solomon's Temple ( 2 Chronicles 7:1;  2 Chronicles 7:3). (See Sacrifice).

    "Fire from heaven," "'fire of the Lord', usually denotes lightning in the Old Testament; but, when connected with sacrifices, the "fire of the Lord" is often to be understood as the fire of the altar, and sometimes the holocaust itself ( Exodus 29:18;  Leviticus 1:9;  Leviticus 2:3;  Leviticus 3:5;  Leviticus 3:9;  Numbers 28:6;  1 Samuel 2:28; Isaiah 20:16;  Malachi 1:10). (See Lightning).

    The perpetual fire on the altar was to be replenished with wood every morning ( Leviticus 6:12; comp.  Isaiah 31:9). According to the Gemara, it was divided into three parts, one for burning the victims, one for incense, and one for supply of the other portions ( Leviticus 6:15; see Reland, Antiq. Hebr. i, 4. 8, p. 26; and 9:10, p. 98). Fire for sacred purposes obtained elsewhere than from the altar was called "strange fire," and for use of such Nadab and Abihu were punished with death by fire from God ( Leviticus 10:1-2;  Numbers 3:4;  Numbers 26:61). (See Altar).

    2. Parallel with this application of fire is -to be noted the similar use for sacrificial purposes, and the respect paid to it, or to the heavenly bodies as symbols of deity (see below), which prevailed among so many nations of antiquity, and of which the traces are not even now extinct: e.g. the Sabaean and Magian systems of worship, and their alleged connection with Abraham (Spencer, De Leg. Hebr. ii, 1, 2); the occasional relapse of the Jews themselves into sun, or its corrupted form of fire-worship ( Isaiah 27:9; compare Gesenius, s.v. חִמָּן , Thesaur. p. 489; see  Deuteronomy 17:3;  Jeremiah 8:2;  Ezekiel 8:16;  Zephaniah 1:5;  2 Kings 17:16;  2 Kings 21:3;  2 Kings 23:5;  2 Kings 23:10-11;  2 Kings 23:13; comp. Jahn, Bibl. Arch. c. 6: § 405, 408); the worship or deification of heavenly bodies or of fire, prevailing to some extent, as among the Persians, so also even in Egypt (Herod. iii, 16; see Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. i, 328, abridgm.); the sacred fire of the Greeks and Romans (Thucyd. i, 24; ii, 15; Cicero, De Leg. ii, 8, 12; Livy, 28:12; Dionys. ii, 67; Plutarch, Numa, 9, i, 263, ed. Reiske); the ancient forms and usages of worship, differing from each other in some important respects, but to some extent similar in principle, of Mexico and Peru (Prescott, Mexico, i, 60, 64; Peru, i, 101); and, lastly, the theory of the so-called Guebres of Persia, and the Parsees of Bombay. (Frazer, Persia, c. 4:p. 141, 162, 164; Sir R. Porter, Travels, ii, 50, 424; Chardin, Voyages, ii, 310; 4:258; 8:367 sq.; Niebuhr, Travels, ii, 36, 37; Mandelslo, Travelb, b. i, p. 76; Gibbon, Hist. c. 8:i, 335, ed. Smith; Benj. of Tudela, Early Trav. p. 114, 116; Burckhardt, Syria, p. 156.) (See Idolatry). On the heathen practice of children "'passing through the fire," (See Moloch).

    3. In the case of the spoil taken from the Midianites, such articles as could bear it were purified by fire as well as in the water appointed for the purpose ( Numbers 31:23). The victims slain for sin-offerings were afterwards consumed by fire outside the camp ( Leviticus 4:12;  Leviticus 4:21;  Leviticus 6:30;  Leviticus 16:27;  Hebrews 13:11). The Nazarite who had completed his vow, marked its completion by shaving his head and casting the hair into the fire on the altar on which the peace-offerings were sacrificed ( Numbers 6:18).

    II. Domestic.- Besides for cooking, baking, and roasting purposes, (See Food Bread), etc, fire is often required in Palestine for warmth ( Jeremiah 36:22;  Mark 14:54;  John 18:18; see Harmer, Obs. i,125; Raihner, p. 79). For this purpose a hearth with a chimney is sometimes constructed, on which either lighted wood or pans of charcoal are placed (Harmer, i, 405). In Persia, a hole made in the floor is sometimes filled with charcoal, on which a sort of table is set covered with a carpet; and the company, placing their feet under the carpet, draw it over themselves (Olearius, Travels, p. 294; Chardin, Voyages, iii, 190). Rooms in Egypt are warmed, when necessary, with pans of charcoal, as there are no fireplaces except in the kitchens (Lane, Mod. Eg. i, 41; Eng. in Eig. ii, 11). (See Coal); (See Fuel).

    On the Sabbath, the law forbade any fire to be kindled even for culinary purposes ( Exodus 35:3;  Numbers 15:32). As the primary design of this law appears to have been to prevent the proper privileges of the Sabbath day from being lost to any one through the care and time required in cooking victuals ( Exodus 16:23), it is doubted whether the use of fire for warmth on the Sabbath day was included in this interdiction. In practice, it would appear that the fire was never lighted or kept up for cooking on the Sabbath day, and that consequently there were no fires in the houses during the Sabbaths of the greater part of the year; but it may be collected that in winter fires for warming apartments were kept up from the previous day. Michaelis is very much mistaken with respect to the climate of Palestine in supposing that the inhabitants could, without much discomfort, dispense with fires for warmth during winter (Mosaisches Recht, 4:195). To this general prohibition the Jews added various refinements; e.g. that on the eve of the Sabbath no one might read with a light, though passages to be read on the Sabbath by children in schools might be looked out by the teacher. If a Gentile lighted a lamp, a Jew might use it, but not if it had been lighted for the use of the Jew. If a festival day fell on the Sabbath eve no cooking was to be done (Mishna, Shabb. i, 3; 16:8, vol. ii, p. 4, 56; Moed Katan, ii, vol. ii, p. 287, ed. Surenhus). The modern Jews, although there is no cooking in their houses, have fires on the Sabbath day, which are attended to by a Christian servant; or a charwoman is hired to attend to the fires of several houses, which she visits repeatedly during the day. (See Sabath).

    III. Statutory Regulation. The dryness of the land in the hot season in Syria of course increases the liability to accident from fire ( Judges 9:15). The law therefore ordered that any one kindling a fire which caused damage to corn in a field should make restitution ( Exodus 22:6; comp.  Judges 15:4-5;  2 Samuel 14:30; see Mishna, Maccoth, 6: 5, 6; vol. 4:48, Surenhus.; Burckhardt, Syria, p. 496, 622). This law was calculated to teach caution in the use of fire to the herdsmen in the fields, who were the parties most concerned. And it is to be remembered that the herdsmen were generally substantial persons, and had their assistant shepherds, for whose imprudence they were made responsible. Still no inference is to be drawn from this law with regard to fires breaking out in towns, the circumstances being so very different. (See Damages).

    IV. Penal . Punishment of death by fire was awarded by the law only in the cases of incest with a mother-in-law, and of unchastity on the part of a daughter of a priest ( Leviticus 20:14;  Leviticus 21:9)., In the former case both the parties, in the latter the woman only, was to suffer. This sentence appears to have been a relaxation of the original practice in such cases ( Genesis 38:24). Among other nations, burning alive appears to have been no uncommon-mode, if not of judicial punishment, at least of vengeance upon captives; and in a modified form was not unknown ins war among the Jews themselves .( 2 Samuel 12:31;  Jeremiah 29:22;  Daniel 3:20). In certain cases the-bodies-of executed criminals and of infamous persons were subsequently burnt ( Joshua 7:25;  2 Kings 23:16). (See Punishment)-.

    V. Military.- In time of war towns were often destroyed by fire. This, as a war usage, belongs to all times and nations'; but among the Hebrews there were some particular notions connected with it, as an act of strong abhorrence, or of demotement to abiding desolatioas. (See Accursed). The principal instances historically- commemorated are the destruction by fire of Jericho ( Joshua 6:24); Ail ( Joshua 8:19); Hazor ( Joshua 11:11); Laish ( Judges 18:27); the towns of the Benjamites ( Judges 20:48); Ziklag, by- the Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 30:1); Jazerine Pharaoh ( 1 Kings 9:16); and the Temple and Palaces of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar ( 2 Kings 25:9). Even the war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt by the Israelites ( Joshua 6:24;  Joshua 8:28;  Joshua 11:9;  Joshua 11:13), probably on the principle of precluding the possibility of recovery by the enemy of instruments of strength for which they had themselves no use. The frequency with which towns Ware fired in ancient warfare is show in by the very numerous threats by the prophets that the towns of Israel should be burned by their foreign enemies. Some great towns, not of Israel, are particularly named; and it would be an interesting task to trace, as far as the materials exist, the fulfilment of these prophecies in those more marked examples. Among the places thus threatened we find Damascus ( Isaiah 43:12-13), Gaza, Tyre, Teman ( Amos 1:7;  Amos 1:10-11). - The temples and idols of a conquered town or people were very often burnt by the victors ( Isaiah 53:12). The Jews were expressly ordered to destroy the idols of the heathen nations, and especially any' city of their own relapsed into idolatry ( Exodus 32:20;  2 Kings 10:26;  Deuteronomy 7:5;  Deuteronomy 12:3;  Deuteronomy 13:16). One of the expedients of war in sieges was to set fire to the- gate of the besieged place ( Judges 9:49;  Judges 9:52). (See Siege).

    In battle, torches were often carried by the soldiers, which explains the use of torches is the attack of Gideon upon the camp of the Midianites ( Judges 7:6). This military use of torches was very general among ancient nations, and is alluded to by many of their writers (Statius, Theb. 4:5, 7; Stobus, Serm. p. 194; Michaelis, in -Symbol. Liter. Bremens. iii, 254). (See Torch). Signal fires on the tops of mountains were also anciently common as a telegraphic mode of conveying intelligence both in civil and military matters ( Judith 7:5). (See Beacon).

    VI. Funeral. - Incense was sometimes burnt in honor of the dead, especially royal personages, as is mentioned specially in the cases of Asa and Zedekiab, and negatively ins that of Jeharate ( 2 Chronicles 16:14;  2 Chronicles 21:19'  Jeremiah 34:5). (See Funeral).

    VII. Metallurgic . The use of fire in reducing and refining metals was well known to the Hebrews at the time of the Exodus, ( Exodus 32:24'; 35:32.; 37:2, 6, 17; 38:2, 8;  Numbers 16:38-39).Kitto, s.v.; Smith, s.v. (See Handicraft).

    VIII. Figurative Senses.

    1. Fire is in the Scriptures considered as a symbol of Jehovah's presence (see Malbner" De Deo In Igne, Dresd., n. d.) and the instrument of his power, in the way either of approval or of destruction ( Exodus 14:19;  Numbers 11:1;  Numbers 11:3;  Judges 13:20;  1 Kings 18:38;  2 Kings 1:10;  2 Kings 1:12;  2 Kings 2:11;  2 Kings 6:17; comp.  Isaiah 51:6;  Isaiah 66:15;  Isaiah 66:24;  Joel 2:30;  Malachi 2:2-3;  Malachi 4:1;  2 Peter 3:10;  Revelation 20:14-15; see Reland, Ant. - Sacr. i, 8, p. 26; Jennings, Jewish Ant. ii, 1, p. 301; Josephus, Ant. iii,,8, 6; 8:4, 4)., Thus he appeared in this element at the burning bush and on Mount Sinai ( Exodus 3:2;  Exodus 19:18). He showed himself to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John in the, midst of fire ( Isaiah 6:4;  Ezekiel 1:4;  Revelation 1:14), and it is said that he will so appear at his second coming ( 2 Thessalonians 1:8). The people of Israel wandered through the desert, guided by the Lord under the form of a -pillar of fire, (See Pillar), ( Exodus 13:21); and Daniel, relating his vision, in which, he saw the Ancient of days, says, "A fiery stream issued and came forth before him" (7:10). God may be compared to fire, not only by reason of his glorious brightness, but also on account of his anger against sin, which consumes those against whom it is kindled, as-sire does stubble ( Deuteronomy 32:22;  Isaiah 10:17;  Ezekiel 21:3;  Hebrews 12:29).. Coals of fire proceeding from God's mouth denote his anger ( Psalms 18:8). His word also" is compared to fire ( Jeremiah 23:29). Thus in  Jeremiah 5:14, " Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, snd this people wood, and it shall devour them." (See Flame).

    2. Hence the destructive energies of this element and the torment which it inflicts rendered it a fit symbol of

    (1) whatever does damage and consumes (Proam. 16:27;  Isaiah 9:18);

    (2) of severe trials, vexations, and misfortunes ( Zechariah 12:9; ' Luke 12:49 [see the dissertations on this text -by Scharbes' (Obs. Sacs-. p. 127-146), Ellrod (Erlang. 1774)];  1 Corinthians 3:13;  1 Corinthians 3:15 [see the dissertation on this text by Liebtenstein (Hainest. 1771), Georgi (Viteb. 1748)];  1 Peter 1:7);

    (3) of the punishments beyond the grave ( Matthew 5:22;  Mark 9:44;  Revelation 14:10;  Revelation 21:8). (See Hell).

    3. Fire or flame is also used in a metaphorical sense to express excited feeling sand divine inspiration ( Psalms 39:3;  Jeremiah 20:9). Thus the influences of the Holy Ghost are compared to fire ( Matthew 3:11), sand the descent of the Holy Spirit was denoted in the appearance of lambent flames, or tongues of fire ( Acts 2:3). (See Tongue). The angels of God also are represented under the emblem of fire ( Psalms 104:4). 'These are the more benign application as of the figure, in the sense of warmth, activity, and illumination. (See Light).

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [18]

    fı̄r ( אשׁ , 'ēsh  ; πῦρ , púr ): These are the common words for fire, occurring very frequently. 'Ūr , "light" ( Isaiah 24:15 the King James Version; compare the Revised Version (British and American);   Isaiah 31:9 , and see Fires ), nūr (Aramaic) ( Daniel 3:22 ) are found a few times, also 'eshshāh ( Jeremiah 6:29 ), and be‛ērāh ( Exodus 22:6 ), once each.  Acts 28:2 ,  Acts 28:3 has purá , "pyre," and  Mark 14:54;  Luke 22:56 , phō̇s , "light," the Revised Version (British and American) "in the light (of the fire)." "To set on fire," yācath ( 2 Samuel 14:31 ), lāhaṭ ( Deuteronomy 32:22 , etc.), phlogı́zō ( James 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 ( Deuteronomy 12:31;  2 Kings 17:31;  Psalm 106:37 ), and, although this was specially forbidden to the Israelites ( Leviticus 18:21;  Deuteronomy 12:31;  Deuteronomy 18:10 ), they too often lapsed into the practice ( 2 Kings 16:3;  2 Kings 21:6;  Jeremiah 7:31;  Ezekiel 20:26 ,  Ezekiel 20:31 ). See Molech; Idolatry .

    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 ( Genesis 15:17 ), in the burning bush. ( Exodus 3:2-4 ), in the pillar of fire ( Exodus 13:21 ), on Sinai ( Exodus 19:18 ), in the flame on the altar ( Judges 13:20 ). Yahweh was "the God that answereth by fire" ( 1 Kings 18:24 ,  1 Kings 18:38 ). In the Law, therefore, sacrifices and offerings (including incense) were to be made by fire ( Exodus 12:8 ,  Exodus 12:9 ,  Exodus 12:10; Lev 1). Fire from Yahweh signified the acceptance of certain special and separate sacrifices ( Judges 6:21;  1 Kings 18:38;  1 Chronicles 21:26 ). In  Leviticus 9:24 the sacrificial fire "came forth from before Yahweh." The altar-fire was to be kept continually burning (  Leviticus 6:12 ,  Leviticus 6:13 ); offering by "strange fire" (other than the sacred altar-fire) was punished by "fire from before Yahweh" ( Leviticus 10:1 ,  Leviticus 10:2 ). Fire came from heaven also at the consecration of Solomon's Temple ( 2 Chronicles 7:1 ).

    According to 2 Macc 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" ( Nehemiah 10:3 ).

    Fire was a frequent instrument of the Divine primitive wrath ( Genesis 19:24;  Exodus 9:23 (lightning);   Numbers 11:1;  Numbers 16:35 , etc.;  Psalm 104:4 , the American Standard Revised Version "Who maketh ... flames of fire his ministers"). Fire shall yet dissolve the world ( 2 Peter 3:12 ). It was frequently used by the Israelites as a means of destruction of idolatrous objects and the cities of their enemies ( Deuteronomy 7:5 ,  Deuteronomy 7:25;  Deuteronomy 12:3;  Deuteronomy 13:16;  Joshua 6:24; Jgs, frequently); sometimes also of punishment ( Leviticus 20:14;  Leviticus 21:9;  Joshua 7:25; 2 Macc 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 ( Exodus 35:3 ). It was employed also for melting ( Exodus 32:24 ), and refining ( Numbers 31:23;  Numbers 3:2 ,  Numbers 3:3 , etc.). For the sacrificial fire wood was used as fuel ( Genesis 22:3 ,  Genesis 22:1;  Leviticus 6:12 ); for ordinary purposes, also charcoal ( Proverbs 25:22;  Isaiah 6:6 , the Revised Version, margin "or hot stone";  Habakkuk 3:5 , the Revised Version (British and American) "fiery bolts," margin "or burning coals";  John 21:9 , "a fire of coals" the Revised Version, margin "Gr, a fire of charcoal";  Romans 12:20 ); branches ( Numbers 15:32;  1 Kings 17:12 ); thorns ( Psalm 58:9;  Psalm 118:12;  Ecclesiastes 7:6;  Isaiah 33:12 ); grass and other herbage ( Matthew 6:30;  Luke 12:28 ).

    2. Figurative Use

    Fire was an emblem (1) of Yahweh in His glory ( Daniel 7:9 ); (2) in His holiness ( Isaiah 6:4 ); (3) in His jealousy for His sole worship ( Deuteronomy 4:24;  Hebrews 12:29;  Psalm 79:5; perhaps also  Isaiah 33:14 ); (4) of His protection of His people ( 2 Kings 6:17;  Zechariah 2:5 ); (5) of His righteous judgment and purification ( Zechariah 13:9;  Malachi 3:2 ,  Malachi 3:3;  1 Corinthians 3:13 ,  1 Corinthians 3:15 ); (6) of His wrath against sin and punishment of the wicked ( Deuteronomy 9:3;  Psalm 18:8;  Psalm 89:46;  Isaiah 5:24;  Isaiah 30:33 , "a Topheth is prepared of old";  Matthew 3:10-12;  Matthew 5:22 , the Revised Version (British and American) "the hell of fire," margin "Greek, Gehenna of fire"; see  Isaiah 30:33;  Jeremiah 7:31;  Matthew 13:40 ,  Matthew 13:42;  Matthew 25:41 , "eternal fire";  Mark 9:45-49; see  Isaiah 66:24;  2 Thessalonians 1:7;  Hebrews 10:27;  Judges 1:7 ); (7) of the word of God in its power ( Jeremiah 5:14;  Jeremiah 23:29 ); (8) of Divine truth ( Psalm 39:3;  Jeremiah 20:9;  Luke 12:49 ); (9) of that which guides men ( Isaiah 50:10 ,  Isaiah 50:11 ); (10) of the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:3 ); (11) of the glorified Christ ( Revelation 1:14 ); (12) of kindness in its melting power ( Romans 12:20 ); (13) of trial and suffering ( Psalm 66:12;  Isaiah 43:2; 1 Pet 17;  1 Peter 4:12 ); (14) of evil ( Proverbs 6:27;  Proverbs 16:27;  Isaiah 9:18;  Isaiah 65:5 ); lust or desire ( Hosea 7:6; Sirach 23:16;  1 Corinthians 7:9 ); greed ( Proverbs 30:16 ); (15) of the tongue in its evil aspects ( James 3:5 ,  James 3:6 ); (16) of heaven in its purity and glory ( Revelation 15:2; see also  Revelation 21:22 ,  Revelation 21:23 ).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [19]

    Besides the ordinary senses of the word 'fire,' which need no explanation, there are other uses of it in Scripture which require to be discriminated. The destructive energies of this element and the torment which it inflicts, rendered it a fit symbol of—1. Whatever does damage and consumes ;—2. Of severe trials, vexations, and misfortunes ;— 3. Of the punishments beyond the grave [HELL].

    'Fire from heaven,' 'fire of the Lord,' usually denotes lightning in the Old Testament; but, when connected with sacrifices, the 'fire of the Lord' is often to be understood as the fire of the altar, and sometimes the holocaust itself (;;;;;;;; ).

    The uses of fire among the Hebrews were various:—

    1. The domestic use, for cooking, roasting, and baking [[[Bread; Food]]]

    2. In winter they warmed themselves and their apartments by 'a fire of coals' .

    3. The religious use of fire was for consuming the victims on the altar of burnt-offerings, and in burning the incense on the golden altar; hence the remarkable phrase in , 'the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.'

    4. In time of war torches were often carried by the soldiers, which explains the use of torches in the attack of Gideon upon the camp of the Midianites .

    5. Burning criminals alive does not appear to have been known to the Hebrews; but as an additional disgrace the bodies were in particular cases burnt after death had been inflicted (; compare ); and it is in this sense that the allusions to burning as a punishment are to be understood, except when the reference is to a foreign usage, as in; , sq.

    6. In time of war towns were often destroyed by fire. This, as a war usage, belongs to all times and nations; but among the Hebrews there were some particular notions connected with it, as an act of strong abhorrence, or of devotement to abiding desolation. The principal instances historically commemorated are the destruction by fire of Jericho Ai Hazor Laish the towns of the Benjamites Ziklag, by the Amalekites Jazer, by Pharaoh and the temple and palaces of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar . Even the war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt by the Israelites, probably on the principle of precluding the possibility of recovery, by the enemy, of instruments of strength for which they had themselves no use. The frequency with which towns were fired in ancient warfare is shown by the very numerous threats by the prophets that the towns of Israel should be burned by their foreign enemies. Some great towns, not of Israel, are particularly named; and it would be an interesting task to trace, so far as the materials exist, the fulfillment of these prophecies in those more marked examples. Among the places thus threatened we find Damascus , Gaza, Tyre, Teman . The temples and idols of a conquered town or people were very often burned by the victors, and this was enjoined as a duty to the Israelites (;;;; ).

    There were some special regulations respecting the use of fire among the Israelites. The most remarkable of these was the prohibition to light a fire on the Sabbath . As the primary design of this law appears to have been to prevent the proper privileges of the Sabbath-day from being lost to anyone through the care and time required in cooking victuals , it is doubted whether the use of fire for warmth on the Sabbath-day was included in this interdiction. In practice, it would appear that the fire was never lighted or kept up for cooking on the Sabbath-day, and that consequently there were no fires in the houses during the Sabbaths of the greater part of the year; but it may be collected that, in winter, fires for warming apartments were kept up from the previous day.

    Another law required the damage done by a conflagration in the fields to be made good by the party through whose incaution it had been kindled . This was a most useful and necessary law in a country where the warmth and drought of summer soon render the herbage and underwood highly combustible, so that a fire once kindled often spreads most extensively, and produces disastrous consequences .

    In the sacerdotal services no fire but that of the altar of burnt-offerings could lawfully be used. That fire was originally kindled supernaturally, and was ever after kept up. From it the fire used in the censers for burning incense was always taken; and for neglecting this and using common fire, Nadab and Abihu were struck dead by 'fire from heaven' (, sq.;; ).

    Respecting 'passing through the fire,' see Moloch; and for the 'pillar of fire,' see Exodus.