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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Several words are used in Acts and the Epistles to express avowal, professing, or confessing. (1) In the general sense of professing or avowing something we have φάσκειν (‘professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,’  Romans 1:22) and ἐπαγγέλλεσθαι (‘which becometh women professing godliness,’  1 Timothy 2:10; ‘they profess that they know God,’  Titus 1:16). (2) In the particular sense of professing or confessing faith, the words ὁμολογεῖν and ὁμολογία are regularly used. In this connexion the word ‘profession’ disappears from the RV_ and the more accurate word ‘confession’ takes its place: e.g. ‘Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession’ ( 1 Timothy 6:13). In the specific sense of confessing faith in Jesus Christ it is the technical term. The locus classicus is  Romans 10:9-10 : ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord … thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ (cf.  Acts 24:14,  2 Corinthians 9:13,  1 Timothy 6:12,  Hebrews 3:1;  Hebrews 4:14). In the 1st and 2nd Epistles of John, particular stress is laid on the confession of the reality of the human life of Jesus-no doubt with reference to the Docetic heresy: e.g. ‘Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God’ ( 1 John 4:2, also  1 John 4:3,  2 John 1:7).

The etymological meaning of ὁμολογεῖν is ‘to say the same thing’ as others. It fitly expresses the condition necessary for joining the company or society of those who believed in Jesus Christ. Those who confessed their faith ‘said the same things’ about Him as those who were already in the society. At first the contents of the confession were very simple. Most probably the confession was the avowal of belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as in the great confession of Peter, ‘Thou art the Christ’ ( Mark 8:29). To the Christian Jew of Palestine He was the ‘Messiah’; to the Hellenistic Christian Jew He was the ‘Christ’; to the Christian Gentile He was the ‘Lord.’ Cf. ‘No man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit’ ( 1 Corinthians 12:3; see ExpT_ xv. [1903-04] 289, 296 ff.). Out of that simple confession there quickly grew other relative beliefs which were implicit in it, e.g. His resurrection ( Romans 10:9), His Divine Sonship ( 1 John 1:4;  1 John 1:7), His coming in the flesh ( 1 John 4:2), and the baptismal confession or formula ( Matthew 28:19).

Some writers on the Creeds believe that there are references to statements of belief, or summaries of doctrines which may have been included in the confession, in such phrases as ‘the form of sound words’ ( 2 Timothy 1:13), the ‘first principles of Christ’ ( Hebrews 6:1), etc., but it is more likely that all such passages have only a general meaning (see art._ ‘Creeds,’ EBr_11 vii. 393). Not till the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian (a.d. 175-200) is there evidence of definite credal statements, embodying the faith of the Church. It is, however, highly probable that there were some summaries of Christian doctrine before that time. As the custom of baptizing immediately after conversion gave way to the system of the catechumenate, the particular elements of Christian doctrine in which the catechumens had been instructed would naturally reappear in the questions that were asked, or the confession of faith that was made, before baptism. The process of creed-formation was largely assisted by the catechizing of the candidates for baptism (q.v._). The rise of error also had a marked influence in determining the particular beliefs that were to be confessed at different times, or at least the particular form in which they were to be confessed.

In the early Church the confession of faith was made in public, or before the Church. The Pauline principle, ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord’ ( Romans 10:9), was decisive on that point, to say nothing of our Lord’s evident dislike for secret disciples. The public confession was not only a testimony for Christ, leading, it might be, to the conversion of others; it had a strong psychological effect on those who made the confession, confirming them in their relation to Christ, and calling certain forces of their nature to the side of devotion. Those who were to be received into the Church sometimes had a form of words provided for them which they might use, but the convert was also allowed to speak for himself, as in the famous instance of Victorinus, whose testimony or confession can still be read with interest (see Augustine’s Confessions, bk. viii. ch. 2).

Literature.-In addition to the works already mentioned, see P. Wernle, The Beginnings of Christianity, Eng. tr._, i. [1903] 139, 154; J. C. Lambert, art._ ‘Confession (of Christ),’ in Dcg_; W. A Curtis, art._ ‘Confessions,’ in ERE_ iii.

John Reid.

King James Dictionary [2]

PROFES'SION, n. L. professio.

1. Open declaration public avowal or acknowledgment of one's sentiments or belief as professions of friendship or sincerity a profession of faith or religion.

The professions of princes,when a crown is the bait, are a slender security.

The Indians quickly perceive the coincidence or the contradiction between professions and conduct, and their confidence or distrust follows of course.

2. The business which one professes to understand and to follow for subsistence calling vocation employment as the learned professions. We speak of the profession of a clergyman, of a lawyer, and of a physician or surgeon the profession of lecturer on chimistry or mineralogy. But the word is not applied to an occupation merely mechanical. 3. The collective body of persons engaged in a calling. We speak of practices honorable or disgraceful to a profession. 4. Among the Romanists,the entering into a religious order, by which a person offers himself to God by a vow of inviolable obedience, chastity and poverty.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( v.) That of which one professed knowledge; the occupation, if not mechanical, agricultural, or the like, to which one devotes one's self; the business which one professes to understand, and to follow for subsistence; calling; vocation; employment; as, the profession of arms; the profession of a clergyman, lawyer, or physician; the profession of lecturer on chemistry.

(2): ( v.) The act of professing or claiming; open declaration; public avowal or acknowledgment; as, professions of friendship; a profession of faith.

(3): ( v.) That which one professed; a declaration; an avowal; a claim; as, his professions are insincere.

(4): ( v.) The collective body of persons engaged in a calling; as, the profession distrust him.

(5): ( v.) The act of entering, or becoming a member of, a religious order.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

Among the Romanists, denotes the entering into a religious order, whereby a person offers himself to God by a vow of inviolably observing obedience, chastity, and poverty. Christians are required to make a profession of their faith,

1. Boldly,  Romans 1:16 .

2. Explicitly,  Matthew 5:16 .

3. Constantly,  Hebrews 10:23 .

4. Yet not ostnetatiously, but with humility and meekness.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

See Confession

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

Among the ceremonies of baptism in the early Church, one of great importance was the profession of faith and vow of obedience. The catechumens first renounced the devil, and then professed to live in obedience to the laws of Christ. (See Pactum).

Christians are required to make a profession of their faith

1, boldly ( Romans 1:16);

2, explicitly ( Matthew 5:16);

3, constantly ( Hebrews 10:23);

4, yet not ostentatiously, but with humility and meekness.

Among the Romanists, profession denotes the entering into a religious order, whereby a person offers himself to God by a vow of inviolably observing obedience, chastity, and poverty.