From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [1]

A — 1: Σφραγίς (Strong'S #4973 — Noun Feminine — sphragis — sfrag-ece' )

denotes (a) "a seal" or "signet,"  Revelation 7:2 , "the seal of the living God," an emblem of ownership and security, here combined with that of destination (as in  Ezekiel 9:4 ), the persons to be "sealed" being secured from destruction and marked for reward; (b) "the impression" of a "seal" or signet, (1) literal, a "seal" on a book or roll, combining with the ideas of security and destination those of secrecy and postponement of disclosures,  Revelation 5:1,2,5,9;  6:1,3,5,7,9,12;  8:1; (2) metaphorical,  Romans 4:11 , said of "circumcision," as an authentication of the righteousness of Abraham's faith, and an external attestation of the covenant made with him by God; the rabbis called circumcision "the seal of Abraham;" in  1—Corinthians 9:2 , of converts as a "seal" or authentication of Paul's Apostleship; in  2—Timothy 2:19 , "the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His," RV, indicating ownership, authentication, security and destination, "and, Let every one that nameth the Name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness," indicating a ratification on the part of the believer of the determining counsel of God concerning him;  Revelation 9:4 distinguishes those who will be found without the "seal" of God on their foreheads [see (a) above and B, No. 1].

B — 1: Σφραγίζω (Strong'S #4972 — Verb — sphragizo — sfrag-id'-zo )

"to seal" (akin to A), is used to indicate (a) security and permanency (attempted but impossible),  Matthew 27:66; on the contrary, of the doom of Satan, fixed and certain,  Revelation 20:3 , RV, "sealed it over;" (b) in  Romans 15:28 , "when ... I have ... sealed to them this fruit," the formal ratification of the ministry of the churches of the Gentiles in Greece and Galatia to needy saints in Judea, by Paul's faithful delivery of the gifts to them; this material help was the fruit of his spiritual ministry to the Gentiles, who on their part were bringing forth the fruit of their having shared with them in spiritual things; the metaphor stresses the sacred formalities of the transaction (Deissmann illustrates this from the papyri of Fayyum, in which the "sealing" of sacks guarantees the full complement of the contents); (c) secrecy and security and the postponement of disclosure,  Revelation 10:4; in a negative command,  Revelation 22:10; (d) ownership and security, together with destination,  Revelation 7:3-5 (as with the noun in ver. 2; see A); the same three indications are conveyed in   Ephesians 1:13 , in the metaphor of the "sealing" of believers by the gift of the Holy Spirit, upon believing (i.e., at the time of their regeneration, not after a lapse of time in their spiritual life, "having also believed," not as AV, "after that ye believed;" the aorist participle marks the definiteness and completeness of the act of faith); the idea of destination is stressed by the phrase "the Holy Spirit of promise" (see also  Ephesians 1:14 ); so  Ephesians 4:30 , "ye were sealed unto the day of redemption;" so in  2—Corinthians 1:22 , where the Middle Voice intimates the special interest of the Sealer in His act; (e) authentication by the believer (by receiving the witness of the Son) of the fact that "God is true,"  John 3:33; authentication by God in sealing the Son as the Giver of eternal life (with perhaps a figurative allusion to the impress of a mark upon loaves),  John 6:27 .

 Revelation 7

B — 2: Κατασφραγίζω (Strong'S #2696 — Verb — katasphragizo — kat-as-frag-id'-zo )

No. 1, strengthened by kata, intensive, is used of the "book" seen in the vision in  Revelation 5:1 , RV, "close sealed (with seven seals)," the successive opening of which discloses the events destined to take place throughout the period covered by chapters 6 to 19. In the Sept.,  Job 9:7;  37:7 .

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

A seal, in biblical times as today, is used to guarantee security or indicate ownership. Ancient seals were often made of wax, embedded with the personalized imprint of their guarantor. The Roman authorities used such a seal to secure Jesus' tomb ( Matthew 27:66 ). A signet ring was also called a seal. It was valued among Israel's booty ( Numbers 31:50 ).

The significance of the act of sealing is dependent on the importance of the one doing the sealing. This is why Jezebel falsely authenticated letters she wrote in Ahab's name by affixing them with his seal ( 1 Kings 21:8 ). Ahasuerus's solemn decree to annihilate the Jews ( Esther 3:12 ) and then to bless them (8:8,10) was sealed with his signet ring.

The word "seal" often is used figuratively in the Bible. The divine origin of prophet "books" solemnizes the opening of the seals with which they are securely fastened. They are opened at God's discretion, often announcing doom ( Isaiah 29:11-12;  Daniel 9:24;  12 Rev  5:1 ). Also, the Book of Job speaks of the great God who "seals off the light of the stars" (9:7). God providentially uses clouds to block out the otherwise helpful presence of stars. He also seals up transgressions, disposing of them as he wills ( Job 14:17;  Hosea 13:12 ). The bridegroom refers to his bride as a sealed (chaste) garden spring ( Song of Solomon 4:12 ). Pledging fidelity, the bridegroom asks his beloved to seal him to herself on the heart and on the arm (8:6). The psalmist asks God to seal his lips to prevent sinful speech (141:3).

The New Testament continues the mostly metaphorical use of "seal." For example, Satan's ineffectiveness is secured by God's sealing of the abyss ( Revelation 20:3 ). Paul sealed a generous offering collected from believers in Macedonia and Achaia by delivering it to the needy church in Jerusalem ( Romans 15:28 ). Paul described his Corinthian converts as the seal of his apostleship ( 1 Corinthians 9:2 ). Those who dogged him could not refute his effective ministry in transforming lives (see also  2 Corinthians 3:1-3 ). Testimonies to the truth are sealed to indicate the certainty of the one making the claim ( John 3:33 ). God the Father has staked such a claim on his son, rendering the words of Jesus equivalent in authority to those of the Father ( John 6:27-29 ).

Paul described Abraham's circumcision as a seal, or guarantee, that Abraham was reckoned righteous by God ( Romans 4:11 ). By commanding this outward observance of the old covenant, God indicated how human beings could demonstrably consecrate themselves by faith to him. The covenant was bilateral in the sense that it needed to be ratified (i.e., sealed) by each individual. God takes covenant-keeping signs and vows seriously. The seal has no effect unless accompanied by faith. A God-ordained sign entered into by faith makes certain the grace that it signifies ( Romans 4:16 ). "The Lord knows those who are his" and "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness" ( 2 Timothy 2:19 ), the insignias etched into the seal placed on "God's firm foundation, " are at the same time a blessing and a warning. The tribulation saints have a seal with God's name protecting them from judgment ( Revelation 9:4;  14:1 ). Throughout eternity all of God's people will bear this mark of identification ( Revelation 22:4 ).

The Holy Spirit seals those who trust in Christ. The Spirit's presence is God's guarantee that believers are owned by him and secure in him. Since the Holy Spirit's task is to apply Christ's work to God's people, he anoints believers "in Christ" the moment they believe ( 2 Corinthians 1:21-22;  Ephesians 1:13 ). The Father anointed Christ with the Spirit at his baptism, the inauguration of his messianic ministry ( Luke 3:22;  4:18 ). Similarly, a believer's baptism marks him or her out as God's. A believer is a secure member of God's family, not because he or she is "holding on, " but because the Spirit is applying the promises about Christ. His sealing merely comprises the initial down payment that anticipates the future, full redemption of God's "marked possession" ( Ephesians 1:14; cf.  2 Corinthians 5:5 ). In the meantime, Paul commands Christians not to grieve the Holy Spirit in light of the coming day of redemption ( Ephesians 4:30 ). The Christian is marked as a "new self, " a "re-creation" of God ( Ephesians 4:24 ), indwelt by the Holy Spirit. His work of sealing believers, therefore, implies a moral responsibility. His name, "Holy" Spirit, is not without significance. His sealing separates the believer from the world and from his or her unholy past. It is incongruous for a sealed believer to ignore God's present sanctifying work through the Spirit resulting in practical godliness ( Ephesians 4:14-6:9 ).

Bradford A. Mullen

See also Holy Spirit; Redemption Redeem

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( v. t.) Hence, to shut close; to keep close; to make fast; to keep secure or secret.

(2): ( n.) Wax, wafer, or other tenacious substance, set to an instrument, and impressed or stamped with a seal; as, to give a deed under hand and seal.

(3): ( n.) That which seals or fastens; esp., the wax or wafer placed on a letter or other closed paper, etc., to fasten it.

(4): ( v. t.) To close by means of a seal; as, to seal a drainpipe with water. See 2d Seal, 5.

(5): ( v. t.) To set or affix a seal to; hence, to authenticate; to confirm; to ratify; to establish; as, to seal a deed.

(6): ( v. t.) To mark with a stamp, as an evidence of standard exactness, legal size, or merchantable quality; as, to seal weights and measures; to seal silverware.

(7): ( v. t.) To fasten with a seal; to attach together with a wafer, wax, or other substance causing adhesion; as, to seal a letter.

(8): ( n.) An engraved or inscribed stamp, used for marking an impression in wax or other soft substance, to be attached to a document, or otherwise used by way of authentication or security.

(9): ( n.) That which confirms, ratifies, or makes stable; that which authenticates; that which secures; assurance.

(10): ( v. t.) To fix, as a piece of iron in a wall, with cement, plaster, or the like.

(11): ( n.) Any aquatic carnivorous mammal of the families Phocidae and Otariidae.

(12): ( n.) An arrangement for preventing the entrance or return of gas or air into a pipe, by which the open end of the pipe dips beneath the surface of water or other liquid, or a deep bend or sag in the pipe is filled with the liquid; a draintrap.

(13): ( v. t.) Among the Mormons, to confirm or set apart as a second or additional wife.

(14): ( v. i.) To affix one's seal, or a seal.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

We find the use of seals of great antiquity, and they are so spoken of through the whole book of God. Judah gave Tamor the seal, or signet and pledge, as a token. ( Genesis 38:17-18) And the custom was uniform among all the persons of the east. ( 1 Kings 21:8;  Esther 3:12) But what I have thought particularly worth our notice under this article is, that the Lord himself condescends to make use of this custom in relation to divine things. Hence the work of the Holy Ghost upon the heart is called the seal of the Spirit. ( Ephesians 1:13) Yea Christ himself is said to be sealed by the Father. ( John 6:27) And very sweetly the church, under the consciousness of these precious things being sealed, cries out in an earnestness to her Beloved, "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death jealousy is cruel as the grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame." ( Song of Song of Solomon 8:6) Some have thought that this is the desire of Christ, to be set as a seal upon the arm and in the heart of the church, and for the same reasons. And it is possible it may be so; indeed I see no reason why we may not make application of them to both. But be this as it may the Scripture sense of sealing is the same; Christ desires his church, and his church desires her Christ, that there may be such a nearness, and connection, and union, and intimacy between them as is formed between those where the arm is always lifted up to protect and help, and the heart hath an everlasting impression in love abiding, so that the person and interest is never taken off from the mind. Abide in me, said Jesus to his disciples, and I in you. ( John 15:4) One in heart, in mind, in all!

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

The ancient Hebrews wore their seals or signets, in rings on their fingers, or in bracelets on their arms, as is now the custom in the east. Haman sealed the decree of King Ahasuerus against the Jews with the king's seal,  Esther 3:12 . The priests of Bel desired the king to seal the door of their temple with his own seal. The spouse in the  Song of Solomon 8:6 , wishes that his spouse would wear him as a signet on her arm. Pliny observes, that the use of seals or signets was rare at the time of the Trojan war, and that they were under the necessity of closing their letters with several knots. But among the Hebrews they are much more ancient. Judah left his seal as a pledge with Tamar,  Genesis 38:25 . Moses says,  Deuteronomy 32:34 , that God keeps sealed up in his treasuries, under his own seal, the instruments of his vengeance. Job says,  Job 9:7 , that he keeps the stars as under his seal, and allows them to appear when he thinks proper. He says also, "My transgression is sealed up in a bag,"  Job 14:7 . When they intended to seal up a letter, or a book, they wrapped it round with flax, or thread, then applied the wax to it, and afterward the seal. The Lord commanded Isaiah to tie up or wrap up the book in which his prophecies were written, and to seal them till the time he should bid him publish them,  Isaiah 8:16-17 . He gives the same command to  Daniel 12:4 . The book that was shown to St. John the evangelist,  Revelation 5:1;  Revelation 6:1-2 , &c, was sealed with seven seals. It was a rare thing to affix such a number of seals, but this insinuated the great importance and secrecy of the matter. In civil contracts they generally made two originals: one continued open, and was kept by him for whose interest the contract was made; the other was sealed and deposited in some public office.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Seal. The importance attached to seal, s in the East, is so great that, without one, no document is regarded as authentic. Among the methods of sealing used in Egypt, at a very early period, were engraved stones, graved stones, pierced through their length, and hung by a string or chain, from the arm or neck, or set in rings for the finger. The most ancient form used for this purpose was the scarabaeus , formed of precious or common stone, or even of blue pottery or porcelain, on the flat side of which, the inscription or device was engraved. In many cases, the seal consisted of a lump of clay, impressed with the seal and attached to the document, whether of papyrus or other material, by strings. In other cases, wax was used.

In sealing a sepulchre or box, the fastening was covered with clay or wax, and the impression from a seal, of one in authority, was stamped upon it, so that it could not be broken open without discovery. The signet-ring was an ordinary part of a man's equipment.  Genesis 38:18. The ring or the seal as an emblem of authority in Egypt, Persia and elsewhere is mentioned in  Genesis 41:42;  1 Kings 21:8;  Esther 3:10;  Esther 3:12;  Esther 8:2;  Daniel 6:17, and as an evidence of a covenant, in  Jeremiah 32:10;  Jeremiah 32:44;  Nehemiah 9:38;  Nehemiah 10:1;  Haggai 2:23. Engraved signets were in use, among the Hebrews, in early times.  Exodus 28:11;  Exodus 28:36;  Exodus 39:6.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 38:18,25 1 Kings 21:8 Deuteronomy 32:34 Nehemiah 9:38 10:1 Esther 3:12 Song of Solomon 8:6 Isaiah 8:16 Jeremiah 22:24 32:44Signet

The use of seals is mentioned in the New Testament only in connection with the record of our Lord's burial (  Matthew 27:66 ). The tomb was sealed by the Pharisees and chief priests for the purpose of making sure that the disciples would not come and steal the body away (ver. 63,64). The mode of doing this was probably by stretching a cord across the stone and sealing it at both ends with sealing-clay. When God is said to have sealed the Redeemer, the meaning is, that he has attested his divine mission ( John 6:27 ). Circumcision is a seal, an attestation of the covenant ( Romans 4:11 ). Believers are sealed with the Spirit, as God's mark put upon them ( Ephesians 1:13;  4:30 ). Converts are by Paul styled the seal of his apostleship, i.e., they are its attestation ( 1 Corinthians 9:2 ). Seals and sealing are frequently mentioned in the book of ( Revelation 5:1;  6:1;  7:3;  10:4;  22:10 ).

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [8]

SEAL. —The only reference in the Gospels to the literal use of a seal is  Matthew 27:66,* [Note: A finger-ring (δακτύλιος), In which the seal was usually set, is mentioned in the parable of the Prodigal Son ( Luke 15:22).] where we read that the chief priests and Pharisees, after consultation with Pilate, in order to guard against the removal of our Lord’s body by the disciples, secured the sepulchre to the best of their power by setting their seal upon the entrance stone (cf.  Daniel 6:17) as well as by placing soldiers to guard it. The process would be accomplished by stretching a cord across the stone that blocked the entrance, and by sealing the two ends of the cord against the wall of rock. Twice in the Fourth Gospel the act of sealing is used figuratively to describe ( a ) the solemn confirmation by the believer, from his own experience, that God is true ( John 3:33); ( b ) the destination and authentication of the Son by the Father as the bestower of the food which nourishes eternal life ( John 6:27). In all of these three cases it is the verb σφραγίζω that is used, the noun σφραγίς not being found in the Gospels.

C. L. Feltoe.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Seal. Among seals used in Egypt at a very early period were engraved stones, pierced through their length and hung by a string or chain from the arm or neck, or set in rings for the finger. The most ancient form used for this purpose was the Scarabæus (beetle), formed of precious or common stone, or even of blue pottery or porcelain, on the fiat side of which some inscription or device was engraved. In many cases the seal consisted of a lump of to the document by strings. In sealing a sepulchre the fastening was covered with clay or wax, and the seal was stamped upon it, so that it could not be broken open without discovery. The signet-ring was an ordinary part of a man's equipment.  Genesis 38:18. The ring or the seal as an emblem of authority in Egypt, Persia, and elsewhere is mentioned in  Genesis 41:42;  1 Kings 21:8;  Esther 3:10;  Esther 3:12;  Esther 8:2;  Daniel 6:17; and as an evidence of a covenant, in  Jeremiah 32:10;  Jeremiah 32:44;  Nehemiah 9:38;  Nehemiah 10:1;  Haggai 2:23. Engraved signets were in use among the Hebrews in early times.  Exodus 28:11;  Exodus 28:36;  Exodus 39:6.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [10]

Used to stamp a document, giving it legal validity. Judah probably wore his suspended from the neck over the breast ( Genesis 38:18;  Song of Solomon 8:6;  Job 38:14). As the plastic clay presents various figures impressed on it by the revolving cylinder seal (One To Three Inches Long, Of Terra Cotta Or Precious Stone, Such As Is Found In Assyria) , as "it is turned," so the morning light rolling on over the earth, previously void of form through the darkness, brings out to view hills, valleys, etc. Treasures were sealed up ( Deuteronomy 32:34); the lions' den in Daniel's case ( Daniel 6:17); so our Lord's tomb ( Matthew 27:66).

Sealing up was also to ensure secrecy ( Daniel 12:4;  Revelation 5:1). The signet ring was the symbol of royal authority ( Genesis 12:41-42;  Esther 3:10;  Esther 8:10). Clay hardens in the heat, and was therefore used in Assyria and Babylon rather than wax, which melts. A stone cylinder in the Alnwick Museum bears the date of Osirtasin I, between 2,000 and 3,000 B.C. The Assyrian documents were often of baked clay, sealed while wet and burnt afterwards. Often the seal was a lump of clay impressed with a seal and tied the document. Such is the seal of Sabacho or So, king of Egypt (711 B.C.), found at Nimrud ( 2 Kings 17:4).

King James Dictionary [11]

SEAL, n. The common name for the species of the genus Phoca. These animals are ampibious, most of the inhabiting the sea coasts, particularly in the higher latitudes. They have six cutting teeth in the upper jaw, and four in the lower. Their hind feet are placed at the extremity of the body, in the same diretion with it, and serve the purpose of a caudal fin the fore feet are also adapted for swimming, and furmished each with five claws the external ears are either very small or wanting. There are numerous species as the leonina, sometimes 18 feet in length, and the jubata, sometimes 25 feet in length, with a name like a lion, both called sea-lion, and found in the southern seas, and alo in the N. Pacific the ursina, or sea bear, 8 or 9 feet in length, and covered with long, thick bristly hair, found in the N. Pacifac and the common seal frome 4 to 6 feet in length, found generally throughout the Atlantic and the seas and bays communicating with it, covered with short, stiff, glossy hair, with a smooth head without external ears, and with the fore legs deeply immersed in the skin. Seals are much sought after for their skins and fur.

SEAL, n. L. sigillum.

1. A piece of metal or other hard substance, usually round or oval, on which is ingraved some image or device, and sometimes a legend or inscription. This is used by idividuals, corporate bodies and states, for making impressions on wax upon instuments of writing, as an evidence of their authenticity. The king of England has his seal and his privy seal. Seals are sometimes worn in rings.

Holman Bible Dictionary [12]

 Genesis 38:18 Genesis 41:42 1 Kings 21:8

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

sēl (substantive חותם , ḥōthām , "seal," "signet," טבּעת , ṭabba‛ath , "signet-ring"; Aramaic עזקא , ‛izḳā'  ; σφραγίς , sphragı́s  ; verb חתם , ḥātham , (Aramaic חתם , ḥătham ); ( σφραγίζω , sphragı́zō ), ( κατασφραγίζομαι , katasphragı́zomai , "to seal"):

I. Literal Sense.

A seal is an instrument of stone, metal or other hard substance (sometimes set in a ring), on which is engraved some device or figure, and is used for making an impression on some soft substance, as clay or wax, affixed to a document or other object, in token of authenticity.

1. Prevalence in Antiquity:

The use of seals goes back to a very remote antiquity, especially in Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria. Herodotus (i. 195) records the Babylonian custom of wearing signets. In Babylonia the seal generally took the form of a cylinder cut in crystal or some hard stone, which was bored through from end to end and a cord passed through it. The design, often accompanied by the owner's name, was engraved on the curved part. The signet was then suspended by the cord round the neck or waist (compare the Revised Version (British and American) "cord" in   Genesis 38:18; "upon thy heart ... upon thine arm," i.e. one seal hanging down from the neck and another round the waist;  Song of Solomon 8:6 ). In Egypt, too, as in Babylonia, the cylinder was the earliest form used for the purpose of a seal; but this form was in Egypt gradually superseded by the scarab (= beetle-shaped) as the prevailing type. Other forms, such as the cone-shaped, were also in use. From the earliest period of civilization the finger-ring on which some distinguishing badge was engraved was in use as a convenient way of carrying the signet, the earliest extant rings being those found in Egyptian tombs. Other ancient peoples, such as the Phoenicians, also used seals. From the East the custom passed into Greece and other western countries. Devices of a variety of sorts were in use at Rome, both by the emperors and by private individuals. In ancient times, almost every variety of precious stones was used for seals, as well as cheaper material, such as limestone or terra-cotta. In the West wax came early into use as the material for receiving the impression of the seal, but in the ancient East clay was the medium used (compare   Job 38:14 ). Pigment and ink also came into use.

2. Seals Among the Hebrews:

That the Israelites were acquainted with the use in Egypt of signets set in rings is seen in the statement that Pharaoh delivered to Joseph his royal signet as a token of deputed authority ( Genesis 41:41 f). They were also acquainted with the use of seals among the Persians and Medes (  Esther 3:12;  Esther 8:8-10;  Daniel 6:17 ). The Hebrews themselves used them at an early period, the first recorded instance being  Genesis 38:18 ,  Genesis 38:25 , where the patriarch Judah is said to have pledged his word to Tamar by leaving her his signet, cord and staff. We have evidence of engraved signets being in important use among them in early times in the description of the two stones on the high priest's ephod ( Exodus 28:11;  Exodus 39:6 ), of his golden plate ( Exodus 28:36;  Exodus 39:30 ), and breastplate ( Exodus 39:14 ). Ben-Sirach mentions as a distinct occupation the work of engraving on signets (Sirach 38:27). From the case of Judah and the common usage in other countries, we may infer that every Hebrew of any standing wore a seal. In the case of the signet ring, it was usual to wear it on one of the fingers of the right hand ( Jeremiah 22:24 ). The Hebrews do not seem to have developed an original type of signets. The seals so far discovered in Palestine go to prove that the predominating type was the Egyptian, and to a less degree the Babylonian.

3. Uses of Sealing:

(1) One of the most important uses of sealing in antiquity was to give a proof of authenticity and authority to letters, royal commands , etc. It served the purposes of a modern signature at a time when the art of writing was known to only a few. Thus Jezebel "wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal" (  1 Kings 21:8 ); the written commands of Ahasuerus were "sealed with the king's ring," "for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse" ( Esther 8:8 ,  Esther 8:10;  Esther 3:12 ). (2) Allied to this is the formal ratification of a transaction or covenant . Jeremiah sealed the deeds of the field which he bought from Hanamel ( Jeremiah 32:10-14; compare  Jeremiah 32:44 ); Nehemiah and many others affixed their seal to the written covenant between God and His people ( Nehemiah 9:38;  Nehemiah 10:1 ff). (3) An additional use was the preservation of books in security . A roll or other document intended for preservation was sealed up before it was deposited in a place of safety ( Jeremiah 32:14; compare the "book ... close sealed with seven seals,"  Revelation 5:1 ). In sealing the roll, it was wrapped round with flaxen thread or string, then a lump of clay was attached to it impressed with a seal. The seal would have to be broken by an authorized person before the book could be read ( Revelation 5:2 ,  Revelation 5:5 ,  Revelation 5:9;  Revelation 6:1 ,  Revelation 6:3 , etc.). (4) Sealing was a badge of deputed authority and power , as when a king handed over his signet ring to one of his officers ( Genesis 41:42;  Esther 3:10;  Esther 8:2; 1 Macc 6:15). (5) Closed doors were often sealed to prevent the entrance of any unauthorized person. So the door of the lion's den (  Daniel 6:17; compare Bel and the Dragon verse 14). Herodotus mentions the custom of sealing tombs (ii. 121). So we read of the chief priests and Pharisees sealing the stone at the mouth of our Lord's tomb in order to "make the sepulchre sure" against the intrusion of the disciples (  Matthew 27:66 ). Compare the sealing of the abyss to prevent Satan's escape  Revelation 20:3 ). A door was sealed by stretching a cord over the stone which blocked the entrance, spreading clay or wax on the cord, and then impressing it with a seal. (6) To any other object might a seal be affixed, as an official mark of ownership  ; e.g. a large number of clay stoppers of wine jars are still preserved, on which seal impressions of the cylinder type were stamped, by rolling the cylinder along the surface of the clay when it was still soft (compare  Job 38:14 ).

II. Metaphorical Use of the Term.

The word "seal," both substantive and verb, is often used figuratively for the act or token of authentication, confirmation, proof, security or possession. Sin is said not to be forgotten by God, but treasured and stored up with Him against the sinner, under a seal (  Deuteronomy 32:34;  Job 14:17 ). A lover's signet is the emblem of love as an inalienable possession ( Song of Solomon 8:6 ); an unresponsive maiden is "a spring shut up, a fountain sealed" ( Song of Solomon 4:12 ). The seal is sometimes a metaphor for secrecy . That which is beyond the comprehension of the uninitiated is said to be as "a book that is sealed" ( Isaiah 29:11 f; compare the book with seven seals,   Revelation 5:1 ff). Daniel is bidden to "shut up the words" of his prophecy "and seal the book, even to the time of the end," i.e. to keep his prophecy a secret till it shall be revealed (  Daniel 12:4 ,  Daniel 12:9; compare  Revelation 10:4 ). Elsewhere it stands for the ratification of prophecy ( Daniel 9:24 ). The exact meaning of the figure is sometimes ambiguous (as in  Job 33:16;  Ezekiel 28:12 ). In the New Testament the main ideas in the figure are those of authentication, ratification, and security. The believer in Christ is said to "set his seal to this, that God is true" ( John 3:33 ), i.e. to attest the veracity of God, to stamp it with the believer's own endorsement and confirmation. The Father has sealed the Son, i.e. authenticated Him as the bestower of life-giving bread ( John 6:27 ). The circumcision of Abraham was a "sign" and "seal," an outward ratification, of the righteousness of faith which he had already received while uncircumcised ( Romans 4:11; compare the prayer offered at the circumcision of a child, "Blessed be He who sanctified His beloved from the womb, and put His ordinance upon his flesh, and sealed His offering with the sign of a holy covenant"; also Targum Song 38: "The seal of circumcision is in your flesh as it was sealed in the flesh of Abraham"). Paul describes his act in making over to the saints at Jerusalem the contribution of the Gentiles as having "sealed to them this fruit" (  Romans 15:28 ); the meaning of the phrase is doubtful, but the figure seems to be based on sealing as ratifying a commercial transaction, expressing Paul's intention formally to hand over to them the fruit (of his own labors, or of spiritual blessings which through him the Gentiles had enjoyed), and to mark it as their own property. Paul's converts are the "seal," the authentic confirmation, of his apostleship ( 1 Corinthians 9:2 ). God by His Spirit indicates who are His, as the owner sets his seal on his property; and just as documents are sealed up until the proper time for opening them, so Christians are sealed up by the Holy Spirit "unto the day of redemption" ( Ephesians 1:13;  Ephesians 4:30;  2 Corinthians 1:22 ). Ownership, security and authentication are implied in the words, "The firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his" ( 2 Timothy 2:19 ). The seal of God on the foreheads of His servants ( Revelation 7:2-4 ) marks them off as His own, and guarantees their eternal security, whereas those that "have not the seal of God on their foreheads" ( Revelation 9:4 ) have no such guaranty.

On the analogy of the rite of circumcision (see above), the term "seal" ( sphragis ) was at a very early period applied to Christian baptism. But there is no sufficient ground for referring such passages as   Ephesians 1:13;  Ephesians 4:30;  2 Corinthians 1:22 to the rite of baptism (as some do). The use of the metaphor in connection with baptism came after New Testament times (early instances are given in Gebhardt and Lightfoot on 2 Clem   2 Corinthians 7:6 ). Harnack and Hatch maintain that the name "seal" for baptism was taken from the Greek mysteries, but Anrich and Sanday-Headlam hold that it was borrowed from the Jewish view of circumcision as a seal. See Mystery .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

There seem to have been two kinds of seals in use among the Hebrews. A notion appears to exist that all ancient seals, being signets, were rings, intended to be worn on the hand. But this was by no means the case; nor is it so now in the East, where signet rings are still, probably, as common as they ever were in ancient times. Their general use of seals was very different from ours, as they were employed not for the purpose of impressing a device on wax, but in the place of a sign manual, to stamp the name of the owner upon any document to which he desired to affix it. The name thus impressed had the same legal validity as the actual signature, as is still the case in the East. This custom was ancient, and, no doubt, existed among the Hebrews (;; ). These seals are often entirely of metal—brass, silver, or gold; but sometimes of stone set in metal.

If a door or box was to be sealed, it was first fastened with some ligament, over which was placed some well-compacted clay to receive the impression of the seal. Clay was used because it hardens in the heat, which would dissolve wax; and this is the reason that wax is not used in the East. There are distinct allusions to this custom in; .

Signet rings were very common, especially among persons of rank. They were sometimes wholly of metal, but often the inscription was borne by a stone set in silver or gold. The impression from the signet ring of a monarch gave the force of a royal decree to any instrument to which it was affixed. Hence the delivery or transfer of it to any one gave the power of using the royal name, and created the highest office in the state (;;;;;;;; comp. ).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Seal'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.