Free Online Bible Library | Profane

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PROFANE (Heb. hālal, to open and Gr. bebēloō, to desecrate). The basic idea seems to be to desecrate or defile. For one to do what he was not allowed to do in connection with holy things or places was to profane them. Such things as the altar, the Sabbath, the sanctuary, and God’s name could all be profaned. Esau was called a profane person (kjv; niv “godless”) because he despised his birthright (Heb.12.16). The profane persons mentioned in 1Tim.1.9 are called irreligious in NIV.

PROFANE (Lat. profanus, literally, before, i.e., “outside the Temple”; חָלַל, H2725, unloose, set free; βέβηλος, G1013, accessible, lawful to be trodden upon). Etymologically, the term has its own decent rights. “Outside the Temple” the ground was “set free” to be “trodden upon in a lawful way.” Religiously, however, the word involves condemnation, for it reflects that action by which something outside the Temple, which is there lawful, moves into the Temple where it is blasphemous. By revelation, consecration, or custom, what was once profane may become holy. Jacob’s stone on which he slept was made into an altar.

Much is made in the OT of holy things, such as the altar, the sanctuary, the sacrifices, and the sabbath, and sharp lines divide the sacred and profane. Jesus, however, used common things to parallel the “kingdom of heaven” (Matt 13). Jesus broadened the concept but did not dull the distinction between holy and profane. There was to be no presumption regarding holy things. Guests invited for the wedding feast who “made light of it” were destroyed; so, too, the man without the wedding garment was cast out; he had profaned, made common, an invitation of grace (Matt 22:1-14).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

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