TRESPASS (Heb. ’ashām, Gr. paraptōma). Used in the KJV of the OT to express the rights of others, whether of God or of another person. In Jewish law acknowledged violation of a person’s rights required restoration plus one-fifth of the amount or value of the thing involved and the presentation of a guilt offering (kjv “trespass offering”). Unintentional trespass against God, when the guilty person became aware of it, required a guilt offering to remove guilt. Trespasses against us must be forgiven by us because God has forgiven our sin.

TRESPASS. An overstepping of the boundaries, thus an unfaithful or treacherous act, one which incurs guilt.

While several Gr. and Heb. words are tr. “tresspass” in the Eng. Bible, the two most common are מָעַל, H5085, to act unfaithfully or treacherously, and παράπτωμα, G4183, to fall beside, a false step, transgression, sin.

These words are used to connote the breaking of a trust. Two persons have entered into an agreement and one of them breaks it. Most commonly, it is man’s faithlessness to his covenant with God which is in view, but there are also references which deal with man’s treachery to man.


G. Friedrich (ed.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1968), VI, 170-172; R. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament (1970), 82.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

tres’-pas: To pass over, to go beyond one’s right in place or act; to injure another; to do that which annoys or inconveniences another; any violation of law, civil or moral; it may relate to a person, a community, or the state, or to offenses against God. The Hebrew ’asham ("sin"), is used very frequently in the Old Testament when the trespass is a violation of law of which God is the author. The Greek word is paraptoma.

In the Old Testament an offering was demanded when the offense was against God: a female lamb; in other cases, according to the magnitude of the wrong, a ram or a goat; the offering was to be preceded by a confession by the one committing the trespass. If the trespass was against a human being, the wrong-doer must make it right with the person, and when reconciliation should have been effected, then the offering for sin was to be made. See under SACRIFICE, "Trespass Offering." If a person’s property has been injured, then the trespasser shall add a fifth to the value of the property injured and give that to the injured party (Le 6:5). Zaccheus, wanting to make full restitution, went beyond the demands of the Law (Lu 19:1-9).