International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
BAPTISM OF FIRE
(en pneumati hagio kai puri): This expression is used in Matthew 3:11. The copulative kai requires that the baptism "in the Holy Ghost and in fire," should be regarded as one and the same thing. It does violence to the construction, therefore, to make this statement refer to the fire Of judgment. The difficulty has always been in associating fire with the person of the Holy Ghost. But in the connection of fire with the work or influence of the Holy Ghost the difficulty disappears. The thought of John is that the Saviour would give them the Divine Sanctifier as purifying water to wash away their sins and as a refining fire to consume their dross; to kindle in their hearts the holy flame of Divine love and zeal; to illuminate their souls with heavenly wisdom. The statement, therefore, in this verse indicates the manner in which Christ will admit them to discipleship and prepare them for His service.
See BAPTISM; FIRE.
Jacob W. Kapp
fir ('esh; pur):
These are the common words for fire, occurring very frequently. 'Ur, "light" (Isaiah 24:15 the King James Version; compare the Revised Version (British and American); Isaiah 31:9, and see FIRES), nur (Aramaic) (Daniel 3:22) are found a few times, also 'eshshah (Jeremiah 6:29), and be`erah (Exodus 22:6), once each. Acts 28:2, 3 has pura, "pyre," and Mark 14:54 Luke 22:56, phos, "light," the Revised Version (British and American) "in the light (of the fire)." "To set on fire," yatsath (2 Samuel 14:31), lahat (Deuteronomy 32:22, etc.), phlogizo (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, 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, 38). In the Law, therefore, sacrifices and offerings (including incense) were to be made by fire (Exodus 12:8, 9, 10 Leviticus 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, 13); offering by "strange fire" (other than the sacred altar-fire) was punished by "fire from before Yahweh" (Leviticus 10:1, 2). Fire came from heaven also at the consecration of Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1).
According to APC 2Macc 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" (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, 25; Deuteronomy 12:3; Deuteronomy 13:16 Joshua 6:24; Judges, frequently); sometimes also of punishment (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9 Joshua 7:25; APC 2Macc 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, 3, etc.). For the sacrificial fire wood was used as fuel (Genesis 22:3, 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, 3 1 Corinthians 3:13, 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, 42; Matthew 25:41, "eternal fire"; Mark 9:45-49; see Isaiah 66:24 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 10:27 Jude 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, 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 Peter 1:7; 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; APC Sirach 23:16; 1 Corinthians 7:9); greed (Proverbs 30:16);
(15) of the tongue in its evil aspects (James 3:5, 6);
(16) of heaven in its purity and glory (Revelation 15:2; see also Revelation 21:22, 23).
W. L. Walker
See BAPTISM OF FIRE; MOLECH.
LAKE OF FIRE
(limne tou puros): Found in Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, 14 (bis), 15. Revelation 21:8 has "the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone." The brimstone in connection with "the lake of fire" occurs also in Revelation 19:20 and 10, the latter being a backward reference to the former passage. In Revelation 20:14 the words, "This is the second death, even the lake of fire" are either a gloss originally intended to elucidate 20:15 through a reference to 20:6, or, if part of the text, formed originally the close of 20:15, whence they became displaced on account of the identity of the words once immediately preceding them in 20:15 with the words now preceding them in 20:14. The "lake of fire" can be called "the second death" only with reference to the lost among men (20:15), not with reference to death and Hades (20:14). In all the above references "the lake of fire" appears as a place of punishment, of perpetual torment, not of annihilation (20:10). The beast (19:20); the pseudo-prophet (19:20; 20:10); the devil (20:10); the wicked of varying description (20:15; 21:8), are cast into it. When the same is affirmed of death and Hades (20:14), it is doubtful whether this is meant as a mere figure for the cessation of these two evils personified, or has a more realistic background in the existence of two demon-powers so named (compare Isaiah 25:8 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54;; 2 Esdras 7:31). The Scriptural source for the conception of "the lake of fire" lies in Genesis 19:24, where already the fire and the brimstone occur together, while the locality of the catastrophe described is the neighborhood of the Dead Sea. The association of the Dead Sea with this fearful judgment of God, together with the desolate appearance of the place, rendered it a striking figure for the scene of eschatological retribution. The two other Old Testament passages which have "fire and brimstone" (Psalm 11:6 Ezekiel 38:22) are dependent on the Genesis passage, with which they have the figure of "raining" in common. In Revelation 21:8, "their part" seems to allude to Psalm 11:6, "the portion of their cup." In Enoch 67:4; the Dead Sea appears as the place of punishment for evil spirits. Of late it has been proposed to derive "the lake of fire" from "the stream of fire" which destroys the enemies of Ahura in the Zoroastrian eschatology; so Bousset, Die Offenbarung Johannis, 1906, 433, 434. But the figures of a stream and a lake are different; compare 2 Esdras 13:9-11, where a stream of fire proceeds from the mouth of the Messiah for the destruction of His enemies. Besides, the Persian fire is, in part, a fire of purification, and not of destruction only (Bousset, 442), and even in the apocalyptic Book of Enoch, the fires of purification and of punishment are not confounded (compare Enoch 67:4 with 90:20). The Old Testament fully explains the entire conception.
stranj ('esh zarah, "alien fire"): These words are mentioned in connection with the fatal sin committed by the two oldest sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, in "offering strange fire before Yahweh," on the occasion of the formal consecration of the Aaronitic priesthood (Leviticus 10:1, 2). The fact is mentioned again in Numbers 3:4; Numbers 26:61. The greatest calamity of all befell them in that they were cut off childless, which for every true Israelite was the darkest fate imaginable. This fact is mentioned twice (Numbers 3:4 1 Chronicles 24:2). The power which cut off the lives of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1, 2) is the same as that which shortly before had consumed the consecratory burnt offering (Leviticus 9:24). What was its true character, whether, as Rosenmuller and Dachsel surmise, it was a lightning stroke or some other supernatural agency, is not worth while debating. It is enough for us to know that "there came forth fire from before Yahweh and devoured them." Yet this latter word is not to be taken literally, since they were carried out for burial in their own linen garments (Leviticus 10:5). They were therefore merely killed, not incinerated. What was their sin? The words "strange fire" have been explained either as common fire, which they placed in their censers, or as unholy incense, which they put thereon (Exodus 39:38). But the text plainly points to the former. The sacred fire, once kindled on the altar, was never to be permitted to go out (Leviticus 6:12 f). When later the temple was dedicated Yahweh again lighted the fire on the altar from heaven, as in the case of the dedication of the tabernacle. As, however, the injunction to take fire for the censers of the incense offering only from the coals of the altar is not found before (Leviticus 16:12), Rosenmuller's observation would seem to be very much to the point: "Quamquam enim in iis quae praecedunt, non extat hoc interdictum, tamen est verisimile Mosem vetasse Aaroni et filiis eius ne ignem alienum altari imponerent." ("For although his injunction does not hold in regard to the preceding cases, yet it is very probable that Moses had forbidden Aaron and his sons to place strange fire upon the altar.") A verbal injunction of Moses must have preceded the fatal mistake. But the text leads us to believe there was more than a mistake here. Some find here the sin of drunkenness, from the enjoined abstinence from any intoxicating drink before the priests thereafter minister before Yahweh (Leviticus 10:9). The likeliest explanation is that, inflated with pride on account of the exaltation of the Aaronitic family above all Israel, they broke unbidden into the ritual of the consecration of the tabernacle and priesthood, eager to take part in the ceremony, and in their haste bringing strange fire into the tabernacle, and thus met their death (see Oehler, Old Testament Theol., 126, 282). The fire burning on the altar came from God, it might never go out, since it represented "the unbroken course of adoration of Yahweh, carried on in sacrifice." And this course was interrupted by Nadab and Abihu. The fire on the altar was a symbol of holiness, and they sought to overlay it with unholiness. And thus it became to them a consuming fire, because they approached the Holy One in a profane spirit (compare Isaiah 33:14).
Henry E. Dosker
TONGUES OF FIRE
(glossai hosei puros): The reference in this topic is to the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). After His resurrection the Lord bade His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until He should fulfill to them the promise of the Father, and until they should be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Acts 1:8 repeats the same gracious promise with additional particulars: "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." These were probably the last words our Lord spoke on earth before He ascended to the right hand of God.
1. Supernatural Manifestations:
When the Day of Pentecost was fully come and the disciples, no doubt by previous arrangement and with one accord, were gathered together in one place, the promise was gloriously fulfilled. On that day, the 50th after the Passover, and so the first day of the week, the Lord's day, the Spirit of God descended upon them in marvelous copiousness and power. The gift of the Spirit was accompanied by extraordinary manifestations or phenomena. These were three and were supernatural. His coming first appealed to the ear. The disciples heard a "sound from heaven," which rushed with mighty force into the house and filled it even as the storm rushes, but there was no wind. It was the sound that filled the house, not a wind. It was an invisible cause producing audible effects. Next, the eye was arrested by the appearance of tongues of fire which rested on each of the gathered company. Our the King James Version "cloven tongues" is somewhat misleading, for it is likely to suggest that each fire-like tongue was cloven or forked, as one sometimes sees in the pictures representing the scene. But this is not at all the meaning of Luke's expression; rather, tongues parting asunder, tongues distributed among them, each disciple sharing in the gift equally with the others. "Like as of fire," or, more exactly, "as if of fire," indicates the appearance of the tongues, not that they were actually aflame, but that they prefigured the marvelous gift with which the disciples were now endowed.
Finally, there was the impartation to them of a new strange power to speak in languages they had never learned. It was because they were filled with the Holy Spirit that this extraordinary gift was exhibited by them. Not only did the Spirit enable them thus to speak, but even the utterance of words depended on His divine influence-they spake "as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Many attempts have been made by writers on the Acts to explain the phenomenon of Pentecost so as to exclude in whole or in part the supernatural element which Luke unquestionably recognizes. Some try to account for the gift of tongues by saying that it was a new style of speaking, or new forms of expression, or new and elevated thoughts, but this is both unnatural and wholly inconsistent with the narrative where a real difference of language is implied. Others imagine that the miracle was wrought upon the ears of the hearers, each of whom supposed what he heard to be uttered in his mother-tongue. But this view contradicts the distinct statement in Acts 2:4: they "began to speak with other tongues," i.e. the disciples did. It contradicts what the multitude affirmed, namely, "How hear we, every man in our own language, wherein we were born?" (2:8). Furthermore, the view contains an element of falsehood, for in this case the miracle was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact. The only reasonable explanation of the phenomena is that which the record bears on its face, and which Luke obviously meant his readers to believe, namely, that the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in the various languages represented by the multitude gathered together at the time.
2. Sinai and Pentecost:
The scenes witnessed at Pentecost were somewhat analogous to the events which occurred at the giving of the Law at Sinai, but the contrast between them is much more pronounced. We are told in Hebrews 12:18, 19 that "tempest," "fire," and "the voice of words" attended the inauguration of the Mosaic dispensation. Something similar was witnessed at Pentecost. But the differences between the two are very marked. At Sinai there were also the blackness and darkness, the quaking earth, the thunderings and lightnings, the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, the terror of the people, and the fear of Moses (Exodus 19:16-18 Hebrews 12:18, 19). Nothing of this was seen at Pentecost.
The phenomena characterize the two dispensations. That of Sinai was legal. Its substance was: Do and live; disobey and die. Law knows no mercy, extends no grace. Exact justice is its rule, perfect righteousness its requirement, and death its penalty. No wonder terrible things accompanied its proclamation, and Moses trembled with fear. No wonder it was called "a fiery law" (Deuteronomy 33:2).
3. Qualities Imparted by the Spirit:
With the advent of the Spirit came perfect grace, divine power and complete pardon for the worst of men. At Sinai God spoke in one language. At Pentecost the Spirit through the disciples spoke in many tongues (15 in all are mentioned in Acts 2). The Law was for one people alone; the gospel is for the whole race. The sound that accompanied the outpouring of the Spirit filled all the house and all the disciples likewise-token and pledge of the copiousness, the fullness of the gift. The tongues of flame signified the power of speech, boldness of utterance, and persuasiveness which from henceforth were to mark the testimony of the disciples.
The marvelous capabilities which the witnesses display after Pentecost are most noteworthy. It is common to admire their courage and zeal, to contrast their fearlessness in the presence of enemies and danger with their former timidity and cowardice. It is perhaps not so common to recognize in them the qualities that lie at the foundation of all effective work, that which gives to witness-bearing for Christ its real energy and potency. These qualities are such as: knowledge and wisdom, zeal and prudence, confidence and devotion, boldness and love. skill and tact. These and the like gifts appear in their discourses, in their behavior when difficulties arise and dangers impend, and in their conduct before the angry rulers. It is altogether remarkable with what skill and tact they defend themselves before the Sanhedrin, and with what effectiveness they preach the gospel of the grace of God to the multitude, often a scoffing and hostile multitude. In Peter's address on the Day of Pentecost there are the marks of the highest art, the most skillful logic, and the most, persuasive argument. Professor Stifler well says of it: "It is without a peer among the products of uninspired men. And yet it is the work of a Galilean fisherman, without culture or training, and his maiden effort." The like distinguished traits are found in Peter's address recorded in Acts 3, in that to Cornelius and his friends, and in his defense when arraigned by the strict believers at Jerusalem for having gone into the company of men uncircumcised and having eaten with them. No less must be said of the equally wonderful reply of Stephen to the charge brought against him as recorded in Acts 7. It is quite true that Stephen did not share in the effusion of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, so far as we know, but he did share in the gift and power of the Spirit soon after, for we are told that he was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, that he was also full of grace and power. Accordingly, it should be no surprise to read, as the effect of his discourse, that the high priest and all the rest who heard him "were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth" (7:54). Stephen spoke with a tongue of fire.
In the management of the serious complaint made by the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews as to the neglect of their widows in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1), and in their conduct and defense when brought before the council, as they were once and again (Acts 4; Acts 5; Acts 5 12), they exhibited a wisdom and prudence far enough removed from shrewdness and cunning. The qualities they possessed and displayed are uncommon, are more than human, they are the gift of the Holy Spirit with whom they were baptized on Pentecost. So the Lord Jesus had promised (Mark 13:11 John 16:13 Acts 1:8).
4. Distinguished from 1 Corinthians 12; 14:
The tongues of fire which we have been considering appear to have differed in one important aspect from the like gift bestowed on the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12; 1 Corinthians 14). At Pentecost the disciples spoke in the languages of the various persons who heard them; there needed to be no interpreter, as was provided for at Corinth. Paul distinctly orders that if there be no one to explain or interpret the ecstatic utterance of a speaker, he shall keep silent (1 Corinthians 14:28). At Pentecost many spoke at the same time, for the Spirit had perfect control of the entire company and used each as it pleased Him. At Corinth Paul directed that not more than two or at most three should speak in a tongue, and that by course (one at a time). At Pentecost each one of the 15 nationalities there represented by the crowd heard in his own tongue wherein he was born the wonderful works of God. At Corinth no one understood the tongue, not even the speaker himself, for it seems to have been a rhapsody, an uncontrolled ecstatic outburst, and in case there was no one to interpret or explain it, the speaker was to hold his peace and speak to himself and to God, i.e. he must not disturb the worship by giving voice to his ecstasy unless the whole assembly should be edified thereby. Paul sets prophecy, or preaching the word of God, far above this gift of tongues.
It may not be out of place here to say that the so-called "gift of tongues," so loudly proclaimed by certain excitable persons in our day, has nothing in common with the mighty action of the Spirit of God on the day of Pentecost, and hardly anything with that which the Corinthian Christians enjoyed, and which Paul regulated with a master-hand.
SeeTONGUES, GIFT OF.
Stifler, Introduction to the Book of Acts; Alexander, Commentary on the Acts; Kuyper, Work of the Holy Spirit; Moorehead, Outline Studies in Acts-Ephesians.
William G. Moorehead
un-kwench'-a-b'-l, pur asbestos): The phrase occurs in Matthew 3:12 and its parallel Luke 3:17 in the words of the Baptist on the Messianic judgment: "The chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire"; but also on the lips of Christ Himself in Mark 9:43, where the "unquenchable fire" is equated with "Gehenna" (which see). The same idea lies in 9:48, "The fire is not quenched" (ou sbennutai), and is implied in the numerous allusions to fire as the instrument of punishment and destruction in the Gospels and other parts of the New Testament (e.g. "the Gehenna of fire," Matthew 5:22 margin, etc.; "furnace of fire," Matthew 13:40, 42, 50; "eternal fire," Matthew 25:41; compare also 2 Thessalonians 1:8 2 Peter 3:7; Jude 1:7 Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, 14, 15; Revelation 21:8). For Old Testament analogies compare Isaiah 1:31; Isaiah 34:10; Isaiah 66:24 Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 17:27; Jeremiah 21:12 Ezekiel 20:47, 48. The language is obviously highly metaphorical, conveying the idea of an awful and abiding judgment, but is not to be pressed as teaching a destruction in the sense of annihilation of the wicked. An unquenchable fire is not needed for a momentary act of destruction. Even in the view of Edward White, the wicked survive the period of judgment to which these terms relate.
See PUNISHMENT, EVERLASTING.
FIRE, LAKE OF
See LAKE OF FIRE.
See UNQUENCHABLE FIRE.