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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Fool, Folly

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In biblical usage, the word ‘fool’ has a wide range of meanings. Among these there is the usual variety of everyday meanings where the word applies to those who are careless, thoughtless, stupid, foolish, wicked or easily led (1 Samuel 25:25; Proverbs 7:7; Proverbs 9:13; Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 17:7; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 24:30; Matthew 25:2; 2 Corinthians 11:16-20; 2 Timothy 2:23). But the writers of the Bible also use the word with a particular meaning because of the accountability of all people to their Creator. The writers apply it to those who rely entirely on their own understanding and ability instead of relying on God. Foolishness in this sense is not so much denial of God’s existence as rebellion against him (Psalms 14:1; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 12:15; Isaiah 32:6; Jeremiah 4:22; Luke 12:20; Ephesians 5:17).

Therefore, the greatest fools may be those whom the world considers wise. They may think God’s way of salvation through Christ’s death to be foolish, but if they reject that salvation, they themselves are foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18-24). By calling God’s work of salvation foolish, people display their ignorance. Such salvation is based on a wisdom that is beyond the capacity of the human mind to understand fully (1 Corinthians 1:25; see WISDOM).

A widely used term of abuse in Jesus’ time was a word that has also been translated ‘fool’. Jesus referred to this abusive expression when illustrating that hate is the root cause of murder. Because God is concerned with people’s attitudes as well as their actions, a person with uncontrolled hate is as liable to God’s punishment as a murderer (Matthew 5:21-22).


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Fool, Folly'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/f/fool-folly.html. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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