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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology


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In Old Testament times a gift was customarily given for the price of a bride (Genesis 34:12 ). The gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites were given by God to the priests and their families (Numbers 18:11 ). Fathers gave gifts to sons before sending them away (Genesis 25:6 ); sons would receive inheritances from their fathers (2 Chronicles 21:3 ). Gifts were often given to the poor. Gifts were sometimes spiritual in orientation: gifts would be given to God (Exodus 28:38 ) or for service by the Levites and priests (Numbers 18:6,9 ).

Gifts can be used to gain friends (Proverbs 19:6 ) or influence (Proverbs 18:16 ). God gives gifts to people so that they can enjoy life (Ecclesiastes 3:13 ). Some people boast of gifts, and then never give them (Proverbs 25:14 ).

In the New Testament a gift was given by the priest as an offering to God (Hebrews 5:1 ). The magi presented gifts to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:11 ). God gave the gift of redemption to humankind (Ephesians 2:8 ).

God's righteousness is a gift (Romans 5:17 ); God has provided for us an "indescribable" gift (2 Corinthians 9:15 ). Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12 ). Those who have tasted the heavenly gift have been enlightened (Hebrews 6:4 ). Paul is a servant of the gospel by the gift of God's grace (Ephesians 3:7 ).

In general, in Scripture the word "gift" has three senses: gifts men give to men; sacrificial offerings presented to God; and gifts God gives to men, especially in connection with salvation, righteousness, and his grace.

Louis Goldberg

See also Offerings and Sacrifices.

Bibliography . F. F. Bruce, ISBE, 2:395-96; F. Buchsel, TDNT, 2:860-66; D. G. Burke, ISBE, 2:465-67; W. Kaiser, TWOT, 2:600-602; G. Thompson and W. A. Elwell, EDT, pp. 1042-46; W. White, Jr., ZPEB, 2:721.

Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. Entry for 'Gift'. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 1996.

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