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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Heart

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Both Old and New Testaments speak repeatedly of the heart as the centre of a person’s inner life. An examination of the hundreds of references to the heart in the Bible will show that the word is not limited in its meaning to one particular part of a person.

‘Heart’ may refer to a person’s whole inner life – what the person really is (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 22:26; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 22:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:4); or it may refer to attributes of human personality such as a person’s understanding (1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 1:18), desires (Deuteronomy 24:15; Proverbs 6:25; Matthew 6:21; Romans 1:24), feelings (Judges 19:6; Proverbs 14:10; Proverbs 15:30; John 14:27; James 3:14), determination (Exodus 8:15; 1 Kings 8:58; Romans 6:17; Colossians 3:22), or character (1 Samuel 13:14; Jeremiah 5:23; Romans 2:29; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Peter 3:4).

Sometimes ‘heart’ is used as another word for a person’s spirit (Psalms 51:10; Psalms 51:17; Ezekiel 36:26), soul (Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 2:10; Acts 4:32) or mind (1 Samuel 2:35; Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 8:10; cf. Matthew 22:37). (See also HUMANITY, HUMANKIND; MIND; SOUL; SPIRIT.)

The heart is what is sometimes referred to as ‘the inner being’, and is the source of all the wrong that a person does (Proverbs 6:14; Proverbs 6:18; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:24-25; Ephesians 4:18; see SIN). Therefore, the heart must be cleansed to bring forgiveness; or, to use another picture, it must be re-created to bring new spiritual life. Only God can bring about this cleansing or re-creation (Psalms 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26; Acts 8:21-22; Ephesians 3:16; Hebrews 10:22).

Since the heart determines actions, a person must be careful to have right attitudes of heart at all times (Leviticus 19:17; Psalms 4:4; 1 Timothy 1:5; James 3:14). God sees the inner condition and judges the person accordingly (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 44:21; Matthew 5:8; Revelation 2:23; see also CONSCIENCE).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Heart'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/h/heart.html. 2004.

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