Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary


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A royal order. Decrees were proclaimed publically by criers (Jonah 3:5-7 ) designated “heralds” (Daniel 3:4 ) often throughout the territory of the monarch (1 Samuel 11:7; Ezra 1:1 ). Decrees were written and stored in archives for later reference (Ezra 6:1-2 ). Scripture attributes just decrees to divine wisdom (Proverbs 8:15 ). Scripture also recognizes unjust decrees (Isaiah 10:1 ). Some important decrees include: Cyrus' decree on rebuilding the Temple (Ezra 6:3-5 ); Esther's decree on the celebration of Purim (Esther 9:32 ); and the decree of Caesar Augustus which set the scene for the birth of Christ (Luke 2:1 ).

As King of the earth, God issues decrees regulating the world of nature (the sea, Proverbs 8:29; rain, Job 28:26 ) and of humanity (Daniel 4:24 ). God also decrees the reign of the Messianic King (Psalm 2:7 ).

The KJV uses “decree” to describe the decision of the Apostolic Council (Acts 16:4 ) and of a human inward decision not to marry (1 Corinthians 7:37 ). NIV refers to God's righteous decree of death for sinners (Romans 1:32 ). NAS uses “decree” for God's law which led to disobedience and death (Colossians 2:14 ,Colossians 2:14,2:20 ). NRSV uses “decree” to speak of God's eternal wisdom and plan for creation. Any translator using “decree” is interpreting the meaning of a more general Hebrew or Greek term, resulting in each translation using “decree” for several different words of the original language.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Decree'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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