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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

41 Common Unclean Defiled Profane

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The words βέβηλος and κοινός, though of kindred meaning, have different applications. They both seem to have started with the signification 'common.' βέβηλος is connected with βηλός, 'a threshold,' which may be trodden on by all comers and be defiled. It stands in contrast to a consecrated spot or shrine, which is enclosed and guarded from desecration. In the LXX it once occurs in the sense of 'common:' common bread in contrast to the showbread in the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 21:4 . In the N.T. it is always 'profane' in the A.V. It represents those for whom the law was made, 1 Timothy 1:9 ; three times it characterises babblings or vain talking, 1 Timothy 4:7 ; 1 Timothy 6:20 ; 2 Timothy 2:16 ; and in Hebrews 12:16 it describes Esau as a profane person.

κοινός also is used in the LXX for 'common,' but more in the sense of fellowship: thus "Let us have a common purse," Proverbs 1:14 ; a bad man does nothing for the common weal, Proverbs 15:23 . It is also employed to signify a 'wide or open' house, as if accessible to all, Proverbs 21:9 ; Proverbs 25:24 . The word is used only in these senses in the LXX.

In the N.T. also it occurs in the sense of having "all things common," Acts 2:44 ; Acts 4:32 ; "the common faith," Titus 1:4 ; and the "common salvation," Jude 3 . It may mean 'unclean' in reference to animals forbidden by the law as food, or to Gentiles in contrast with Jews, Acts 10:14,28 ; they were not sanctified. It is rendered 'unclean' in respect to food, Romans 14:14 ; of unwashed hands it is 'defiled,' Mark 7:2 ; and an apostate virtually treats the blood of Christ as a 'common' thing ('unholy' A.V.), Hebrews 10:29 .

It will be seen, as regards profanity or uncleanness, that βέβηλος refers to what is moral, whereas κοινός descends more to what is ceremonial.

An interesting instance of the use of these words occurs in the charge made against Paul of defiling the temple by bringing in Greeks. The Jews use the verb of κοινός, but Tertullus before the Roman governor uses the verb of βέβηλος, Acts 21:28 ; Acts 24:6 .


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for '41 Common Unclean Defiled Profane '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/4/41-common-unclean-defiled-profane.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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