The word "bless" or "blessing" comes from the Old English word bledsian, based on the Old English word for blood. It may have originally meant "to consecrate with blood" and it was later used to translate the Latin word benedicere, which means "to praise, worship." The word "bless" is also used to translate the Hebrew word barak, which means "to praise, congratulate or salute." In the common vernacular, the word is used to indicate a wish of good fortune upon the one receiving the blessing.
What is the biblical definition of a blessing? What is it to bless in the Bible?
Perhaps the meaning of the word blessing can be most accurately understood when these three etymological meanings—blood consecration, praise, and good fortune—are taken in concert. For example, in Genesis 12:1-3, God makes a promise to Abram, saying, "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." God is promising good fortune, and a good future, to the descendants of Abram, and He is saying that others will gain good fortune through him. It can be said that all who believe in the God of Israel are consecrated with blood–the blood of Jesus Christ—through faith. The Hebrew word barak means literally "to kneel" and when used in this context, it indicates a relationship between man, who adores God by kneeling, and God, who benefits men with His presence.
Another word translated "blessing" is the Hebrew word esher, which indicates a state of happiness. This word occurs frequently in the Psalms and Proverbs. When the Psalmist says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers" (Psalm 1:1), he is saying "you will be happy if you do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, etc." Obedience to God is not a pre-requisite for salvation—while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)—but obedience to God and living according to His Word is a recipe for blessing, for happiness in life (Proverbs 3:1-4).
There are two Greek words in the New Testament which are translated as "blessing." The first is makarios, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew word esher. The other is eulogeo, which is used to give a good report or say a good word; it is more similar to the meaning of barak. We bless God for all the blessings He gives us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and we are to bless those who mistreat us, because we were called to receive a blessing from God (1 Peter 3:9). The relationship of believers to God, our submission to Him and His gifts toward us, are described in terms of blessing, and indeed, there is no blessing as meaningful or as permanent as our inheritance in Christ (Galatians 3:18; 1 Peter 1:4).
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