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About Doctrines

Heart



Paul speaks of the law being written on the hearts of the Gentiles (Rom 2:15). In Jeremiah, God promises to write the law on the hearts of the Jews (Jer 3:33). But, what does Paul mean when he talks of one's heart?

The word heart is used in varying fashions in Scripture. For example, heart is used many, many times in the various English translations of the Bible:

The Greek word translated as heart, "kardia," appears 190 times in the critical New Testament text. The Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) uses "kardia" 1,018 times in the place of the Hebrew word is "leb" or "lebab."

Generally the term "heart" is used as representing the center of things. There are very few references to the actual physical organ, and many of these are, at best, obscure. The Bible does not recognize the brain as the center of control of consciousness, thought, or will. When emotions are involved, the words which could be translated as "bowels" or "intestines" is used.

The Hebrew concept was of the whole man, with all his attributes, physical, intellectual, and psychological. The "heart" governs all of these. In modern terms, the "heart" governs the character, personality, will, and mind of a person.

Look at the "first" and greatest commandment. The commandment states the Hebrew thought that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart. Then the commandment goes on to describe the heart as encompassing all of your mind, all of you soul, and all of your strength!

But, the heart is also the center of sin.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

(NASB)

Jeremiah 17:9
More than anything else, a person's mind is evil
and cannot be healed.
No one truly understands it.

(NCV)

Other Hebrew terms which are translated as "heart" include:

Other Greek terms translated as "heart," primarily in the Septuagint, include:

So, when Paul speaks of the heart, he is talking of the center of man's activities, whatever it may really be called. Our "heart" pumps blood and keeps the physical body alive. For Paul, our "heart' pumps good and evil, depending upon who controls it. Who runs the pumps of your heart?

 

For the theological idea of the heart being circumcized, go here.

 

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