In Old Testament times a gift was customarily given for the price of a bride ( Gen 34:12 ). The gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites were given by God to the priests and their families ( Num 18:11 ). Fathers gave gifts to sons before sending them away ( Gen 25:6 ); sons would receive inheritances from their fathers ( 2 Ch 21:3 ). Gifts were often given to the poor. Gifts were sometimes spiritual in orientation: gifts would be given to God ( Exod 28:38 ) or for service by the Levites and priests ( Numbers 18:6 Numbers 18:9 ).
Gifts can be used to gain friends ( Prov 19:6 ) or influence ( Prov 18:16 ). God gives gifts to people so that they can enjoy life ( Eccl 3:13 ). Some people boast of gifts, and then never give them ( Prov 25:14 ).
In the New Testament a gift was given by the priest as an offering to God ( Heb 5:1 ). The magi presented gifts to the infant Jesus ( Matt 2:11 ). God gave the gift of redemption to humankind ( Eph 2:8 ).
God's righteousness is a gift ( Rom 5:17 ); God has provided for us an "indescribable" gift ( 2 Cor 9:15 ). Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12). Those who have tasted the heavenly gift have been enlightened ( Heb 6:4 ). Paul is a servant of the gospel by the gift of God's grace ( Eph 3:7 ).
In general, in Scripture the word "gift" has three senses: gifts men give to men; sacrificial offerings presented to God; and gifts God gives to men, especially in connection with salvation, righteousness, and his grace.
See also Offerings and Sacrifices.
Bibliography. F. F. Bruce, ISBE, 2:395-96; F. Buchsel, TDNT, 2:860-66; D. G. Burke, ISBE, 2:465-67; W. Kaiser, TWOT, 2:600-602; G. Thompson and W. A. Elwell, EDT, pp. 1042-46; W. White, Jr., ZPEB, 2:721.
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary
Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Gift'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".