A Definition Of Religion

From The Fellowship Room a few years ago, the question was asked, “Give your best definition of religion.” The following was my response:

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives us the following definition of religion:

from L. religionem (nom. religio) “respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,” in L.L. “monastic life” (5c.); according to Cicero, derived from relegare “go through again, read again,” from re- “again” + legere “read” (see lecture). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare “to bind fast, via notion of “place an obligation on,” or “bond between humans and gods.

The apostle Paul must have understood the above definition, “to bind fast,” for he stated on several occasions to “hold fast” (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Timothy 1:13; Titus 1:9). The Hebrew writer also motivates his readers to “hold fast” (Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:23).

Regarding the above definition of religion being a “bond between humans and gods,” Paul considered himself a “bondservant” (Gr. a “doulos” – Strongs 1401 – a slave to Christ (Romans 1:1 ASV), Christ being a member of the Godhead whose nature is that of deity (see article).

The New Testament writer James, gives us the following inspired definition:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27 ESV; cf. Romans 12:2 ESV).

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets


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