What does Conflagration mean in the Bible?

Dictionary

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Conflagration
GENERAL. A term used to denote that grand period or catastrophe of our world, when the face of nature is to be changed by fire, as formerly it was by water.
1. Scripture assures us in the general that this earth in its present form will not be perpetual, but shall come to an end.
2. It farther tells us, that this dissolution of the world shall be by a general conflagration, in which all things upon the face of the earth shall be destroyed, by which the atmosphere shall also be sensibly affected, as in such a case it necessarily must be, 2 Peter 3:5-7 ; 2 Peter 3:10 ; 2 Peter 3:12 . where from the connection of the words, the opposition between the conflagration and the deluge, as well as the most literal and apparent import of the phrases themselves, it is plain they cannot, as Dr. Hammond strangely supposes, refer to the desolation brought on Judea when destroyed by the Romans, but must refer to the dissolution of the whole earth.
3. The Scripture represents this great burning as a circumstance nearly connected with the day of judgment, 2 Peter 3:7 . compared with 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 . Hebrews 10:27 . 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 ; and it is probable that there may be an allusion to this in several passages of the Old Testament, such as Psalms 11:6 . Psalms 50:3 . Psalms 96:3 . Is. 34: 4, 8, 10. Is. lxvi 15. Daniel 7:9-10 . Malachi 4:1 . Zephaniah 3:8 . Deuteronomy 32:22 . to which many parallel expressions might be added, from the canonical and apocryphal books.
4. It is not expressly declared how this burning shall be kindled, nor how it shall end; which has given occasion to various conjectures about it, which see below. The ancient Pythagoreans, Platonists, Epicureans, and Stoics, appear to have had a notion of the conflagration; though whence they should derive it, unless from the sacred books, is difficult to conceive; except, perhaps, from the Phoenicians, who themselves had it from the Jews. Mention of the conflagration is made in the books of the Sibyls, Sophocies, Hystaspes, Ovid, Lucan, &c. Dr. Burnet, after J. Tachard and others, relates that the Siamese believe that the earth will at last, be parched up with heat, the mountains melted down, the earth's whole surface reduced to a level, and then consumed with fire. And the Bramins of Siam do not only hold that the world shall be destroyed by fire, but also that a new earth shall be made out of the cinders of the old.
Divines ordinarily account for the conflagration metaphysically, and will have it take its rise from a miracle, as a fire from heaven. Philosophers contend for its being produced from natural causes, and will have it effected according to the laws of mechanics. Some think an eruption of the central fire sufficient for the purpose; and add, that this may be occasioned several ways, viz. either by having its intention increased, which again may be effected either by being driven into less space by the encroachments of the superficial cold, or by an increase of the inflammability of the fuel whereon it is fed; or by having the resistance of the imprisoning earth weakened, which may happen either from the diminution of its matter, by the consumption of its central parts, or by weakening the cohesion of the constituent parts of the mass by the excess of the defect of moisture. Others look for the cause of the conflagration in the atmosphere, and suppose that some of the meteors there engendered in unusual quantities, and exploded with unusual vehemence, from the concurrence of various circumstances, may effect it without seeking any farther.
Lastly, others have recourse to a still more effectual and flaming machine, and conclude the world is to undergo its conflagration from the near approach of a comet in its return from the sun. Various opinions also are entertained as to the renovation of the earth after the conflagration.
1. Some suppose that the earth will not be entirely consumed, but that the matter of which it consists will be fixed, purified, and refined, which they say will be the natural consequence of the action of fire upon it; though it is hard to say what such a purification can do towards fitting it for its intended purpose, for it is certain a mass of crystal or glass would very ill answer the following parts of this hypothesis.
2. They suppose that from these materials thus refined, as from a second chaos, there will by the power of God arise a new creation; and then the face of the earth, and likewise the atmosphere, will then be so restored, as to resemble what it originally was in the paradisaical state; and consequently to render it a more desirable abode for human creatures than it at present is: and they urge for this purpose the following texts, viz. 2 Peter 3:13 . (compare Is. 65: 17, 66: 22.) Matthew 19:28-29 . (compare Mark 10:1-52 ; Luke 18:29-30 .) Psalms 102:25-26 . Acts 3:21 . 1 Corinthians 7:31 . Romans 8:21 .
3. They agree in supposing, that in this new state of things there will be no sea, Revelation 21:1 .
4. They suppose that the earth, thus beautified and improved, shall be inhabited by those who shall inherit the first resurrection, and shall here enjoy a very considerable degree of happiness, though not equal to that which is to succeed the general judgment; which judgment shall, according to them, open when those thousand years are expired, mentioned in Revelation 20:4 . &c. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 . compare ver. 15., which passage is thought by some to contain an insinuation that Paul expected to be alive at the appearance of Christ, which must imply an expectation of being thus raised from the dead before it: but it is answered that the expression we that are alive may only signify "that of us that are so, " speaking of all Christians as one body, 1 Corinthians 15:49-52 . Dr. Hartley declared it as his opinion, that the millennium will consist of a thousand prophetical years, where each day is a year, 1: e. 360, 000; pleading that this is the language used in other parts of the Revelation.
But it seems an invincible objection against this hypothesis, which places the millennium after the conflagration, that the saints inhabiting the earth after the first resurrection are represented as distressed by the invasion of some wicked enemies, Revelation 20:7-9 . Eze 38:39:
See MILLENNIUM. After all, little can be said with certainty as to this subject. It is probable that the earth will survive its fiery trial, and become the everlasting abode of righteousness, as part of the holy empire of God; but, seeing the language used in Scripture, and especially in the book of Revelation, is often to be considered as figurative rather than literal, it becomes us to be cautious in our conclusions. Burnet's Theory of the Earth; Whitby on the Millennium; Hartley on Man, vol. 2: p. 400; Fleming on the first Resurrection; Ray's three Discourses; Whiston's Theory of the Earth; and article DISSOLUTION in this work.
Webster's Dictionary - Conflagration
(n.) A fire extending to many objects, or over a large space; a general burning.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Conflagration
a general burning of a city, or other considerable place. But the word is more ordinarily restrained to that grand period, or catastrophe of our world, wherein the face of nature is expected to be changed by a deluge of fire, as it was anciently by that of water. The ancient Chaldeans, Pythagoreans, Platonists, Epicureans, Stoics, Celts, and Etrurians, appear to have had a notion of the conflagration; though whence they should derive it, unless from the sacred books, it is difficult to conceive; except, perhaps, from the Phenicians, who themselves had it from the Jews. The Celts, whose opinions resembled those of the eastern nations, held, that after the burning of the world, a new period of existence would commence. The ancient Etrurians, or Tuscans, also concurred with other western and northern nations of Celtic origin, as well as with the Stoics, in asserting the entire renovation of nature after a long period, or great year, when a similar succession of events would again take place. The cosmogony of an ancient Etrurian, preserved by Suidas, limits the duration of the universe to a period of twelve thousand years; six thousand of which passed in the production of the visible world, before the formation of man. The Stoics also maintained that the world is liable to destruction from the prevalence of moisture or of drought; the former producing a universal inundation, and the latter, a universal conflagration. "These," they say, "succeed each other in nature, as regularly as winter and summer." The doctrine of conflagration is a natural consequence of the general system of Stoicism; for, since, according to this system, the whole process of nature is carried on in a necessary series of causes and effects, when that operative fire, which at first, bursting from chaos, gave form to all things, and which has since pervaded and animated all nature, shall have consumed its nutriment; that is, when the vapours, which are the food of the celestial fires, shall be exhausted, a deficiency of moisture must produce a universal conflagration. This grand revolution in nature is, after the doctrine of the Stoics, thus elegantly described by Ovid:—
"Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur, affore tempus Quo mare, quo tellus, correptaque regia coeli Ardeat; et mundi moles operosa laboret." METAMOR. lib. v. 256.
or, as Dryden has translated the passage,—
"Rememb'ring in the fates a time when fire Should to the battlements of heaven aspire: When all his blazing worlds above should burn, And all the inferior globe to cinders turn."
Seneca, speaking of the same event, says expressly, "Tempus advenerit quo sidera sideribus incurrent, et omni flagrante materia uno igne, quicquid nunc ex deposito lucet, ardebit;" that is, "the time will come when the world will be consumed, that it may be again renewed; when the powers of nature will be turned against herself, when stars will rush upon stars, and the whole material world, which now appears resplendent with beauty and harmony, will be destroyed in one general conflagration." In this grand catastrophe of nature, all animated beings (excepting the Universal Intelligence,) men, heroes, demons, and gods, shall perish together. Seneca, the tragedian, who was of the same school with the philosopher, writes to the same purpose:—
"Coeli regia concidens Certos atque obilus trahet: Atque omnes pariter deos Perdet mors aliqua, et chaos."
"The mighty palace of the sky
In ruin fall'n is doomed to lie; And all the gods, its wreck beneath, Shall sink in chaos and in death."
The Pythagoreans also maintained the dogma of conflagration. To this purpose Hippasus, of Metapontum, taught that the universe is finite, is always changing, and undergoes a periodical conflagration. Philolaus, who flourished in the time of Plato, maintained that the world is liable to destruction both by fire and water. Mention of the conflagration is also several times made in the books of the Sibyls, Sophocles, Lucan, &c. Dr. Burnet, after F. Tachard and others, relates that the Siamese believe that the earth will at last be parched up with heat, the mountains melted down, and the earth's whole surface reduced to a level, and then consumed with fire. And the Bramins of Siam do not only hold that the world shall be destroyed by fire, but also that a new earth shall be made out of the cinders of the old. The sacred Scriptures announce this general destruction of the world by fire in a variety of passages.
2. Various are the sentiments of authors on the subject of the conflagration; the cause whence it is to arise, and the effects it is to produce. Divines ordinarily account for it metaphysically: and will have it take its rise from a miracle, as a fire from heaven. Philosophers contend for its being produced from natural causes; and will have it effected according to the laws of mechanics: some think an eruption of a central fire sufficient for the purpose; and add, that this may be occasioned several ways; namely, either by having its intensity increased, (which, again, may be effected either by being driven into less space by the encroachments of the superficial cold, or by an increase of the inflammability of the fuel whereon it is fed,) or by having the resistance of imprisoning earth weakened; which may happen either from the diminution of its matter, by the consumption of its central parts, or by weakening the cohesion of the constituent parts of the mass, by the excess or the defect of moisture. Others look for the cause of the conflagration in the atmosphere; and suppose that some of the meteors there engendered in unusual quantities, and exploded with unusual vehemence, from the concurrency of various circumstances, may be made to effect it, without seeking any farther. The astrologers account for it from a conjunction of all the planets in the sign Cancer; "as the deluge," say they, "was occasioned by their conjunction in Capricorn." This was an opinion adopted by the ancient Chaldeans. Lastly: others have recourse to a still more effectual and flaming machine; and conclude the world is to undergo its conflagration from the near approach of a comet, in its return from the sun. It is most natural to conclude, that, as the Scriptures represent the catastrophe as the work of a moment, no gradually operating natural cause will be employed to effect it, but that He who spake and the world was created, will again destroy it by the same word of his power; setting loose at once the all-devouring element of fire to absorb all others. Beyond this, all is conjecture.

Sentence search

World, Dissolution of - See Conflagration, DISSOLUTION
Flagration - ) A Conflagration
Empyrosis - ) A general fire; a Conflagration
Deflagration - ) A burning up; Conflagration
Conflagration - The ancient Chaldeans, Pythagoreans, Platonists, Epicureans, Stoics, Celts, and Etrurians, appear to have had a notion of the Conflagration; though whence they should derive it, unless from the sacred books, it is difficult to conceive; except, perhaps, from the Phenicians, who themselves had it from the Jews. The Stoics also maintained that the world is liable to destruction from the prevalence of moisture or of drought; the former producing a universal inundation, and the latter, a universal Conflagration. " The doctrine of Conflagration is a natural consequence of the general system of Stoicism; for, since, according to this system, the whole process of nature is carried on in a necessary series of causes and effects, when that operative fire, which at first, bursting from chaos, gave form to all things, and which has since pervaded and animated all nature, shall have consumed its nutriment; that is, when the vapours, which are the food of the celestial fires, shall be exhausted, a deficiency of moisture must produce a universal Conflagration. " ...
Seneca, speaking of the same event, says expressly, "Tempus advenerit quo sidera sideribus incurrent, et omni flagrante materia uno igne, quicquid nunc ex deposito lucet, ardebit;" that is, "the time will come when the world will be consumed, that it may be again renewed; when the powers of nature will be turned against herself, when stars will rush upon stars, and the whole material world, which now appears resplendent with beauty and harmony, will be destroyed in one general Conflagration. " ...
The Pythagoreans also maintained the dogma of Conflagration. To this purpose Hippasus, of Metapontum, taught that the universe is finite, is always changing, and undergoes a periodical Conflagration. Mention of the Conflagration is also several times made in the books of the Sibyls, Sophocles, Lucan, &c. Various are the sentiments of authors on the subject of the Conflagration; the cause whence it is to arise, and the effects it is to produce. Others look for the cause of the Conflagration in the atmosphere; and suppose that some of the meteors there engendered in unusual quantities, and exploded with unusual vehemence, from the concurrency of various circumstances, may be made to effect it, without seeking any farther. Lastly: others have recourse to a still more effectual and flaming machine; and conclude the world is to undergo its Conflagration from the near approach of a comet, in its return from the sun
Conflagration - It farther tells us, that this dissolution of the world shall be by a general Conflagration, in which all things upon the face of the earth shall be destroyed, by which the atmosphere shall also be sensibly affected, as in such a case it necessarily must be, 2 Peter 3:5-7 ; 2 Peter 3:10 ; 2 Peter 3:12 . where from the connection of the words, the opposition between the Conflagration and the deluge, as well as the most literal and apparent import of the phrases themselves, it is plain they cannot, as Dr. The ancient Pythagoreans, Platonists, Epicureans, and Stoics, appear to have had a notion of the Conflagration; though whence they should derive it, unless from the sacred books, is difficult to conceive; except, perhaps, from the Phoenicians, who themselves had it from the Jews. Mention of the Conflagration is made in the books of the Sibyls, Sophocies, Hystaspes, Ovid, Lucan, &c. ...
Divines ordinarily account for the Conflagration metaphysically, and will have it take its rise from a miracle, as a fire from heaven. Others look for the cause of the Conflagration in the atmosphere, and suppose that some of the meteors there engendered in unusual quantities, and exploded with unusual vehemence, from the concurrence of various circumstances, may effect it without seeking any farther. ...
Lastly, others have recourse to a still more effectual and flaming machine, and conclude the world is to undergo its Conflagration from the near approach of a comet in its return from the sun. Various opinions also are entertained as to the renovation of the earth after the Conflagration. ...
But it seems an invincible objection against this hypothesis, which places the millennium after the Conflagration, that the saints inhabiting the earth after the first resurrection are represented as distressed by the invasion of some wicked enemies, Revelation 20:7-9
Dissolution - ...
See Conflagration
Memory - A monument in London was erected in memory of the Conflagration in 1666
Stoics - Their distinguishing tenets were, that God is underived, incorruptible, and eternal; possessed of infinite wisdom and goodness: the efficient cause of all the qualities and forms of things; and the constant preserver and governor of the world: That matter, in its original elements, is also underived and eternal; and is by the powerful energy of the Deity impressed with motion and form: That though God and matter subsisted from eternity, the present regular frame of nature had a beginning originating in the gross and dark chaos, and will terminate in a universal Conflagration, that will reduce the world to its pristine state: That at this period all material forms will be lost in one chaotic mass; and all animated nature be reunited to the Deity: That from this chaotic state, however, the world will again emerge by the energy of the efficient principle; and gods, and men, and all forms of regulated nature be renewed and dissolved, in endless succession: And that after the revolution of the great year all things will be restored, and the race of men will return to life. Those among the stoics who maintained the existence of the soul after death, supposed it to be removed into the celestial regions of the gods, where it remains until, at the general Conflagration, all souls, both human and divine, shall be absorbed in the Deity
Fire - ) The burning of a house or town; a Conflagration
Chrysologus, Petrus, Archbishop of Ravenna - 524; partly in the Conflagration of the archbishop's library at Ravenna, c
Stoics - They asserted the unity of the Divine Being...
the creation of the world by the Word...
the doctrine of Providence...
and the Conflagration of the universe
Rome - 64, after the great Conflagration, Christians, wrapped in skins of beasts, were torn by dogs, or, clothed in inflammable stuffs, were burnt as torches during the midnight games; others were crucified
Rome - 28), and that by Nero after its Conflagration
Tree - The writer of the Apocalypse refers to a Conflagration among forest trees (Revelation 8:7); also to trees spared by hurricanes (Revelation 7:1; Revelation 7:3) and by locusts (Revelation 9:4)
Ephraim (6), Bishop of Antioch And Patriarch - 525 and 526 by earthquake and Conflagration, Ephraim was sent by Justin as commissioner to relieve the sufferers and restore the city
Marcianus, Presbyter at Constantinople - How Marcian saved his new church in the Conflagration of Sept
Fire - The burning of a house or town a Conflagration
Lot - When God destroyed the cities of the plain with fire and brimstone, he delivered "just Lot" from the Conflagration, according to the account of the divine historian
Paul - Testimony before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (the Gospel of Luke and the Acts commenced at Cæsarea, and concluded at Rome)...
58-60...
Paul's voyage to Rome (autumn); shipwreck at Malta; arrival at...
60,61...
Paul's first captivity at Rome, Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon...
61-63...
Conflagration at Rome (July); Neronian persecution of the Christians; martyrdom of Paul (?)...
Hypothesis of a second Roman captivity and preceding missionary journeys to the East, and possibly to Spain
Acacius, Bishop of Beroea - Acacius sent to Rome one Patronus, with letters accusing Chrysostom of being the author of the Conflagration of his own church
Fire - The old creation is to be dissolved, and pass away in the final world-conflagration which prepares the way for the advent of new heavens and a new earth. In a later passage (1 Peter 4:12) the extremity of their sufferings, arising from the same cause, is compared to a burning or Conflagration (πύρθσις) by which character is tested and purified; and the sharp discipline they are undergoing is spoken of appropriately, considering its extreme severity, as judgment (κρίμα) already begun, from which the righteous escape with, difficulty (1 Peter 4:17 f; cf. ’ The picture presented is that of a general Conflagration. It may have been suggested by ‘the Conflagration of Corinth under Mummius; the stately temples standing amidst the universal destruction of the meaner buildings’ (A
Fire - The old creation is to be dissolved, and pass away in the final world-conflagration which prepares the way for the advent of new heavens and a new earth. In a later passage (1 Peter 4:12) the extremity of their sufferings, arising from the same cause, is compared to a burning or Conflagration (πύρθσις) by which character is tested and purified; and the sharp discipline they are undergoing is spoken of appropriately, considering its extreme severity, as judgment (κρίμα) already begun, from which the righteous escape with, difficulty (1 Peter 4:17 f; cf. ’ The picture presented is that of a general Conflagration. It may have been suggested by ‘the Conflagration of Corinth under Mummius; the stately temples standing amidst the universal destruction of the meaner buildings’ (A
Origenists - That the earth after its Conflagration shall become habitable again, and be the mansion of men and animals, and that in eternal vicissitudes
Lake of Fire - Fire is one of the accompanying features of the Parousia; it is the real or metaphorical agent of punishment for the wicked, and only in 2 Peter do we find the definite conception of a final Conflagration which will destroy the old heavens and earth
Galerius, Emperor - ix ), "The Conflagration subsided, as if quenched with the streams of sacred blood
Peter Epistles of - -The main purpose of the Epistle is to comfort and encourage certain communities embarrassed by heathen opposition-an opposition which had broken out into a Conflagration of persecution. This procedure must have seemed to the Christians like the sudden outburst of a devastating Conflagration, a veritable activity of their adversary the devil (1 Peter 4:12, 1 Peter 5:8). Whether Tacitus is right in connecting the fire with Nero’s action against the Christians is sometimes disputed,_ but the evidence for a Neronian persecution some time after the Conflagration of the year 64 is overwhelming
Millennium - ...
The moderns, on the other hand, consider the power and pleasures of this kingdom as wholly spiritual; and they represent them as not to commence till after the Conflagration, or the present earth
Dead Sea - " The learned Frenchman inclines to adopt the idea of Professors Michaelis and Busching, that Sodom and Gomorrah were built upon a mine of bitumen; that lightning kindled the combustible mass, and that the cities sunk in the subterraneous Conflagration
Rome, - St, Paul's first visit to Rome took place before the Neronian Conflagration but even after the restoration of the city which followed upon that event, many of the old evils continued
Titus (Emperor) - A considerable number of the most splendid buildings were destroyed in the Conflagration
Sea - One favourite tradition made the sea disappear in the final Conflagration of the world
Nero - The Emperor’s behaviour on that occasion was in many ways to be commended, but the story that he sat on the roof of his palace playing the harp during the Conflagration (add Augustine, Sermons, ccxcvi
John the Baptist - He will have the horror and the rapture of one who witnesses a Conflagration, or discerns some rich and sublime prospect above and beyond this world
Nestorius And Nestorianism - Mark as its founder, there was plenty of material for a Conflagration
Originality - Among the parallels which the latter finds specially important, may be mentioned Simeon in the Temple, the twelve-year-old Jesus, the baptism of Jesus, the temptation, the blessing of the mother of Jesus (Luke 11:27), the widow’s mite, the walking on the sea, the Samaritan woman at the well, and the world Conflagration