You may have seen last week that I posted the video of my recent sermon on blessings and gifts. I figured that, since not everyone has the time to watch a half-hour video, I’d also give you the super-brief summary of what I learned.

The English word blessing comes from the Latin benedicere, which carries the same meaning as the Greek eulogia and the Hebrew barak–all these words, as used in the Bible and even today in other languages’ translations, mean “a praise, a good word.” This why we “bless the Lord,” and why a father’s blessing was so important–it was a spoken word, a promise.

English, however, has an interesting history of its version. Bless and blessing began to take on the meaning of “a gift, something given to make one happy” in the 14th century.


Because bless sounds and looks like bliss. People therefore began to confuse a praise to or from God with a thing meant for our happiness. And what makes us happy? GIFTS. Isn’t that crazy? So for the last 700 years, English has been using the word and teaching the Biblical concept in a way that has absolutely no basis in the actual idea.

A blessing isn’t the thing given–it’s the word of promise. A blessing isn’t something meant to make us happy. It’s something said to invoke holiness.

I for one will never look at this word the same way again!

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