What is a “bier?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Bier” is found a solitary time in the text of our Authorized Version, Luke chapter 7: “[11] And it came to pass the day after, that he [the Lord Jesus] went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. [12] Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. [13] And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. [14] And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. [15] And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. [16] And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. [17] And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.”

What is a “bier?” The most helpful context clue is this. It concerns a large funeral procession the Lord Jesus Christ has interrupted in Nain, a town of Galilee, roughly 5 miles (8 kilometers) southeast of Nazareth. In order to restore the dead man to life, Jesus touches his “bier” (rhymes with “ear”) and speaks forth the Word of Life! Here is one of the signs of the Gospel of the Kingdom, validation or authentication as to who Jesus is (Luke 7:18-23; cf. Matthew 4:17,23; Matthew 9:35; Luke 8:1). Through this miracle, the God of Israel is teaching the Jews what He can do for and with them concerning their Messiah/Christ/King (Jesus).

The term “bier” is actually related to a Proto-Indo-European word meaning “to carry, bear;” also, it is connected to “barrow” (cart). Essentially, a “bier” was a couch or movable platform the Jews used to transport a corpse to its burial site. Sometimes, the body was laid directly on the frame; in other instances, the remains were placed in a coffin or box and then positioned on the frame. The Bible says that when Jesus touched this structure, the men carrying the man’s body—the pallbearers—stopped walking. As the power of God flowed through Christ’s hands and lips to the dead man, he was restored to life, sat upright, and began speaking! Depicted here is the nation Israel, once dead in trespasses and sins, utterly hopeless and completely helpless, now redeemed and resurrected via the powerful words and hands of the Creator God (Hebrews 4:12), and entering the Millennial Kingdom with the ability to preach God’s words to the nations. You may also see the passage about the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-28.

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Also see:
» What is the “mountain” to be removed in Matthew 17:20?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?
» Exactly what is “eternal life?”
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?