Bible Term: Idol

An idol is literally a man-made image that is worshiped or an object of excessive admiration or devotion. Often idols were crafted for false gods.

In a figurative sense, an idol is anything that replaces God as a priority or becomes preeminent in one’s life. In today’s culture, that could mean money and the unwavering pursuit of it, possessions (such as homes, cars, and other toys), expensive clothes, prestige, amassing power, and even the accumulation of knowledge. These are but a few common idols.

The word idol appears over one hundred times in the Bible, while idols occurs hundreds more. The context is never positive.

Perhaps the most familiar mention is in the Ten Commandments, to not make or worship an idol (Exodus 20:4-5).