|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
(1) An open profession of faith (Luke 12:8).
(2.) An acknowledment of sins to God (Leviticus 16:21; Ezra 9:5-15; Dan. 9:3-12), and to a neighbour whom we have wronged (James 5:16; Matthew 18:15).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) Acknowledgment; avowal, especially in a matter pertaining to one's self; the admission of a debt, obligation, or crime.
2. (n.) Acknowledgment of belief; profession of one's faith.
3. (n.) The act of disclosing sins or faults to a priest in order to obtain sacramental absolution.
4. (n.) A formulary in which the articles of faith are comprised; a creed to be assented to or signed, as a preliminary to admission to membership of a church; a confession of faith.
5. (n.) An admission by a party to whom an act is imputed, in relation to such act. A judicial confession settles the issue to which it applies; an extrajudicial confession may be explained or rebutted.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kon-fesh'-un (yadhah; homologeo, and their derivatives): The radical meaning is "acknowledgment," "avowal," with the implication of a change of conviction or of course of conduct on the part of the subject. In English "profession" (the King James Version 1 Timothy 6:12 Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 4:14), besides absence of the thought just suggested, emphasizes the publicity of the act. Confession, like its Greek equivalent, connotes, as its etymology shows (Latin, con; Greek, homou), that the act places one in harmony with others. It is the uniting in a statement that has previously been made by someone else. Of the two Greek words from the same root in the New Testament, the compound with the Greek preposition ek found, among other places, in Matthew 3:6 Acts 19:18 Romans 14:11 Philippians 2:11, implies that it has come from an inner impulse, i.e. it is the expression of a conviction of the heart. It is referred anthropopathically to God in Job 40:14, where Yahweh says to the patriarch sarcastically: "Then will I also confess of (unto) thee"; and in Revelation 3:5, where it means "to recognize" or "acknowledge."
When man is said to confess or make confession, the contents of the confession are variously distinguished. All, however, may be grouped under two heads, confession of faith and confession of sin. Confessions of faith are public acknowledgments of fidelity to God, and to the truth through which God is revealed, as 1 Kings 8:33. They are declarations of unqualified confidence in Christ, and of surrender to His service; Matthew 10:32: "Every one. who shall confess me before men." In Philippians 2:11, however, confession includes, alongside of willing, also unwilling, acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Jesus. The word confession stands also for everything contained in the Christian religion-"the faith" used in the objective and widest sense, in Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 4:14. In both these passages, the allusion is to the New Testament. The "High Priest of our confession" (Hebrews 3:1) is the High Priest, of whom we learn and with whom we deal in that new revelation, which in that epistle is contrasted with the old.
Confessions of sins are also of various classes:
(1) To God alone. Wherever there is true repentance for sin, the penitent freely confesses his guilt to Him, against whom he has sinned. This is described in Psalm 32:3-6; compare 1 John 1:9 Proverbs 28:13. Such confession may be made either silently, or, as in Daniel 9:19, orally; it may be general, as in Psalm 51, or particular, as when some special sin is recognized; it may even extend to what has not been discovered, but which is believed to exist because of recognized inner depravity (Psalm 19:12), and thus include the state as well as the acts of sin (Romans 7:18).
(2) To one's neighbor, when he has been wronged (Luke 17:4): "If he sin against thee seven times in the day, and seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." It is to this form of c. that James refers (5:16): "Confess. your sins one to another"; compare Matthew 5:23.
(3) To a spiritual adviser or minister of the word, such as the c. of David to Nathan (2 Samuel 12:13), of the multitudes to John in the wilderness (Matthew 3:6), of the Ephesians to Paul (Acts 19:18). This c. is a general acknowledgment of sinfulness, and enters into an enumeration of details only when the conscience is particularly burdened.
(4) To the entire church, where some crime has created public scandal. As "secret sins are to be rebuked secretly, and public sins publicly," in the apostolic age, where there was genuine penitence for a notorious offense, the acknowledgment was as public as the deed itself. An illustration of this is found in the well-known case at Corinth (compare 1 Corinthians 5:3 with 2 Corinthians 2:6).
For auricular confession in the sense of the medieval and Roman church, there is no authority in Holy Scripture. It is traceable to the practice of examining those who were about to make a public confession of some notorious offense, and of giving advice concerning how far the circumstances of the sin were to be announced; an expedient that was found advisable, since as much injury could be wrought by injudicious publishing of details in the confession as by the sin itself. The practice once introduced for particular cases was in time extended to all cases; and the private confession of sin was demanded by the church as a condition of the absolution, and made an element of penitence, which was analyzed into contrition, confession and satisfaction. See the Examen Concilii Tridentini (lst edition, 1565) of Dr. Martin Chemnitz, superintendent of Brunswick, for a thorough exegetical and historical discussion of this entire subject. On the historical side, see also Henry Charles Lea, History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church (3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1896).
H. E. Jacobs
Confession (22 Occurrences)
Matthew 3:6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, making full confession of their sins. (WEY)
Mark 1:5 There went out to him people of all classes from Judaea, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem of all ranks, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, making open confession of their sins. (WEY)
Romans 10:10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Romans 14:11 for it is written, "'As I live,' says the Lord, 'to Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall make confession to God.'" (WEY)
2 Corinthians 9:13 seeing that through the proof given by this service, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the Good News of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all; (WEB ASV YLT NAS NIV)
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses. (WEB ASV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Timothy 6:13 I command you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession, (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus; (WEB ASV DBY NAS RSV)
Hebrews 4:14 Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession. (WEB ASV DBY NAS RSV)
Hebrews 10:23 let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful. (WEB ASV DBY NAS RSV)
Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name. (ASV)
Joshua 7:19 Joshua said to Achan, "My son, please give glory to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done! Don't hide it from me!" (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)
2 Chronicles 30:22 Hezekiah spoke comfortably to all the Levites who had good understanding in the service of Yahweh. So they ate throughout the feast for the seven days, offering sacrifices of peace offerings, and making confession to Yahweh, the God of their fathers. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT)
Ezra 10:1 Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there was gathered together to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men and women and children; for the people wept very sore. (WEB JPS ASV DBY YLT NAS RSV)
Ezra 10:11 Now therefore make confession to Yahweh, the God of your fathers, and do his pleasure; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the foreign women. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 9:3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the Law of the LORD their God a fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and prostrated themselves before the LORD their God. (See RSV NIV)
Psalms 26:7 To sound with a voice of confession, And to recount all Thy wonders. (YLT)
Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, And mine iniquity did I not hide: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto Jehovah; And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah (See JPS)
Psalms 42:4 These I remember, and pour out my soul in me, For I pass over into the booth, I go softly with them unto the house of God, With the voice of singing and confession, The multitude keeping feast! (YLT)
Psalms 50:14 Sacrifice to God confession, And complete to the Most High thy vows. (YLT)
Isaiah 51:3 For Jehovah hath comforted Zion, He hath comforted all her wastes, And He setteth her wilderness as Eden, And her desert as a garden of Jehovah, Joy, yea, gladness is found in her, Confession, and the voice of song. (YLT)
Daniel 9:4 I prayed to Yahweh my God, and made confession, and said, Oh, Lord, the great and dreadful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments, (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS RSV)