A thermal model was needed to predict temperatures in a perfused tissue, which satisfied the following three criteria. One, the model satisfied conservation of energy. Two, the heat transfer rate from blood vessels to tissue was modeled without following a vessel path. Three, the model applied to any unheated and heated tissue. To meet these criteria, a generic bioheat transfer model (BHTM) was derived here by conserving thermal energy in a heated vascularized finite tissue and by making a few simplifying assumptions. Two linear coupled differential equations were obtained with the following two variables: tissue volume averaged temperature and blood volume averaged temperature. The generic model was compared with the widely employed empirical Pennes’ BHTM. The comparison showed that the Pennes’ perfusion term should be interpreted as a local vasculature dependent heat transfer coefficient term. Suggestions are presented for further adaptations of the general BHTM for specific tissues using imaging techniques and numerical simulations.