by Reverent John W. Morris, Ph. D.
ABBA The Aramaic term of intimacy used in addressing one's father, somewhat equivalent to the English "Daddy." Christ uses Abba in addressing God the Father. St. Paul tells believers that their relationship with God through the Holy Spirit is so personal that they too may speak to Him as intimately as to their own father (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15).
ABSOLUTION The prayer offered by a bishop or presbyter for the forgiveness of sins. Following His glorious Resurrection, Christ breathed on His Apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" John 20:22, 23). This gift of proclaiming God's forgiveness of sins remains forever in the Church. It is exercised in the sacraments of baptism and confession—the reconciliation to the Church of Christian believers who have sinned and repented. The priest or bishop is the witness who bears testimony to the repentance; only God forgives sins (see article, "Confession," at 1 John 1).
ADVENT A forty-day period of prayer, repentance, and fasting in preparation for Christmas. The word stems from the Latin word for "coming"; during the fast the faithful prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. See also FASTING.
AGAPE Greek for the unconditional love which God extends to His people. Agape also designates a communal meal connected to the Eucharist which was a practice of the early Church (1 Cor. 11:20 34).
ALLEGORY A story filled with symbolism illustrating a spiritual reality beyond the actual historical event being described. In the ancient Church, scholars of the School of Alexandria tended to consider many incidents in the Bible as allegorical, whereas the School of Antioch practiced a more historical approach to Scripture. Although Scripture contains some pure allegory (some parables of Christ, portions of Revelation), overemphasis on allegory may tend to de-emphasize or even deny the historicity of Holy Scripture. On the other hand, a denial of allegory robs the Scriptures of their deeper meaning. It is possible for a story to be both historical and allegorical. The majority of Church Fathers combined both elements in interpreting the Bible. See Luke 15:4-7; Gal. 4:21-26. See also TYPE.
ALLELUIA The Greek form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, which means "praise God." Orthodox Christians sing a chorus of Alleluia interspersed with psalm verses prior to the Gospel reading at the Divine Liturgy.
ALMS Works of mercy or monetary gifts given to help the poor. Throughout the Scriptures, God's people are called to help those less fortunate than themselves (see Matt. 25:31-46).
ALPHA AND OMEGA The letters which begin and end the Greek alphabet, and symbolize the beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega is also used as a title of Christ (Rev. 1:8).
AMEN "So be it" in Hebrew. Amen is said or sung at the close of a prayer or hymn, showing the agreement of the people to what has been said (Deut. 27:15 26; 1 Cor. 14:16).
ANGELS Bodiless powers created before the creation of the physical universe. The English word "angel" comes from the Greek word for "messenger." Throughout the Scripture, angels are messengers who carry the Word of God to earth (e.g. Gabriel's visit to Mary, Luke 1:26-38). The Orthodox Church teaches that there are nine "choirs" or groups of angels: Angels, Archangels, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim (see Gen. 3:24; Is. 6:2; Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:22).
ANNUNCIATION The visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she had been chosen to bear Christ, the Son of God. The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated exactly nine months before Christmas. Mary's Son was no ordinary child, but God's divine Son and Word in human flesh (see article, "Mary," at Luke 1; Is. 7:14; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1-14).
ANTICHRIST Literally, "against Christ" or "instead of Christ." Antichrist is used by John to refer to (a) the opponent of Christ who will arise at the end of this age, and (b) the "many antichrists" who stand against the Son of God (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3).
APOSTASY Literally, "turning away." This sin is committed when a Christian or body of believers rejects the true faith of Christ (1 Tim. 1:5 7; 4:1-3).
APOSTLE Literally, "one who is sent." Apostle is used as a title for the Twelve Disciples who formed the foundation of the NT Church, replacing, symbolically, the twelve tribes of Israel. In order to maintain this symbolism, Matthias was elected to replace Judas (Acts 1:15 26). The word is also used of the Seventy (or 72) sent by Christ, as well as of Paul, the repentant persecutor whom the risen Jesus sent as "apostle to the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13). Great missionaries in the Church, such as Mary Magdalene (the "apostle to the apostles"), Thekla, Nira, Vladimir, and Innocent of Alaska are called "equal to the apostles." The extension of the apostolic ministry in the Church today is in the episcopacy. See also EPISCOPACY.
ASCENSION The ascent of Christ to Heaven following His Resurrection as Son of God in the flesh (Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9-11). Christ's Ascension completes the union of God and humanity, for a Man who is God now reigns in Heaven.
ASCETICISM (from Gr. askesis, "athlete") A life of struggle—the crucifixion of the desires of the flesh, through a life of prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Through asceticism the Christian fights temptation to sin and thereby grows in spiritual strength. Such spiritual classics as The Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent give directions for the ascetic life (see Luke 9:23; Gal. 5:24).
AUTHORITY The rule of God over the world and the legitimate authority given by God to those ordained to shepherd the faithful (Heb. 13:17). Also, one of the nine choirs of angels. See also ANGELS.
BAPTISM (from Gr. baptizo, "to be plunged") The sacrament whereby one is born again, buried with Christ, resurrected with Him and united to Him. In baptism, one becomes a Christian and is joined to the Church. In Christ's baptism, water was set apart unto God as the means by which the Holy Spirit would bring to us new life and entrance into the heavenly Kingdom (see article "Holy Baptism," at Rom. 6; Matt. 3:13-17; 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 39; Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
BEATITUDE Literally, "exalted happiness." The ninefold blessing of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12).
BELIEF The acceptance of the truths of the gospel. More than a mental assent, belief as used in the NT includes trusting in God from the heart. Such belief results from (1) hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) and (2) a gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8). Although a Christian is saved by belief in Christ, faith without action (that is, a distinct movement of the will to follow Christ) is hollow and void of the righteousness necessary to salvation (see article, "Justification by Faith," at Rom. 5; Matt. 7:21; John 3:16; James 2:14 26).
BENEDICTION Literally, "good word"; blessing. Benedictions were given by Christ (Luke 24:50, 51) and by the Apostles (2 Cor. 13:14), and are given by the bishop or priest at the close of every Divine Liturgy.
BISHOP (Gr. episkopos) Overseer. A bishop is the leader of a local community of Christians. In the New Testament there is no clear distinction between the offices of bishop and elder (presbyter), both of which function as leaders of the community. However, by the mid- to late first century, the Church began to reserve the title bishop for the men of spiritual qualification who were consecrated to follow the Apostles in their office of oversight (see article, "The Four 'Orders' in Church Government," at 1 Tim.; Acts 1:15 26; 14:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-7).
BORN AGAIN Literally, "born from above." A person must be born again to new life in Christ to enter God's eternal Kingdom. This new birth takes place through the sacrament of Holy Baptism John 3:16; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:27). Spiritual life begins by receiving the Holy Spirit in baptism, and it is a dynamic process which continues throughout life. See article, "The New Birth," at John 3.
BROTHERS OF THE LORD St. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, Joses, Simon, and Judas are referred to as brothers of Christ (Matt. 13:55). In the ancient Middle East one's close relatives were frequently referred to as brothers and sisters. Also, there is an ancient tradition that the "brothers and sisters" of Christ were actually children of St. Joseph from an earlier marriage; they are called the children of Mary although they are actually her stepchildren. Thus, these references to siblings of Christ do not contradict the ancient belief of the Orthodox Church that the Virgin Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ. The absence of blood brothers is suggested by Christ's act of entrusting Mary to the care of the apostle John (John 19:26, 27), which would have been against the Mosaic Law had she had other natural children.
CANON Literally, "a rule." It describes (1) the inspired Books of the Bible—the Canon of Scripture; (2) the rules and decrees issued by the early Church (see Acts 15:23-29) and by Ecumenical Councils—Canon Law; and (3) certain parts of worship, such as the Liturgical Canon or the Canon of Matins.
CHRISMATION The sacrament completing baptism, whereby one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with the Chrism, a specially prepared oil which must be consecrated by a bishop. On several occasions in Acts, a baptized Christian received the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the hands of an Apostle (see Acts 8:14-17; 19:6). Chrismation is a continuation of that ancient practice in the Church. See article, "Chrismation," at Acts 2.
CHURCH The faithful are called out of the world to be the Church: the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the New Israel, the ark of salvation, the assembly of the faithful. Through the Church, Christians are united to Christ and to each other. In this community, the believer receives the grace of God through the sacraments and hears the truth of the gospel. This mystical transformation of people into one body in Christ takes place in the Eucharist. Because Christ is the Head of the Church, the Church is a reflection of the Incarnation, with both human and divine qualities (see 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; Gal. 6:16; Eph. 4:12; 5:22-32).
COMMANDMENT The Law of God, given first in the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, and completed or fulfilled by the teaching of Christ (Ex. 20:1-17; Matt. 5:1—7:27; John 15:12).
COMMUNION (Gr. koinonia) A common union of the most intimate kind, enjoyed by Christians with God and with each other in the Church. This communion is especially realized in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist John 6:56; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17).
CONFESSION (1) The avowal or verbal witness of faith in Christ, leading to salvation (Rom. 10:9). (2) The sacrament of the forgiveness of sins, whereby the repentant sinner confesses his sins to Christ in the presence of the priest, who pronounces God's absolution of those sins (see article, "Confession," at 1 John; John 20:22, 23; 1 John 1:9).
CONVERSION The beginning of salvation, occurring when a person repents, believes the gospel, and enters into a personal relationship with Christ. Conversion is not merely a change of belief but the beginning of a new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), which is a process of growth into the image and likeness of God. Our salvation is the working together of conversion, justification, and sanctification throughout life.
CORRUPTION The state of mortality and sinfulness, the universal condition of fallen humanity. All are born into a world suffering the consequences of the Fall, the sin of Adam and Eve. These consequences include physical suffering, death, lack of perfection and a tendency to sin. See Ps. 53:3; Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; 1 John 5:19.
COSMOS The universe, or "world," created by God from nothing. It is controlled by God; He is the life of the world. Sin has corrupted the entire cosmos, and the rule of evil will not be abolished until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The universe will finally be redeemed by Christ when He comes again to transform the cosmos into a new heaven and a new earth. See Gen. 1:1; Rom. 8:19-22; Rev. 21:1.
COUNCIL A group of Christians gathered to deliberate and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to administer the Church and decide on various doctrinal, moral, and liturgical questions. The Orthodox Church is conciliar (operating by councils) on all levels, from a parish to a worldwide council. While councils are not seen as infallible, their decisions become part of Church life when they are received by the entire Church. Besides the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15, the Church counts Seven Ecumenical Councils in her history.
COVENANT An agreement or testament between men or between God and His people. In the Old Testament, God chose the people of Israel, ending with John the Baptist, to prepare the way for the coming of His Only Begotten Son. Through Christ, the covenant was perfected, and the promises of God to Abraham and the Jews are fulfilled through the Church, the New Israel, the New Covenant people of God. See Gen. 13:14-16; Gal. 3:6-9; 1 Pet. 2:9, 10.
CREATION (Gr. ktisis) Everything made by God. The term creation is applied to the cosmos in general and to mankind in particular. Our regeneration in Christ and the resurrection of the dead are both often called the "new creation." Creation has no existence apart from God, but is nevertheless distinct from God. (That which is not created, such as divine grace, the divine energies, belongs to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
CREED A statement of belief. Creeds in their earlier forms were used by the apostles, and many are recorded in the New Testament (Eph. 5:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:11-13). The creed used throughout the Church was adopted at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and expanded at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. The Nicene Creed is used at baptisms, the Divine Liturgy, and in personal daily prayers.
CRUCIFIXION A form of execution of criminals used by the ancient Romans in which the offender is nailed through his wrists and ankles to a cross. A crucified person usually died from suffocation after becoming too exhausted to pull himself up in order to breathe. Besides Christ Himself (Matt. 27:35-50), the Apostles Peter, Andrew, James the Less, and Simon were also crucified.
CURSE (Gr. anathema) To cut off, separate; the opposite of blessing. A divine curse is God's judgment. Christ delivers believers from the curse caused by their inability to live by the law of God (see Gen. 3:14-19; 9:25; Mark 11:21; Gal. 3:10-14).
DAMNATION Eternity spent in hell under sentence of personal condemnation for rejecting the love and truth of God as revealed perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. See Matt. 25:31-46; John 3:18.
DARKNESS A symbol of sin and rejection of God, who is light and whose followers walk in the light of righteousness. See John 1:5; Rom. 13:12.
DEACON Literally, "servant." Originally seven deacons were ordained to assist the apostles with the temporal affairs of the Church (Acts 6:1-7). This established office has continued in the Church. A deacon assists the bishop and priest, but cannot preside over the Eucharist, give blessings or pronounce absolution. In the New Testament (Rom.16:1) and the early Church, women also served as deacons or deaconesses (1 Tim. 3:813; see note on v. 11).
DEIFICATION The grace of God through which believers grow to become like Him and enjoy intimate communion with the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit (see article, "Deification," at 2 Pet. 1; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:2-4).
DEPARTED The dead. Following death and judgment, those who have accepted God's truth and love as fully revealed in Christ and the Holy Spirit inherit eternal life in heaven. Those who have rejected His gift inherit eternal darkness. See Luke 16:19-31; Heb. 9:27.
DEVIL Satan, the leader of the fallen angels. Called by Jesus the father of lies John 8:44), Satan tempts the faithful to join his rebellion against God. The Greek word for devil means "separator"; he seeks to pull people away from God. Although not evil by nature, the devil turned by his free choice from what was according to nature to what was against it. At the end of time, Christ will judge the devil and his followers and cast them into hell. See Matt. 25:41; Luke 10:18; 1 Pet. 5:8.
DISCIPLESHIP The life of learning, growing, self-sacrifice, and commitment required of every Christian. A Christian not only believes in Christ but leaves everything to follow Him. See Matt. 4:18-22; 7:21-23; Luke 9:23; Gal. 5:24.
DOCTRINE The teaching of the Church, called variously the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9), the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42), or sound doctrine (Titus 1:9; see 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 16:17).
EASTER The Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as Pascha (from the Hebrew word for Passover). Christ proclaimed Himself as the true Passover and offered Himself as a sacrifice. Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter according to the decree of the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325: the first Sunday following the first full moon following the spring equinox following the Jewish Passover. Thus, Orthodox Easter is often one, four, or five weeks after the western Easter.
ENERGY Used theologically, that which radiates from the hidden essence or nature of God. The energies of God, such as grace, are not created, and allow the believer to enter into a personal relationship with God while preserving the unique character of God, whose essence always remains hidden from humanity. Moses was permitted to see the glory of God, His energies, but was forbidden to gaze on the face of God, His hidden essence. See Ex. 33:18-23; 2 Pet. 1:2-4.
EPIPHANY Literally, "a breaking through from above"; the word means a manifestation of God. Examples of epiphanies are the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-6) and the Transfiguration of Christ (Matt. 17:1-13). Twelve days after Christmas, the Church celebrates the Feast of Epiphany to honor the manifestation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Christ (Mark 1:9-11). See also THEOPHANY.
EPISCOPACY The order of bishops in the Church (from Gr. episkopos, "overseer"). See also BISHOP.
ESCHATOLOGY The study of the last days (Gr. eschaton). According to the Holy Scriptures, Christ will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, destroy the power of evil, and fully reveal the everlasting Kingdom (Matt. 25:3146; Rev. 20:10—21:1). See also SECOND COMING.
ESSENCE (Gr. ousia) Also translated as substance, nature or being. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are "of one essence." Jesus Christ is "of one essence" with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in His divinity, and "of one essence" with all human beings in His humanity. God's essence is beyond the understanding and comprehension of His creatures. God can be known by humans through the divine energies and operations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ex. 33:18-23). See also ENERGY.
EUCHARIST Taken from a Greek word meaning "thanksgiving," Eucharist designates Holy Communion, the central act of Christian worship. At the Last Supper Christ gave thanks (Matt. 26:27; 1 Cor. 11:24), and embodied in the communion service is our Own thanksgiving. The word came into use very early, as exemplified by its use in the writings of the apostles ("Now concerning the Eucharist...." Didache 9:1) and the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (Ign. Phil. 4:1, about A.D. 107).
EVANGELIST One who preaches the gospel; used especially of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who wrote the four NT Gospels.
EXCOMMUNICATION Literally, "out of communion." This judgment is pronounced by the Church on willfully heretical, immoral, or divisive persons who refuse to repent of their sins, it excludes them from the sacramental life of the Church (1 Cor. 5:1-5) Excommunication is not viewed as eternal damnation but a discipline pertaining only to this life. It is administered for the salvation of the person cut off from communion, with the hope that this act will ultimately bring the sinner to repentance.
FAITH Belief and trust in Christ as one's Savior. The effects of this faith are freedom from the power of the devil, the attainment of virtue, and progress toward perfection and union with God. One is saved by faith through grace—a living faith manifested by a righteous life (see article, "Justification by Faith," at Rom. 5; Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8; James 2:14 17).
FASTING An ascetic exercise whereby one gives up certain foods, usually meat and dairy products, as a means of disciplining the body. Fasting is a part of the ascetic life and a sign of repentance. Orthodox Christians fast on most Wednesdays and Fridays (in memory of the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ) and during four fasting seasons: (1) Advent, the forty days before Christmas; (2) Great Lent, forty days before Palm Sunday and the week before Easter, (3) two weeks before the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 29); and (4) two weeks before the Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary (Aug. 15). See Matt. 6:16; Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:16, 17.
FATHER (1) God the Father is one of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. God the Son is eternally begotten of God the Father. God the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from God the Father (see Matt. 28:19; John 14:10; 15:26). (2) "Father" is a title given to one's spiritual father based on the custom of the Jews, who spoke of their father Abraham or their father David, and on the words of Paul, who called himself the father of his flock. See Luke 1:73; Acts 4:25 with center-column note; 1 Cor. 4:15.
FELLOWSHIP (Gr. koinonia) Literally, "communion"; the unity of believers through Christ based on the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians are united into a special fellowship through their love for one another and common union with Christ (Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:3, 7). See also COMMUNION.
FILIOQUE A Latin word meaning "and the Son." Western churches began adding this word to the Nicene Creed several centuries after it was written: "I believe In the Holy Spirit . . . who proceeds from the Father and the Son." This "filioque clause" is judged by the Orthodox Church as error because it is contrary to what Jesus taught (John 15:26); thus, it confuses correct belief concerning the Holy Trinity. The addition of the filioque in the West was a major factor contributing to the Great Schism m A . D . 1054.
FLESH (1) In New Testament usage, flesh refers to fallen human nature, which, through its ties to the world and mortality, struggles against spiritual growth and leads one into sin. Christians are called to subdue the lusts of the flesh so that they may grow in union with Christ (see Rom. 8:4 9; Gal. 5:16-24). (2) In Christology, flesh refers to the sinless human nature of Christ, or the Body of Christ. In liturgical usage, there is reference to the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist.
FORGIVENESS: The remission of sin and guilt through the love of Christ. Forgiveness is given originally in baptism; forgiveness for continuing sin is reclaimed through repentance. As God has forgiven the sins of believers, so are Christians to forgive those who have sinned against them (Matt. 6:14, 15; 18:21-35; 1 John 1:9).
FORNICATION (Gr. porneia): The sin of sexual intercourse outside of marriage The word is also applied to polygamy and to many successive marriages. The Greek term means sexual immorality in general. Fornication is strongly condemned in Scripture (see 1 Cor. 6:16 18; Gal. 5:19; Col. 3:5.)
FREE WILL The freedom to choose between good and evil, between God and sin which is one aspect of humanity created in the image of God. According to Orthodox teaching, sin stains the image of God but does not destroy it. Human beings may choose to accept or reject the gospel, but must suffer the consequences of their decision (see Gen. 3:22, 23; Rev. 3:20).
GENTILE A non-Jew. Christ and His Apostles preached the gospel first to the Jews, who were chosen by God to prepare the way for the Messiah. Christ died for all, Jew and Gentile; thus, salvation is offered to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. Those Gentiles who believe in Christ become the true sons of Abraham, who was chosen by God before the Law was given. See Acts 11; 15:1-29; Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:6-9.
GIFTS Charismatic or spiritual gifts are blessings and abilities given by the Holy Spirit to believers for the building up of the body of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit serve the general good of the whole Church. It is possible to confuse spiritual gifts with natural talents and emotions, or to misuse the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit, resulting in pride and self-righteousness. For this reason, the Orthodox Church has always stressed humility and obedience to spiritual authority in the use of the gifts. Note that the Holy Spirit Himself is a gift (Rom. 5:5), as are baptism and the other sacraments. See Rom. 12:6 8; 1 Cor. 12; 13; 1 John 3:24.
GLORY The divine splendor of God, or a specific manifestation of God's presence frequently likened to a cloud, smoke, or brilliant light. To serve and worship God is to glorify Him. Through the Holy Spirit, Christians are being changed to be like God and to reflect His glory. (See Ex. 19:9, 16-18; Is. 60:1; Luke 2:9; Rom. 8:16 18; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6.) See also SHEKINAH.
GLOSSOLALIA Literally, "speaking in tongues." St. Paul uses the term to describe not an emotional experience but a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:10), though not one of the higher gifts (1 Cor. 14:1-5). At Pentecost the gift was given to allow those present to hear the gospel in their native language (Acts 2:6); in Corinth, the gift is an ecstatic utterance (1 Cor. 14:2). The Apostle warns against too much emphasis on this experience, urging instead that believers seek to manifest love (1 Cor. 13:1) and communicate the gospel intelligibly (1 Cor. 14:19). Glossolalia has never played a significant role in historic Orthodox spirituality. See 1 Cor. 12—14.
GNOSTICISM A very complex ancient heresy that was manifested in many different forms and beliefs. The Gnostics taught that Christ had imparted secret knowledge "gnosis," to a select few, who in turn transmitted hidden truths to an elite. Central to Gnosticism is the denial of the goodness of matter, leading to a denial of the reality of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of His bodily Resurrection. Several schools of Gnosticism taught that salvation consisted of liberation from the physical body and of growth to a higher, non-physical, spiritual level of existence. Orthodoxy has always rejected Gnosticism, teaching that the world and man were created good and will be redeemed by Christ and transformed at the end of this age (Gen. 1:1-31; Rom. 8:1922; I Cor. 15:35-55; Rev. 21:1).
GOSPEL Literally, "the good news." The term comes from the ancient title announcing the ascension of a new ruler to the throne. The Christian gospel is summarized in the statement, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).
GRACE The gift of God's own presence and action in His creation. Through grace, God forgives sins and transforms the believer into His image and likeness. Grace is not merely unmerited favor—an attitude of God toward the believer. Grace is God's uncreated energy bestowed in the sacraments and is therefore truly experienced. A Christian is saved through grace, which is a gift of God and not a reward for good works. However, because grace changes a person, he or she will manifest the effects of grace through righteous living. See John 1:17; Rom. 5:21; Eph. 1:7; 2:8; 2 Thess. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:5.
HADES A Greek word equivalent to the Hebrew Sheol—the realm of the dead. Following His burial and before His glorious Resurrection, Christ liberated the righteous dead in Hades, enabling them to enter Paradise because He had destroyed sin and death by His life-giving death (1 Pet. 3:18-20).
HEART In scriptural terms, the spiritual center of one's being. The heart is the seat of divine presence and grace and the source of moral acts. The transformation of the heart is the major work of God's saving grace. See Matt. 5:8; 6:21; 22:37; Luke 6:45; John 7:38; Rom. 2:29; 10:9, 10; Heb. 13:9.
HERESY Following one's own choice or opinion instead of divine truth preserved by the Church, so as to cause division among Christians. Heresy is a system of thought which contradicts true doctrine. It is false teaching, which all true Christians must reject (Matt. 7:15; 2 Pet. 2:1).
HOLY Literally, "set apart" or separated unto God; also, blessed, righteous, sinless. The word, therefore, refers to God as the source of holiness, to the Church and its sacraments, to worshipers of the true God, and to those of outstanding virtue. Those who are transformed by the Holy Spirit become holy as God is holy (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 1:14 16; 2:9).
HOPE An expectation of something desired. Christian hope is trust and confidence in the eternal goodness of God, a faith that Christ has overcome the suffering of this world. God is both the cause and goal of hope (John 16:20-24, 33; Rom. 5:2; 8:24, 25; 2 Thess. 2:16).
HYPOSTASIS A technical theological term for "person" or something which has an individual existence. The word is used to describe the three Persons of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Hypostasis is also used to describe the one Person of Christ, who is both truly divine and truly human.
ICON Image. Christ is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15). Because Christ is God who became Man, He can Himself be pictured or imaged. Thus, icons of Christ— together with those of His saints - express the reality of the Incarnation. Orthodox Christians honor or venerate icons, but never worship them, for worship is due to God alone. The honor given to icons passes on to the one represented on the icon, as a means of thanksgiving for what God has done in that person's life.
IDOL A statue or other image of a false god; also, anything that is worshiped in place of the one true God. Money, possessions, fame, even family members can become idols if we put them ahead of God (see Lev. 26:1; Col. 3:5).
ILLUMINATION Enlightenment. In the Bible, darkness is often used as an image of sin and death. To be illuminated is to be shown the true path of righteousness in God, thereby being led out of the darkness of sin and death. Baptism is called illumination, because in it we are delivered from sin and death and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. See Ezra 9:8; Ps. 13:3; 18:28; Eph. 1:18.
IMAGE (Gr. eikon) Literally, "icon." The Bible teaches that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Men and women reflect the divine image in their ability to reason and to rule nature, and in freedom of action. Although sin has darkened or stained God's image, it has not annihilated it. Through Christ, the image of God is renewed in man as believers are transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. See Gen. 1:26; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18. See also ICON.
IMMANUEL "God is with us," a title of Christ the Messiah, God in the flesh (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:22, 23).
IMMORTALITY Eternal life. Those who follow Christ will rise to eternal life with Him in heaven; those who reject Him will be resurrected to eternity in hell (John 3:16-18; 5:26-29).
INCARNATE From Latin, meaning "to become flesh." Christ is God Incarnate: He became flesh—that is, human—thereby sanctifying human flesh and reuniting all humanity to God. According to Orthodox doctrine, Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect Man (Luke 1:26 38; John 1:1-14; Phil. 2:5-7).
INCENSE The sap of the frankincense tree, or other aromatic substances, dried and burned in honor of God. The offering of incense has been associated with the worship of God since God commanded Moses to burn incense to Him in the tabernacle. The prophet Malachi (1:11) predicts, "among the Gentiles [the Church] . . . incense shall be offered . . ." The Magi offered frankincense to the infant Christ. Incense manifests the prayers of the saints as they ascend to heaven. It is found in every revelation of the worship of God in heaven. See Ex. 30:1-8; Matt. 2:9-11; Rev. 5:8.
INFANT BAPTISM There are numerous biblical passages which support the ancient Christian practice of infant baptism, which was universal in the Church until the Anabaptist reaction after the Protestant Reformation. Among these are: "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:14); the baptism of whole households and families, presumably including children (Acts 16:14, 15, 25 33); and Paul's comparison between circumcision, which was given to infants, and baptism (Col. 2:11, 12). See John 3:3-6; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21.
INTERCESSION Supplication to God in behalf of another person. Christ intercedes before God the Father in behalf of the repentant sinner, and God's people intercede for one another (see Is. 53:12; Jer. 27:18; Rom. 8:34).
JEW Originally one of God's chosen people who followed the covenant given to Moses by God. In the Old Testament, the Jews are (1) citizens of Judah; (2) the postexilic people of Israel; or (3) the worshipers of Yahweh. God chose the Jews to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God. Through Christ the distinction between Jew and Gentile has been overcome, and all those who follow Him have become the true chosen people of God. See Acts 22:3; Rom. 1:16; 2:28, 29; Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 2:9.
JUDGMENT In the biblical sense, God's decision on the worthiness of one to enter heaven or to be condemned to hell. Following death, all will be judged, and Christ will return again to confirm that judgment. Because of sin, no one can earn a place in heaven by his own righteousness. However, through Christ, sin is forgiven and overcome, and those who have followed Him are granted a place in heaven. See Matt. 25:31 46; John 5:24; 16:8-11; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:11-15.
JUSTIFICATION The act whereby God forgives the sins of a believer and begins to transform him or her into a righteous person. No person can earn justification by works of righteousness, for justification is the gift of God given to those who respond to the gospel with faith. God also helps those who cooperate with His grace to become righteous. Saving faith is not mere belief but a commitment to Christ that is manifested by works of righteousness (see article, "Justification by Faith," at Rom. 5; Rom. 5:1, 2; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 2:12, 13; James 2:24).
KENOSIS Literally, "emptying." The word is associated with humility or humiliation. God the Word humbled Himself by becoming man (with no change in His divinity), suffering death on the Cross for the world and its salvation (Phil. 2:5-8).
KINGDOM OF GOD God's rule over the world, showing (1) His absolute sovereignty as Creator and (2) His sovereignty over the faithful who voluntarily submit to Him. The Kingdom of God was made manifest by Christ and is present in the world through the Church. The fullness of the Kingdom will come when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, creating a new heaven and earth. See Mark 1:15; John 3:3 5; Rom. 8:20, 21; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Rev. 21:1—22:5.
KISS OF PEACE A kiss on the cheek or the shoulder given by one believer to another as a sign of Christian unity and fellowship (see 1 Cor. 16:20). The clergy, and in some places the faithful, exchange the kiss of peace before saying the Nicene Creed during the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church.
KNOWLEDGE Knowing and experiencing the truth of God and salvation through Jesus Christ. Spiritual knowledge (1) is frequently identified with Christian doctrine; (2) is applied to the spiritual meaning of the Scripture; and (3) refers to mystical and contemplative knowledge, not merely intellectual knowledge of God. Its aim and effects are to enhance man's responsibility, to aid in discernment of good and evil, and to lead people to God. See Luke 12:47, 48; 1 Cor. 13:2; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 4: 16.
KOINONIA A Greek word meaning communion or intimate fellowship. This relationship exists between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity and also between Christians who are united by love into one body in Christ. See Acts 2:41, 42; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 1:1-7. See also COMMUNION.
LAMB OF GOD Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 1:29). In the preparation service, the bread and wine are made ready to be consecrated in the Eucharist service to follow. The priest cuts out the center section of the loaf, called "the Lamb," for use in Communion as the Body of Christ.
LEAVENED As in leavened bread, where a small amount of yeast will cause the whole loaf to rise, so a small amount of evil or good affects the whole body (see Luke 13:20, 21; 1 Cor. 5:7, 8). In contrast to the Old Testament bread, which was unleavened to show the Israelites' separation from the world (see Ex. 12:15-20), leavened bread—risen bread—is used in Orthodox Communion to show forth the Resurrection of Christ.
LIGHT The Bible frequently uses light as a symbol of God and of that which is good, that which overcomes the darkness of sin and death. Candles are used in churches to symbolize the light of Christ. Christians are lights shining in the world to show the way of righteousness and salvation (see Matt. 5:14; John 8:12).
LITURGY The work or public service of the people of God, which is the worship of the one true God. The Divine Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Orthodox Church.
LOVE Charity, union, affection, friendship; unselfish concern for another's good. The love of Christians for each other and for the world is a reflection of the love between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. See John 11:3, 36; 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:8, 16.
MAGNIFICAT The prayer or hymn sung by the Virgin Mary when she visited St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist, shortly after the Annunciation (Luke 1:46 55). Sung frequently during Matins in the Orthodox Church, this hymn takes its title from the Latin for the beginning phrase, "My soul magnifies the Lord." See 1 Sam. 2:1-10.
MAN (Gr. anthropos) Frequently used in the Bible in the generic sense for both man and woman. Man is the pinnacle of God's creation, for only he among the creatures was made in the image and likeness of God. See Gen. 1:26, 27; Luke 4:4.
MARTYR (Gr. martyria) Literally, "a witness." Normally, the term is used to describe those who give their lives for Christ. Martyria has two meanings: (1) witness or testimony, especially that which God bears to Christians, and which Christians bear to the world; and (2) martyrdom, especially Christ's Passion, and the martyrdom of Christians for the faith (see John 1:6-15; Acts 6:8—7:60).
MATINS The early morning prayer service in the Orthodox Church.
MEDIATOR One who intervenes on behalf of another. Jesus Christ intervenes on behalf of the faithful before God the Father (1 Tim. 2:5).
MERCY The compassionate, steadfast love of God for sinners. Christians reflect the mercy of God by caring for others. The most frequent prayer in Orthodox worship is "Lord, have mercy." See Matt. 5:7; Eph. 2:v7; Titus 3:4 7.
MESSIAH The Christ, the anointed one of God. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, fulfilling all the promises made by God to His chosen people (see Is. 7:14; 9:6; Matt. 16:13 17).
MILLENNIUM A thousand years. The Orthodox Church has traditionally taught that the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth before the final defeat of Satan, as recorded in Rev. 20:1-3, is symbolic of the rule of Christ through the Church, which is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God (see 2 Pet. 3:8).
MIND The intelligent faculty, the inner person; often used synonymously with "heart." There are two Greek words for mind: (1) nous, the mind which is separated from the sensible world and the passions (Rom. 8:7; 12:2); and (2) dianoia, the intellect (Matt. 22:37).
MIRACLE A sign whereby God supersedes the normal laws of nature in a mysterious way in order to manifest His power as Master of the universe. Jesus Christ performed many miracles—some showing His mastery over nature, others demonstrating His power over sin, disease, and death. The apostles continued to manifest the power of God through miracles. Healings, weeping icons, and other contemporary miracles also show His power in the world today. See Matt. 8:1-34; John 11:144; Acts 3:1-9.
MISSION A task given by God to His people. Christ sent the Seventy on a mission (Luke 10:1-24). St. Paul went on three missionary journeys to preach the gospel (Acts 13:1—14:28; 15:36—18:22; 18:23 21:16). The mission of the Church today is to proclaim Christ to the world.
MYSTERY The ways of God, especially God's plan for salvation, which cannot be known with the rational, finite human mind, but can be experienced only by the revelation of God. The Orthodox Church also uses the term mystery for the sacraments of the Church. See Mark 4:11; 1 Cor. 2:7, 8; Eph. 5:32. see also SACRAMENT
NATURE The sum of the qualities shared by individuals of the same type. (The qualities which distinguish individuals of a type from one another make up the "person.") The Holy Trinity is one divine Nature in three Persons. Humanity is one human nature in many persons. Although stained by sin, human nature is good, having been created in the image of God. Through grace, the Holy Spirit restores the nature of believers to its true, uncorrupted state, so that they may grow into union with God. See Gen. 1:2631; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17.
NEW MAN One who is being transformed or deified by the Holy Spirit into a new creature in communion with God (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15).
NEW JERUSALEM The center of the Kingdom of God which will be established following the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment. The heavenly Jerusalem will take the place of the old earthly Jerusalem, and is called by Paul, "the mother of us all" (Gal. 4:26). See Rev. 3:12; 21:2.
OLD MAN One not transformed by the Holy Spirit, still a slave to sin and death (Rom. 6:5 7; Eph. 4:20 24).
ORDINATION The sacramental act setting a man apart for the ministry of the Church by the laying on of hands of a bishop. The original meaning of ordination includes both election and imposing of hands (see article, "Ordination," at Acts 14; Acts 6:1-6; 14:23; 1 Tim. 4:14).
ORIGINAL SIN The fact that every person born comes into the world stained with the consequences of the sins of Adam and Eve and of their other ancestors. These consequences are chiefly: (1) mortality, (2) a tendency to sin, and (3) alienation from God and from other people. Original sin does not carry guilt, however, for a person is guilty only of his or her own sins, not of those of Adam. Therefore, the Orthodox Church does not believe that a baby who dies unbaptized is condemned to hell. See Gen. 3:1-24; Rom. 5:12-16.
PARABLE A story told to illustrate a greater truth through images related to the daily lives of the hearers. Christ's teaching is filled with parables (see article, "Parables," at Matt. 13; Matt. 13:1-54).
PARADISE The place of rest for the departed in Christ. The original Paradise, seen in Gen. 2:8 14, will be restored in its fullness following the Second Coming of Christ. See Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 2:7; 21:1.
PARADOX That which is true, but not conventionally logical: for example, that a virgin could bear a Son and yet remain a virgin, as did Mary; or that God can be One, yet three Persons. The Christian faith is full of paradoxes, because our intellect is not sufficient to comprehend the mind of God (see Is. 55:8, 9).
PASCHA Greek for "Passover." Originally Pascha designated the Jewish Passover; now, it is the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Christ is the Lamb of God whose sacrifice delivers the faithful from death, as the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb delivered the ancient Jews from slavery and death in Egypt (Ex. 12; 13; 1 Cor. 5:7, 8).
PASSION (1) A term used to describe the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. (2) Holy Week is often called Passion Week, describing Christ's struggle and suffering in Jerusalem. (3) Passions are human appetites or urges—such as hunger, the desire for pleasure and sexual drives—which become a source of sin when not controlled or directed by submission to the will of God (Rom. 1:26; 7:5; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5).
PEACE (Heb. shalom) Tranquillity, harmony with God, self, and other people made possible through Christ, who unites human beings to God and to each other. See Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:13-16; Phil. 4:6, 7.
PENTECOST Originally an OT harvest festival celebrated fifty days following the Passover. In time, Pentecost became the commemoration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Pentecost took on a new meaning with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles at Pentecost. Through the Sacrament of Chrismation, Orthodox Christians experience their own personal Pentecost. Every Divine Liturgy becomes a Pentecost through the descent of the Holy Spirit on the faithful and the gifts (the bread and wine), transforming them into the Body and Blood of Christ. See Ex. 23:14-17; Lev. 23:15 21; Acts 2:1 41.
PERSON (Gr. prosopon; Lat. persona) Regarding the Holy Trinity, there are three Divine Persons: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Person of God the Son became Man, Jesus Christ, "for us and for our salvation" (Matt. 28:19). See also HYPOSTASIS.
PHARISEES One of the parties of first-century Judaism. The Pharisees favored strict legalistic application of traditional interpretations of the Law stemming from oral Jewish traditions. Unlike the Sadducees, they believed in angels and in the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees were generally hostile to the mission of Christ, who condemned their excessive legalism and their preoccupation with outward forms, ignoring true righteousness of the heart. See Matt. 3:7; 12:14; 22:34; 23:13-36. See also SADDUCEES.
PILGRIM One who makes a journey to a religious shrine or a spiritual journey from sin and suffering in this life to eternal life with Christ in heaven. See Ps. 42:4; Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11.
POWER (1) A divine attribute or energy (Matt. 6:13; Luke 1:35; Rom. 1:16). (2) The authority and ability to act (Matt. 9:6). (3) A category of angelic beings (Eph. 1:21).
PRAISE To glorify and give thanks to God or to speak highly of someone or something (Judg. 5:3; Ps. 9:1-14; Rom. 15:11).
PRAYER Communion with God through words of praise, thanksgiving, repentance, supplication, and intercession. Prayer is "raising up the heart and mind to God" (St. John of Damascus). Usually prayer is verbal. However, prayer of the heart or in the Spirit, the highest form of prayer, is without words. See Matt. 6:5-13; 21:22; Rom. 8:26; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17.
PRESBYTER Literally, "elder"; now generally called "priest." Presbyter is one of the three orders of the ordained ministry of the Church: bishop, presbyter, and deacon (see article, "The Four 'Orders' in Church Government," at 1 Tim.; Acts 14:23; 15:4 23; 1 Tim. 5:17-19; Titus 1:5). See also BISHOP.
PROCEED To come forth from or come to. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, the fountainhead of the Holy Trinity (John 15:26).
PROPHET One who proclaims the will of God and/or who foretells the future, especially the coming and mission of Christ, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. See Deut. 18:18; Acts 28:25.
PROPITIATION An offering that results in atonement, redemption, and reconciliation. Christ offered Himself on the Cross as a propitiation for our sins, to liberate humanity from sin and death. See Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.
PROSELYTE Literally, "one who comes toward." A proselyte is a convert to the Faith, usually from another religion. In the New Testament, the word usually refers to a Gentile convert to Judaism (see Acts 2:10; 13:43).
PROVIDENCE God's sovereign care in governing His creation, especially His care for the faithful (Rom. 8:28).
PURIFICATION The Old Testament rite whereby one is cleansed of ritual impurity caused by such things as contact with leprosy or a dead body, or sexual functions. This cleansing consisted of making a sacrifice or being sprinkled with "water of purification" (Num. 19:9). Christ liberated the faithful from these rites. Christians are purified by the sacraments and by their spiritual struggle towards transforming their passions. See Lev. 12:6; Num. 19:9 21; Matt. 15:11; Luke 2:22-33; Acts 10:9-16; 15:1-29.
RAPTURE The gathering of the Church on earth in the presence of Christ when He comes again to judge the living and the dead (1 Thess. 4:15-17). Orthodox theologians reject the recent minority view that the Church will be taken out of the world before the time of trouble preceding the Second Coming. Christ specifically teaches the faithful will experience the trials of tribulation (Matt. 24:>28). See also SECOND COMING.
RECONCILIATION The removal of hostility and barriers between humans and God, and between individuals, accomplished by Christ (Rom. 5:11; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19).
REDEMPTION The deliverance of humanity from sin and death by Christ, who assumed humanity by His Incarnation, conquered sin and death by His life-giving death and glorious Resurrection, releases those who are in captivity to the evil one, and unites humanity to God by His Ascension (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:15). See also DEIFICATION and SALVATION.
REMEMBRANCE (Gr. anamnesis) Making present by means of recollection. The Eucharist is not merely a calling to mind but a remembrance of and mystical participation in the very sacrifice of Christ, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and His coming again (1 Cor. 11:23 26).
REMISSION The forgiveness and putting aside of sins. As the faithful are released from their sins through the sacramental life of the Church, they in turn are called to remit the sins of any who have offended them See John 20:23; Acts 2:37, 38.
REPENTANCE Literally, "a change of mind" or attitude, and thus of behavior. God is the author of repentance, which is an integral part of baptism, confession, and ongoing spiritual life. Repentance is not simply sorrow for sins but a firm determination to turn away from sin to a new life of righteousness in Jesus Christ. See Matt. 4:17; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 1:9.
RESURRECTION The reunion of the soul and body after death which will revitalize and transform the physical body into a spiritual body. Jesus Himself is the firstfruits of perfect resurrection; He will never again be subject to death. Because He conquered death by His Resurrection, all will rise again: the righteous to life with Christ, the wicked to judgment. See John 5:28, 29; 1 Cor. 15:35 55.
RIGHTEOUSNESS Being good, just, and blameless. All are called to a life of humble obedience to God. However, acts of righteousness cannot earn salvation. Rather, righteousness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and the way in which Christians respond with living faith to God's gift of salvation. See Matt. 5:6, 20; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 5:22; James 2:14-26.
RITES Forms of worship, music, vestments, and architecture. Most Orthodox Christians follow the liturgical practice of the ancient Churches in the east (Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria), the rite commonly known as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. However, some Orthodox follow a Western Rite, forms that developed in the west before the separation of Rome from the Orthodox Church.
RITUAL Ceremonies and texts used in the worship of the Church. Having her roots in the temple and synagogue, the Church has employed ritual in her worship from the very beginning. See also LITURGY and WORSHIP.
SABBATH The seventh day of the week, originally a day of rest, for after creation "God rested on the seventh day" (Gen. 2:2). Since Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week, Sunday, the Church gathers on this day instead of the seventh to worship God. Sunday is also called "the Lord's Day" and "the eighth day," because it transcends the Sabbath and is seen as being a part of heavenly time rather than earthly time. See Ex. 20:8-11; Acts 20:7.
SACRAMENT Literally, a "mystery." A sacrament is a way in which God imparts grace to His people. Orthodox Christians frequently speak of seven sacraments, but God's gift of grace is not limited only to these seven—the entire life of the Church is mystical and sacramental. The sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself (John 1:16, 17). The seven mysteries are baptism (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27), chrismation (Acts 8:15-17; 1 John 2:27), the Holy Eucharist (Matt. 26:26 28; John 6:30-58; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:23-31), confession John 20:22, 23; 1 John 1:8, 9), ordination (Mark 3:14; Acts 1:15-26; 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 4:14), marriage (Gen. 2:18 25; Eph. 5:22-33), and healing or unction (Luke 9:1 6; James 5:14, 15).
SACRIFICE To offer something up to God. In the Old Covenant, God commanded His people to sacrifice animals, grain, or oil as an act of thanksgiving, praise, forgiveness, and cleansing. However, these sacrifices were only a foreshadowing of the one perfect sacrifice—Christ, the Word of God, who left the heavenly glory to humble Himself by becoming Man, giving His life as a sacrifice on the Cross to liberate humanity from the curse of sin and death. In the Eucharist, the faithful participate in the all-embracing, final and total sacrifice of Christ. See Lev. 1:1—7:38; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 9:1—10:18. See also REMEMBRANCE.
SADDUCEES A party in Judaism at the time of Christ. The Sadducees steadfastly held to a literal interpretation of the Law contained in the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch or Torah), and rejected traditional interpretations favored by other groups of Jews, especially the Pharisees. Sadducees came from the priestly class and rejected the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels. Christ condemned these Jewish leaders for their preoccupation with outward forms, ignoring or neglecting true righteousness of the heart (Matt. 16:1-12).
SAINT Literally, "a holy person." With God as the source of true holiness, all Christians are called to be saints (see Rom. 16:2; 1 Cor. 1:1, 2). But from the earliest times, the Church has designated certain outstanding men and women who have departed this life and reached deification as worthy of veneration and canonization as saints or holy persons.
SALVATION The fulfillment of humanity in Christ, through deliverance from the curse of sin and death, to union with God through Christ the Savior. Salvation includes a process of growth of the whole person whereby the sinner is changed into the image and likeness of God. One is saved by faith through grace. However, saving faith is more than mere belief. It must be a living faith manifested by works of righteousness, whereby we cooperate with God to do His will. We receive the grace of God for salvation through participation in the sacramental life of the Church. See articles, "The New Birth," at John 3; "Justification by Faith," at Rom. 5; and "Deification," at 2 Pet. 1; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16; 5:17; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 2:12, 13; James 2:14 26; 1 Pet. 2:2. See also DEIFICATION, JUSTIFICATION, REDEMPTION and SACRAMENT.
SANCTIFICATION Literally, "being set apart" to God. The process of growth in Christ whereby the believer is made holy as God is holy, through the Holy Spirit (see article, "Deification," at 2 Pet. 1; Rom. 6:22 with center-column note; Rom. 15:16). See also DEIFICATION, JUSTIFICATION and SALVATION.
SANCTUARY The Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place—the place in the Old Testament tabernacle or temple containing the ark of the covenant, the dwelling place of God. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place and only on the Day of Atonement. When the early Christians built churches, they followed the general pattern of the temple, and the altar area is often called the sanctuary. See Ex. 26:31-35; 40:34, 35; Lev. 16:1-5; 1 Kin. 6:1-38; 8:1-11.
SECOND COMING At the end of the ages, Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Following the judgment, a new heaven and new earth will take the place of the old earth, which has been scarred by sin. Because Christ is already present through the Church, Christians enter into the Kingdom through their participation in the sacramental life of the Church as they await the coming of the Lord (see article, "The Second Coming of Christ," at Titus 2; Matt. 25:314 6; Rom. 8:18 21; 1 Thess. 4:16,17; Rev. 20:11 - 22:5). See also RESURRECTION.
SHEKINAH The glory of God, frequently revealed in the symbols of fire and cloud in the Old Testament. Although Christians experience the energies of God, including His glory, they never penetrate beyond the cloud to the inner essence of God, which remains hidden. See Ex. 13:21; 24:15 18; 33:18-23; 40:34, 35; 2 Chr. 7:1; Matt. 17:1-5. See also ENERGY and ESSENCE.
SIN (Gr. hamartia) Literally, "missing the mark." This word in ancient Greek could describe the action of an archer who failed to hit the target. All humans are sinners who miss the mark of perfection that God has set for His people, resulting in alienation from God, sinful actions that violate the law of God, and ultimately in death. See Matt. 5:48; Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:8.
SOJOURNER A stranger or foreigner. Because the Church exists in a sinful world that has rejected God, Christians citizens of the Kingdom of God—are strangers in a foreign land. Therefore, faithful sojourners are on guard, lest they adopt the ways of the fallen society in which they live. See 1 Pet. 2:11; 1 John 2:1 917.
SON OF MAN An important messianic title of Christ, who is perfect God and perfect Man. The Gospels reveal that Jesus often applied this title to Himself. In Christ, the Second Adam, God assumed and perfected sinful humanity, freeing those who follow
Him from the consequences of the rebellion of the first man, Adam. See Mark 2:28; 9:31; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 45-49. See also INCARNATION.
SORROW Sadness and grief caused by the realization of one's sins. The Scriptures distinguish between godly sorrow, which produces repentance, and ungodly sorrow, the sadness of being found out, which produces death (Matt. 5:4; 2 Cor. 7:9, 10). Christ has conquered suffering and death, the cause of sadness, and turns true sorrow to joy for His followers (John 16:20-22, 33).
SOUL A living substance, simple, bodiless, and invisible by nature, activating the body to which it brings life, growth, sensation and reproduction. The mind is not distinct from the soul but serves as a window to the soul. The soul is free, endowed with will, and the power to act. Along with the body, the soul is created by God in His image. The soul of man will never die (Gen. 1:26; 2:7; Matt. 10:28).
SPIRIT (Gr. pneuma) Literally, "breath"; that which is living but immaterial. Spirit is used in three ways in Scripture. (1) The Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Trinity (John 4:24; 20:22). (2) The angels are called spirits (Ps. 104:4). (3) The human spirit possesses the intuitive ability to know and experience God (Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 2:10 12).
SPIRITUALITY The ascetic and pious struggle against sin through repentance, prayer, fasting, and participation in the sacramental life of the Church. See Gal. 5:16 26; Phil. 2:12, 13. See also SYNERGISM.
STEWARD(SHIP) A steward is one who manages property belonging to another. All a Christian has belongs to God. Thus, the Christian gives back to God out of the material blessings he has received from God for the work of the Church. In the Old Testament God commanded the faithful to give ten percent of their goods to God; though not under law, Christians should give at least as much. Christians are also stewards of the spiritual knowledge which God has entrusted to us. We must preserve the heritage of apostolic doctrine intact for future generations. See Gen. 14:18-20; Lev. 27:30 33; 1 Cor. 4:1, 2; 2 Cor. 9:6 8; 1 Pet. 4:10.
SYMBOL In Orthodox usage, the manifestation in material form of a spiritual reality. A symbol does not merely stand for something else, as does a "sign'; it indicates the actual presence of its subject. For example, the dove is the symbol which brought to Jesus the descent of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:13-16).
SYNAXIS Literally, "gathering" or "assembly." Synaxis is the word used for the ancient Greek Senate. The first part of the Divine Liturgy is called the synaxis because the faithful gather to sing, to hear the Scriptures read, and to hear the homily. The saints' days are also called a synaxis, such as the Synaxis of St. Michael and all the angels.
SYNERGISM (from Gr. syn: same, together; ergos: energy, work) Working together, the act of cooperation. In referring to the New Testament, synergism is the idea of being "workers together with" God (2 Cor. 6:1), or of working "out your own salvation . . . for it is God who works in you" (Phil. 2:12, 13). This is not a cooperation between "equals," but finite man working together with Almighty God. Nor does synergism suggest working for, or earning, salvation. God offers salvation by His grace, and man's ability to cooperate also is a grace. Therefore, man responds to salvation through cooperation with God's grace in living faith, righteous works and rejection of evil (James 2:14-26). See also FREE WILL and PASSIONS.
SYNOPTIC (from Gr. syn: same, together; optic: eye, vision) The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which hold essentially the same viewpoint and "look alike," are called the synoptic Gospels.
TEMPTATION The seductive attraction of sin. Christ was tempted by Satan and has overcome the power of temptation. Those united to Christ are given His power also to withstand the temptation of sin through patience, courage, and obedience. See Matt. 4:1-11; 1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 2:17, 18; James 1:12.
THANKSGIVING To be grateful, to offer thanks, especially to God for His love and mercy. The Eucharistic prayer is called the thanksgiving (see 1 Thess. 5:18).
THEOPHANY A manifestation of God in His uncreated glory. It refers also to Christ's resurrection appearances. The revelation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Christ (Luke 3:21, 22) is the greatest theophany; it is celebrated in the Orthodox Church on Epiphany (Jan. 6). Other theophanies are found throughout the Bible. For example, God appeared to Abraham in the form of three men (Gen. 18:1-15), and to Jacob in a dream (Gen. 28:10 17). See also EPIPHANY.
THEOTOKOS God-bearer, birth-giver, frequently translated "Mother of God." Because Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, Mary is called the Mother of God to profess our faith that in the Incarnation, God was in her womb. Elizabeth called Mary "blessed" and "the mother of my Lord" (Luke 1:42, 43). At the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431, the Church condemned Nestorius and other heretics who refused to call the Virgin Mary the Theotokos. For if it was not God in Mary's womb, there is no salvation for humanity. See article, "Mary," at Luke 1; Luke 1:26-43; John 1:1-14.) See also INCARNATION
TRADITION That which is handed down, transmitted. Tradition is the life of the Church in the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit leads the Church "into all truth" (John 16:13) and enables her to preserve the truth taught by Christ to His Apostles. The Holy Scriptures are the core of Holy Tradition, as interpreted through the writings of the Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils, and the worship of the Church. Together, these traditions manifest the faith of the ancient undivided Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit to preserve the fullness of the gospel. See John 21:25; Acts 15:1-29; 2 Thess. 2:15.
TRANSFIGURATION A change or transformation. Christ was transfigured on Mt. Tabor, showing He is God in the flesh (Matt. 17:1-8). Christians are called to be transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image and likeness of God (Rom. 12:1, 2). See article. "The Transfiguration," at Matt. 17. See also DEIFICATION.
TRIBULATION (THE) The Scriptures reveal that much trouble and violence—Great Tribulation—will engulf the world before the Second Coming of Christ (Matt. 24:4-29). See also ESCHATOLOGY, RAPTURE, and SECOND COMING.
TRISAGION Literally, "Thrice Holy." The biblical Trisagion, "Holy, Holy, Holy," is the hymn of the angels before the throne of God (Is. 6:1-3; Rev. 4:8), and is one of the most important hymns of the Divine Liturgy. In the Tradition of the Church, this hymn has been amplified into the Trisagion frequently sung during services and said during prayers: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us." The biblical use of "Holy" three times is an indication of the three Persons in the Godhead.
TYPE A historical event that has a deeper meaning, pointing to our salvation in Christ. For example, the three days that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish is a type of the three days that Christ would spend in the tomb (Matt. 12:40). The serpent that Moses lifted up on the staff is a type of the lifting up of Christ on the Cross (John 3:14-16). The burning bush, aflame but not consumed, is a type of the Virgin Mary, who carried the incarnate God in her womb but was not consumed by His presence (Luke 1:2638). Noah's ark, which saved Noah and his family from death in the flood, is a type of baptism, which brings the believer from death to life (1 Pet. 3:18-22). See also ALLEGORY.
TRINITY God the Father and His Son and His Holy Spirit: one in essence and undivided. God revealed the mystery of the Trinity at Christ's baptism (Matt. 3:13 17), but even before that event, numerous Old Testament references pointed to the Trinity. For example, the frequent use of plural pronouns referring to the one God (Gen. 1:26); the three angels who appeared to Abraham (Gen. 18:1-16); and the Triple Holy hymn sung by the angels in Isaiah's vision (Is. 6:1 4) all suggest one God in three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).
UNCTION Anointing of the sick with blessed oil, for the healing of body and soul. The gift of healing is bestowed by the Holy Spirit through the anointing, together with the prayers of the Unction service. See article "Healing," at James 5; James 5:14, 15; 1 John 2:20.) See also SACRAMENT.
UNLEAVENED BREAD Bread baked without yeast. The Jews used unleavened bread for the Passover to symbolize the fact that they had no time to wait for the yeast to rise in the bread (Ex. 12:1-20). By contrast, the bread of the New Covenant is leavened. See also LEAVEN.
VESPERS The evening prayer service in the Orthodox Church.
VICE A particular immoral, depraved, or degrading habit, as contrasted with virtue. Christians are called to flee from the vices and preserve their purity (Rom. 13:13; Eph. 4:17-24). See also VIRTUE.
VIRTUE A righteous characteristic such as self-control, patience, or humility; the opposite of vice or passion. As a person grows spiritually, he or she grows in virtue while the passions are conquered by the grace of God. See Phil. 4:8; 2 Pet. 1:2-7. See also PASSION.
WISDOM (OF GOD) A name for God's Son and Word; Christ is the Wisdom of God. Also, wisdom is given to the Church as a gift of the Holy Spirit. See John 1:1; 1 Cor. 2:6-8; Col. 3:16.
WITNESS (Gr. martyria) One who testifies by word and deed. In the New Testament, the word is also rendered "martyr," a reference to those who give their lives for the gospel of Christ. Also, the Holy Spirit bears witness to the spirits of those who believe in Christ, that they belong to Him. See Rom. 8:16; Heb. 10:15; 12:1; 1 John 5:6 12; Rev. 11:3 12. See also MARTYR.
WORD OF GOD (Gr. Logos) The Son of God, who from the mystery of His eternal birth is called the Word of the Father. The "Word became flesh" (John 1:14) for the salvation of the world. The Holy Scriptures are also called the Word of God, for they reveal the truth of God (John 1:1-14; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). See also INCARNATION.
WORSHIP Literally, "to bow down." In the Christian sense worship is the adoration of God through participation in the services of the Church, the highest act of a Christian (John 4:19-24). See also LITURGY.
WORTHY (Gr. axios) Describes those who act in a manner befitting one who is a follower of Christ. No one is worthy of salvation in and of himself, but all are made worthy through Christ (see 1 Thess. 2:10-12).
ZEAL Devotion; enthusiastic obedience to God; a quality of divine diligence or fervor. Christians are (1) called to follow Christ with enthusiasm and zeal (Acts 18:25; Rom. 12:10, 11) and (2) warned against misguided enthusiasm, a zeal "not according to knowledge" (Rom. 10:2).
This glossary of Orthodox Terminology is extracted from The Orthodox Study Bible and was compiled by Reverend John W. Morris, Ph. D. Downloaded from Antiochian Orthodox Research Online Network (AARON). Provided by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.