STOP 17 – Words We Use



David Lucas


Names of people, books of the Bible and places mentioned in the Bible are not included on grounds of space.

Words below in italics refer to other words (or very similar ones) which are explained.

Abba. The Aramaic word used in families for “Daddy”, which Jesus used in talking to God, and which we can use too. (see Father)

Absolution. Words pronounced by a priest, after the people have confessed their sins, confirming that those sins are forgiven.

Advent. The season before Christmas in which Christian people prepare for both the first and second coming of Jesus.

Advocate. A title for the Holy Spirit who acts on our behalf.

Agape. A Greek word for love, used for the love of God or Jesus and for mutual love between Christians.

Alleluia (or Hallelujah). A Hebrew word meaning “God be praised,” often used in hymns and psalms.

Altar. In Old testament times the place where animals were sacrificed, but now the covered table in Church where the Holy Communion is celebrated.

Amen. Used by the congregation at the end of a prayer to show their agreement. Originally it meant, “So be it.”

Angel. A heavenly being sometimes used by God as a messenger to human beings.

Anglican Church. The Church of England.

Anointing. The placing of oil onto a person as a symbol of a special responsibility or blessing; or for healing.

Antichrist. One who opposes Jesus Christ, particularly a mighty opponent yet to come.

Apocalypse. A writing (e.g. the Book of Revelation) concerning the end of this world .

Apocrypha. A collection of books which some add to those in the Bible, particularly referring to the period between Old and New Testaments.

Apostasy. The renouncing of belief.

Apostle. One sent by Jesus, especially the twelve disciples, together with a few leaders (e.g. Paul) in the early church.

Apostle’s Creed. A statement of belief often used in the services of Morning and Evening Prayer.

Ark. 1. The vessel built by Noah at the time of the flood. 2. The holy box carried by the Israelites in the desert and placed in Solomon’s Temple.

Ascension. During the last resurrection appearance, Jesus returned to heaven, symbolically rising into the sky.

Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent, marked by services of penitence, when ashes may be placed on the forehead.

Assurance. The certainty that the Christian gospel is true, particularly that one’s sins are forgiven by the death of Jesus on the cross.

Atonement. The process by which sinners are restored to a right relationship with God (“at one” with Him) through Jesus.

Authorised Version. (or King James Version) A classic translation of the Bible first used in 1611 but still in use today.

Baptism. The sacrament of admission to the Christian Church in which water is poured onto the person, or the person is immersed in water.

Beatitudes. The blessings pronounced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3 – 11).

Benediction. A blessing at the end of a service.

Bible. The Christian holy book, containing the words of God proclaimed by His chosen writers, under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop. A senior clergyman in charge of a diocese.

Blasphemy. Speech or action against God and His Church.

Blessing. Words that speak of God’s favour and protection. (See Benediction).

Calvary. The hill outside Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified.

Candlemas. The festival which celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple 40 days after His birth. Candles are sometimes blessedon this day.

Canon of Scripture. The 66 books which are generally agreed to make up the Bible.

Canticle. A passage of Scripture (but not a psalm) said or sung as part of a service.

Catechism. A summary of Christian teaching, often in the form of question and answer, used in preparation for baptism or confirmation.

Cathedral. The chief Church in a diocese, with a special place for the bishop.

Chalice. The cup, often of precious metal, which contains the wine at Holy Communion.

Chancel. The part of a church containing the altar and choir stalls.

Cherub (plural Cherubim). A winged angelic being who serves God.

Christ. From the Greek for anointed one, a title for Jesus which soon became part of His name. (See Messiah).

Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ.

Church. 1.The group of Christians in a particular place. 2. The building in which they meet.

Circuit. A group of Methodist churches under the supervision of a Superintendent Minister.

Clergy. All those who have been ordained.

Collect. A prayer used on a particular day or season.

Comforter. A title for the Holy Spirit, used in the original sense as “One who strengthens”.

Commandments, Ten. The rules given by God to Moses to regulate the conduct of the Israelites (Exodus 20) and still sometimes repeated in services.

Common Prayer, Book of. A book containing the services of the church. The version issued in 1662 still remains in use.

Compline. A late evening service of prayer.

Concordance. A listing showing where each word in the Bible occurs.

Confession. An acknowledgement of our sins and a request that they be forgiven.

Confirmation. A service in which a bishop lays his hands on those who have previously been baptised (often as a child), signifying their personal commitment to Jesus Christ.

Congregation. The group of people who have come together to worship during a church service.

Consecration. The dedication of someone or something to God, most often the bread and wine at Holy Communion.

Conversion (to Christianity). A movement from no belief or a different belief to a commitment to Jesus Christ.

Counsellor. A title for the Holy Spirit, who advises us.

Covenant. An agreement in which each party makes solemn promises.

Creation. The process by which God brought the universe into being.

Creed. A statement of belief often recited during services. (See Apostles, Nicene Creed).

Cross. The basic symbol of Christianity, reminding us of the cross on which Jesus was crucified at Calvary, so as to become our Saviour.

Crucifix. A cross which includes a representation of the crucified Jesus.

Crucifixion. The execution of a person by nailing them to a cross. Particularly the killing of Jesus in this way.

Curacy. The first (and sometimes second) post held by a newly ordained person, who works under the guidance of a vicar or rector.

Deacon. The first rank held by a newly ordained person, usually for a year, before being made a priest in the Anglican Church.

Demon. An evil spirit opposed to God.

Devil. An angel who rebelled against God and so became the supreme spirit of evil.

Diocese. An area of the country under the care of a bishop.

Disciple. A follower; particularly one of the twelve men called by Jesus to follow Him.

District. A group of Methodist circuits under the supervision of a Chairman.

Doxology. Words which give glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Easter. The season which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

Emmanuel (also spelt Immanuel). A name given to Jesus (Matthew 1:23) meaning “God with us”.

Epiphany. The season which celebrates the revealing of Jesus to gentiles, and commemorates the visit of the Magi to Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).

Epistle. 1. A book of the New Testament in the form of a letter. 2. A reading from the New Testament but not from the Gospels.

Eternal Life. The wonderful life of God, in which we can share through the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Eucharist. Another name (meaning “thanksgiving”) for Holy Communion.

Eucharistic Prayer. The long prayer in which bread and wine are consecrated during Holy Communion.

Evangelicals. Members of the church who stress the authority of the Bible, the need for personal conversion and salvation by faith.

Evangelism. Actively trying to persuade folk to become Christians by preaching and personal witness.

Faith. 1. Belief and trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. 2. “The faith” is the teachings of Christianity as a whole.

Fall. God initially made human beings good, but they sinned and fell from that original state – as described in Genesis 3.

Father. 1. God is revealed to us as Father, Son(Jesus) and Holy Spirit. (See Abba), 2.A title for a priest.

Flood. The time when the waters covered the earth in the days of Noah.

Font. The structure in church holding the water used in baptism.

Forgiveness. God ceases to hold our sins against us when we confess them and ask for mercy because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Gentile. Anyone who is not a Jew.

Gloria. 1. An ancient hymn used in Holy Communion beginning “Glory to God..” 2. A doxology at the end of a psalm.

Glory. The greatness and majesty of God.

God. The supreme being, the creator and sustainer of all, revealed to us as a loving, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (See Trinity).

Godparent. One who, at the baptism of a child, makes promises both on the child’s behalf and to help in spiritual growth.

Good Friday. The Friday before Easter Day, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.

Gospel. 1. The good news of all that Jesus has done for us, especially the salvation He has won for us. 2. One of the first four books of the New Testament telling of the life of Jesus.

Grace. The free and undeserved gifts of God by which we are saved and blessed.

Hades. In ancient thinking the place where the spirits of the dead awaited judgment.

Hallelujah. An alternative form of Alleluia.

Harvest Festival. A service, usually in the autumn, when thanks are given to God for the harvest and gifts for those in need are brought to church.

Heaven. The dwelling place of God, to which Christians will go after death.

Hebrew(s). 1. Another name for the Israelites, the people who descended from Jacob (later called Israel). 2. The language they spoke.

Hell. The horrific dwelling place of the devil, the demons and those who reject the love of God.

Heresy. Ideas that are contrary to normal Christian teaching.

Holy. 1. The perfect nature of God that sets Him above all else. 2. People or things that are set apart for the service of God.

Holy Communion. A sacrament and frequent service in which bread and wine are used to remember the body and blood of Jesus given for us.

Holy Ghost. An old name for the Holy Spirit.

Holy Saturday. The Saturday before Easter Day.

Holy Spirit. God is revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so the spirit of God active in the world today.

Holy Week. The week before Easter Day, starting on Palm Sunday.

Hope. The state of mind which looks to the future for something good.

Hosanna. A Hebrew expression meaning “Save” which became a word of praise as used by the crowd as Jesus entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

Humble Access. A prayer of humility used during Holy Communion.

Humility. The virtue of having a modest view of one’s importance.

Icon. A picture of Christ or some other holy person (often painted on wood) used by some as an aid to worship.

Immanuel. An alternative spelling of Emmanuel.

Immortality. The continuation of life beyond this earthly existence.

Incarnation. Jesus was and is always God, but became a man, born of Mary, in order that He might be our Saviour.

Inspiration. Those who wrote the Bible worked under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to record the true teaching of God.

Intercessions. Prayers, part of nearly all services, on behalf of others.

Jehovah. A modern form of the Hebrew name for God.

Jesus. God is revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son took human flesh as Jesus (see Incarnation), lived and died on earth but rose again. He is the central figure of Christianity.

Justification. The act by which God forgives sinners and treats them as righteous (“just as if” they had never sinned).

King James Version. Another name for the Authorised Version of the Bible.

Kingdom of God. (Or Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew’s Gospel.) All Christians acknowledge God as King, and so are members of His kingdom. This kingdom, at present invisible, will be fully revealed in heaven.

Laity. All those who have not been ordained.

Lamb of God. A title given to Jesus (John 1:29,36) which probably refers to His sacrificial death. A similar idea in Revelation 5:6 sees the Lamb as triumphant.

Last Supper. The final meal Jesus ate with His disciples which is remembered in Holy Communion.

Law. The rules given by God, especially to Moses, by which the Israelites were to live. These include the Ten Commandments.

Lectern. A book-stand from which the Bible is read in Church.

Lectionary. A list showing which parts of the Bible are to be read on each day.

Lent. A period of 40 weekdays, from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter, commemorating Christ’s temptation (Luke 4:1-13). A time of penance, abstinence and increased study.

Liturgy. The written text which shows how a service is to be conducted.

Lord. A name or title for Jesus or the Father.

Lord’s Prayer. The prayer (beginning “Our Father…”) which Jesus taught His disciples (Luke 11:2-4), much used in worship today.

Lord’s Supper. Another name for Holy Communion.

Love. Wanting the best for someone else at whatever cost to oneself, as demonstrated by Jesus (1 John 3:16). Love is the very nature of God (1 John 4:8).

Low Sunday. The next Sunday after Easter Day.

Magi. The wise men who came to visit the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).

Manna. The food provided by God for the Israelites as they journeyed through the desert (Exodus 16:31).

Martyr. One who dies on account of his or her faith.

Maundy Thursday. The Thursday before Easter Day, commemorating the Last Supper.

Mass. Another name for Holy Communion, particularly used by Roman Catholics.

Meditation. A type of prayer in which one concentrates, for example, on a Bible passage.

Mercy. Compassion on, or forgiveness of, someone in need who does not expect to be favourably treated. The way God treats sinners.

Messiah. A Hebrew word meaning anointed, equivalent to Christ in Greek. The one whom the Jews looked for to deliver them but whom many failed to recognise in Jesus.

Methodist Church. A protestant church originating in the work of Charles and John Wesley in the 18th century.

Minister (of religion). A member of the clergy especially in non-Anglican churches.

Miracle. An act that cannot be explained by the normal laws of nature. Jesus performed many such miracles.

Mothering Sunday. The fourth Sunday in Lent, a day on which presents are given to mothers.

Nativity. The birth of Jesus Christ, often depicted in a play.

Nave. The part of a church where most of the congregation sit. In many older churches it is separated from the chancel by a screen.

New Testament. That part of the Bible which tells of the life of Jesus and of the early church.

Nicene Creed. A statement of belief often used during Holy Communion.

Non-conformist. Protestant churches which are separate from the Church of England.

Offertory. Gifts of money collected during a service.

Old Testament. That part of the Bible which tells the history of Israel from creation through to exile and return. It also prepares for the coming of Jesus as told in the New Testament.

Ordination. The act, usually in a special service, in which a person is appointed to the role of deacon, priest or bishop, in the Anglican church or to the role of Minister in the Methodist church.

Palm Sunday. The Sunday before Easter, often when palm crosses are distributed to celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11)

Parable. A story, as told by Jesus, based on everyday life and used to teach a spiritual truth.

Paraclete. A title for the Holy Spirit, from the Greek meaning “One called alongside to help.”

Paradise. Another name for heaven.

Parish. Every diocese is divided into many districts or parishes. Originally each had its own church and clergy.

Paschal. Relating to the Jewish Passover or to Easter.

Passover. During the last of the ten plagues of Egypt, death “passed over (or by)” the Israelites, as commemorated by a Jewish festival meal (Exodus 12). During His last Passover meal Jesus instituted the Holy Communion.

Paten. The plate, often of precious metal, on which bread is placed at Holy Communion. It is also used to cover the chalice.

Patriarch. The father of a tribe or family, particularly Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob’s sons.

Penance. An outward sign of repentance, either voluntary or imposed.

Penitence. A feeling of sorrow for having committed sin, leading to repentance and forgiveness.

Pentateuch. The first five books of the Bible, traditionally written by Moses.

Pentecost. The seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples of Jesus (Acts 2).

Pharisees. A Jewish religious group who claimed to strictly observe the Law and its traditions, denounced by Jesus for their formalism.

Pilgrim. One who journeys to a holy place out of a sense of devotion, thanksgiving or seeking help.

Praise. An act acknowledging God’s greatness and goodness, often part of worship.

Prayer. Talking to God, either individually or as part of a group, which includes praising Him, asking for His forgiveness and bringing our needs and those of others before Him for His help.

Priest. A member of the Anglican clergy who has passed through the rank of deacon and who is therefore permitted to preside at Holy Communion and perform other duties.

Prophet. A person chosen by God to speak His word to the people, sometimes looking to the future. A large section of the Old Testamentwas written by prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Protestant. That part of the Christian church which separated from Roman Catholicism after the Reformation. Protestants reject the authority of the Pope and emphasise the authority of the Bible.

Psalm. One of the 150 songs contained in the Old Testament book, used in both Jewish and Christian worship.

Psalter. Another name for the book of Psalms.

Pulpit. The structure in Church from which the sermon is preached.

Rector. A member of the clergy in charge of a parish. (Originally the title had to do with the right to receive the tithes of the parish.)

Redemption. The deliverance from the penalty of our sins by the payment of a price, which was done for us by Jesus on the cross.

Reformation. The period around the 16th century when the protestants, inspired by Luther and others, broke away from the Roman Catholic church.

Repentance. The feeling of sorrow over one’s sins, leading to confession of guilt, and the decision to turn away from them back to God.

Resurrection. The return of Jesus from death to life. This is a very basic belief of Christianity, and is celebrated particularly on Easter Day.

Righteousness. Doing what is correct in the eyes of God.

Rubric. An instruction in a service book stating how the service should be conducted.

Sabbath. The seventh day of the Jewish week, marked by absence of work (Exodus 20:8-11) and increased worship. Christians transferred the idea to Sunday as Jesus’ resurrection occurred on the first day of the week.

Sacrament. A visible act in which spiritual grace is given to someone. In most protestant churches the two sacraments are Baptism and Holy Communion. The Roman Catholic church recognises others as well.

Sacrifice. Originally an act in which an animal was killed as an offering for sin. For Christians this was replaced once and for all by the death of Jesus on the cross.

Sadducees. A Jewish religious group which rejected resurrection and accepted only the written law. Along with the Pharisees they opposed Jesus.

Saint. Another name, especially in the Bible, for a Christian., now sometimes restricted to those who show great holiness.

Salvation. The deliverance from sin and its consequences as a result of the death of Jesus on the cross and through faith in Him.

Samaritan. A person coming from Samaria, a town in central Israel and the region round it. Their faith centred on the Pentateuch.

Sanctuary. The part of a church which contains the altar.

Sanhedrin. The supreme council and court of justice at Jerusalem during New Testament times.

Satan. Another name for the devil.

Saviour. A title given to Jesus because He saves us from the consequences of our sins.

Scribes. A Jewish group who were concerned to preserve the Law and to teach students about it.

Scripture. Another name for the Bible.

Second Coming. The return of Jesus Christ to this earth in triumph, to which Christians look forward.

Septuagint. A Greek translation of the Old Testament.

Seraph (plural Seraphim). An angelic being as seen by Isaiah (6:1-7).

Sermon. A talk on a religious subject given during a church service.

Sermon on the Mount. The teaching of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5 – 7.

Service. An act of religious worship, usually in church.

Sin. Any act of wrongdoing or any omission of doing good, which is contrary to God’s will and merits His punishment.

Son of Man, A title Jesus often used for Himself.

Soul. The spiritual part of a human being which survives death.

Spirit. 1. The nature of God. 2. The non-physical part of a human being.

Stipend. The salary paid to a member of the clergy.

Superintendent Minister. An experienced Minister in charge of a circuit.

Tabernacle. 1. The portable holy structure used by Moses during the journeys through the desert. 2. An ornamental receptacle used in some churches, particularly Roman Catholic, to keep the elements of the Holy Communion.

Temptation. Anything that makes us wish to do something wrong. Much used by the devil and allowed by God for our strengthening as we resist.

Theology. The academic study of God and religion.

Tithe. That part of one’s income (traditionally one tenth) set apart to be given away, especially to the church. (See Rector/Vicar)

Tongues, speaking in. The ability to speak in different, unknown languages, sometimes gifted by the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 2.)

Transfiguration. The appearing of Jesus in all His heavenly glory to three of His disciples. (Mark 9:2-10).

Translation. The changing of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into another language.

Trinity. God has revealed Himself as three distinct persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet united as one God.

Twelve, The. The disciples of Jesus.

Vicar. A member of the clergy in charge of a parish. (Originally the title had to do with the vicar not receiving the tithes of the parish.)

Virgin Birth. The belief that Jesus did not have a human father, but was conceived by the Virgin Mary under the power of the Holy Spirit.

Whitsunday. Another name for Pentecost, probably so called because those baptised at Pentecost wore white.

Worship. The expression of reverence and adoration of God, often in a service.

Yahweh. The Jewish name for God, often translated into English as Jehovah.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. © 1973,1978,1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton, a member of the Hodder Headline Group. All rights reserved.