Orthodox Church Terms O-T


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).