Orthodox Church Terms H-N


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.