TheBIBLICAL THEOLOGY Glossary of Theological Terms
Last Updated16 May, 2006
A term referring to the close personal relationship of the believer to their heavenly Father. The Aramaic word literally means, Papa, Daddy. See the Lords Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.
To remain, endure, or continue. It describes union with Christ. John 15:1-10. See Hold On!
A Greek term that literally means unknown, without knowledge, ignorant. An agnostic is one who does not know. An ignoramus.
A portion of Scripture that is interpreted to have a hidden meaning. "I stand at the door and knock." Is said to mean that Jesus is waiting for us to let Him into our lives. Another example is John 10:1-16. Differs from a parable in that a parable is a true to life illustration that is designed primarily to teach one truth.
Applying oil to a person or object. The ceremonial use of this practice is a symbol of the Holy Spiritís presence upon someone or something. Used to signify Godís calling upon those called to the ministry.
It is the construction of two Greek words, anti, (against), and nomos, (law). It is the attitude that the believer does not have to answer to the law of God concerning holiness. To call one an antinomian is to claim that they directly contend for license, or that theologically, the doctrinal end of their position contends that God's law no longer has any bearing on the believer. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Rom. 3:31. "Antinomianism; that is, any kind of doctrinal or practical opposition to God's law, which is the perfect rule of right, and the moral picture of the God of love, drawn in miniature by our Lord in these two exquisite precepts, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. " (John Fletcher.) For a description of a practical Antinomian, see The Antinomian Creed
The tendency to ascribe human features (such as hands or arms) or other human characteristics to God. I.E., the finger of God, sitting at His right hand, Father, Son. See Pillars - Part Two
The science of defending the faith. The root word means to apologize, to answer, to defend. It is the art of defending or explaining the faith to a nonbeliever.
To fall away, or defect from the faith. The Greek term "apostasia" is translated "forsake" in Acts 21:21, and "falling away" in 2 Thes. 2:3.
Means "sent one." Messenger. Refers to the twelve that were chosen by Christ during His earthly ministry.
The period of the Christian church starting with the resurrection of Jesus Christ (A.D. 35) and the death of the last Apostle around A.D. 90. Many writings from early Church leaders (Fathers) give us insights into the beliefs and practices of the first century Church.
Refers to a type of Protestant theology taught by a Dutch theologian named James Arminius (1560-1609). The key issues that generally identify those that identify with this theology are:
A denial of absolute predestination, and an emphasis on the freedom of man. Most who are wear the label "Arminian" do not adhere to the Baptist doctrine of "Eternal Security" or the Calvinistic doctrine of the "Perseverance of the Saints". A true Arminian admits that man is only free to respond because the grace of God has enable him to do so. Those that overemphasize the idea of human freedom and deny the depravity of man at the expense of grace are clearly in the camp of Pelagianism. See Choosing a Theology , Biblical Support for Arminianism
To reconcile, to bring together and make as one. Commonly referred to as the "work of Christ" or "the benefits of Christ gained for believers by his death and resurrection." See Salvation
To rebel against God. To turn back or regress from a present spiritual condition. The term implies moving in a direction away from God.
Latin for "blessedness," or "happiness." A literary form that starts a passage by pronouncing something "blessed" or "happy."
A prayer for Godís blessing, or thanks for the reception of a blessing. Usually in a prayer before a meal or at the end of a worship service. Sometimes as the final words of a New testament epistle.
From the Greek biblos, meaning "book(s), roll, papyrus." See Phil. 4:3; Rev.3:5, for examples.
A branch of theology that describes spiritual doctrines in context with the individual writers concepts. While it deals with the same doctrines as systematic theology, it considers each teaching as the individual writer uses it. An example would be how Paul describes the atonement in accounting terms, John describes atonement in judicial terms, and the writer of Hebrews describes the atonement as a sacrificial transaction. Biblical theology does not always consider how one doctrine is connected to another, that is the purpose of systematic theology.
A description of the theology of John Calvin (1509-1564). The key emphasis of this theology is presented as an acronym called "TULIP". Total depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the Saints. Salvation of individuals is determined by a "decree" of God, made before the foundation of the world. In this system, man is predestined to heaven or to hell. Freedom of the will is denied, and the salvation of any individual is the result of a mysterious selection only known to God. See Choosing a Theology and, A New Strategy for Refuting Eternal Security , Arminian Conundrum
Comes from the term reed or cane, which is used to measure. Used as a term to describe those books which measure up to being inspired. The tests of previous recognition by authorities in the church, style, the law of non-contradiction, are means by which we have derived our current Bible.
The mind-set that is ruled by the flesh and is in opposition to the mind of Christ.
A popular manual of Christian doctrine, usually in the form of question and answer, intended for religious instruction.
Is not punishment per se, but means to "train or instruct." It is applied by God to perfect Christians; that we may "share in His holiness" (Heb. 12:10). Discipline in this sense is never applied to unregenerate persons, but is applied only to the children of God. "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Heb. 12:5-6). "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb. 12:8). See Chastisement and the Believer
A set of terms especially associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In medieval theology, the term "charisma" is used to designate a spiritual gift, conferred upon individuals by the grace of God. Since the early twentieth century, the term "charismatic" has come to refer to styles of worship which place a heavy emphasis upon the gifts and the immediate presence and experience of the Holy Spirit.
Greek for "Anointed." Equivalent to the Hebrew "Messiah." The term is usually in the context of describing oil being poured out on the head of the one who has been called and dedicated to a holy purpose.
The section of Christian theology dealing with the identity of Jesus Christ, particularly the question of the relation of his human and divine natures.
A Jewish rite involving the cutting off of the foreskin of the male genital, usually on the eighth day after birth, signifying the covenant relationship between God and His people. No longer required under the New Testament covenant.
Biblically it refers to admitting our faults and sin to God for His promise of cleansing. 1 Jn. 1:9.
The belief that God bases His relationship with man based upon a pact that includes conditions that are essential to this agreement. Also known as "Federal Theology," it is in opposition to dispensationalism in that it only sees two covenants, the New Testament and the Old Testament. Both hold to the same Gospel that man is saved by faith, but differ concerning religious ordinances. Salvation is through Christ, but the Old Covenant looked forward to His atonement, and the New Testament looks back to it.
A formal definition or summary of the Christian faith, held in common by all Christians. The most important are those generally known as the "Apostles' creed" and the "Nicene creed."
"Ten words." The Ten Commandments.
A theological term that refers to different periods of time (Dispensations) in which God worked in a distinct way. Some divide these periods from two, Old Testament and New Testament. Those that hold to a higher number of periods are usually called hyper-dispensationalists which means that they find anywhere from as many as seven to 13, or even more dispensations. Dispensationalism, as a religious movement, puts a heavy emphasis on prophecy and views many of these different time periods as having different requirements for salvation. See Dispensationalism
Depravity, Total Depravity
The doctrine that through the fall of Adam in the garden, all of mankind inherits a sinful nature from our parents. This "bent" towards sin makes it essential that any theology must include an initiative of God that changes the nature of man in a way that enables him to respond to any offer of grace. As the first man, Adam made a choice for sin for his entire posterity. We all inherited this fallen nature and its resulting curse which includes sickness and death. See Man, Depravity
The study of the Church. Greek term ecclesia, means "called out" ones.
The section of Christian theology dealing with the "last things." Describes the issues of end time prophesy, such as, millennium, the tribulation, the second coming of Christ.
To be chosen for a specific use. Divine election can be individual, national, and personal. Individual election to a specific service can be seen by the example of the "choosing" of the disciples, and another is that Paul was a "chosen" or elected "vessel," to be the Apostle of the Gentiles. The second kind of election, the national, or bodies of people, can be seen in God's selection of the Jewish people to be a "peculiar people unto Himself." The personal election in Scripture refers to those who receive salvation through faith. In 1 Peter 1:2, we are told that the "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus." " To be elected, therefore, is to be separated from "the world," and sanctified by the Spirit, and by the blood of Christ, It follows, then, not only that election is an act of God done in time, but also that it is subsequent to the administration of the means of salvation." (Watson) It should be noted that the "foreknowledge" of God is not causative of the election, it is merely "knowledge." God has "chosen" believers "in Christ" before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1:4. The election of individuals according to 1 Peter 1:2, and Eph. 1:4 is based upon the individuals belief in the truth, and the application of the blood of Christ to their condition. This was God's plan before the foundation of the world. See Election and Reprobation
Also known as Once Saved, Always Saved. Predominantly a Baptist doctrine, it arose to popularity at the turn of the 19th Century. This doctrine teaches that an individual cannot do anything that could revoke their salvation. Their limited proof texts are examined in, The Eight Pillars of Eternal Security, and The Pillars of Eternal Security (Part 2). The historical foundation and development of this teaching is discussed in, A Historical Examination of the Doctrine of Eternal Security. Biblical passages that assert that an individual can reject the gift of Eternal Salvation and verses that contain conditions to the retaining of salvation are to be found in, 200 Reasons You Should Not Believe In Eternal Security, and Hold On!
The Roman Catholic term for the "the mass," "the Lord's supper," and "holy communion."
Refers to a modern Protestant movement than discourages religious formalism and emphasizes a personal relationship with Christ. Because salvation is not in a church, but a person (Christ), the message must go beyond the walls of formal worship. Evangelism is the keynote of this movement. See Decisional Regeneration
The science of textual interpretation, usually referring specifically to the Bible and the extraction of the meaning of a text. It is the process of interpreting the Bible.
An alternative term for "patristic writers." Those leaders and writers that lived in the era of the fist century church.
Part of the primary attributes of God where we say that He is omniscient, and all knowing. God knows the heart of man (foreknowledge), which should not be confused with predestination. Knowledge is not causative of an event, or a determination that anything should happen, but the awareness of a future event and nothing more. The accuracy and detailed descriptions of the prophecies revealed to us by God doubtlessly prove His foreknowledge of these events. Because God knows that something will happen in the future does not mean that He is the cause of that event. Because God can see the future sin of a person does not give us the license to impute to Him the responsibility for that sin.
A term used to refer to the Gospel according to John.
A form of American Protestant Christianity which lays especial emphasis upon the authority of an inerrant Bible. Started as a response to liberalism at the turn of the 20th century. It found its beginnings from the publication of a series of books that called Christians back to the essentials of the faith. (The Fundamentals).
An early heresy that threatened the church. Comes from the Greek work "Gnosis" which means "to know." A Gnostic is a "knowing one." The religion believes that they possess a secret knowledge that is the privilege of those that are "elect." They believed in a dualistic nature of the world. There is "spirit" and there is "matter." All matter is seen as evil, and all spirit is pure. They taught that they could commit all manner of sin, but this was the flesh (matter) and that this could not effect the "spirit." An early Christian form of this heresy permeated the church which taught that Jesus did not die on the cross, for He is God (Spirit) and cannot die. Those is why John wrote the epistle of 1 John to argue that Jesus came in the flesh, and that when the body sins, we sin. See Dismembering Scarecrows, A Historical Examination of Eternal Security
A term found three times in the King James version of the Bible, Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9. The term signifies Divinity and unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Synonymous with the term Trinity. See God
Unmerited and free favor towards the undeserving. Grace is different from mercy in that mercy is the withholding of negative consequences that which we deserve. See Grace
The principles underlying the interpretation of Scripture. Most writings on hermeneutics will include; The law of non-contradiction, the law of context, Historical context, and the importance of investigating original word meanings.
Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit
The Third person of the Trinity. Also named as the Comforter, Advocate, Paraclete. He is distinct from, but coequal with the Father and the Son. He is the Executive of the Godhead. He executes the will of God upon earth. He confers power, gifts, and guidance to the believer in whom He resides.
Secularism. The idea that mankind is the sole source of all problems and therefore, is the answer to all problems. It is a faith in the goodness of man and a confidence that he can resolve all issues without any need for a God.
hypostatic union The doctrine of the union of divine and human natures in Jesus Christ, without confusion of their respective substances. Jesus being both God and man at the same time. See God
incarnation A term used to refer to the assumption of human nature by God, in the person of Jesus Christ.
To reckon, or count. It is used as an accounting term. Many have erroneously defined the term to imply that it posits a transfer of character. See Imputation and the Arminian Mind
To declare just, to justify. The act of God whereby He declares the repentant sinner free of all past sin in light of their faith in the atonement of Christ on their behalf. The record of our offense is cleared, and in light of the blank slate, God views us as just, having nothing against us. See Imputation, Salvation
Withholding negative consequences that we deserve. To abstain from inflicting the deserves penalty or punishment. Not to be confused with grace which is the conferring unmerited favor upon the undeserving.
Defined as "right belief," as opposed to heresy.
A Greek term, which literally means "coming" or "arrival," used to refer to the second coming of Christ.
An adjective used to refer to the first centuries in the history of the church, following the writing of the New Testament (the "patristic period").
The system of moral and doctrinal concepts originating from a British monk named Pelagius. His doctrine has been condemned by the vast majority of Christians throughout history. Unfortunately, this works oriented heresy has crept into being accepted as a legitimate sect of Christianity. Pelagianism is the denial of original sin, or total depravity. It assumes that children are born without a sinful nature which is in opposition to practical observation and Biblical revelation. The movement encourages a humanistic "gospel" which makes salvation the act of man by making him the initiator. Most of those who believe that God must accept them them apart from His drawing and calling tend to compound this error by adding other humanistic means of merit to their so-called "plan of salvation" such as water baptism by immersion. This in essence, puts the accomplishment of salvation and regeneration into the hands of man, and takes it out of the hand of God. Man must choose to believe. Man must submit to a specific mode of water baptism. Man must administer this baptism. Either Christ saves us or water saves us, it cannot be both! Either we are at the mercy of God for salvation, or we are guilty of rejecting His means in favor of relying on ourselves and other likeminded men to complete the salvation process. See Depravity of Man
A Biblical term that is commanded of man. It means complete, wanting nothing, meeting the intent in which were created for. Biblical perfection speaks of a perfecting of the heart which is within the capacity of man and not the perfection of being God. See Sanctification.
An approach to Christianity, especially associated with German writers in the seventeenth century, which places an emphasis upon the personal appropriation of faith, and the need for holiness in Christian living. The movement is perhaps best known within the English-language world in the form of Methodism and Puritanism.
To mark out beforehand, to for-ordain that something will happen. Erroneously used say that God, by an eternal decree, has resolved (predestined) from all eternity to save a portion of mankind and to damn all others apart from anything within themselves, to include any foreknowledge of any future faith or obedience. Upon an unbiased observation of Scripture, we can see that there is not a singular instance where the word "predestination" is used in the context of the salvation of any individual. Rom. 8:29-30, states clearly what is predestined; it is that those that are called (a term referring to those who receive the gracious offer of God to salvation) are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, which is sanctification, holiness of character, and not salvation. In Ephesians 1:5 we are told that from all eternity God "predestined us (believers, Saints (holy ones), see verse one for context) to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself." Notice that this predestined adoption is not to individuals but to a class of people, the "Church," (Us). The means of this adoption is also clear, it is not by some preexistent fatalistic decree, but through Jesus Christ that we are predestined to gain this adoption. Verse 4 clarifies this statement by showing what the plan of God before all time was, " just as He chose us (believers) in Him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless (sanctification) before Him in love." Before the foundation of the world, God determined (predestinated, for-ordained) that we would be "chosen" on the basis of faith in the work of Jesus Christ for salvation, resulting in a change of character, from sin to holiness. Verse 11 uses the term predestination once again, but is ambiguous as to what the subject of this predestination is. "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." What is predestined? The individual, or the obtaining of an inheritance? The context of the following two verses lead us to the idea that this purpose is that we should be to the praise of his glory (holiness?) by trusting in Jesus Christ. Ver. 12, 13. Also consider that without a single passage that states clearly that God predestines individuals to election and reprobation, we are better served in honoring the consistency of the Scriptures to say that it is the plan of God that we receive salvation (our inheritance) through trusting in Jesus Christ, which is what is predestined for the believers? 1 Corinthians 2:7 states, "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory." Notice that it is God's wisdom that is predestined to those that believe, and not the predestination that they would believe the wisdom. Acts 4:28 is the last occurrence of the term in the Holy Scriptures. This passage is simply a statement that that the death of Christ was predestined and did not happen because of the determination of the will of man. A term that only has five occurrences within the Scripture cannot possibly be the cornerstone of the plan and mystery of God concerning salvation, especially when there is not a singular statement that any individual has ever been predestined by God to salvation. With the same facts, it is also apparent that it would be a great error to build an entire theology based upon the predestination of individuals, since by drawing on this unbiblical assumption, one cannot possibly arrive at truth, and that is Biblical. The Scriptural concept of predestination is: "God's eternal purpose to save all that ' truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy gospel,' according to the Apostle Paul, "Whom he did foreknow" as believers "them he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son;" to his moral image here, and to the image of his glorified humanity in heaven." (Watson) See Predestination, Predestination to Eternal Life
The grace that goes before salvation. It is the grace of God conferred upon all mankind to enable them the freedom to choose between right and wrong in spite of their total depravity. This suggests that not all grace is saving grace, but some grace is preventative and precedes and prepares each individual for the offer of saving grace. Because this grace enables us to decide between alternatives, it makes God just in condemning the unrepentant because they were given the ability to do otherwise. Also, because this grace is conferred upon us, it makes God the Initiator in salvation, thus eliminating the possibility of human merit for salvation. See Prevenient Grace
Describes those who "protest" against the practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic church. As a movement, it denotes those groups who were an outgrowth of the Reformation.
The time period where Martin Luther, Zwingly, John Calvin, and others shifted the world of Christianity away from Roman Catholicism through the emphasis of salvation by faith, and the teaching of "sola scripura" "Scripture only" as the rule of faith for the believer as opposed to Roman Catholicismís emphasis on the authority of tradition and the Pope.
One who is, or exists in the state of being unprincipled, or controlled completely by a mind that is devoid of spiritual impulses. It is the state of mankind, in its fallen spiritual state apart from the grace of God intervening in their lives. Scripture uses this term to describe those individuals that have willfully rejected the intercession and calling of God upon their heart and have purposely, and deliberately placed themselves outside of the grasp of salvation to the point that they are unable to perceive anything but evil. (Rom 1:28.) While this describes humanity apart from the grace of God, it is erroneously defined by Calvinism as describing those who are predestined by the will of God, to His good pleasure, to be tormented in the eternal fires of hell for not being selected to be recipients of His grace. Paul does not see this term as a predetermined condition apart from the choice of man when he writes, " But I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. (reprobate, same Greek word as in Rom. 1:28.)" 1 Cor. 9:27. To summarize what has been said: Reprobation is the state of continuous rejection of the impulses of God upon the individual, and a purposeful and continual choice of evil as the principle of life. See Election and Reprobation
The belief that certain acts were promoted by Christ and the early church that were set apart to be "sacred." Although Roman Catholic theology and church practice recognize seven such sacraments (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage, ordination, penance, and unction), Protestant theologians generally argue that only two (baptism and the Lordís Supper) were to be found in the New Testament itself. Orthodox Protestants deny that the practice of any sacrament is essential to salvation. Many prefer to refer to baptism and the Lordís Supper as a "means of grace" whereby as we approach God through the meaning that these acts represent, our hearts are opened to be able to receive the grace of God. Many prefer the term "ordinance" to denote the establishment of a religious custom or practice without containing the language merit through "sacrament" or sacrifice.
To make holy, or holiness. It is the separation from the profane and unholy to a devotement to God. To make clean and holy in an ethical sense. Synonyms of this term in the New Testament are purity, holiness, cleansing, and perfection (completeness, wholeness.) It is significant to note that the Scriptures always exhort the believer to be pure and holy during their lifetime. The Scriptures present this as an action of the Holy Spirit that is worked within the believer after justification, but before glorification. There is no example in the Greek text where exhortations to perfection, purity, sanctification, or holiness are in the future tense. This fact denies the possibility of these actions occurring after death. See Understanding Christian Holiness , Entire Sanctification, The Biblical Basis for Entire Sanctification, Tense Readings in the Greek New Testament
An invented term that is used as a derogatory reference to Arminian believers. Attempts to suggest that Arminians believe that they do not need the grace of God in order to respond to grace, and that they believe in salvation by merit. Any true Arminian would condemn Pelagianism as being heretical. We are in agreement with our Calvinistic brethren concerning this heresy, even though they erroneously malign us with the name. This is a logical fallacy that seeks to identify a belief that on the surface appears similar, but has no relationship to the heresy involved. See Prevenient Grace
Sermon on the Mount
Chapters 5-7 of Matthew's gospel containing many moral principles set down for us by Jesus.
The branch of theology called hamartiology. To miss the mark; failing. A deviation or transgression of God's will. Rebellion. As a state, it can speak of the condition of fallen man (depravity); as a verb or action, it is a willful transgression of a known law of God. It is what separates mankind from God, and reaps the result of guilt and eternal condemnation. "The wages of sin is death..." (Rom. 6:23). The only remedy for sin is through the death of Christ (See Salvation). "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). For information on the effect of sin before and after salvation, see A Theology of Sin
The section of Christian theology dealing with the doctrine of salvation (Greek: soteria). See Salvation
A term used to refer to the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The term (derived from the Greek word synopsis, "summary") refers to the way in which the three gospels can be seen as providing similar "summaries" of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A branch of theology that connects a series of doctrines to a system. The attempt is to show the connection of all doctrines as a consistent whole. The Law of non-contradiction demands that each doctrine must compliment and not contradict another within the system. For a theology to be truly "systematic," it must not have any doctrine that is in contradiction to another within the same arrangement. If one doctrine opposes another, it cannot be accurately called a systematic theology. See Choosing a Theology
"Theo" Greek for God, and "logos" which means "word" or "study of." It is the science of the study of God. It usually speaks of the nature of God (Theology), the nature of man (anthropology), the effect of sin (hamartiology), salvation (soteriology), and end times (eschatology). see The Importance of Theology, Choosing a Theology, and Theology as a Science
The doctrine is usually summarized in maxims such as "three persons, one God." The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit described as Three Persons, coequal and existing in unity as One God. See God
Good deeds or good fruit produced in the believer. The Scriptures demand the necessity of good works (Jn.15:5, Eph.2:10, Col. 1:10, James 2:17), for they are the evidence and fruit of saving faith. The Scriptures also condemn the idea that anyone can merit salvation through works (Eph 2:8-9, Rom. 4:2-4). Good works are the result of Christ working in and through us. We already have salvation through Christ by grace. All works earn for us are rewards and not salvation. The Christianís motive determines whether the good work is worthy of reward in heaven or on earth( Matt. 6:1-4). See Faith plus Works
Return to the BIBLICAL THEOLOGY Homepage ETERNAL SECURITY