ABBA: The Aramaic term of intimacy used in addressing one’s father, somewhat equivalent to the English “Daddy.” Christ uses Abba in addressing God the Father. St. Paul tells believers that their relationship with God through the Holy Spirit is so personal that they too may speak to Him as intimately as to their own father (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15).
ABSOLUTION: The prayer offered by a bishop or presbyter for the forgiveness of sins. Following His glorious Resurrection, Christ breathed on His Apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22, 23). This gift of proclaiming God’s forgiveness of sins remains forever in the Church. It is exercised in the sacraments of baptism and confession—the reconciliation to the Church of Christian believers who have sinned and repented. The priest or bishop is the witness who bears testimony to the repentance; only God forgives sins (see article, “Confession,” at 1 John 1).
ADVENT: A forty-day period of prayer, repentance, and fasting in preparation for Christmas. The word stems from the Latin word for “coming”; during the fast the faithful prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. See also FASTING.
AGAPE: Greek for the unconditional love which God extends to His people. Agape also designates a communal meal connected to the Eucharist which was a practice of the early Church (1 Cor. 11:20 34).
ALLEGORY: A story filled with symbolism illustrating a spiritual reality beyond the actual historical event being described. In the ancient Church, scholars of the School of Alexandria tended to consider many incidents in the Bible as allegorical, whereas the School of Antioch practiced a more historical approach to Scripture. Although Scripture contains some pure allegory (some parables of Christ, portions of Revelation), overemphasis on allegory may tend to de-emphasize or even deny the historicity of Holy Scripture. On the other hand, a denial of allegory robs the Scriptures of their deeper meaning. It is possible for a story to be both historical and allegorical. The majority of Church Fathers combined both elements in interpreting the Bible. Luke 15:4-7; Gal. 4:21-26. See also TYPE.
ALLELUIA: The Greek form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, which means “praise God.” Orthodox Christians sing a chorus of Alleluia interspersed with psalm verses prior to the Gospel reading at the Divine Liturgy.
ALMS: Works of mercy or monetary gifts given to help the poor. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are called to help those less fortunate than themselves (Matt. 25:31-46).
ALPHA AND OMEGA: The letters which begin and end the Greek alphabet, and symbolize the beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega is also used as a title of Christ (Rev. 1:8).
AMEN: “So be it” in Hebrew. Amen is said or sung at the close of a prayer or hymn, showing the agreement of the people to what has been said (Deut. 27:15 26; 1 Cor. 14:16).
ANGELS: Bodiless powers created before the creation of the physical universe. The English word “angel” comes from the Greek word for “messenger.” Throughout the Scripture, angels are messengers who carry the Word of God to earth (e.g. Gabriel’s visit to Mary, Luke 1:26-38). The Orthodox Church teaches that there are nine “choirs” or groups of angels: Angels, Archangels, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim (Gen. 3:24; Is. 6:2; Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:22).
ANNUNCIATION: The visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she had been chosen to bear Christ, the Son of God. The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated exactly nine months before Christmas. Mary’s Son was no ordinary child, but God’s divine Son and Word in human flesh (see article, “Mary,” at Luke 1; Is. 7:14; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1-14).
ANTICHRIST: Literally, “against Christ” or “instead of Christ.” Antichrist is used by John to refer to (a) the opponent of Christ who will arise at the end of this age, and (b) the “many antichrists” who stand against the Son of God (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3).
APOSTASY: Literally, “turning away.” This sin is committed when a Christian or body of believers rejects the true faith of Christ (1 Tim. 1:5 7; 4:1-3).
APOSTLE: Literally, “one who is sent.” Apostle is used as a title for the Twelve Disciples who formed the foundation of the NT Church, replacing, symbolically, the twelve tribes of Israel. In order to maintain this symbolism, Matthias was elected to replace Judas (Acts 1:15 26). The word is also used of the Seventy (or 72) sent by Christ, as well as of Paul, the repentant persecutor whom the risen Jesus sent as “apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13). Great missionaries in the Church, such as Mary Magdalene (the “apostle to the apostles”), Thekla, Nira, Vladimir, and Innocent of Alaska are called “equal to the apostles.” The extension of the apostolic ministry in the Church today is in the episcopacy. See also EPISCOPACY.
ASCENSION: The ascent of Christ to Heaven following His Resurrection as Son of God in the flesh (Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9-11). Christ’s Ascension completes the union of God and humanity, for a Man who is God now reigns in Heaven.
ASCETICISM (from Gr. askesis, “athlete”): A life of struggle—the crucifixion of the desires of the flesh, through a life of prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Through asceticism the Christian fights temptation to sin and thereby grows in spiritual strength. Such spiritual classics as The Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent give directions for the ascetic life (Luke 9:23; Gal. 5:24).
AUTHORITY: The rule of God over the world and the legitimate authority given by God to those ordained to shepherd the faithful (Heb. 13:17). Also, one of the nine choirs of angels. See also ANGELS.
BAPTISM (from Gr. baptizo, “to be plunged”): The sacrament whereby one is born again, buried with Christ, resurrected with Him and united to Him. In baptism, one becomes a Christian and is joined to the Church. In Christ’s baptism, water was set apart unto God as the means by which the Holy Spirit would bring to us new life and entrance into the heavenly Kingdom (see article “Holy Baptism,” at Rom. 6; Matt. 3:13-17; 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 39; Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
BEATITUDE: Literally, “exalted happiness.” The ninefold blessing of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12).
BELIEF: The acceptance of the truths of the gospel. More than a mental assent, belief as used in the NT includes trusting in God from the heart. Such belief results from (1) hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) and (2) a gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8). Although a Christian is saved by belief in Christ, faith without action (that is, a distinct movement of the will to follow Christ) is hollow and void of the righteousness necessary to salvation (see article, “Justification by Faith,” at Rom. 5; Matt. 7:21; John 3:16; James 2:14 26).
BENEDICTION: Literally, “good word”; blessing. Benedictions were given by Christ (Luke 24:50, 51) and by the Apostles (2 Cor. 13:14), and are given by the bishop or priest at the close of every Divine Liturgy.
BISHOP (Gr. episkopos): Overseer. A bishop is the leader of a local community of Christians. In the New Testament there is no clear distinction between the offices of bishop and elder (presbyter), both of which function as leaders of the community. However, by the mid- to late first century, the Church began to reserve the title bishop for the men of spiritual qualification who were consecrated to follow the Apostles in their office of oversight (see article, “The Four ‘Orders’ in Church Government,” at 1 Tim.; Acts 1:15 26; 14:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-7).
BORN AGAIN: Literally, “born from above.” A person must be born again to new life in Christ to enter God’s eternal Kingdom. This new birth takes place through the sacrament of Holy Baptism (John 3:16; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:27). Spiritual life begins by receiving the Holy Spirit in baptism, and it is a dynamic process which continues throughout life. (See article, “The New Birth,” at John 3).
BROTHERS OF THE LORD: St. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, Joses, Simon, and Judas are referred to as brothers of Christ (Matt. 13:55). In the ancient Middle East one’s close relatives were frequently referred to as brothers and sisters. Also, there is an ancient tradition that the “brothers and sisters” of Christ were actually children of St. Joseph from an earlier marriage; they are called the children of Mary although they are actually her stepchildren. Thus, these references to siblings of Christ do not contradict the ancient belief of the Orthodox Church that the Virgin Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ. The absence of blood brothers is suggested by Christ’s act of entrusting Mary to the care of the apostle John (John 19:26, 27), which would have been against the Mosaic Law had she had other natural children.
CANON: Literally, “a rule.” It describes (1) the inspired Books of the Bible—the Canon of Scripture; (2) the rules and decrees issued by the early Church ( Acts 15:23-29) and by Ecumenical Councils—Canon Law; and (3) certain parts of worship, such as the Liturgical Canon or the Canon of Matins.
CHRISMATION: The sacrament completing baptism, whereby one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with the Chrism, a specially prepared oil which must be consecrated by a bishop. On several occasions in Acts, a baptized Christian received the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the hands of an Apostle (see Acts 8:14-17; 19:6). Chrismation is a continuation of that ancient practice in the Church. (See article, “Chrismation,” at Acts 2).
CHURCH: The faithful are called out of the world to be the Church: the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the New Israel, the ark of salvation, the assembly of the faithful. Through the Church, Christians are united to Christ and to each other. In this community, the believer receives the grace of God through the sacraments and hears the truth of the gospel. This mystical transformation of people into one body in Christ takes place in the Eucharist. Because Christ is the Head of the Church, the Church is a reflection of the Incarnation, with both human and divine qualities (1 Cor. 10:16, 17; Gal. 6:16; Eph. 4:12; 5:22-32).
COMMANDMENT: The Law of God, given first in the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, and completed or fulfilled by the teaching of Christ (Ex. 20:1-17; Matt. 5:1—7:27; John 15:12).
COMMUNION (Gr. koinonia): A common union of the most intimate kind, enjoyed by Christians with God and with each other in the Church. This communion is especially realized in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist (John 6:56; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17).
CONFESSION: (1) The avowal or verbal witness of faith in Christ, leading to salvation (Rom. 10:9). (2) The sacrament of the forgiveness of sins, whereby the repentant sinner confesses his sins to Christ in the presence of the priest, who pronounces God’s absolution of those sins (see article, “Confession,” at 1 John; John 20:22, 23; 1 John 1:9).
CONVERSION: The beginning of salvation, occurring when a person repents, believes the gospel, and enters into a personal relationship with Christ. Conversion is not merely a change of belief but the beginning of a new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), which is a process of growth into the image and likeness of God. Our salvation is the working together of conversion, justification, and sanctification throughout life.
CORRUPTION: The state of mortality and sinfulness, the universal condition of fallen humanity. All are born into a world suffering the consequences of the Fall, the sin of Adam and Eve. These consequences include physical suffering, death, lack of perfection and a tendency to sin. (Ps. 53:3; Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; 1 John 5:19).
COSMOS: The universe, or “world,” created by God from nothing. It is controlled by God; He is the life of the world. Sin has corrupted the entire cosmos, and the rule of evil will not be abolished until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The universe will finally be redeemed by Christ when He comes again to transform the cosmos into a new heaven and a new earth. (Gen. 1:1; Rom. 8:19-22; Rev. 21:1).
COUNCIL: A group of Christians gathered to deliberate and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to administer the Church and decide on various doctrinal, moral, and liturgical questions. The Orthodox Church is conciliar (operating by councils) on all levels, from a parish to a worldwide council. While councils are not seen as infallible, their decisions become part of Church life when they are received by the entire Church. Besides the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15, the Church counts Seven Ecumenical Councils in her history.
COVENANT: An agreement or testament between men or between God and His people. In the Old Testament, God chose the people of Israel, ending with John the Baptist, to prepare the way for the coming of His Only Begotten Son. Through Christ, the covenant was perfected, and the promises of God to Abraham and the Jews are fulfilled through the Church, the New Israel, the New Covenant people of God. (Gen. 13:14-16; Gal. 3:6-9; 1 Pet. 2:9, 10).
CREATION: (Gr. ktisis) Everything made by God. The term creation is applied to the cosmos in general and to mankind in particular. Our regeneration in Christ and the resurrection of the dead are both often called the “new creation.” Creation has no existence apart from God, but is nevertheless distinct from God. (That which is not created, such as divine grace, the divine energies, belongs to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
CREED: A statement of belief. Creeds in their earlier forms were used by the apostles, and many are recorded in the New Testament (Eph. 5:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:11-13). The creed used throughout the Church was adopted at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 and expanded at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. The Nicene Creed is used at baptisms, the Divine Liturgy, and in personal daily prayers.
CRUCIFIXION: A form of execution of criminals used by the ancient Romans in which the offender is nailed through his wrists and ankles to a cross. A crucified person usually died from suffocation after becoming too exhausted to pull himself up in order to breathe. Besides Christ Himself (Matt. 27:35-50), the Apostles Peter, Andrew, James the Less, and Simon were also crucified.
CURSE (Gr. anathema): To cut off, separate; the opposite of blessing. A divine curse is God’s judgment. Christ delivers believers from the curse caused by their inability to live by the law of God (Gen. 3:14-19; 9:25; Mark 11:21; Gal. 3:10-14).
DAMNATION: Eternity spent in hell under sentence of personal condemnation for rejecting the love and truth of God as revealed perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 25:31-46; John 3:18).
DARKNESS: A symbol of sin and rejection of God, who is light and whose followers walk in the light of righteousness. (John 1:5; Rom. 13:12).
DEACON: Literally, “servant.” Originally seven deacons were ordained to assist the apostles with the temporal affairs of the Church (Acts 6:1-7). This established office has continued in the Church. A deacon assists the bishop and priest, but cannot preside over the Eucharist, give blessings or pronounce absolution. In the New Testament (Rom.16:1) and the early Church, women also served as deacons or deaconesses (1 Tim. 3:813; see note on v. 11).
DEIFICATION: The grace of God through which believers grow to become like Him and enjoy intimate communion with the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit (see article, “Deification,” at 2 Pet. 1; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:2-4).
DEPARTED: The dead. Following death and judgment, those who have accepted God’s truth and love as fully revealed in Christ and the Holy Spirit inherit eternal life in heaven. Those who have rejected His gift inherit eternal darkness. (Luke 16:19-31; Heb. 9:27).
DEVIL: Satan, the leader of the fallen angels. Called by Jesus the father of lies (John 8:44), Satan tempts the faithful to join his rebellion against God. The Greek word for devil means “separator”; he seeks to pull people away from God. Although not evil by nature, the devil turned by his free choice from what was according to nature to what was against it. At the end of time, Christ will judge the devil and his followers and cast them into hell. (Matt. 25:41; Luke 10:18; 1 Pet. 5:8).
DISCIPLESHIP: The life of learning, growing, self-sacrifice, and commitment required of every Christian. A Christian not only believes in Christ but leaves everything to follow Him. (Matt. 4:18-22; 7:21-23; Luke 9:23; Gal. 5:24).
DOCTRINE: The teaching of the Church, called variously the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9), the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42), or sound doctrine (Titus 1:9; see 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 16:17).
EASTER: The Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as Pascha (from the Hebrew word for Passover). Christ proclaimed Himself as the true Passover and offered Himself as a sacrifice. Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter according to the decree of the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325: the first Sunday following the first full moon following the spring equinox following the Jewish Passover. Thus, Orthodox Easter is often one, four, or five weeks after the western Easter.
ENERGY: Used theologically, that which radiates from the hidden essence or nature of God. The energies of God, such as grace, are not created, and allow the believer to enter into a personal relationship with God while preserving the unique character of God, whose essence always remains hidden from humanity. Moses was permitted to see the glory of God, His energies, but was forbidden to gaze on the face of God, His hidden essence. (Ex. 33:18-23; 2 Pet. 1:2-4).
EPIPHANY: Literally, “a breaking through from above”; the word means a manifestation of God. Examples of epiphanies are the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-6) and the Transfiguration of Christ (Matt. 17:1-13). Twelve days after Christmas, the Church celebrates the Feast of Epiphany to honor the manifestation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Christ (Mark 1:9-11). See also THEOPHANY.
EPISCOPACY: The order of bishops in the Church (from Gr. episkopos, “overseer”). See also BISHOP.
ESCHATOLOGY: The study of the last days (Gr. eschaton). According to the Holy Scriptures, Christ will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, destroy the power of evil, and fully reveal the everlasting Kingdom (Matt. 25:3146; Rev. 20:10—21:1). See also SECOND COMING.
ESSENCE: (Gr. ousia) Also translated as substance, nature or being. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are “of one essence.” Jesus Christ is “of one essence” with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in His divinity, and “of one essence” with all human beings in His humanity. God’s essence is beyond the understanding and comprehension of His creatures. God can be known by humans through the divine energies and operations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ex. 33:18-23). See also ENERGY.
EUCHARIST: Taken from a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving,” Eucharist designates Holy Communion, the central act of Christian worship. At the Last Supper Christ gave thanks (Matt. 26:27; 1 Cor. 11:24), and embodied in the communion service is our Own thanksgiving. The word came into use very early, as exemplified by its use in the writings of the apostles (“Now concerning the Eucharist….” Didache 9:1) and the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (Ign. Phil. 4:1, about A.D. 107).
EVANGELIST: One who preaches the gospel; used especially of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who wrote the four NT Gospels.
EXCOMMUNICATION: Literally, “out of communion.” This judgment is pronounced by the Church on willfully heretical, immoral, or divisive persons who refuse to repent of their sins, it excludes them from the sacramental life of the Church (1 Cor. 5:1-5) Excommunication is not viewed as eternal damnation but a discipline pertaining only to this life. It is administered for the salvation of the person cut off from communion, with the hope that this act will ultimately bring the sinner to repentance.
FAITH: Belief and trust in Christ as one’s Savior. The effects of this faith are freedom from the power of the devil, the attainment of virtue, and progress toward perfection and union with God. One is saved by faith through grace—a living faith manifested by a righteous life (see article, “Justification by Faith,” at Rom. 5; Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8; James 2:14 17).
FASTING: An ascetic exercise whereby one gives up certain foods, usually meat and dairy products, as a means of disciplining the body. Fasting is a part of the ascetic life and a sign of repentance. Orthodox Christians fast on most Wednesdays and Fridays (in memory of the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ) and during four fasting seasons: (1) Advent, the forty days before Christmas; (2) Great Lent, forty days before Palm Sunday and the week before Easter, (3) two weeks before the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 29); and (4) two weeks before the Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary (Aug. 15). (Matt. 6:16; Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:16, 17).
FATHER: (1) God the Father is one of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. God the Son is eternally begotten of God the Father. God the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from God the Father (Matt. 28:19; John 14:10; 15:26). (2) “Father” is a title given to one’s spiritual father based on the custom of the Jews, who spoke of their father Abraham or their father David, and on the words of Paul, who called himself the father of his flock. (Luke 1:73; Acts 4:25 with center-column note; 1 Cor. 4:15).
FELLOWSHIP (Gr. koinonia): Literally, “communion”; the unity of believers through Christ based on the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians are united into a special fellowship through their love for one another and common union with Christ (Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:3, 7). See also COMMUNION.
FILIOQUE: A Latin word meaning “and the Son.” Western churches began adding this word to the Nicene Creed several centuries after it was written: “I believe In the Holy Spirit . . . who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This “filioque clause” is judged by the Orthodox Church as error because it is contrary to what Jesus taught (John 15:26); thus, it confuses correct belief concerning the Holy Trinity. The addition of the filioque in the West was a major factor contributing to the Great Schism m A . D . 1054.
FLESH: (1) In New Testament usage, flesh refers to fallen human nature, which, through its ties to the world and mortality, struggles against spiritual growth and leads one into sin. Christians are called to subdue the lusts of the flesh so that they may grow in union with Christ (Rom. 8:4 9; Gal. 5:16-24). (2) In Christology, flesh refers to the sinless human nature of Christ, or the Body of Christ. In liturgical usage, there is reference to the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist.
FORGIVENESS: The remission of sin and guilt through the love of Christ. Forgiveness is given originally in baptism; forgiveness for continuing sin is reclaimed through repentance. As God has forgiven the sins of believers, so are Christians to forgive those who have sinned against them (Matt. 6:14, 15; 18:21-35; 1 John 1:9).
FORNICATION (Gr. porneia): The sin of sexual intercourse outside of marriage The word is also applied to polygamy and to many successive marriages. The Greek term means sexual immorality in general. Fornication is strongly condemned in Scripture (1 Cor. 6:16 18; Gal. 5:19; Col. 3:5).
FREE WILL: The freedom to choose between good and evil, between God and sin which is one aspect of humanity created in the image of God. According to Orthodox teaching, sin stains the image of God but does not destroy it. Human beings may choose to accept or reject the gospel, but must suffer the consequences of their decision (Gen. 3:22, 23; Rev. 3:20).
GENTILE: A non-Jew. Christ and His Apostles preached the gospel first to the Jews, who were chosen by God to prepare the way for the Messiah. Christ died for all, Jew and Gentile; thus, salvation is offered to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. Those Gentiles who believe in Christ become the true sons of Abraham, who was chosen by God before the Law was given. (Acts 11; 15:1-29; Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:6-9).
GIFTS: Charismatic or spiritual gifts are blessings and abilities given by the Holy Spirit to believers for the building up of the body of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit serve the general good of the whole Church. It is possible to confuse spiritual gifts with natural talents and emotions, or to misuse the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit, resulting in pride and self-righteousness. For this reason, the Orthodox Church has always stressed humility and obedience to spiritual authority in the use of the gifts. Note that the Holy Spirit Himself is a gift (Rom. 5:5), as are baptism and the other sacraments. (Rom. 12:6 8; 1 Cor. 12; 13; 1 John 3:24).
GLORY: The divine splendor of God, or a specific manifestation of God’s presence frequently likened to a cloud, smoke, or brilliant light. To serve and worship God is to glorify Him. Through the Holy Spirit, Christians are being changed to be like God and to reflect His glory. (Ex. 19:9, 16-18; Is. 60:1; Luke 2:9; Rom. 8:16 18; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6). See also SHEKINAH.
GLOSSOLALIA: Literally, “speaking in tongues.” St. Paul uses the term to describe not an emotional experience but a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:10), though not one of the higher gifts (1 Cor. 14:1-5). At Pentecost the gift was given to allow those present to hear the gospel in their native language (Acts 2:6); in Corinth, the gift is an ecstatic utterance (1 Cor. 14:2). The Apostle warns against too much emphasis on this experience, urging instead that believers seek to manifest love (1 Cor. 13:1) and communicate the gospel intelligibly (1 Cor. 14:19). Glossolalia has never played a significant role in historic Orthodox spirituality. (1 Cor. 12—14).
GNOSTICISM: A very complex ancient heresy that was manifested in many different forms and beliefs. The Gnostics taught that Christ had imparted secret knowledge “gnosis,” to a select few, who in turn transmitted hidden truths to an elite. Central to Gnosticism is the denial of the goodness of matter, leading to a denial of the reality of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of His bodily Resurrection. Several schools of Gnosticism taught that salvation consisted of liberation from the physical body and of growth to a higher, non-physical, spiritual level of existence. Orthodoxy has always rejected Gnosticism, teaching that the world and man were created good and will be redeemed by Christ and transformed at the end of this age (Gen. 1:1-31; Rom. 8:1922; I Cor. 15:35-55; Rev. 21:1).
GOSPEL: Literally, “the good news.” The term comes from the ancient title announcing the ascension of a new ruler to the throne. The Christian gospel is summarized in the statement, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).
GRACE: The gift of God’s own presence and action in His creation. Through grace, God forgives sins and transforms the believer into His image and likeness. Grace is not merely unmerited favor—an attitude of God toward the believer. Grace is God’s uncreated energy bestowed in the sacraments and is therefore truly experienced. A Christian is saved through grace, which is a gift of God and not a reward for good works. However, because grace changes a person, he or she will manifest the effects of grace through righteous living. (John 1:17; Rom. 5:21; Eph. 1:7; 2:8; 2 Thess. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:5.