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20 Biblical Terms And What They Mean

20 Biblical Terms And What They Mean

20 Biblical Terms And What They Mean

The Bible is beyond beautiful; Its pages contain the life and works of the Lord. Not only that, but God has also revealed His unconditional and everlasting love in the pages of the Bible. Aside from the breathtaking stories to the life-changing parables, we might be shocked as to how some of the Biblical terms used in the Bible are beautifully complex yet still makes perfect sense. Let us discover the beauty of the Bible’s words with these 20 Biblical terms and what they mean.

Apocalypse

Definitely, this is a rather frightening word to start a list with. However, the word “apocalypse” isn’t as dark and scary as it is in terms of Biblical definition. The Bible has been translated from Ancient Hebrew to Ancient Greek to Late Latin until it was translated to Old English. And now, it has been translated to Modern English. It may surprise you to know that the word Apocalypse does not define the “end of the world” as we know it.

If we translate this word not by its original Greek word but, in English; “Apocalypse” has a meaning of “foreboding imminent disaster or final doom”. On the other hand, if we translate its original word “apokaluptein”, it simply means “unveil” or “uncover”. The apocalypse is indeed something terrifying at a certain angle. The word Apocalypse in the bible refers to a prophetic revelation where good triumphs over evil. But fear not! Joel 3:10-16 reminds us that when the apocalypse comes, the weak can finally say that he is a mighty man! Therefore, live in His Light and when the day comes that the Lord unveils His plans to mankind, it will surely be the day of power and bliss for His people.

Clean

“Clean” is a rather common word in today’s time. However, in accordance with Scripture, “clean” is more than just physical neatness. Instead, it’s a state of being maintained or returned to without any spots or blemish. Of course, this is something figurative. According to the Bible, here are definitions that make up the word “clean”:

  • “Clean” is to distinguish the holy and the unholy. This is in Leviticus 10:10 when God was speaking to Aaron, using “clean” as a distinguishing factor between what is basically right or wrong.
  • “Clean” is a great thing. Again, this does not refer to how neat and organized something or someone is. Based on Scripture, it has been emphasized that being clean is a state where someone experiences healing or purifying. In Psalm 51:7, “clean” is an effect of being purified or washed from one’s sins. While in Matthew 8:2, “clean” is a wish from a leper who seeks Jesus to be free from his ailment. From these verses, we can see that “clean” is a Biblical term for something that is free from diseases and sins.
  • “Clean” is the standard of holiness. Galatians 5:19-21 clearly states that being free from Earthly desires and sins is a factor that will inherit the Kingdom of God. These earthly desires we must be free of include but not limited to sexual immorality, jealousy, selfishness, and hatred.

Angel

In media outlets, angels are often described as heavenly creatures with white wings cloaked in silk and cotton. But, the “angel” we are presented today, turns out to have a different Biblical definition. Its modern English term “angel” is a fusion of the Old English word “Engel” and the Old French “Angele”. These two words are derived from the Latin word “Angelus” that translates to the word “messenger”.  Additionally, its commonly translated Hebrew word “Malak” also translates to the word “messenger”.

Angels in the Bible are truly different from what we see in movies and entertainment. See, in Biblical terms, angels are not heavenly creatures. Instead, being an angel is more of a job description than a type of creature. You might be fascinated as to how frightening angels are! For instance, the Angel Gabriel turned Zechariah mute when he did not believe the good news Angel Gabriel was delivering to him from God. Angels are strong, magnificent and they are great commanders!

Enemy

Today, the word “enemy” is used for anyone who opposes someone or simply a person who is an “opponent”. This is not the case for when Scripture was written. The word “enemy” is from the Hebrew word “oyebh” which directly translates to “one who hates”. The word “enemy” also has an interesting background – In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus taught us that we should not do what we have been taught; “love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. Instead, we are to love both our neighbors and enemies. God commands us to love our enemies and bless them as they curse us. The definition of the word “enemy” today is used to describe a person or persons we are at war with and whom we challenge consistently. However, unlike how people use this word now, “enemy” has a deeper history in the Bible.

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Daystar

“Daystar”, in today’s science textbooks pertains to the tendency when a planet (especially Venus), makes itself visible in the east before sunrise. Translated directly from the Ancient Greek word ‘phosphoros’, the word “daystar” means “light-bringer”. Similar to the word “morningstar”, these instances symbolize a new day or hope. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus presents Himself as the “bright Morning Star” while 2 Peter 1:19 makes use of “day star” as something that shines within our hearts in a dark place. Though the word “Morning star” is commonly used today, in Biblical terms, daystar is more beautiful!

Elder

The “word” elder means someone of advanced age. When we see a grandfather or a grandmother, we often call them “the elders” or “the elderly”. However, biblically speaking, the word “elder” carries a heavy task. It isn’t a characteristic referring to age such as being old. Instead, it is more of someone who has a duty to guide or lead. The word “elder” is from the Greek word “presbyteros” which translates to elders or seniors.

In the past, elders were known as people who had the wisdom to lead God’s people towards the direction God wanted the church to go. Elders can serve locally as elders of a city (Judges 8:14) or a regional elder of a tribe (Judges 11:5) or even a national elder (Exodus 3:16). Unlike today’s meaning of an “elder” and who can be considered one, an elder in the Bible had to earn the right to have that title.

Father, Brother, and Sister

It’s easy to understand that these words mean people with a biological bond like how siblings may call each other “brothers and sisters”. But, these Biblical terms actually pertains to the balance of power between people. For instance, “father” is someone who is a person in charge of guiding others spiritually. However, when calling someone “sister” it describes a woman of the same authority as whoever calls her. In Song of Solomon, a romantic line is written as “my sister, my bride” where “sister” is a denotation of honor and not something related to incest.

Jesus uses the phrase “our Father” because we share the same father; God. Also, in biblical terms when someone calls another “brother in Christ” or “sister in Christ”, they are basically referring to them as “fellow believers”. As we are one Body of Christ, we are a family, hence we can call and consider all believers brothers and sisters.

Demons

Bloodcurdling, horrifying and evil, demons in the movies are beyond beastly. However, demons in the Bible are quite different in Biblical terms. Instead of giant creatures with red eyes and sharp claws, demons are actually invisible yet wicked creatures that have superhuman powers. They were once angels, but were then deceived by Satan and went against God, becoming “fallen angels”. Once these ex-angels joined Satan and disobeyed God, they were ripped from their “angel” status (Deuteronomy 32:17) becoming demons. They are spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10 -12) that have the power to demonize people and take possession of a person’s body (Luke 8:30). Christians believe that demons will eventually be vanquished by Jesus, cast down to Hell for all eternity (Revelation 20:10).

Flesh

The word “flesh” is easy to understand, it means “meat” or if we read the dictionary, it defines as a soft substance that consists of fat and muscle. Similarly like the other words in this list, this word used in Biblical terms has a different meaning when used today. Instead of being a component of the body, the “flesh” is used as another word for worldly possessions, selfishness, or sin. There are several verses that explain the nature of the flesh.

For instance, Galatians 5:16-17 explains how the flesh gratifies desires that oppose righteousness. The flesh and the Holy Spirit oppose each other in a person’s body. Romans 8: 7-8 also describes the “flesh” as something that opposes the teachings and ways of the Lord. Basically, the word “flesh” has a rather alarming notation before than it does today. Additionally, in biblical terms, “flesh” also means relationship or kinship (Genesis 2:23) for Adam and Eve were regarded as “one flesh”. Again, the Bible has always been a subject for translation. Therefore, words can sometimes have different meanings than it does today. But worry not, the message of the Bible stays constant amidst time!

Christian Terms

Lots

This word is really interesting – In today’s setting, “lots” can be an informal word for plenty or vast. It can even refer to the amount of land a person owns. In this day and age, when someone mentions “lots”, many people think of gambling.  But, that is not the case during Biblical times. In the Bible, it can mean two things; First, the term “lots” figuratively and literally means “portion” or “share”. For example, Joshua 14:2 speaks about how “lots” are the basis for their inheritance as what the Lord commanded.

This is where it gets really amusing. The second meaning of this word in the Bible involves a pebble or a small piece of wood. Of course, it doesn’t end there – these pebbles or pieces of wood are for decision-making in an impartial and unbiased way on important matters. How it works is, one of these pebbles or sticks was colored, different from the rest. All were then placed in a vessel which was then shaken. Once done, whoever picks the colored pebble or stick from the vessel is chosen. We can see this example when the soldiers “cast lots” for Jesus’ clothes (Matthew 27:35).

Righteousness

Clearly, “righteousness” seems like a common and highly subjective word – For a different person, it can mean loyalty or patience or humility. Throughout the history of Christianity, the word “righteousness” is important in the languages of Hebrew and Greek. “Tsadaq” means “righteousness” in Hebrew,  and can be used to describe someone who has received deliverance from condemnation. “Dikaiosune” means “righteousness” in Greek is a  

But, this as one of the highly repeated Biblical terms, its definition is far from being subjective. It’s simple- Righteousness is following the laws of the Lord. There’s no other meaning as to what righteous is expect this, His Laws are the only way we achieve it (Deuteronomy 6:25). When pursuing righteousness, this means to turn away from your natural, sinful desires, and turn to Christ and follow His perfect and righteous ways.

Hossana

Chances are, we always see ourselves singing “Hossana, Hossana to the highest”. As expected, this Biblical term uncovers a beautiful meaning behind it. The word is from the Hebrew term “hoshi’a na” which is “(h)osanna” in Latin. As a result, we know it as “Hossana” in English. Originally, “Hossana” is a plea for help (Psalm 118:25). And after many levels of translations and edits, the plea for assistance is now accepted as a word of praise and adoration. This explains why the songs we hear today use “Hossana” as a word of thanks to the Almighty Father.

Today Christians sing worship songs that include the word “Hosanna” in the lyrics. By exclaiming “Hosanna”, it is a way in which we praise God, asking him to save us. It reminds Christ’s followers that through Jesus Christ, we are saved, and he is the source of salvation.

Stocks

This word is usually associated today with currency, business or money. Statements like “the stocks increased today!” might sound familiar to you. You might be shocked as to how contrary this word is in Biblical terms. “Stocks” is an instrument of confinement attached to a part of a person’s body for punishment. Sometimes it confines just the feet, hands or the neck. We can see the use of this word in Acts 16:24 where Paul ventured on his Second Missionary Journey.

Idol

“Idol” is thought about in two ways today. First are those from the entertainment business, and second are statues; pictured Gods or Goddesses humans have created. People from other cultures call their celebrities “idols” but, as a Biblical term, “idol” is a whole different concept. Idolatry is praying to statues or worshipping false gods which are something the Word of God strongly opposes with. It is also the third commandment of the ten that were given to Moses (Exodus 20).

An “idol” can be a false god or a person that is worshipped or place equivalent to God. More importantly, an idol can be a strong attachment to earthly possessions and pride (Philippians 3:19). The Bible tackles and emphasizes how we should not have an “idol” in our lives. We are reminded in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two gods, this highlights how we cannot serve God and money at the same time.

Perish

If we look for its definition, to perish is to die. This definition is definitely accurate since the beginning of time to this day. However, the Bible has a deeper root for this word. As a Biblical term, “perish” is used as a condition to a promise. John 3:16 states that “whoever believes in the Lord will not perish but, have eternal life”. We can confirm two things; First, the wicked will perish and second, the faithful will not. The Bible uses this word as another term for absolute separation from the Lord. The original word perish is “apollumi”, which is  from the Greek word “apollumi”, meaning to “to lose, or to be lost”. If we think about it, the use of this word in the Bible is a lot more terrifying than death itself as it transcends the mere idea of losing one’s life.

Biblical Terms

Sheol

“Sheol” is a Hebrew word that points to the Greek word “Hades”, and when translated, the word then means “Grave”. But, this is not the grave we may imagine it to be. It’s more of a common grave for all mankind rather than a grave for just one person. Throughout the Old Testament, the Bible uses Sheol in various ways. First, Sheol can be seen as the grave where actual bodies are buried (Genesis 42:48). Second, it can also be seen as a place of eternal damnation (Psalm 55:15). Third, in Genesis 37:35, Sheol is referred to as the unseen realm of the dead, the present state of death. The grave here just simply means life’s unavoidable death. Lastly, Sheol is defined as a place where the righteous are saved from going (Psalm 49:15).

In the New Testament, there are also passages describing Hades (Sheol), such as in the story of Lazarus (Luke 16:19 – 31). Hades is said to be a place of darkness in which no one wants to spend eternity in for there will be continuous suffering.

Sorcery

Today, sorcery is known as another word for “magic”. For decades, poets have used this word to describe something supernatural or enchanting. But, the Bible has a different understanding of this word. In shorter terms, sorcery is an abomination to God. It’s the act of practicing witchcraft and those who practice sorcery will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21).  For example, casting spells or summoning spirits are actions of worshipping false gods. As sorcery is against God, and just like how we feel if we are wronged, God feels the same; it angers Him (2 Chronicles 33:6). So, Biblically speaking, sorcery is a big “no-no”!

Faith

In Christianity, this word is highly used in prayers and casual conversations. While it is easily understood, “faith” has a more colorful definition once defined Biblically. The word is from the Greek word “pistis (noun)” and its verb form “pistueo” which means “believe”. Faith is defined as belief with strong conviction and it is the opposite of doubt. Although Faith usually compliments “believing”, the Bible asserts more emphasis on “trusting”.  Sure, anyone can believe in God but, to be dependent in His Will and Power without leaning on your own understanding is what “faith” truly is (Proverbs 3:5).

Faith in God provides us with a moral and ethical compass to live a God-pleasing life. Faith is the pathway to being with our Father in Heaven. By faith through God’s grace and mercy we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). By faith, we are forgiven from our transgressions (1 John 2:12). And by faith, we have hope in God (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Prayers of faith can also help our relationship with Christ grow stronger each day.

Transgression

Today, transgression is like a “lapse” or an “offense” to someone or something. But, the Bible defines transgression as an act of disobedience to the law. Actually, it isn’t a mere “lapse” as transgression is synonymous with “sin” in the Holy Bible. An example of the usage of this word can be seen in Psalm 51:3 where “transgression” is mentioned before sin. Both words are highly similar by definition and both should be avoided.

Talent

Talent is such a wonderful thing, it can refer to the ability to do something with prestige. It’s a gift from God and a responsibility to use in favor of His Kingdom. But, here’s something that might interest you – The word “talent” in the Bible is actually the largest unit of weight and monetary value in Hebrew measurements. A “talent” weighs 34.2 kg. which is larger than a Greek talent which weighs 20.4 kg. We can see how “talent” is used in  1 Corinthians 22:14 as well as in Matthew 25:14–30 where Jesus taught with the parable of the talents.

1 Corinthians 22:14

Now behold, I have taken great pains to provide for the house of the LORD— 100,000 talents of gold, 1,000,000 talents of silver, and bronze and iron too great to be weighed. I have also provided timber and stone, but you will need to add to them.

Busker

It goes without saying, reading the Bible is a venture to God’s word and works. The Bible is our guide and our strength handed by the Lord as we walk in our lifetime. This is why we can expect the rich history behind the beautiful words sewn in the Bible. After many years, these words may be translated to other words and languages from different contexts but, one thing remains constant – It’s not how the words are translated but, what God is saying. His Words before, no matter how many will pass, will remain true, merciful and loving.