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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Missionary

Interestingly, the word missionary does not appear in the Bible (NIV).

Though we today understand a missionary as someone who goes out to tell others the good news about Jesus, the Bible uses the word minister for that context.

Also see pastor.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Good News

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the phrase good news appears in a generic sense. It refers to receiving favorable information, such as a messenger bringing good news to a king.

However, some of the Old Testament uses of good news, such as in the book of Isaiah, allude to the New Testament understanding of good news.

Read about Good News in the Old Testament of the Bible.

In the New Testament of the Bible, the use of good news becomes more focused. It refers to the coming of Jesus to heal us and give us the message of salvation.

See Gospel.

Read about the Good News of Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Pastor

The word pastor only occurs once in the Bible (in the NIV version).

It appears in Paul’s teaching about what many call the 5-fold ministry in Ephesians 4:11-13.

The role of a pastor is to equip God’s people to serve others and build up the church. This is far different then how most people think of pastor today.

Compare to minister.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Minister

Most of the time minister is used in the Bible it is as a verb. It’s a action that people, usually priests, do to serve or worship God. Often these actions are commanded, or prescribed, by God in the Law of Moses.

Read in the Bible about this use of minister, which is primarily in the Old Testament.

Much less often the Bible uses minister as a noun in an appointed or approved capacity. It refers to a person who serves God.

Though sometimes, such as for Timothy, a minister oversees one church or area, usually the application is as a missionary who travels from town to town telling people the good news of Jesus. See pastor.

Read in the Bible about this use of minister, which is primarily in the New Testament.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Manna

When the nation of Israel was in the desert they needed something to eat. God supernaturally provided a substance called manna. It sustained them for forty years while in the Sinai Peninsula.

Although the Bible describes manna, the explanation leaves me wanting. Apparently it was a nutritious foodstuff. It had multiple uses and physically nourished them, either in part or in whole, while living in the desert.

Read about manna in Exodus 16:4-5, 15-32.

For the four decades that God’s people were in the desert, he provided manna for them to eat. Once they left the desert and arrived at the land God promised to give them, the manna stopped (Joshua 5:12).

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Holocaust

The word holocaust is not found in most versions of the Bible, but when it is used, it refers to a burnt offering, specifically a sacrificial offering that is entirely burned up in fire. This was prescribed by Moses, as handed down by God.

In modern usage, the Holocaust was the mass genocide of European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

In general, holocaust refers to any wide scale loss of life or a massive slaughter.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Penance

The word penance is not found in most versions of the Bible, but when it is used, it refers to a voluntary act of self-mortification or devotion to show sorrow for sin or to seek God’s attention.

In some churches, penance is a sacrament that includes contrition, confession, acceptance of punishment, and absolution.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Paraclete

In general, a paraclete is a mediator or advocate.

Specifically, the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), serving as our comforter or advocate.

Paraclete was not found in any versions of the Bible consulted but is sometimes used by people when discussing the role and function of the Holy Spirit.

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Fornication

Fornication is voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried people, more often called adultery. Fornication (and adultery) is prohibited in the Bible.

The King James version of the Bible uses the word fornication, whereas most other versions use the word adultery instead.

[Read verses in the Bible about fornication.]

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Bible Terms

Bible Term: Holy

Holy is both a characteristic of God as well as a lifestyle for us to emulate.

In reference to God, holy means sacred, worthy of worship, praise, and adoration. In the Hebrew culture a word was repeated three times to place emphasis on it. This is used with holy in reference to God: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come,” (Revelation 4:8; also see Isaiah 6:3).

In regard to people, holy means living according to a moral code or standard. Throughout the Bible, God commands and implores us to be holy. In Leviticus 11:44, God says, “Be holy, because I am holy,” (which is quoted in 1 Peter 1:16.)

The word holy is also attached to other words to elevate them, such as Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost), Holy Communion, Holy of Holies, Holy Bible, and so forth.

Compare to righteous.