Church-to-English Translation

I want to apologize for all the times you’ve heard a Christian speaking “church-ese” without proper translation.  Like with the jargon of any specialty, we get used to terms and forget that not everyone hears them the same way.

That doesn’t make the terms wrong; they came into use for good reason.  But there are more common terms that convey the same concepts.  I’ll try to explain a few of those on this page.

Term

Translation

Holy

Separate; set apart; “other”; used to assert the distance of God above us

Sin, Sinner

Missing the target; failing to meet specifications; rebellion against God; acting as if our lives are our own and He has no claim on us.  Separated from God due to that rebellion.

Confess

Admit; “con” = “with” or “together”, “fess” from Latin fateri “admit” related to fari “speak” 1, so “speak with” or agree with God that we are in the wrong

Repent, Repentance

Reverse course; about-face; quit moving away from God and turn back toward Him

Faith, Believe

Trust; Rely on; Depend on.  Not just “Yeah, sure, that net can hold me”, but jumping off and letting the net catch me.

Saved, Salvation

Rescued, specifically from the eternal consequences of sin; reconciled to proper relationship with God via Jesus

Redeemed, Redemption

Almost synonym for Saved/Salvation. Has the sense of “buy back” a slave, or property that would otherwise be lost.

Accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior

Consciously choose to confess* our sin*, repent* from it, and put our faith* in Jesus to save* and redeem* us.

* See definitions above

Forgive, Forgiveness

NOT saying that the wrong didn’t happen, or isn’t important, or doesn’t matter.  Rather, a conscious choice to let go of the right to punish the wrong-doer, or to hold on to bitterness and resentment.

Grace

Un-deserved favor.  To give someone something good that they haven’t earned and don’t deserve. 

Mercy

Parallel to Grace: To not give someone the punishment that they deserve.

Disciple, Discipline

Student, Training: Jesus’ disciples were simply His students who followed and learned from His day-to-day life, as well as His “official” teaching.  All of His followers are disciples.

Apostle

Messenger, envoy, one who is sent on a mission.  Generally refers to the eleven closest disciples (minus Judas the betrayer) plus Paul (a bit late to the party but still specifically appointed by Jesus)

Deacon

Servant, from the Greek diakonos.  The first deacons were selected by the early church to handle distribution of donations to the poor among the believers, so that the apostles could be free to continue teaching (Acts 6:1-7).

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. https://www.etymonline.com/word/confess