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10 Most Important Words in the Bible for New Christians to Understand

The Bible is filled with words that aren't easy to understand at first, or have much deeper meanings than we realize. Here are 10 of the most important words in the Bible and the rich meanings we find in them.

Contributing Writer
Feb 25, 2022
10 Most Important Words in the Bible for New Christians to Understand

After I began learning another language in a foreign country, words in the Bible became more meaningful to me. Terms I had taken for granted in my church upbringing began to take on greater significance. I recognized how much comprehension had to do with a new culture’s background, experience, and context. Words in the Bible are rich with meaning. Similar to how learning a foreign language increases cultural appreciation, understanding Biblical language fosters respect and comprehension of God’s Word. Digging deep into what God says brings a joyful connection with its Author. These ten important words in the Bible deepen Biblical insight.

Apple held in a hand

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1. Sin

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV)

Sin is a vital word in the Bible, one that we must understand. Three Old Testament Hebrew words often translated as “sin” in the English language are chatta’ah, pesha, and avon.

Chatta’ah means to miss the way, go wrong, and incur guilt (both willfully and accidentally). Pesha, often translated as transgression, denotes breaking an established rule. Avon signifies willful and continuing wrongdoing.

The New Testament Greek word for sin, hamartia, comes from a technical word used in archery. It means to miss the mark.

Since the time Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin has reigned in each person.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12 NKJV)

Sin brought separation from God, requiring a Savior to bridge the divide between humankind and a holy God.

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:21-22 NKJV)

Manger and three crosses on Calvary

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2. Messiah

The word Messiah comes from the Old Testament word “mashiach,” meaning “anointed one” or “chosen one.” The New Testament Greek equivalent is the word Christos, Christ. One of the words of the Bible with which many are familiar, Messiah is vital to the gospel.

The path for Messiah came through the Jewish people, but His grace and mercy extended to everyone. Incarnate God, fully human and fully God in the flesh, fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, changed history, and provided redemption for sin.

Andrew, one of Jesus’ disciples, connected Jesus to the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. “We have found the Messiah,” Andrew told his brother (John 1:41 ESV).

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 NKJV)

Only Jesus Christ could satisfy the promises of the Messiah.

light coming from tomb with stone rolled away, what the resurrection teaches us about life after death

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3. Resurrection

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:17-19 NIV)

The Apostle Paul’s words in the Bible reveal how vital resurrection is to our faith. 

In the Old Testament, David wrote, “because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” (Psalm 16:10 NIV)

Hebrews refers to Abraham offering his son Isaac in Genesis as a shadow of resurrection to come (Hebrews 11:17-19 NIV). 

Jesus spoke of Jonah’s three nights in the big fish, prefiguring His death and resurrection. (Matthew 12:40 NIV) He predicted, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days, he will rise.” (Mark 9:31 NIV)

The resurrection was foundational in the birth of the church. 

“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’” (Acts 17:2-3 ESV)

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4. Covenant

A covenant is a binding agreement or contract between two parties. In Scripture, it is used between people, tribes, and nations. Covenant is also used in reference to God’s revelation of Himself.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 NIV)

God’s covenant with His people in the Old Testament was not bilateral in the sense of our contributing to it, but rather God’s mercy and grace extended unilaterally toward those whom He chose. The Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants each confirm God’s faithfulness and point to a New Covenant in Christ.

But in fact, the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6 NIV)

For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15 NIV)

5. Salvation

Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace through the person of Jesus Christ. We receive salvation through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. One of the essential words of the Bible, salvation, restores relationship with a holy God previously broken by sin.

For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

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6. Hell

Hell is important because it defines the eternal destination of those unsaved. The Old Testament Hebrew sheol describes the realm of the dead, which is equivalent to hades in the Greek New Testament. Three New Testament Greek words in the Bible translated hell in English are Gehenna, hades, and tartaros. These words provide slightly different meanings to hell (Gehenna was a physical location in Israel, while hades and tartaros and its related word tartaroo owe something to Greek beliefs about the underworld). While we don’t get detailed descriptions of hell, we get vital details.

Hell is the abode of Satan and his angels.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41 KJV)

Hell is a place of anguish and torment.

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched….” (Mark 9:43 KJV)

Hell is an eternal destination.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:46 KJV)

7. Sacrifice

Rich in meaning, sacrifice is one of the words in the Bible which impacts all of Scripture.

Complex and cumbersome, Old Testament sacrificial laws were requirements for acceptable worship. They pointed toward Christ’s death on the cross. 

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Hebrews 10:1 ESV)

New Testament expressions such as shedding blood, offering, sprinkling, fragrances, and priestly services harken back to Old Testament sacrifices. These references connect to Jewish law.

Indeed, under the law, almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22 ESV)

Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross made him the perfect and complete sacrificial Lamb. 

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:25 NIV)

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8. Disciple

When we think of Jesus’ disciples, we are most familiar with twelve individuals with whom Jesus lived, worked, and taught (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:14-19, and Luke 6:13-16). Students and scholars of their Master, the word “disciple” is important for Jesus’s followers today.

A disciple of Christ has placed faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior and models life and practice to be like Him.

A disciple’s call includes sacrifice, dedication, and devotion.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Mark 8:34 NIV)

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)

Jesus tasked his disciples to make more disciples.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

9. Satan

Satan was an angelic being whose pride led to his fall from God’s presence. His appearance in the early pages of Scripture shows him as a deceiver, a tempter, accuser, and enemy of God.

“Now, the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)

The book of Isaiah shows us that Satan’s pride incited him to want to be like God.

“I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14 NIV)

Satan opposes God’s role as ruler of the world (John 12:31-33). He is a murderer and liar (John 8:44-47) and an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). He actively seeks to devour like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), blinds minds to truth (2 Cor. 4:4), and is the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).

Satan’s evil hand in the history of our world required redemption through Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ is the ultimate victor, but our redemption was costly. The book of Revelation promises Satan’s ultimate defeat. 

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10. Church

From the Greek word ekklesia, the word “church” is another important word in the Bible. It means “assembly” or “called out ones.” Specifically, in the New Testament, church refers to those people called out from the world and into His eternal kingdom. While we may picture a building, the New Testament pictures church as a body of believers with Christ as its head.

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV)

The word church first appears when Jesus told Peter, “On this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 is considered the birth of the New Testament church.

The term universal church describes all true believers who have put their faith in Christ Jesus for salvation. The term local church refers to a local body of believers. 

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)

Further Reading:

3 Simple Guidelines You Need to Know for Bible Study

What is Biblical Hermeneutics and Is it Still Important Today?

What is a Concordance?

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Sylvia SSylvia Schroeder loves connecting God’s Word with real life and writing about it. She is a contributing writer for a variety of magazines and online sites. Sylvia is co-author of a devotional book and her writing is included in several book compilations. Mom to four, grandma to 14, and wife to her one and only love, Sylvia enjoys writing about all of them. 

Her love for pasta and all things Italian stems from years of ministry abroad. She’d love to tell you about it over a steaming cup of cappuccino. Connect with Sylvia on her blog, When the House is Quiet, her Facebook page, or Twitter.

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