facebook pageview

The Character of God and the Gospel Glossary

A gospel glossary is vital to understand scripture as it is necessary to understand the words the Bible uses to convey its truths. This is especially true in regards to the character of God and the gospel both of which have been misunderstood. There are two major and very different ways (or paradigms) with which to understand much of scripture. Which model a person holds very much affects their understanding of the character of God.

The words included in this gospel glossary will be examined in relation to both “The Biblical Healing Model” and “The Traditional Legal Model” of the gospel. Words included are those that have been misunderstood and/or significantly misused in relation to the character of God and/or the gospel.

New You may now download the glossary as a PDF file. This third edition of the glossary contains all of the definition pages completed as of January 2024 but does not include any supporting pages those link to.

The glossary is also available in flip-book format at: https://godnewsgoodnews.org/Product-Detail/gods-character-gospel-glossary-40458 (2023 edition only)

Scroll down on this page for brief definitions of each word
or use the quick links here to go to extended glossary definitions:

accommodation*, accuser, advocate (with intercession), anger (with wrath), appease, arbitrary,* arrows, atonement, awe (with fear), believe, Biblical Healing Model,* blood, blot, books/records, born again, breach, brightness, chastening of the Lord, command, condemnation, conscience, consequence-natural,* consumed, covenant, cross, crucifixion, curse, cut off, destroy/destruction, destroyer, discomfited, dispensation*, dominion, eternal/everlasting/forever, faith (with believe), fear, fire, forgiveness, forsake, free will* (with command), glory, gospel, guilt (with shame), hardened, hell, hiding the face, holy, hornets, humility, intercession, intercessor, jealous God, judgment, just (a just man), just (God is just), justice, justification, justified (with justification), kill, kingdom of God, law, law-design,* law-imposed,* legalism,* lightning (with arrows), lion, longsuffering, love, mark, mediator (with intercession), mercy, murder (with kill), mystery of God, name, of the Lord, overthrow, penal substitution,* perfection, price (with ransom), pricks (with discomfited), probation, propitiation, punishment, ransom, recompense, reconciliation, redeemed (with ransom), remission, repentance, righteousness, sacrifice, sanctification, sanctuary, sealedsecond death, sent (“the lord sent”), shame, sin, sin (made to be), sinful flesh (with sin, made to be), sinner, smite/smote, sovereignty,* strange act, surely die, sword, torment, Traditional Legal Model,* trust (with believe), veil, vengeance, visit, works, wrath

*= Supplemental terms not used in the Bible but help to understand other glossary terms. Those with very brief definitions are at https://characterofgod.org/supplemental-terms/.

Terms to be added: brimstone, converted, covenants, destroying angel, imparted/imputed, omniscience,* salvation, scapegoat, tithing, worship


  • Only brief definitions, usually in relation to the two models, will be given on this page. For each word, there is (or will be) a link to a more extensive discussion in terms of some or all of the following especially in relation to the two gospel models and the character of God.
  • A Modern Dictionary Definition – The source of definitions used here (unless indicated otherwise) is: http://www.dictionary.com/
  • character of God and the gospel glossary Definitions in Earlier Dictionaries – Translators of the King James Version (published 1611) would have understood according to then-current definitions. Most other versions we use came after 1611. Since words can change meaning over time, it makes sense to see if certain words had different meanings closer to the time they were incorporated into the Bible versions we are looking at. The source most used here is the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary found at: http://webstersdictionary1828.com/.The dictionary definitions provided in this glossary may include only a portion of the various definitions given, with emphasis on those that are most important in relation to understanding the gospel and the character of God.
  • Greek/Hebrew Word Meanings – The source of definitions most used here is The Online Bible (http://www.onlinebible.net/)
  • Other sources – Links may also be provided to other authors who have given particularly good explanations of particular words.
  • Biblical Usage – looking at how the Bible itself uses the original words in various contexts often reveals much about their meaning. Verses referred to will be from The King James Version unless specified. This can be very important in determining word meanings. To a considerable degree, the Bible can be its own dictionary.
  • Key examples from the Bible will be given in many cases. In fact, one of the best ways to understand many words is to understand how the Bible itself defines them. By looking at all the verses using a particular original word, always in context, the meaning often becomes much clearer. That, of course, tends to make word studies much longer.

How about letting the Bible itself tell us what its words mean? Isn’t that logical?

To illustrate and quickly summarize major differences between the two models, here are brief descriptions written to include many of the words in the gospel glossary.

The Traditional Legal Model

God arbitrarily imposed laws and determined punishments for violations which are called sins. Since He is a God of justice, evil stirs up His wrath which must be appeased by a sacrifice including the shedding of blood. Those who finally reject salvation come under the awful curse of God Who will finally take vengeance by smiting sinners with fire from heaven – the second death.

A sinner whose guilty conscience brings conviction for his sinfulness can confess and be granted forgiveness because the ransom price has been provided to legally cancel the debt. The propitiation brings atonement for sins which are then blotted from the record books of heaven. The repentant sinner, by faith, is justified and declared to be righteous. Having received salvation, he grows in sanctification towards perfection and, in the final investigative judgment, will not come under condemnation.

The Biblical Healing Model

God designed laws as the basis of life, violations of which have intrinsic, natural consequences leading towards death. Those who rebel against His law of love will exhibit that rebellion in unrighteous acts – sins. This state of sinfulness causes condemnation in the conscience and has punishment built into it. When a person persists in rejection of and distrust in God, God honors that free-will choice and, in wrath, leaves the sinner to the consequences of his choices.

If guilt brings conviction enough to cause a sinner to choose repentance, he will receive forgiveness which has already been granted by God to all. A realization of the grace and glory (character) of God to provide salvation leads the sinner to trust (have faith in) God; to be justified or set right with Him – what the Bible calls atonement – the condition of being “at-one” with God. The repentant sinner then, as He beholds the righteousness of Christ, grows in sanctification towards perfection of character. Christ’s life (typified by His blood) and sacrifice frees (ransoms) us from what held us captive – the lies of Satan about the character of God and our own sinful natures.

To Get the Message You Need to Know the Meaning of the Words

The descriptions above will be much more understandable when the proper definitions for the terms are understood. You will see that the two models are very different indeed. One has to think of what Paul said very early in Christian history:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (Gal 1:6)

Further Notes

Supporting information. There are also extra pages for some words that give additional information for some definitions. These are referred to within each definition page and are listed in the index page under each glossary word.

Idioms. Important to understanding some terms and thus the Bible is awareness of its use of idioms. A guest article by Troy Edwards gives some background on idioms and their importance.

Remember, short descriptions only are included here. Follow the headings for each word which are links (when available) to more detailed studies of individual words. Remember, the emphasis is on how word meanings vary between the two models of the gospel. Word definitions may be updated with further information (or in response to reader feedback).

Now, here is (the beginnings of) the gospel glossary:

The Character of God and the Gospel Glossary

Click on titles showing as links to see the detailed definition pages.

Accuser (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – While Satan is called “the accuser,” God also keeps  records of sins, judges and executes the sentence and therefore His heavenly justice system must also include accusing and laying charges.

Biblical Healing Model – Satan alone is the accuser. God has no part in accusing. He does not keep a record of charges against us for the purpose of administering punishment. In fact, He is always on our side doing all He can to clear us of Satan’s accusations.

Advocate – see entry for “intercession”

Anger – see entry for “wrath”

Appease (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – thought of in the sense of satisfying the wrath of an offended God.

Biblical Healing Model – the Bible does not use the word in relation to God. He does not need to be appeased.

Arbitrary* (Supplemental term)

Arrows (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The arrows of God are understood by some as only weapons to hurt and kill. There are others who recognize figurative uses within the traditional model.

Biblical Healing Model – They can be literal weapons yes, but also are used figuratively as convictions of conscience – piercing the heart with a consciousness of guilt as is used of the term “hornets.”

Atonement (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – satisfaction of God’s justice by a legal payment of debt.

Biblical Healing Model – the process to become or the state of being at one with God.

Awe – see entry for “fear”

Believe – includes discussion of “faith” and “trust” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – At one extreme, it is simply trusting even without evidence. Such faith will not stand up well when the pressure comes.

 Biblical Healing Model – God gives evidence on which we can base our relationship to Him. Having that relationship and knowledge of His true character develops in us the love that will see us through trials.

Biblical Healing Model*

Blood (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – “Blood” (the bodily fluid) is the means or currency used for the payment for sin. Shed blood is required for sin to be cancelled (Heb 9:22).

Biblical Healing Model – The blood is a metaphor representing the life. So Jesus’ blood stands for His life. We are saved by His life (Rom 5:10).

Blot (Blot Out) (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – When payment in blood has been made and accepted by the sinner, the debt of his guilt and record of his sin is blotted out.

Biblical Healing Model –  Sins are blotted out from a person’s actions and thinking. The tendency to give in to temptation has been overcome. It is not a case of them being blotted out from record books.

Books (Records of Heaven) (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model –  a legal account of every sin a person has committed and whether it has been pardoned or not to be used as the basis for judgment (Rev 20:12).

Biblical Healing Model – a record of each person’s:

  • acts, good and bad
  • choices, especially to love and trust God or not
  • individuality and character

The books/records are involved in determining (largely a self-determination) if a person is healed of their sin sickness and thus are safe to save.

Born Again (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – being born again applies to a people who have accepted Jesus as Savior with the understanding that they are sinners subject to the death penalty and willing to have Jesus die in their place to pay the death penalty they owe. It is a new lease on life.

Biblical Healing Model – being born again refers to the beginning of a completely new life with a new heart and new desires, motives and purposes. All this is produced by beholding Christ, appreciating His true character and wanting to emulate it.

Breach (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – some define a breach as God’s action to punish sin. Examples are given.

Biblical Healing Model – breaches are the actions of man breaking God’s law and the results of those actions (so both a verb and noun). Breaches can, ultimately, include broken relationships.

Brightness (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – It is commonly understood that devouring fire at Christ’s Second Coming will burn up those who have rejected Him and managed to survive the seven last plagues.

Biblical Healing Model – The fire of His presence, a manifestation of His love, will so pierce the consciences of those who have rejected Him that they would prefer to be buried by rocks and mountains rather than behold the loving face of Jesus.

Chastening of the Lord (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God personally chastens, in whatever way He deems necessary, to prevent man from sinning. The chastening of the Lord is distinct from punishment in that it is remedial rather than simply retributive.

 Biblical Healing Model – chastening involves God allowing us to experience the negative consequences of our sins with the goal of teaching us to avoid those sins that hurt us and others.

Command (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model: God has given commandments which He commands us to obey and if we use our free will not to obey we have sinned and there is a price to pay to Him which He requires to satisfy His justice.

Biblical Healing Model: All of God’s commands/commandments are given for our good, not His. Anything we do against His commands naturally leads to negative consequences which is why He encourages us not to do certain things – He is trying to protect us from harm. He never threatens, coerces or punishes in order to sway our free will.

Condemnation (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God condemns and has negative feelings towards sinners and will impose punishment on them if they don’t make things right.

Biblical Healing Model – God does not condemn or have negative feelings towards sinners. His focus and efforts are always to heal and restore.

Conscience (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – a clear conscience is achieved by having the record of our sins cleared by the payment of a penalty and understanding that God has forgiven us of them.

 Biblical Healing Model – a clear conscience is achieved by making wrongs right, yes, but also by ceasing to do the wrongs that cause guilt and shame. Also, knowing that God unconditionally forgives all our sins, does not hold our past against us and wants to help us overcome.


Consumed (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Commonly thought to be the result of God’s destructive work to punish His people or their enemies as seen in:

“For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.” (Deut 2:15)

Biblical Healing Model – In this case, “consumed” is a reference to the point in time (note the word “until”) when all the men of war that had rebelled at Kadesh (Num 14:22-23, 34) were deceased. It is simply a way of saying that the process of them dying off was finished or completed according to this definition.

Covenant (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The covenant (the agreement) is sometimes confused with the subject of the agreement often thought of as the law of Ten Commandments and the thinking is that the Old Covenant concerns the Ten Commandments and was replaced by the New Covenant since the law was (mistakenly thought to have been) done away.

 Biblical Healing Model – The covenant we are most concerned with is God’s promises to man. Essentially, using the illustration above, God, the Master Architect, proposes to build a house for us, with our cooperation.

Cross (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the cross was where God’s wrath against sin was satisfied in the sacrifice of His Son to pay the legal penalty of sin thus satisfying Divine justice and allowing God to then forgive sin.

 Biblical Healing Model – the cross was the ultimate event showing the ongoing suffering of God because of man’s sin and the results of sin. It also demonstrated the magnitude of the love of God and the extent to which God will allow mankind to make their own decisions. And more.

Crucifixion (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The physical torture endured by Jesus to pay the penalty of sin and thus satisfy the justice of God.

Biblical Healing Model – The emotional torture that was and is still endured by Jesus and His Father because of man’s continuing rejection.

Curse (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Curses are actively and directly caused by God as punishment for sins.

Biblical Healing Model – Curses are natural consequence of man’s choices to depart from God thus forfeiting His protection.

Cut Off (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – “That soul shall be cut off” is a declaration of the punishment of death (the cutting off) for anyone who defiles the Sabbath or various other infractions of God’s law.

Biblical Healing Model – “That soul shall be cut off,” properly understood, warns that those who defile the Sabbath separate themselves from the covenant between God and His people and, if they don’t turn back to God, the Source of life, they will experience eternal death.

Destroy/destruction (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – While God is a God of love, to satisfy justice and for the good of man, He, at times, has to personally and directly destroy unrepentant sinners.

Biblical Healing Model – Yes, God does destroy as the Bible plainly says He does, but He destroys in the sense of not restraining or preventing the natural consequences of man’s choice and actions from occurring.

Destroyer (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The destroyer is Satan at times and God is at other times in order to maintain His justice.

Biblical Healing Model – The destroyer is always Satan. God only destroys in the sense that He allows it to happen.

Discomfited – includes discussion of “pricks” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God’s action to destroy or at least aid in destroying the enemies of Israel.

Biblical Healing Model – God’s last-minute appeal to the conscience to turn to Him.

Dispensation (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Dispensation meaning God has dealt with people, as a whole, in different ways during different periods of history. This is related to covenant theology which considers various covenants, most simply, the Old and the New which, of course, are also seen as separated in time – before and after the cross.

 Biblical Healing Model – Dispensation meaning there are stages in how God deals with each individual but those are dispensations of individual experience rather than dispensations of historical time. They are distinct periods (independent of historical events) in each person’s life but are consecutive in time – before and after conversion.

Dominion (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model: While man was given dominion over the plants and animals, since God is all-powerful and created this earth, He has ultimate control over it and can be said to be responsible for “acts of God.”

 Biblical Healing Model: God gave dominion of the Earth to man but man switched allegiance to Satan so that Satan now has dominion of the Earth and its inhabitants and can exercise control in a greater degree than many realize. And that control is in proportion to man’s wickedness. Thus, we see storms and floods and all kinds of disasters.

Eternal, Everlasting, Forever (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the lost are punished by God in a place of torment and that process is eternal, everlasting and goes on forever without end.

Biblical Healing Model – the “punishment,” in fact, lasts a relatively short time but the result – death (Rom 6:23) is eternal and is never reversed.

Faith – see entry for “believe”

Fear – includes discussion of “awe” (click link for detailed study)

Both models share the meaning of to be in awe of or have reverence for God. The difference in understanding of the other major meaning – to be afraid – is examined in more detail.

Traditional Legal Model – If you sin, you are in danger of God’s judgment, condemnation and, ultimately, His punishment if that sin is not paid for. You had better be afraid and that fear is, in fact, a motivator for repentance.

Biblical Healing Model – Sin always has negative consequences from which God works to protect us. Even the sinner need not be afraid of God but, rather, needs to fear the sin. Sin is sin because of the hurt it can cause to the sinner not because God arbitrarily decided which actions are sinful or not.

Fire (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – There are cases of literal fire coming directly from God at times for punishment of sin. With the non-Biblical tradition of immortality of the soul included, fire is also used to cause the lost to suffer intense pain forever.

Biblical Healing Model – There are times when fire looks like punishment from God when it is just a reference to His presence. In other cases, God is not the source of the fire but it has been wrongly ascribed to Him.

Forgiveness (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Forgiveness for sin (acceptance of the sinner by God and erasing sin’s record) can only happen via the shedding of blood (meaning death) of a substitute.

 Biblical Healing Model – Forgiveness is always freely granted by God. He does not hold our sins against us. The sinner need only recognize that forgiveness is offered and accept it.

Note: I have written a book/ebook Biblical Forgiveness: Are There Two Types?

Forsake (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Especially in reaction to people turning from or disobeying him, God will forsake them in return.

Biblical Healing Model – While God will honor our choices to turn from Him; even to follow other gods, He will never forsake us as in abandoning us.

Glory (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the emphasis is often on God’s majesty, holiness, honor, fame and power. It could be thought of as “look at how great I am.”

Biblical Healing Model – God’s glory is mainly the attributes of His character that are more other-centered: His love, goodness, forgiveness, respect for the freedom of others; even His humbleness.

Gospel (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The good news of the kingdom of God including that God would send His Son to pay the penalty for sin so that we could be forgiven.

Biblical Healing Model – The good news of a God of love Who is more concerned for our happiness than for His own; Who forgives all sins and acts always in love.

Guilt – see entry for “shame”

Hardened (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – To be hardened is understood to be an individual’s action of resisting or refusing truth.

Biblical Healing Model – The meaning is the same but the word is included in the glossary to clearly distinguish who is responsible for the hardening.

Hell (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – a literal place where God sends the unsaved to be punished by fire for (in most beliefs) eternity.

Biblical Healing Model – the place (the grave) of the dead – both saved and unsaved – where they await, without consciousness, the resurrection.

Hiding the Face (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model:  God is so offended by our sins that He cannot tolerate them and turns His holy face away from sins and sinners.

Biblical Healing Model: While sin hurts God, He loves and continues to give His attention to the sinner. However, it is the sinner who cannot “see” (in the sense of understanding and appreciating) God due to a misapprehension of His character.

Holy (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God is holy because of His perfection, His sinless purity and that He, being uncreated, is so much better than us created beings (mere mortals). As such, He cannot tolerate sin, unrighteousness or injustice and has to counter those with appropriate punishment while otherwise remaining separate from us.

Biblical Healing Model – What distinguishes God as holy is His perfect character. He is doing all He can to reveal that holy (and very attractive character) to us but His holiness and most everything about Him has been twisted and misunderstood. Correctly viewing His holiness will actually change us into the same image.

Hornets (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The stinging insects God said He would use to clear the land of its occupants so that His chosen people, the Israelites, could move in.

Biblical Healing Model – A metaphor for the “stings” of conscience that would, hopefully, influence the Canaanites to change their ways and, if they would not change, cause them to leave the land.

Humility (click link for detailed study)

Traditional legal Model – The all-powerful Creator of the universe will eventually show Who is boss. When necessary, He deals with His enemies in strict justice. Jesus showed a humble side on earth but will come as a lion at the Second Coming.

Biblical Healing Model – The humility of God, when we come to understand it, is surprising to most people. He is not the thunder and lightning-wielding deity many have portrayed Him to be. I think we will find that He is the humblest being in the universe.

Intercession – includes discussion of “advocate” and “mediator” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Christ pleading with His Father to convince Him to forgive us.

Biblical Healing Model – Christ and His Father together dealing with evil, the forces of nature and with ourselves for our benefit.

Intercessor (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The intercessor, Christ, works on our behalf because we are not capable of dealing directly with the Father, the Divine Judge. Being both man and God, Jesus can bridge the gap and plead our case.

Biblical Healing Model – Christ functions as Intercessor for our benefit in a number of ways but certainly not to defend us against a strict Judge. The Father Himself is also an intercessor on our behalf.

Jealous God (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model:  God wants to be worshiped as the supreme being and therefore commands us to worship Him only. Worship of anything or anyone else makes Him jealous of that competition for worship.

Biblical Healing Model: When someone is bowing before an idol, God is not jealous of the idol in the sense that He feels the loss of something the idol is receiving instead of Him getting it. His jealousy, His concern is for the one bowing and looking to another source for what he needs when only God can provide it

Judgment (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the legal determination of guilt or innocence and pronouncement of arbitrarily-imposed punishment.

Biblical Healing Model – the determination of the state of the heart (diagnosis), therapeutic interventions, and pronouncement of natural result on one’s life choices.

Just as in “a just man” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – There is some variation in understanding:

  • From the Jewish point of view a ‘just man’ was a strict observer of the laws of Moses and of rabbinical traditions.” (SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p283)
  • Proverb 20:7 says “The just man walketh in his integrity …” The just man has a sound, upright and consistent moral character.
  • Some would view a just man as one who is always obedient; viewed as perfect in God’s eyes.

Biblical Healing Model – A just man is one who has been set right (justified) in his relationship with God. A right relationship with God can only be established with a correct understanding of His character and an acceptance and reflection of that in our own lives.

Just as in “God is Just” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Most sources will mention one or both of two ways to understand God is just:

The emphasis between the two concepts will vary from one source to another but both understandings are commonly held.

Biblical Healing Model – God is just in that He always does the right thing agreeing with the first definition listed above. What is right from His character of love includes honoring the free will of others allowing complete freedom of choice without force or any threat. When we choose wrong, He freely allows us to have the consequences we have (knowingly or unknowingly) chosen. “You reap what you sow.” That is the sense in which God “punishes” sin contrary to the second definition above.

Justice (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – justice demands the penalty/wages of death and eternal separation from God. It is only satisfied if the guilty person pays that penalty or if someone else pays on his behalf. Justice is retributive.

Biblical Healing Model – justice is doing the right thing which is to restore to a right state, to heal and to save. It is right to treat others as we wish to be treated, to not hold grudges and to not keep account of sins. Justice is restorative.

Justification – includes discussion of “justified” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the declaration that a person is right with God in a legal sense – his sins being forgiven and the penalty paid.

Biblical Healing Model –  to cure man’s condition in the sense of setting man’s heart right (or justifying it) with God.

Justified – see entry for “justification”

Kill – includes discussion of “murder” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – To kill as in “Thou shalt not kill” (The sixth commandment, Exo 20:13) is to commit what we would call murder, the malicious and unjustified taking of another life. It does not include killing in self-defense, times of war or in judicial acts.

Biblical Healing Model – To kill is to take the life of another human under any circumstances or for any reason.

Kingdom of God (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the reign of God on Earth. God’s rule over His people. Those who do not submit to God’s rule are not part of His kingdom.

Biblical Healing Model – The principles of God, based on His character, being lived out in the lives of those who, by doing that, have His kingdom in their hearts.

Law (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – rules made by God to govern our behavior which, if transgressed, incur the penalty/wages of death (Rom 6:23).

Biblical Healing Model – “law” is used in two major ways:

  1. God’s laws are the design template for life and are based on love, the defining characteristic of God, (“God is love” – 1 John 4:8) deviations from which, if not corrected, naturally end in death.
  1. Specific laws given as diagnostic tools (“By the law is the knowledge of sin” – Rom 3:20) to show man his condition – whether or not he is in harmony with God’s law which is the principle of love and the template for life.

Law, design*

Law, imposed*


Lightning – see entry for “arrows”

Lion (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The lion of the tribe of Judah is Jesus coming the second time not as a harmless lamb but as a vengeful lion to consume His enemies.

Biblical Healing Model – The lion of the tribe of Judah is actually a lion cub representing Jesus Who, at the Second Coming, will, as ever, be holy, harmless and undefiled.

Longsuffering (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God restraining Himself to give man a little more time before He finally takes corrective or punitive action. 

Biblical Healing Model – God actually suffering emotionally while hoping man will turn to Him.

Love (click link for detailed study)

Love is defined in a practical way by the life and words of Jesus Who came to show the true meaning of “God is love” (1 John 3:4, 8). From the perspective of the two models of the gospel, the “definitions” below point out the major difference in how God’s love functions toward sinners.

Traditional Legal Model – Because of God’s love, He sent His Son to pay the legal penalty of death so that He could forgive and save us.

Biblical Healing Model – Because God loves us, He forgives us unconditionally, holds nothing against us and sent His Son to show what that love is like.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

Notice that, in the Healing Model, the forgiveness came even before Jesus was sent (and came willingly). Because of the hardness of hearts, that revelation of His Father’s love was almost entirely rejected with the result that wicked men betrayed and murdered Him (Acts 7:52).

Mark (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Mark as in “the mark of the beast” is often connected with Sunday worship. Sometimes (incorrectly) it is seen as an outward symbol on the forehead.

Biblical Healing Model – There is the day of worship connection but mark, in this context, is also connected to character. Those who have the mark of the beast will have a character to match the beast while those who have the seal of God will have the character of God.

Mediator – see entry for “intercession”

Mercy (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Removing or lessening the penalty for sin that “justice” demands in response to the sinner meeting the condition of repentance or a plea for mercy by the sinner.

Biblical Healing Model – Granting mercy is doing what is best for the sinner, without condition, and is the just or right thing to do. Mercy for sinners is always available but, like forgiveness, it must be received.

Murder – see entry for “kill”

Mystery of God (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The common understanding it that a Biblical mystery is not something kept secret as much as it is something previously not understood that is now revealed.

Biblical Healing Model – This model would take that a step further to emphasize that Jesus is the revealer of His Father’s character and thus solves the “Mysteries” of God” – what He is really like through His representation of His Father’s character during His life on earth.

Name (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model and Biblical Healing Model – the meaning of the term “name” is not so different between the two models. However, it is included in the glossary to emphasize that name is more connected to character than most people realize.  There are many verses where understanding this strong connection will shed light on God’s character.

Of the Lord (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – “It was of the Lord” or God’s plan for Samson to do what he did to give an occasion to fight against the Philistine’s oppression of His people.

Biblical Healing Model – “It was of the Lord” for Samson to do what he did in the sense that God allowed it as He honors free-will choices but it is never “of the Lord” for a person to commit a sin.

Overthrow (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – To overthrow, as understood in the case of Nineveh, is God’s work to destroy a people/city as punishment for their wickedness.

Biblical Healing Model – To overthrow, as in that case, can also refer to God’s work to change the hearts of the people.

Penal Substitution*

Perfection (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Perfection is the standard God requires of us and anything less displeases Him. We can be accepted as perfect by God if we claim Christ’s perfect record to replace our own imperfect one.

Biblical Healing Model – Perfection of our relationship with Him is what God is really seeking more than perfect compliance to a list of rules just as a loving parent desires a close relationship with a child. Of course, He also wants us to keep His rules as they are all designed for our blessing.

Price – see entry for “ransom”

Pricks – see entry for “discomfited”

Probation (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – A period of time allotted by God at the end of which He will examine our life record and determine whether to save us or not.

Biblical Healing Model – The opportunity given by God for us to decide for or against having a relationship with Him. If we allow Him to heal us then we are safe to save. We make the decision, not Him.

Propitiation (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – the satisfaction of God’s wrath and justice by the death of His Son Who died in our place to pay the penalty we deserved.

Biblical Healing Model  – the symbolic place (the mercy seat of the ark) where God offers mercy. God does not require propitiation as commonly-understood.

Punishment (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Pain or some other penalty (including temporal and eternal death) actively imposed by God as just retribution for sins committed.

Biblical Healing Model – God honoring man’s free will by allowing the natural consequences of a chosen action to take place.

Ransom – includes discussion of “price” and “redeemed” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model: The legal price (Jesus’ death) required by God to purchase the release of sinners and cancel the debt they owe because of their sins.

Biblical Healing Model:  The “price” paid to release mankind from what held him captive: the devil’s lies about God’s character and man’s own sinful nature.

Recompense (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God’s arbitrary act to punish or reward man’s actions.

Biblical Healing Model – God allowing the natural results of man’s actions, whether good or evil, to return to him.

Reconciliation (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Reconciliation happens with the death of Christ allowing God to again favor man (God reconciled to man) and legally forgive his sins. Man can then know he is forgiven and the relationship of trust is reestablished (man reconciled to God).

Biblical Healing Model – The death of Christ, being the greatest revelation of the self-sacrificing love of God, assures man of God’s forgiveness and reconciles him to God. Reconciliation is one-way only – man to God – as God always looks with favor and infinite love on man.

Redeemed – see entry for “ransom”

Remission (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Removing the record of sin thus cancelling the need for the sinner to pay a penalty.

Biblical Healing Model – Healing the sinner from the damage of sin to his character as in curing a disease. (But not necessarily removing the natural consequences or after-effects of the sin.)

Repentance (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Sorrow for sinful deeds done with the expectation or hope of then being free from punishment.

Biblical Healing Model – The sorrow a person has because of a realization of their damaged relationship with God and the sorrow they have caused Him and others. Genuine repentance would include a determination to reform behavior.

Righteousness (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – righteousness can be thought of in terms of behavior, reflecting Paul’s understanding as a Pharisee:

“Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Phil 3:6)

Biblical Healing Model – righteousness is about the state of the heart and relationship with God which is reflected in moral behavior and righteous acts.

Sacrifice (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – a just God, to satisfy His justice and appease His wrath against sinners, must punish every sin before it can be forgiven. Because God loves the sinner, He appointed that sacrifices, ultimately that of His Son, could pay the penalty in man’s behalf.

Biblical Healing Model – God freely forgives every sin without the need for sacrifices. The sacrifices were to satisfy our understanding of justice so that we could accept even the possibility of being forgiven. They were also to show that sin caused death and to point to the Savior.

Sanctification (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Sanctification is a process whereby people overcome sins in their lives thus making them more acceptable to God.

Biblical Healing Model – Sanctification is the process of beholding and appreciating God’s true character and love for us with the effect of separating us from sin thus becoming temples for God’s Indwelling Spirit.

Sanctuary (click link for detailed study)

Note: “sanctuary” can have a few meanings. The sanctuary this page is most concerned with is that most often referred to as the heavenly sanctuary that is to be cleansed as in Daniel 8:14 “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”

Traditional Legal Model – The sanctuary is heaven or a part thereof comparable to the Israelite sanctuary on Earth where Jesus, in some understandings, carries on the legal aspect of the work of salvation BY cleansing the heavenly books of the record of people’s confessed sins.

Biblical Healing Model –While Jesus, in human form, is physically in the heavenly sanctuary, through His omnipresent spirit, He aids each of us as we cooperate with Him in the process of cleansing the sanctuary heaven is most concerned with – the minds of His people on earth.

Sealed, Sealing (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Those sealed are distinguished as being in a special relationship to God – more consecrated, devoted to His service, protected etc and sometimes as having their salvation secured.

Biblical Healing Model – All the above may be true but people can also be sealed in terms of having characters ripe for harvest, fully reflecting the character of Christ.

Second Death (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God’s final physical punishment (death) by fire of the lost from which there is no resurrection. In some understandings, the fire goes on forever.

Biblical Healing Model – The death from which there is no resurrection where the lost are fully separated from God, the only Source of life. They do this because their misconceptions of Him do not allow them to believe that He is, in fact, ever-merciful.

Sent (click link for detailed study)

 Traditional Legal Model – God, in strict justice, sent disasters of many types upon both Israel and their enemies often as punishment for their sins.

Biblical Healing Model – In many cases, God was said to send disasters upon people when, in reality, He was merely allowing what would come without His protection.

Shame – includes discussion of “guilt” (click link for detailed study)

In the Traditional Legal Model, the consideration would be: If there was a crime committed (no matter how long ago) justice demands that the guilty party be punished perhaps with a little shaming added for extra measure.

In the Biblical Healing Model, while there may have been a crime in the past, if the person has repented and is healing of that behavior, there is no need for guilt and shame.

Sin (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Sin is simply the act of breaking God’s rules. If He says don’t do it and you do it then that is a sin; you have sinned and you are a sinner. Breaking His rules requires the administration of a penalty to maintain God’s justice.

Biblical Healing Model – A sin is the act of breaking God’s “rules.” However, the rules must be understood correctly (see “law“) as diagnostic tools to show us our condition; our sinful nature. That sinful nature is a mind that does not trust God fully and may even be in full rebellion against Him. The word “sin” can describe any of:

  • a choice to willfully rebel against God
  • our sinful nature (sinful flesh)
  • individual acts (symptoms of that sinful, fallen condition)

Sin, made to be – includes discussion of “sinful flesh” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Christ was made or reckoned to be as though He was a sinner, He was counted as guilty and, as such, was punished by God. In God’s reckoning, the penalty Christ paid satisfies God’s justice and the demands of the law and means we don’t have to pay the penalty we deserve.

Biblical Healing Model – Christ was (at His incarnation) made to have sinful or fallen flesh, the same flesh we have which could be tempted (so no advantage over us), flesh weakened relative to Adam’s flesh by 4000 years of sin being passed down. In that human nature, by faith, He totally depended on His Father and never once yielded to temptation.

Sinful flesh – see entry for “sin (made to be)” (click link for detailed study)

Sinner (click link for detailed study)

Traditional legal Model – a sinner is someone who commits a sin as in “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4) However, many people would call someone a sinner only if they were particularly bad and significantly worse (in terms of visible acts) than themselves.

Biblical Healing Model – the Bible says that “all have sinned” (Rom 3:23) therefore all are sinners by nature even before they are sinners by action. A sinner is not a sinner merely because of an action. They are already sinners by inherited nature. However, that nature can change upon repentance, (a change of heart) at which point the person (while perhaps not sinless) has a different attitude towards God and could be referred to as a saint.

Smite, smote (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Smote or to smite is used both as a physical blow or as the conscience being smitten.

Biblical Healing Model – The word is used similarly except that this model recognizes that often when God is said to smite it is by withdrawing His protection. It is also understood in the sense of to get someone’s attention.

Sovereignty (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God can do whatever He pleases. Some believe He determines everything that happens, all of our choices, even whether we will be saved or lost (predestination as promoted by Calvinism).

Biblical Healing Model – While God is all-powerful, His use of that power is limited by His own character of love, His honoring (accommodating) the free will of others and His desire to make others happy.

Strange Act (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – For the good of the universe and to end their misery God destroys the lost in His “strange act.”

Biblical Healing Model – As in the examples included in the verse where it is mentioned (Isa 28:21), God, not being a God of force or coercion, honors man’s free will choices. It is a strange act for Him to do it, but He allows man to receive the even hurtful natural consequences of his decisions.

Surely Die (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Those who defiled the Sabbath were to be put to death by God’s orders to maintain the sanctity of the Sabbath and serve as a warning against others.

Biblical Healing Model – Purposely defiling the Sabbath, which was a sign between God and His people (Exo 31:13), indicated the sinner breaking the covenant relationship with God which, unrepented of, could only result in eternal separation from God.

Sword (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – mainly, the sword is used by God as a symbol of His justice or revenge either executed personally or through Israel’s enemies.

Biblical healing Model – the sword is used as a symbol of the consequences (often via Israel’s enemies) of his people departing from Him and thus losing his protection. It is never wielded by God’s hand to inflict injury.

It is used symbolically in both models to represent God’s word. This page especially focuses on how it might cause division (as in “… I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matt 10:34) without God being to blame for it.

Torment (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – Torment will, in the end, be applied by God to the lost as punishment for unrepentant and unpaid-for sin. In some belief systems, that torment (in flames) is eternal.

Biblical Healing Model – Torment comes as a natural consequence of sin. Torment in the final judgment will be of the mental sort coming from the conscience. There is no eternal torment.

Traditional Legal Model*

Trust – see entry for “believe”

Veil (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – The veil between the holy place and the most holy place represents the body of Christ. It was torn by the hands of the Father at the moment of Jesus’ death representing the payment for sins made by Jesus’ death on the cross. Even seen by some to represent the Father striking His Son.

Biblical Healing Model –  The tearing of the veil represents the opening of a new and living way into the holiest (the presence of God) achieved by the revelation to us that the sacrifice of Christ was not for appeasement.

Vengeance (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God inflicting punishment on the sinner in order to satisfy justice.

Biblical Healing Model – God allowing the sinner to experience the natural consequences of his choice to break the law in order to help him change his ways.

Visit (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – In the Old Testament, the common phrase “to visit the iniquity” is understood in the sense of “to punish.”

Biblical Healing Model – The common Hebrew word used is “paqad” often meaning to visit to bless but, at times, is clearly stated as visiting to punish. When so used, however, it is punishing in the sense of allowing the natural consequences of wrong actions to occur.

Works  (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – For people with the mindset of working their way to heaven it is to display character, to gain status, to bolster their pride, ultimately to earn heaven.

Biblical Healing Model – For people who truly understand God’s character, their appreciation of and love for Him encourages them to reflect that character by their good works to attract others to Him.

Wrath – includes discussion of “anger” (click link for detailed study)

Traditional Legal Model – God’s outrage at the wrong done to Him; at how He has been treated. It is directed towards the one who has carried out the act and has a degree of retribution associated with it – to make the offender pay; to even the score so to speak. Includes God’s actions towards the offender.

Biblical Healing Model – How God feels and what He does in reaction to man’s sinful/distrustful actions. What He usually does is to allow people to have their desire/go the way they want etc. Also giving people over to the consequences of what they have chosen, even if detrimental.

* = Supplemental Terms

Future Work

Additional words and terms will be added to the Character of God and the  Gospel Glossary as the definitions are completed. If you would like to receive notice of additions to the glossary, click the link for updates in the upper right column of this page.  If you see issues with my wording in any of these definitions please let me know.