Intercultural Glossary S-Z



Scattering represents the means by which different people join Christianity. For example, Stephen’s stoning resulted in scattering Christians from Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19). This set conditions for other people to join the movement: Samaritans (8:12); Cornelius with kinsmen and close friends (10:1-8, 44-48); Jews from Antioch, Cyprus, Phoenicia (11:19); and Greeks at Antioch (11:20). [1] Along with the initial gathering at Pentecost and immediately afterwards, this resulted in diversity among the Body. Gathering and scattering influences the mixing of culture within a population.

Servant of Christ

Jesus said in Mark 10:44 that “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all.” To be first, authority comes from service. A servant gives up his or her self interests in obedience to God, and then becomes chiefest, or first.[2] In Rom 1:1, servant (Greek: doulas, δουλος) means a slave or bond-servant. A slave is one who is the entire property of a master. Bible Suite tells that Paul felt he was not his own, rather his life and powers belonged to his heavenly owner. He was subservient to the will of the Lord–a servant to all for the sake of Christ (2 Cor 4:5; 1 Cor 9:19; 2 Cor 12:15).  Each of the apostles referred to themselves as bond servants: Paul, James, Peter, Jude and John (Rom 1:1 Jas 1:1; 2 Pet 1:1; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1). Only Paul named himself servant of all.

Slavery (In Antiquity)

Slave Society. James Jeffers states that a slave society is one of which slaves form 30% or more of the population. Once the slave versus free composition hits the 30/70 percentage marks, the slave population influences a society’s economy and culture. To illustrate this concept think slavery’s impact on the United States. One of every three residents in southern United States slave states during the eighteenth century was a slave. [3]

Social Description

David Rhoads refers to social description as the process research draws upon full information from the ancient world such as “literature, archeological excavations, art, coins, inscription and so on” (cited in Anderson and Moore, 146).[4]

Social Location

  • De La Torre referred to social location as “cultural experiences which influence a person’s identity.” Further, these experiences define how people give meaning to the various symbols that exist in life. This includes whole texts or individual words “that operate as a form of linguistic symbol”. Thus, social location shapes theological perspective, and hence, how interpretation of biblical text. De La Torre referred to this as participating “in a dialogue between the written word and the meanings our community teaches us to give to these words.” [5] 
  • Vernon Robbins defined social location as “a position in a social system, which reflects a world view”[6] This entails how “things work, what is real, where things belong, and how they fit together.” [7] Robbins sums social location as the “common structural position occupied by a number of individuals in relation to a larger social whole.” [8]

    T. F. Carney and J. H. Elliott in Social Location of Luke-Acts: A Two-Part Model (1986) developed a framework for intratextual examination of Mediterranean society during the Roman Empire, organized by nine arenas of social system and four narrative functions. “The nine arenas of the social system are (1) previous events, (2) natural environment and resources, (3) population structure, (4) technology, (5) socialization and personality, (6) culture, (7) foreign matters, (8) belief systems and ideologies (9) political-military-legal system. Narrative functions reflect (1) character/audiences, (2) narrator/narratee, (3) inscribed author/inscribed reader and (4) implied author/implied reader.”[9]

Son of Abraham (Ideal Jew)

  • Status Jewish people saw for themselves that evokes the promise of Israel (e.g. Matt 3:9; 8:11-12)
  • Narratives further identify Jesus with Israel as its representative, (Matt 2:15; 4:2) [10]

Son of David (Messiah)

  • Performs the messianic function (Matt 1:20, 9:27; 12:23;   15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; cf. 12:3; 22:42)
  • Rightful heir to Israel’s throne (Jer 23:5; 33:15; Ps 17:21-23; Hag 2:2)
  • Allusion to David in generation numbers in three sets of names—14 is the total numerical value of the  three letters of David name in Hebrew
  • Jesus’ family historically came from Davidic lineage [11]


  • Simple stated, Samovar, Porter and McDaniel [12] say that a “symbol stands for something” associated with the internal thoughts of a person.
  • A symbol constitutes a normed system of meaning determined by members of various cultures. [13] Core symbols give insight into the various facets of a cultural community through family, education, media, and government at the macro level, while it presents beliefs, values and norms at the micro level. [14]
  • Symbols can be verbal or nonverbal such as artifacts, words, phrases, gestures, or behaviors varying in meaning and purpose according to the culture. As a whole, symbols give meaning to signs during the communication decoding process. [15].

Synoptic Gospels

One uses the term synoptic Gospels to identify the first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and their content similarity found within them. The accounts are the same, but there may be addition of details by each author that enlightens the account according to the view of Christ presented in His Gospel. Based on the findings of scholars,  they believe that there was a source document that contained the teachings and many of the miracles of Christ. The Gospel authors built their accounts around this. John’s Gospel is not considered a synoptic. It contains different accounts and teachings not found in the other three. The Gospel of John reads more theological than the other books. It focuses on Jesus Christ’s deity that unifies all four books. Collectively, the Gospels are the foundational books of the New Testament. The New Testament theology developed by the other twenty-three books flows from these accounts. 


Table Fellowship

To the modern reader, the term table fellowship might connote a surface meaning. It went beyond food and involved purity laws in the ancient world, because whomever a person shared a table with supported social status.


“A term coined by Paul’s stay at Corinth when he made tents to as not to burden the Corinthian church. Tentmaking is the practice of using paid employment to gain and maintain entry in a cross-cultural setting. Tentmakers work as professionals and engage in ministry activities in addition to their wage-earning work” [16]

Testimony of Jesus Christ

The witness of the Gospel about the person, life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ.[17]

-U to Z-

Virgin Birth

The miraculous act of God in conceiving, by His Spirit, in the virgin Mary, the child Christ without the agency of human sexual relations and her carrying to full His birth. This conception and birth produced what is called the incarnation. God did not father the deity of Christ for that was God Himself according to John 1:1. God fathered Christ’s humanity from the human lineage of King David. This divine and human union is called in Scripture the Son of God, John 1:1, 14. See also incarnation.[18]


[1] Vernon Robbins, The Social World of Luke-Acts (ed. Jerome H. Neyrey; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991), 317.

[2] Jan Paron, “Uncovering Greatness in Leadership: Getting, Got It, Going,” Lighthouse Church of All Nations, n.p. [cited 27 February 2013]. Online:

[3] James S. Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1999), 221.

[4] David Rhoads, Mark and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, 2nd Edition. (eds. Janice Capel and Stephen D. Moore, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008), 146.

[5] Miguel De La Torre, Reading the Bible from the Margins (Orbis Books, 2002), Kindle.

[6] Vernon Robbins, The Social World of Luke-Acts, 206.

[7] Berger and Luckman 1966:24-25; Rohrbaugh 1987a: 109, The Social World of Luke-Acts, 206.

[8] Robbins, The Social World of Luke-Acts, 207.

[9] T. F. Carney and J. H. Elliott, The Social World of Luke-Acts, 211

[10] Craig Keener, Commentary of the Gospel of Matthew,  loc 2855.

[11] L. A. Samovar, R. E Porter, & E. R. McDaniel, Communication Between Cultures (Wadsworth Publishing, 2009), 16-17.

[12] Stella Ting-Toomey & Roy D’Andrade, 1984, 9.

[13] Ting-Toomey & D’Andrade, 15.

[14] E. Nida, Message and Meaning: The Communication of the Christian Faith (Harper & Row, 1960) 65.

[15] Daryl Cox, “Jesus Across the Gospels: Glossary S-Z,” All Nations Leadership Institute (Alsip, IL: 2013).

[16] Moreau, Scott A. Introducing world missions: A biblical, historical, and practical survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), loc 394.

[17], [18] Daryl Cox, “Jesus Across the Gospels: Glossary S-Z.”

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