Terminology - Glossary S

Term Definition

SYMBOL – In Orthodox usage, the manifestation in material form of a spiritual reality. A symbol does not merely stand for something else, as does a “sign’; it indicates the actual presence of its subject. For example, the dove is the symbol which brought to Jesus the descent of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:13-16).


SYNAPTES – Petitions that refer either to the Great or Little Ektenia (Litany).


SYNAXARION – (1) A brief biography of a saint read in the church on occasions of his feast day. (2) Book or books containing lives of the saints.  In such a reference, the Church pictures the lives of the saints, and the content of each of their feasts, from which the purpose of the feast… Read More


SYNAXIS – Literally, “gathering” or “assembly.” Synaxis is the word used for the ancient Greek Senate. The first part of the Divine Liturgy is called the synaxis because the faithful gather to sing, to hear the Scriptures read, and to hear the homily. The saints’ days are also called a synaxis, such as the Synaxis… Read More


SYNERGISM – (from Gr. syn: same, together; ergos: energy, work) Working together, the act of cooperation. In referring to the New Testament, synergism is the idea of being “workers together with” God (2 Cor. 6:1), or of working “out your own salvation . . . for it is God who works in you” (Phil. 2:12,… Read More


SYNOD – (Gr. a meeting)  An ecclesiastical council for consulting, advising and deciding upon church matters. HOLY SYNOD -The governing council of each autocephalous Orthodox Church, its members usually selected from among the bishops in turn, or consisting of all of them under the presidency of the Patriarch. They are charged with the conservation of… Read More


SYNOPTIC (from Gr. syn: same, together; optic: eye, vision) The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which hold essentially the same viewpoint and “look alike,” are called the synoptic Gospels.