Capitalization: Religious Words and Phrases

Trinity and deities

All names of the Trinity and of foreign deities should be capitalized.
  • El Shaddai
  • Allah
  • Paraclete
  • Baal

Common epithets for persons of the Trinity, biblical characters or historical persons should be capitalized.
  • Alpha and Omega
  • Son of Man
  • Comforter
  • Virgin Mary
  • King of Kings
  • Venerable Bede

Pronouns referring to persons of the Trinity are capitalized.
  • God sent His Son
  • Yahweh and His commandments
  • God in His mercy
  • Jesus spoke to His disciples

Nouns and adjectives used as possessives with persons of the Trinity are not usually capitalized.
  • God’s omnipotence
  • God’s fatherhood
  • Jesus’ sonship
  • the Spirit’s indwelling

Apostle and prophet

Apostle and prophet are not usually capitalized when used in apposition to a proper name, but they are usually capitalized when they form a common epithet.
  • the apostle John (used in apposition to a proper name)
  • the prophet Jeremiah (used in apposition to a proper name)
  • the Beloved Disciple (epithet used in place of a proper name)

Pharaoh

Pharaoh is capitalized only when it is used as a proper name.
  • Moses spoke to Pharaoh.
  • The pharaoh refused to let the people go.

Satan

Names for Satan are capitalized.
  • the Beast
  • Father of Lies
  • the Devil
  • Evil One

Bible and biblical events

Names for specific parts of the Bible are usually capitalized. If a common noun is used alone to refer to the Bible, it is usually capitalized; if the common noun is used in conjunction with a part of the Bible, it is not capitalized.
  • Pentateuch
  • New Testament
  • Beatitudes
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • the Psalms
  • the book of Job

In general, names of biblical events are not capitalized when they are further modified by a proper noun, but are capitalized when they are used alone.
  • the nativity of Christ
  • the Nativity
  • the crucifixion of Jesus
  • the Crucifixion

Gospel

The word gospel is capitalized when used alone to refer to the actual written gospels or when used as a title for a section of Scripture; it is not capitalized when used as a common noun. When the word gospel in used to refer to the good news of Jesus Christ, it is not capitalized.
  • The Gospel of John uses contrasting images of light and dark.
  • The Gospels record the life and work of Jesus Christ.
  • The Synoptic Gospels include the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
  • The story of the woman at the well is found in John’s gospel.
  • D. L. Moody fearlessly preached the gospel to the lost in Chicago.

Parable

The word parable is not usually capitalized unless it is being used as a title.
  • Jesus often spoke in parables.
  • He taught about forgiveness in the parable of the prodigal son.
  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son is found in Luke 15.

Creeds, holidays and councils

Creeds, confessions and religious holidays are usually capitalized.
  • Apostles’ Creed
  • Westminster Confession
  • Christmas
  • Ash Wednesday

Historic councils are capitalized.
  • Council of Chalcedon
  • Council of Nicea

Church

Capitalize church when referring to the body of believers.
  • In Revelation, Christ returns for the Church.

Denominations are usually capitalized.
  • Baptist
  • Roman Catholic
  • Reformed

Places of worship are capitalized only if they refer to a specific location or organization.
  • Episcopal Church
  • the church
  • Temple Emmanuel
  • the temple
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • the cathedral