BONDSERVANT OF GOD: Paulos doulos theou:
("Bondservant" 1 Chr 6:49; Ro 1:1; 1:9; 15:16; 16:18; Jn 12:26;
13:14-16; 15:15, 20, Acts 27:23; 2Cor 4:5; Ga 1:10; Php 1:1; Titus 1:1;
Jas 1:1; 2Pet 1:1; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1; 22:6 ,9)
"a slave of God" (NET)
The first four verses of this letter in the form of a greeting,
are actually one long "truth packed" sentence. In the ancient world the
sender "signed the letter" at the beginning not at the end as is the
Wayne Barber says he wishes we still did like in Paul's
day. Then Wayne says he could quickly determine whether he was going to
spend much time reading the letter depending on his estimation of the
is a sender that clearly deserves our attention. Saul was
his Jewish surname and Paul
(meaning "little") his Roman surname. In Acts Saul
is the only name used until Acts 13, at which time "the Holy
Spirit said "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I
have called them." (Acts 13:2) He undoubtedly used the name Roman (more
"gentile") Paul because of his call to go to the Gentiles and because it
(Paul = "little") expressed his attitude about who he was as a recipient
of God’s grace (cf 1Cor 9:22, 1Cor 15:10; 1Ti1:12-17).
(doulos) is the most abject servile term in the Greek to
describe a slave who completely
surrenders himself to the will and authority of another.
Paul is saying that he has sold himself into slavery to His God and now
his will was "swallowed up" in the will of his Master. Here the "Master"
but in all the other uses he refers to himself as a bondservant of
"Christ" (Ro 1:1, Gal 1:10, Php 1:1, for an interesting study
observe the 25 NT uses of "bondservant(s)" in the NT = Luke
2:29; Acts 4:29; 16:17; Ro 1:1; 2Cor 4:5; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1; 2:7; Col
1:7; 4:7; 2Ti 2:24; Titus 1:1; Jas 1:1; 2 Pet 1:1; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1;
2:20; 7:3; 11:18; 15:3; 19:2, 5; 22:3, 6).
He was bound to God and to Christ Jesus in bands so strong that only
death could break them. Before salvation, Paul’s will was
swallowed up in the will of Satan (Torrey's
Bondage") but in the death of his old man and his
identification with Christ (Ro 6:3), the bondage to Satan was broken. As
Paul explained in (Ro 6:22) believers have "been freed from sin and
enslaved to God" and are no longer their own for they “have been bought
with a price” (1Co 6:20), having being “redeemed not with perishable
things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as of a lamb
unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1Pe 1:18, 19). And
because we no longer belong to ourselves, we “should no longer live for
[ourselves], but for Him Who died and rose again on [our] behalf” (2 Co
5:15). He could have boasted of his unique calling as apostle to the
Gentiles, who was granted full privilege and authority alongside the
Twelve. He could have boasted of being “caught up to the third heaven…
into Paradise” (2Co 12:2, 4),
of his gift of miracles, and of being chosen as the human author of a
great part of the Scriptures of the new covenant. He chose, rather, to
identify himself foremost as a
of God. (2Pe 1:1-note)
Donald Grey Barnhouse has
this interesting note on "bondservant"
paraphrasing truths found in the Old Testament:
early men of Israel had in their economic system set forth in the laws
of Moses, regulations governing the man who got into debt. He became the
property of his creditor, in very fact, his slave. But the slavery had a
termination. When the 7th year rolled around, all of these slaves were
liberated and could go forth once more as their own masters. Some of
them, however, realized certain things about their own lack of ability
to maintain themselves in the rugged economy of a cruel world. They
remembered that when they had been their own freemen they had not eaten
well, but that now, under kind masters, they were well-housed and
well-fed. They looked toward their future freedom with some trepidation
as they realized that they might soon be, once more, in a life of hunger
and cold. No doubt there were some who sought to escape the bondage of
hard taskmasters, but there were others who knew the kindness and love
of their master’s heart. The Law provided a way for them to remain as
slaves to their kind masters. Such a one could go to his owner and tell
him that he desired to remain a slave. He would then be taken to the
tabernacle where the priest would lead him to the doorpost and bored a
hole in the lobe of his ear with an awl. From that time on he was the
slave of his master. Wherever he walked, his ear proclaimed the
character of his master." (cf, ""But if the slave plainly
says, 'I love my
master, my wife and my children; I
will not go out as a free man then his master shall bring him to God,
then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master
shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently,'
Ex 21:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, see similar teaching in Dt 15:12, 13, 14, 15,
16, 17, 18) (from Man’s Ruin, Romans 1:1-32, God’s Wrath, Eerdmans Publishing
Keathley adds this practical
note regarding "bondservant":
"This is a clear illustration that the issue of our ability to be and
do what God has called us to by way of our gifts, abilities, and
opportunities is related to voluntarily living as bondslaves of
God. Our problem is we too often want to call the shots; we want God
to approve our choices. Let it be said that true freedom is not
the ability to do as we please, but the ability to do as we ought by the
grace and enablement of God. “No one ever becomes a successful
servant of God until he chooses to make God’s will his own will. Paul’s
will was not crushed but he imbibed the will of his Master as his own. Do we profess to be servants of God yet continue to insist on
carrying out our own will for our lives?” Do we present our list
to God for what we would like to do for life and ministry or for what we
think is best for us and then ask Him to seal that with His approval?
Living and serving as slaves of God naturally applies to every possible
area of life—personal life, family, church, vocation, recreation,
leisure, civic responsibilities, ministry, etc. As bondslaves who have
been bought by the redemptive work of Christ, we belong to God (1Co
1Pe 1:18, 19-see note
19). This means we are to be totally dependent on the Lord Jesus for
both His supply and our calling and responsibilities in the world.
This naturally leads to Paul’s next statement." (bolding added) (Reference)
AND AN APOSTLE
OF JESUS CHRIST: apostolos de Iesou Christou:
envoy of Jesus Christ"
[word study] from
apo = from + stello = send forth)
refers to one sent forth by another.
In secular Greek it was used of an admiral of a fleet sent out by the
king on special assignment. At
times in the NT apostle
carried the broad meaning of one who sent as a messenger or delegate
with instructions from a group or an individual (cf 2Cor 8:23,
In the present context Paul uses
in its more common specialized or restricted meaning to denote one whom
Jesus chose, trained, and commissioned to be His representative. In Acts
the Apostle Peter delineates the necessary qualifications of this latter
"Therefore it is
necessary that of the
men who have
time that the
went in and out
day that He was
taken up from
with us of His
for more detailed discussion on apostle.
(See Torrey's Topic "Apostle".
Easton's Bible Dictionary summary of "Apostle";
Thus an apostle
was an ambassador representing Jesus and possessing the authority and
power of His Lord. Apostolos was a technical word in
secular Greek used of one sent from someone else with credentials on a
mission. Just after Paul's conversion, Ananias was fearful of Paul but
Jesus informed him that Paul was "a chosen
instrument of Mine,
to bear My name
before the Gentiles
and kings and the sons of Israel"
(Acts 9:15) From that day forward Paul was a man with a mission having
been commissioned by Christ Himself, Whose will was made known in (Acts
9:15 22:14, 15, 21 26:16, 17,18). Paul further explained that he was "an
apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through
Jesus Christ and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead" (Gal 1:1)
. Paul was commissioned as Christ's "chosen instrument" (Acts 9:15) and
ambassador to the Gentiles with a message of reconciliation (Ro 5:11-note,
a message that he "neither
taught, but ...
Christ." (Gal 1:12).
In (Ro 1:5-note)
Paul added that "through
Lord) we have
Gentiles for His
to his apostleship was a natural overflow of his submission as a
bondservant to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In (Acts 22:10) we are told
that the first words out of his mouth were, “'What shall I do, Lord?"
Then, in recounting the events of his conversion and commission by the Lord Jesus to King
Agrippa, Paul said,
"Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove
disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of
Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region
of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to
God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance." (Acts 26:19, 20)
Barnhouse adds that
"The secret of
Paul’s greatness is indicated in the order of these two words. He was
first a bondslave,
utterly surrendered to the Lord, and then he was a sent one…thus he was
willing to follow the Word of God and be not only the bondslave
of Jesus Christ but the
apostle to the Gentiles."
It is of note that
Paul refers to himself as an "apostle"
all the so-called pastoral epistles, most likely because he is claiming authority
to give instructions to facilitate the healthy functioning of the church. The authority of
Paul's message did not derive from the messenger but from the Sender.
Hampton Keathley has an interesting
thought on this passage writing that
"As believers in Christ, God has
“delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the
kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness
of sins (Col 1:13, 14-see notes
We are not, therefore, of this world, but we have been left in this
world as ambassadors and representatives of the Lord Jesus (Jn 17:15,
16, 17, 18, 19 2Cor 5:20). For this the Lord Jesus has gifted each of us
(1 Peter 4:10-note) and as He has gifted us, so He has called. What He has gifted us
to do He has called us to do and vice versa. (Ed
Click for chart on Spiritual Gifts) Thus, the apostle
immediately identified his calling and the primary place where he was to
exercise his service as a bondslave. He is “an apostle
of Jesus Christ.” By the designation, “a slave of God,” he pointed to
his personal relationship to God, but here he pointed to his official
responsibility within the body of Christ according to the will of God
1Cor 1:1, 12:4, 5)...While
we do not all have the same gifts (1Co 12:29), in placing every believer
into the body of Christ, God has gifted each one with different gifts
for the mutual edification of the body of Christ and for the glory of
God (1Cor 12:4, 5). Building on the truth that we are to live as voluntary slaves of God,
our need is to discern the gifts and the place of ministry to which the
Master has called us and to use our gifts accordingly (Ro 12:3, 4, 5, 6
1Pe 4:10-note)." (Reference)
Jesus (2424) (Iesous) is
from the Hebrew Yeshu'a which means Yahweh is salvation. Jesus
officially appointed Paul Luke recording the official announcement by
our Lord Who declared
"He is a chosen instrument of Mine to
bear My name before the Gentiles kings the sons of Israel (Acts 9:15) "
Christ (5547) (Christos
from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) refers to the
Anointed One and thus is a title of the Messiah, the divine One (fully God) the Jews
were looking for and of Whom the OT bore prophetic witness. Paul is clearly
declaring that he did not teach and write by his own authority but by
the dual yet totally unified authority of the Son, Christ Jesus, and God
the Father ('by the will of God"). Thus whatever follows in this letter
deserves to be heard and heeded.
Jesus Christ, Paul affirms his
full conviction that the human Jesus was also the Christ,
the One about Whom the Scriptures foretold, the anointed
Messiah, the Bringer of messianic
redemption (cf Acts 3:20)
Note also that
both Iesous and
Christos are masculine singular genitive, the genitive case
signifying possession, the point being that Paul regarded himself as the
property of his Lord! Believers of every age should do no less, for as
Or do you not know that your body is
a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and
that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body. (1Cor 6:19- note,
(Jesus) gave Himself for us, that He
might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself
a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (see note
FOR THE FAITH
OF THOSE CHOSEN OF GOD AND THE
KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH: kata pistin eklekton theou kai
(Jn 10:26,27; Acts 13:48; Eph 2:8; 2Th 2:13,14; 1Ti 1:5)
For - This is the preposition "kata" which can mean according to but can also be used to express the goal or purpose (“for the purpose of", "to further")
and finally can be translated in the sense of “with reference to,
with respect to.” Scholars differ on their interpretation of Paul's
intended meaning but most favor the idea that Paul's apostolic mission
was for the purpose of or the furtherance of Christian faith and
knowledge. For example, the following translations favor the idea of "for
the purpose of" translating this as: "for the faith"
(NIV), "for the sake of the faith" (NRSV ), "for
building up the faith" (Weymouth) "to
further the faith" (NET), and finally "for the faith"
(NASB). Several things
suggest that kata is best understood here in the
sense of purpose for it is keeping with the overall ministry and
mission of Paul's apostleship and the preaching of gospel, as well as
his call to build up the body of Christ, and establish churches sound in
the faith. As an apostle, Paul’s mission was to promote the faith of
God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth.
faith (4102) (pistis)
(see study of this phrase "the
faith) can be interpreted as reference to the faith necessary for salvation, as
used by Paul this way in Romans where he teaches that "faith comes
from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Ro 10:17-note).
Others favor "the
faith" in this verse refers
to the general body of Christian doctrine, as exemplified by Jude's call
to the "called, beloved...and kept" (Jude 1:1) to "contend
earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints
" (Jude 1:3, similar meaning in Acts 6:7, Gal 1:23, 1Ti 4:1), the latter
example clearly not referring to an act of faith or believing exerted by
the saints, but the to the Christian faith or that body of truth which we call the doctrines of Christianity and which are
contained in the Word of God, and which in many contextual uses is
synonymous essentially with the gospel. Generally when the latter
meaning is in view faith is preceded by the definite article in the
Greek which is not present in this case even though the English
translation is "the
faith". You will have
to decide for yourself from the context which interpretation you favor.
for explanation of the phrase
faith (pistis)" as it refers to the body of Christian
from eklegomai = to choose,
select or pick out for one's self - from root verb
kaleo [word study])
describes those who were selected out of
a larger number, but (and this is very important!) it does not imply the rejection of those not chosen
(cf the other
similar uses of eklektos Ro 8:33-note,
22x in 22v - Mt 22:14; 24:22, 24, 31; Mark 13:20, 22, 27; Luke 18:7;
23:35; Rom 8:33; 16:13; Col 3:12; 1 Tim 5:21; 2 Tim 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1
Pet 1:1; 2:4, 6, 9; 2John 1:1, 13; Rev 17:14.
NAS = choice(2),
choice man(1), chosen(1), chosen(9), chosen one(1), elect(8).
80x in the non-apocryphal
- Gen 23:6; 41:2, 4f,
7, 18, 20; Ex 14:7; 30:23; Num 11:28; Deut 12:11; Jdg 20:15, 34; 1 Sam
24:2; 26:2; 2 Sam 8:8; 21:6; 22:27; 1 Kgs 4:20, 23; 2 Kgs 8:12; 19:23; 1
Chr 7:40; 9:22; 16:13; 18:8; Ezra 5:8; Neh 5:18; Esther 8:12; Job 37:11;
Ps 18:26; 78:31; 89:3, 19; 105:6, 43; 106:5, 23; 141:4; Pr 8:19; 12:24;
17:3; Song 5:15; 6:9f; Isa 22:7f; 28:16; 40:30; 42:1; 43:20; 45:4; 49:2;
54:12; 65:9, 15, 23; Jer 3:19; 10:17; 22:7; 25:34; 31:39; 46:15; 48:15;
Lam 1:15; 5:13f; Ezek 7:20; 19:12, 14; 25:9; 27:20, 24; 31:16; Dan
11:15; Amos 5:11; Hab 1:16; Hag 2:7; Zech 7:14; 11:16;
Although any illustration of this precious divine truth will fall short
picture the process of separation that is utilized in retrieving scrap
metal. Salvage yards use giant electromagnets to lift and sort scrap
metal. When the magnet is turned on, the magnetic force draws all the
metal containing iron, but has no effect on other metals like aluminum,
brass, copper, etc. In a similar way, picture God’s elective will
irresistibly drawing to Himself those whom He has predetermined to love
and forgive, while having no effect on those whom He has not. The word chosen
in every secular use express the idea that a part has been claimed from
a greater quantity, by an independent act of decision for a particular
purpose, that the remainder has been passed over, but not that the
remainder has been actively rejected. For more discussion on this
"touchy" topic see notes in this site on
Romans 9-11. The term
(or "elect") is virtually always used by Paul believers, of those who
have accepted the gospel message and which emphasizes their security
"God's elect" are those who have responded to God's call through the
gospel. The expression embodies a true balance between the divine
initiative and the human response. Although surrounded with mystery, the
biblical teaching on election is for believers and is intended as a
practical truth. It assures faithful, struggling believers that their
salvation is all of God from beginning to end." (Gaebelein,
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
on Election by C H Spurgeon
Griffin comments that
doctrine of divine election firmly establishes the believer’s
eternal security. God has not left the believer’s assurance of salvation
captive to changing feelings or faltering faith. Rather, the
faithfulness of God demonstrated in His divine election secures the
believer’s salvation in the will and purposes of God Himself. (T.
D. Lea and H. P. Griffin, Jr. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, page 265)
Hiebert adds that
surrounded with mystery, the biblical teaching on election is for
believers and is intended as a practical truth. It assures faithful,
believers that their salvation is all of God from beginning
to end. (Titus and Philemon. Moody. 1957)
from gnosis =
knowledge gained by experience + epi = here used to
intensify the meaning) refers to a full, precise knowledge
thus signifying a more complete, more thorough, larger knowledge than
that found in gnosis.
Epignosis - 20x in 20v - Ro
1:28; 3:20; 10:2; Eph 1:17; 4:13; Phil 1:9; Col 1:9f; 2:2; 3:10; 1 Tim
2:4; 2 Tim 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Philemon 1:6; Heb 10:26; 2 Pet 1:2f, 8;
Epignosis - 5x in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint - 1 Kgs 7:14; Pr 2:5;
Note the uses in Hosea
- Hos 4:1, 6; 6:6
Epignosis also implies
not just "knowing" the
but implies a more intimate and personal relationship the truth.
is thus a knowledge
laying claim to personal involvement in the truth.
Of the truth
(aletheia) refers to the correct correspondence between a
reality and a declaration which professes to set it forth. Words are
true when they correspond with objective reality: persons and things
are true when they correspond with their profession. Hence a truth is a
declaration which has corresponding reality, or a reality which is
correctly set forth. Since God is Himself the great reality, that which
correctly sets forth His nature is pre-eminently the Truth and in
context this "truth" almost certainly refers to "truth" which saves
which is tantamount to or equates with the gospel. Paul uses the phrase
"knowledge of the truth" several times: In (1Ti 2:4)
where God our Savior "desires
all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth.".
Paul describes those
in opposition as those to whom "God may grant...repentance leading
knowledge of the truth" (2Ti 2:25-note)
In (2Ti 3:7-note)
this phrase describes weak women who "always learning and never able to
come to the knowledge of the truth" (Hebrews 10:26-note) The gospel is
the truth about man's lostness due to sin and God's righteousness which
is available by belief in Jesus Christ's finished work on Calvary.
Larry Richards notes that
Christian truth is a revelation of reality. To “know” this truth is to
accept its reality and to live by it and thus to be led into godliness.
Christian truth can never be isolated from morality, as if knowing God’s
truth were a mere intellectual exercise. Knowing is actually commitment
to realities that must be expressed in our life. (The
Bible Reader's Companion)
ACCORDING TO GODLINESS:
2:11,12; 1Ti 1:4; 3:16; 6:3; 2Pe 1:3; 3:11):
is the preposition kata again and in this context
expresses the goal or purpose (“for the
purpose of", "to further") of the "knowledge of the
The NAS translation although accurate to the Greek, fails to bring out the meaning
as clearly as do several other translations --
knowledge of the truth that is in keeping with godliness" (NET Bible)
the knowledge of the truth that leads to a godly life" (NIV)
the Truth which belongs to and harmonizes with and tends to godliness"
to teach them to know God's truth -- the kind of truth that changes
lives'' (Living Bible)
of the truth that leads to true religion" (New Jerusalem Bible),
the truth that shows them how to live godly lives" (NLT)
the knowledge of the truth that leads to a godly life" (God's Word
truth that leads to godliness" (Int'l Std Version)
Barclay translates it
enables a man to live a really religious life", which is probably close
to the original meaning but I personally do not like the term "religious
life" and would prefer "godly life". (Westminster
paraphrase completely misses the point and is an
inaccurate rendering of the Greek --
"the knowledge of the truth that
comes from a God-fearing life". (Phillips:
statement is true, but is not the true meaning of this verse. Thus you
can see it is important to be very careful when reading paraphrased
translations. If you have not committed to learning the Greek you should
give consideration to doing so especially if you are a teacher.
Hiebert explains "Truth...according to godliness"
There is an intimate connection between truth
and godliness. A vital possession of truth is inconsistent with irreverence…Real truth
never deviates from the path of piety. A profession of the truth which
allows an individual to live in ungodliness is a spurious profession”
The Greek scholar
A T Robertson translates the
The (truth) with a view to godliness.
The combination of faith and full knowledge of the
truth is to bring godliness on the basis of [UPON or IN] the hope of
are inextricably related. No matter how sincere our intentions might be,
we cannot obey God’s will if we do not know what His will is ("knowledge
of the truth"). We cannot be
godly if we do not know what God is like and what He expects of those
who belong to Him. The truth of the Gospel changes one's pattern of life
from ungodliness to godliness and holy living and if it does not, either
a spurious gospel has been presented or the genuine gospel has not been
truly received or believed, a dangerous state of delusion in which to
live. And even a more tragic state in which to die!
Puritan Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor:
emphasizes this intimate association of truth with godliness exhorting
"Take heed to
yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine, … lest you unsay
with your lives what you say with your tongues; and be the greatest
hinderers of the success of your own labors…. One proud, surly, lordly
word, one needless contention, one covetous action, may cut the throat
of many a sermon, and blast the fruit of all that you have been doing….
Let your lives condemn sin and persuade men to duty."
from eu = well + sebomai
= reverence. Sebomai is in turn derived from "seb"
which refers to sacred awe or reverence
exhibited especially in actions) most literally means "well worship". It describes
reverence or awe that is well directed.
The rich are not always godly
but the godly are always rich.
for more discussion of
Eusebeia is true
religion that displays itself in reverence before what is majestic and
divine in worship and in a life of active obedience which befits that
Eusebeia is a term used, not of God, but of
in 15v in the NAS = Acts 3:12; 1Ti 2:2; 3:16; 4:7, 4:8; 6:3, 5,
6, 11; 2Ti 3:5; Titus 1:1; 2 Pet 1:3, 6f; 3:11
Eusebeia is found in
the papyri referring to piety, reverence, loyalty as exhibited towards
parents or deities. Such piety involved the offering of sacrifices and
other cultic activities. It also meant honoring the gods by respecting
elders, masters, rulers, and all the orders of life thought to be under
the protection of the gods. Thus we read that the Platonists defined eusébeia
as “;right conduct in regard to the gods.;” The Stoics said it was
“;knowledge of how God should be worshipped.;” Lucian said it
described one who was “;a lover of the gods.;” Finally, Xenophon
said it characterized one who was “;wise concerning the gods;”.
In short one can see that even the secular idea of this word conveyed a
concern and piety for deity (albeit tragically not the true and Living God). Christianity
and used it to describe the awesome respect that should be accorded to God.
This attitude of one's heart is reflected in lifestyle characterized by reverence
toward God and respect for the beliefs and practices related to Him.
Eusébeia is that piety which is characterized by a
Godward attitude and does that which is well–pleasing to Him.
is “;true religion;” or “;true worship;” and describes the person who
gives God His rightful place by worshiping Him properly. Genuine worship
is more than ;relevant; programs or catchy choruses — it reflects right
reverence for God (godliness).
Marvin Vincent says that
is from eu, well, and sebomai, to
worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship,
however, is to be understood in its etymological sense, worth-ship,
or reverence paid to worth, whether in God or man...In classical
Greek the word is not confined to religion, but means also piety in the
fulfilment of human relations.... Even in classical Greek, however, it
is a standing word for piety in the religious sense, showing itself in
right reverence; and is opposed to ungodliness, and profaneness."
Vincent goes on to quote a secular definition of eusébeia
which is defined as “The recognition of dependence upon the gods, the
confession of human dependence, the tribute of homage which man renders
in the certainty that he needs their favor — all this is eusébeia,
manifest in conduct and conversation, in sacrifice and prayer."
Vincent adds that this secular "definition may be almost literally
transferred to the Christian word. It embraces the confession of the one
living and true God, and life corresponding to this knowledge."
(Bolding added. Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol.
1, Page 3-677)
Eusebeia does not imply an inward, inherent holiness but is more
accurately an externalized piety. Wuest adds that eusébeia
is "a holy reverence or respect for God, piety towards God. The
word does not refer to a person’s character as such, but to his attitude
towards God." (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New
C H Spurgeon in his sermon on
a "form of godliness" (Read
this pithy sermon "The Form of Godliness without the Power)
offers several descriptions of true godliness, first asking...
What is that power? God Himself
is the power of godliness, The Holy Spirit is the life and force of
it (cp Jn 6:63).
Godliness is the power which brings a man to God, and binds him to
Godliness is that which creates repentance towards God, and
faith in Him.
Godliness is the result of a great change of heart in
reference to God and his character.
Godliness looks towards God, and
mourns its distance from Him; godliness hastens to draw nigh, and
rests not till it is at home with God.
Godliness makes a man like
God. Godliness leads a man to love God, and to serve God; it brings
the fear of God before his eyes, and the love of God into his heart.
Godliness leads to consecration, to sanctification, to
The godly man seeks first the kingdom of God and
righteousness (Mt 6:33-note), and expects other things to be added to him.
Godliness makes a man commune with God, and gives him a partnership
with God in his glorious designs; and so it prepares him to dwell
with God for ever.
Many who have the form of godliness are strangers
to this power, and so are in religion worldly, in prayer mechanical,
in public one thing, and in private another. True godliness lies in
spiritual power, and as they are without this, they are dead while
they live. (Excerpt from
The Form of Godliness without the Power)
is a right attitude and response toward the true Creator God; a
preoccupation from the heart with holy and sacred realities. It is
respect for what is due to God, and is thus the highest of all virtues.
John: 1Timothy Moody Press
The source of godliness is Christ
Himself, Paul writing that "by common confession great is the mystery
(hidden, sacred truth that is revealed in the NT) of godliness
who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by
angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up
in glory." (1Ti 3:16)
John MacArthur comments that the
mystery of godliness
refers to the great truth of salvation
and righteousness through Christ, which produces godliness
(eusebeia) in those who believe. It is also possible to understand
the mystery of godliness as a reference to Jesus, Who was the
very revelation of true and perfect “;godlikeness;” since He was God.
Godliness, then, first refers to the incarnation and secondly to
those who are saved and become the godly in Christ.
John: 1Timothy Moody Press)
GODLINESS IS ULTIMATELY
Peter in one of the great verses in
Scripture states that Christ's "divine power has granted to us everything
pertaining to life and godliness (eusebeia), through the
true (full, personal,
experiential) knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and
excellence." (2Pe 1:3-note) This reassuring verse clearly states that our Lord
has made full provision for us to live a life pleasing to Him. This is
our potential. But Peter states that it comes through the knowledge
of Christ (which implies we must study and meditate on the Scriptures
the Bible, pray, meditation...are you growing in the grace and knowledge
of Him? cp 2Pe 3:18-note).
not "letting go and letting God." There is no such thing as
drifting into godliness. In fact the "stream of tendency" is against us!
It is vital to remember that growth in godliness calls for
strenuous involvement on our part. Thus Peter says
Now for this very
reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith
(faith is the foundation) supply moral excellence and in your moral
excellence, knowledge and in your knowledge, self-control and in your
self-control, perseverance and in your perseverance, godliness (eusebeia) and in your godliness
(eusebeia), brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love." (notes
Diligence is placed forward in the Greek for emphasis and
denotes quick movement or haste as well as earnestness or zeal in
performance. Peter is calling for an eager, zealous attitude which is
the opposite of sluggishness and self-indulgence. Furthermore, the use
of "all" underlines the comprehensiveness - the diligence
must be neither halfhearted nor selective. How are you faring in this
emphasizes the need to work out our salvation (Php 2:12-note,
note), exhorting Timothy to “have
nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other
hand, discipline (pictures rigorous, self-sacrificing training
athletes undergo in the gym) yourself for the purpose of godliness
Just as the Greek athlete exercised with a view to winning in the
contests, Timothy (and all believers) is exhorted to exercise with a
view to excelling in godliness. Spiritual self-discipline
is the path to godly living.
Jerry Bridges author of a book
I highly recommend (it's not that long) on the
The Practice of Godliness (read some of the
reviews!) (see also
Study Guide) said...
Godliness... is devotion to God which
results in a life that is pleasing to him....It is impossible to
practice godliness without a constant, consistent and balanced intake of
the Word of God in our lives....The truly godly person is not interested
in becoming rich. He possesses inner resources which furnish riches far
beyond that which earth can offer....The words 'godly' and 'godliness'
actually appear only a few times in the New Testament; yet the entire
book is a book on godliness....There is no higher compliment that can be
paid to a Christian than to call him godly.
Godliness is no optional
spiritual luxury for a few quaint Christians of a bygone era or for some
group of super-saints of today. It is both the privilege and duty of
every Christian to pursue godliness, to train himself to be godly, to
study diligently the practice of godliness. We don’t need any special
talent or equipment. God has given to each one of us “everything we need
for life and godliness” (2Pe 1:3-note).
The most ordinary Christian has all that he needs, and the most talented
Christian must use those same means in the practice of godliness....
Enoch walked with God (Ge 5:21, 22,
23, 24, He 11:5-note);
he enjoyed a relationship with God; and he pleased God. We could
accurately say he was devoted to God. This is the meaning of godliness.
The New Testament word for godliness, in its original meaning, conveys
the idea of a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that
are pleasing to God. This personal attitude toward God is what we call
devotion to God. But it is always devotion in action. It is not just a
warm, emotional feeling about God, the kind of feeling we may get while
singing some grand old hymn of praise or some modern-day chorus of
worship. Neither is devotion to God merely a time of private Bible
reading and prayer, a practice we sometimes call “devotions.” Although
this practice is vitally important to a godly person, we must not think
of it as defining devotion for us. (The
Practice of Godliness)
Godliness will not come
automatically, but requires strenuous effort. Beloved, how are you
doing in your growth in godliness? Are you making every effort, every
day, to exercise self-discipline? Paul goes on to explain that whatever
it takes it's worth it "for bodily discipline is only of little
profit, but godliness (eusébeia) is profitable for all things, since it holds
promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1Ti
Every saint should meditate on the "trustworthy statement" (cf
that a "daily investment" in godliness (whatever the cost
in self-discipline and self-denial) will yield profits not only in the
present but all eternity!
As Jim Elliot said...
He is no fool who gives what he cannot
keep to gain what he cannot lose.
John Calvin said that...
Godliness separates us from the
pollutions of the world, and by true holiness unites us to God.
Paul warned Timothy that
anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound
(healthy, wholesome, giving spiritual health) words, those of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness (eusébeia)." (1Ti
Any doctrine that does not encourage,
promote and in the end result in godly behavior is not based on
Scripture. Conversely, a godly life is a good indicator one is being fed
healthy, wholesome doctrine. As Erwin Lutzer put it...
The difference between worldliness
and godliness is a renewed mind.
In his second epistle to Timothy
Paul warns him about a fake eusébeia, for certain men were
holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power and
command to make it your practice to avoid) such men as these. (2Ti 3:5-note)
They will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet exclude its power.
They will maintain a façade of ‘religion’ but their conduct will deny
Spurgeon put it quite pithily!
Periodical godliness is perpetual
These men, like the pious, religious Pharisees, have an
external appearance suggesting godliness but lacked the "real
thing". They may have made a profession that they believe in Christ,
but by their ungodly behavior, they show that they do not possess "the
mystery of godliness" and thus are living a lie. They have no fruit in
their life that evidences the power of God in their lives. They may have
been reformed, but never regenerated. They may profess but do not
possess Christ. They want to be religious and to have their sins at the
same time, a dichotomy genuine godliness will not allow.
Paul warns Timothy of purveyors of
unsound (false) doctrine "who suppose that godliness (eusébeia) is a means of gain." (1Ti
6:5) Simply stated these pseudo-saints peddled their phony professions of
piety for personal profit. Times haven't changed much have they? Paul
goes on to say that "godliness (eusébeia)
actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment."
"Contentment" (autarkeia) actually means an inner sufficiency
that keeps one at peace in spite of outward circumstances. Paul using
the related word (autarkes) declare
"Not that I speak from
want; for I have learned to be content (autarkes)
in whatever circumstances I am." (Php 4:11-note)
This inner satisfaction is a "fruit"
of godliness in the heart, not wealth in the hand. Dependence on
material things will never bring genuine inner peace. As MacDonald says
"to have real godliness and at the same time to be satisfied with one’s
personal circumstances is more than money can buy." (Believer's Bible
Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
In Paul's last use of eusébeia
in first Timothy, he exhorts his protégée to “flee (present tense
= continually) from these things (like "love of money"), you man of God and pursue
(present tense = continually press on decisively toward) righteousness,
faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.;” (1Ti 6:11)
As alluded to earlier godliness is not automatic but involves life long
discipline and effort.
In the last NT use of eusebeia Peter teaches that godliness
is the heart and soul of Christian character writing that "Since all
these things are to be destroyed in this way (heavens passing away,
earth burned up), what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct
and godliness looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on
account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the
elements will melt with intense heat!" (2Pe 3:11, 12-
Godliness is a practical awareness of God in every aspect
Godliness is not talking godly but living godly.
Godliness reflects an attitude
centered on living out one's life in God's presence with a desire
motivated by love for Him and empowered by His grace to be pleasing to Him in all things.
Godliness refers to
having the proper attitude and conduct before God in everything.
J I Packer wrote that...
Godliness, to the
Puritans, was essentially a matter of conscience, inasmuch as it
consisted in a hearty, disciplined, ‘considerate’ (thoughtful) response
to known evangelical truth, and centered upon the getting and keeping of
a good conscience. (Packer, J. I.. A Quest for Godliness: The
Puritan vision of the Christian life. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.
Godliness refers to the true reverence toward God which
comes from knowledge. It is a right attitude toward God and His
holiness, majesty, and love
Godliness, as denoting character and conduct determined by
the principle of love or fear of God in the heart, is the summing up of
genuine religion. There can be no true religion without it -- only a
dead “;form;” (2Pe 3:5-note;).
-The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:1915 edition J. Orr, Ed)
J. Knox Chamblin writes
Godliness is the reverent awareness
of God's sovereignty over every aspect of life, and the attendant
determination to honor him in all one's conduct. "Godliness" and
"holiness" denote one reality (the terms are joined in 1Ti 2:2; and 2Pe
Godliness depends on knowing God's revealed truth. Paul speaks of "the
knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness" (Titus 1:1), and of
"godly sorrow … that leads to salvation" (2Co 7:10). Peter declares that
God's "divine power has given us everything we need for life and
godliness through our knowledge of him" (2Pe 1:3). God imparts knowledge
of himself by revealing his Son.
The godly person is committed to obeying God in the world: "We know that
God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his
will" (Jn 9:31). The shape of obedience is clarified by the terms to
which "godliness" is joined. "But you, man of God, … pursue
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1Ti
6:11). "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to
goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to
self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to
godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2Pe
1:5-7)—qualities which, in turn, deepen one's "knowledge of our Lord
Jesus Christ" (2Pe 1:8). Christ, moreover, furnishes power for the godly
life: "Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had
made this man walk?" asks Peter (Acts 3:12). Without divine power,
godliness becomes an empty form (2Ti 3:5).
Godliness in both respects (knowledge of God and holiness of life) is
jeopardized by the propagation of falsehood: "If anyone teaches
false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord
Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands
nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels
about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil
suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have
been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to
financial gain" (1Ti 6:3, 4, 5). Accordingly, "the wrath of God is being
revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men
who suppress the truth by their wickedness" (Ro 1:18).
Godliness is costly: "everyone who wants to live a godly life in
Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2Ti 3:12). Hope of eternal life
enables them to endure. "The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from
trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment" (2Pe 2:9;
3:11, 12). "Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some
value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both
the present life and the life to come" (1Ti 4:7, 8). Grace teaches us
"to say ‘No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live
self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we
wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and
Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:12, 13). Seeing this life in light of the
next encourages "godliness with contentment" (1Ti 6:6, 7). (Godly,
Godliness - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- this is an excellent
resource I highly recommend)
Computer Edition) (Logos
Easton defines godliness as...
the whole of practical piety. It
supposes knowledge, veneration, affection, dependence, submission,
gratitude, and obedience. (Easton's Bible dictionary)
Barton writes that...
means correct behavior and genuine Christian faith, first in the heart
but also in visible expression according to the standard of God’s Word.
It takes self-control, continual work, and commitment day by day as we
strive to please God despite our sinfulness and weaknesses. But as we
can train our bodies for physical feats, we can approach the various
aspect of our spiritual life as training in godliness." (Barton,
B. B., et al. 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus. Life application Bible
commentary Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers
Godliness means more
than religious profession and godly conduct; it also means the reality
and power of a vital union with God.
Godliness refers to behavior that reflects the character
of God and presupposes a desire to please God in all the relationships
embodies reverence toward God, a genuine, heartfelt acknowledgment of
a love for the things of God and a walk in the ways of God.
Godliness is godly living, living according to the will of
God. It is the kind of obedience that results from walking in the Spirit (Ro
8:4-note) (Meisinger, George: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Godliness is that inner attitude of reverence which
seeks to please
God in every thought, word or deed.
Godliness desires to
be rightly related to both God and men, and brings the sanctifying
presence of God into every relationship of one's life.
Godliness is living one's life with a "Coram Deo"
mindset, ever as before the face of God.
Godliness is a practical awareness of God in every area of
The godly man or woman lives above the petty
things of life, the passions and pressures that control the lives of
others. The godly
individual seeks to do the will of God making the kind of decisions that
are right and noble, not taking the "easy" path simply to avoid either
pain or trial. That's Biblical godliness!
John MacArthur adds that
be godly is to live reverently, loyally, and obediently toward
God. Peter means that the genuine believer ought not to ask God for
something more (as if something necessary to sustain his growth,
strength, and perseverance was missing) to become godly, because he
already has every spiritual resource to manifest, sustain, and perfect
Any "Christian" teaching which
claims that religious knowledge emancipates from the obligations of
morality is false!
Those gripped by God's truth walk in
harmony with the demands of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.
They understand that there is an intimate connection between a living,
dynamic possession of truth and genuine godliness--a lesson the Cretan
church needed to learn and to live out before an island filled with
Why is truth
that manifests itself in godliness so important? The renowned
nineteenth-century Scottish preacher Alexander Maclaren answers this
question writing that
The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say
that they belong to God’s family. They read us a great deal more than
they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus Christ
The foundation for a credible
witness by the Cretan saints to the veracity of the gospel was not so
much what they said as how they lived.
Charles Stanley writes that
Godly people order their lives around godly counsel. They seek friends
with fellow believers, not with the lost. They get enjoyment,
encouragement, and refreshment from the Word of God. Godly people will
successfully stand the storms of life, are fruitful, and prosper in all
they do. Godly people are contented. They are not anxious or fretting. A
sweet quietness marks them. The beginning of being a godly person is
receiving Jesus Christ as Savior. That’s the foundation to build on."
(Stanley, C. F. In Touch with God. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
J.C. Ryle, in the introduction to
a book of biographical sketches of Christian leaders such as George
Whitefield and John Wesley made the following statement --
taught constantly the inseparable connection between true faith and
personal holiness. They never allowed for a moment that any church
membership or religious profession was the proof of a man’s being a true
Christian if he lived an ungodly life. A true Christian, they
maintained, must always be known by his fruits; and those fruits must be
plainly manifest and unmistakable in all relations of life. “No fruits,
no grace,” was the unvarying tenor of their preaching." (Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century. page 28. Edinburgh:
Banner of Truth.) (Bolding added)
MacArthur writes that
There is no effective spiritual ministry apart from personal godliness,
since ministry is the overflow of a godly life." He quotes "J. Oswald
Sanders (who) wrote, “;Spiritual ends can be achieved only by spiritual
men who employ spiritual methods;”
John: 1Timothy Moody Press)
Sproul in Pleasing God, writing on the association of sound doctrine and
godly living, says that
We must reject a false dichotomy between
doctrine and life. We can have sound doctrine without a sanctified
life. But it is extremely difficult to progress in sanctification
without sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is
not a sufficient condition to produce a sound life. It does not yield
sanctification automatically. Sound doctrine is a
necessary condition for sanctification. It is a vital prerequisite. It
is like oxygen and fire. The mere presence of oxygen does not guarantee
a fire, but you can’t have a fire without it." (Pleasing
God. Tyndale House, 1988)
Donald Whitney writes that
Godly people are
disciplined people. It has always been so. Call to mind...heroes of
church history...they were all disciplined people. In my own pastoral
and personal Christian experience, I can’t say that I’ve ever known a
man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline.
Godliness comes through discipline." (Spiritual
Disciplines for the Christian Life. NavPress, 1991)