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Exegesis of Godliness

02.10.5

Godliness

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End Notes

The following selections are deemed representative of the best of the commentaries available.

 

By combining the contrasts Trench (1901) provides us, we can understand εὐσεβείᾳ as:  reflecting the 'right worship' of God, (similar to θεοσεβής), but in addition also including the possibility of being expressed by due 'respect' in human relations.  Trench also contrasts the felt 'piety' of εὐσεβείᾳ with the simply behavioral, and often hollow, religiosity of θρησκεία.  While the disciple demonstrating εὐσεβείᾳ can be expected to feel awe and trepidation in the presence of the Divine, this is not expected to 'boil over' into the fear-driven scrupulosity of εὐλαβής.  As we look at all of Trench's contrasts, we find that εὐσεβείᾳ describes a real, felt piety towards God that is not hypocritical, nor is it overly fearful, timorous.

 

Vine describes eulabēs as "the piety which characterizes the inner being, the soul, in its attitude towards God."  By noting this he clearly delineates the inner, affective component of religious awe and reverence.  (Vine, W. E.  1940;  PDF p. 743)  In doing so, he takes a much more sanguine and accepting view of eulabēs than Trench, who saw it as, essentially, fear-driven scrupulosity.  Note also, Robinson, E. (p. 339;  PDF p. 374) seems to agree with Trench that eulabeia is heavily impacted by timidity and fear, distinct from eusebeia (Robinson, p. 343;  PDF p. 378).  Vine then describes eusebēs as "the energy   which, directed by holy awe of God, finds expression in devoted activity."  As such, the piety that εὐσέβεια describes is a 'reverence exhibited especially in actions'  This is a subjective or inner piety that does that which pleases one's Lord.

 

"The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture.  A consideration of the above verbs shows that it is not confined to praise;  broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgment to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such   acknowledgment."  (Vine, W. E.  1940;  PDF p. 1584)

 

Foerster, writing for Kittle, describes εὐσέβεια in the General Greek population by, "An inner attitude is always expressed in the outward act."  (Kittle, p. 177, l. 27)  Thus, for the Greeks, εὐσέβεια includes both an inner component (attitude), as well as an outer component (outward act).  Notice that in his view, when considering εὐσέβεια, the inner is 'always' present in the action undertaken.

 

When discussing the Jewish tradition, he says that: "εὐσέβεῖν is to venerate God as one and to worship Him by keeping His Law;  the two are the same thing."  (Kittle, 179, 53)  Again we find the inner (veneration) and the outer (keeping Law).  Yet, here, the two are not simply combined, the two are identified with each other.  Keeping the Law IS veneration, etc.  Again one implies the other.

 

This is reconciled in what I believe the be an especially nice summary statement:  "εὐσέβεια is thus the practice of trust in God."  (Kittle, 184, 36)  Thus, this most basic of Christian doctrines, faith or trust, is to be 'brought to life' by the disciple's actions, in the 'practice' of trust in God.  Nice.

 

From the great chorus of commentators surveyed, several gems were discovered.

 

In an extended and very intriguing set of descriptions, Abernethy (1762, p. 200-206) characterizes the Fear of God, the Gratitude of the convert, and the Resignation of the follower to the will of God, as bringing the disciple to Obedience to his Lord and impelling him to acts of adoration to his Deity.  It is the opinion of this author that, if one wished to discover the heart of Godliness, then you should read and meditate on Abernethy.

 

"let the fear of God restrain you from sin, the love of God constrain you to duty."

Burkitt, W.  (1844B, p. 696;  PDF p. 701).

 

"EUSEBEIA is a very practical awareness of God in every aspect of life."  Green, M.  (1976, p. 69-70).

 

"When Christians bear afflictions patiently, they get an experimental knowledge of the loving-kindness of their heavenly Father, which he will not take from his children, even when he visits their iniquity with the rod, and their transgressions with stripes; (Ps. 89. 52. 33.)  and hereby they are brought to the childlike fear and reverential love wherein true godliness consists:"  Henry, M.  (1853, p. 817, l. 8)

 

"Godliness is an affectionate respect for the Deity with proper expressions of it."

Abernethy, J.  (1762, PDF p. 218).

 

 "I wish to insist upon the idea that selfishness is not merely to be restrained, held in check by compromises, but to be conquered."  Thompson, J. P.  (1977, p. 51-53).

 

"Great is the mystery of Godliness."  1 Tim 3:16

 

 

Author's Summary

 

Godliness is:

       Fear of God

            Awe in the presence of God

            Active recognition of Christ's Lordship

            Submission/surrender to His authority

       Love of God

            Love for the character of God

       Lived Response

            A lived/active/practical response to God's nature

 

This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023