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End Notes

Note:  [Brackets will be used to insert my 'translations' into otherwise literal quotations.]


Kittle – Godliness


Foerster, W.  (1964).  εὐσεβής, εὐσέβεια, εὐσεβέω.  In:  Kittel, G. & Friedrich, G. (Eds.).  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. VII).  (G. W. Bromiley, Trans.)  Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans.


εὐσεβής, εὐσέβεια, εὐσεβέω


In the Greek World - by Werner Foerster


"It shows that without further definition εὐσέβής [devout] and εὐσέβεια [godliness] have a broad sense.  But even without addition εὐσέβεῖν [to revere] etc. refer esp. to the relation to the gods, cf. Aesch. Sept. c. Theb., 344, where the destruction of the temple in war is called a μιαίνειν εὐσέβειαν [defiled piety].  It is plain that in the Hell. and NT period εὐσέβεια [godliness] without addition expresses in a gen. sense a proper attitude to the gods, 'piety.'"  (Kittle, p. 175-176, l. 26)


"In the light of which usage are we to understand the restricting of εὐσέβεῖν [to revere] to the religious world?  Apart from the gods and their temples the obj. of εὐσέβεῖν [to revere] and εὐσέβεια [godliness] are the dead and their νόμιμα [customs] (Eur. Hel., 1277), esp. deceased relatives (Soph. El., 464; Ant., 943), then relatives gen., father, brothers, parents, also the ruler . . ."  (p. 176, l. 18)


"This review shows clearly that εὐσέβ- expresses 'respect' for the orders of domestic, national and also international life.  Proper conduct (εὗ) towards them is σέβεσθαι [respect].  This holds them in high esteem and avoids transgressing them.  Since all these orders are under the protection of the gods it is understandable that the terms εὐσεβέω [to exercise piety], εὐσέβής [devout], εὐσέβεια [godliness] come to refer increasingly to the gods." . . . . "The development goes to the pt. where εὐσέβεια [godliness] is right conduct towards the gods is distinguished from δικαιοσύνη [justice] as right conduct towards one's neighbour and σωφροσύνη [wisdom] or ἐγκράτεια [self-control] as right conduct towards oneself." (176, 26&32)


"In distinction from Plato's own view that the essence of piety consists in being servants of the gods by doing good, the popular view comes out with increasing clarity in the dialogue as one in which piety is what is done directly towards the gods.  Instead of being a reverent attitude towards the gods and the orders protected by them, εὐσέβεια [godliness] consists in the worship paid to the gods in cultic acts." . . . . "the honouring of a god became worship of a god.  But it should be denoted that εὐσέβεια [godliness] does not just denote worship as such, i.e., cultic observance.  An inner attitude is always expressed in the outward act."  (177, 7&25)


"In the Hell.-Rom. period εὐσέβεια [godliness] mostly stands for the worship of the gods (including inner involvement), but the broader sense of respect for the orders of life still remains.  Thus εὐσέβεια [godliness] is used for the attitude to relatives, between men and wives, even for the attitude of slaves to masters and the legions to the emperor, and indeed for the administration of the emperor himself.  In the educated there is reserve or criticism in relation to the cultic worship of popular piety, and in connection with this we find a more inward concept of εὐσέβεια [godliness] in which the element of reverence is the decisive one."  (177-178, 30)


"Thus the true content of εὐσέβεῖν [to revere] for the educated Greek is reverent and wondering awe at the lofty and pure world of the divine, its worship in the cultus, and respect for the orders sustained by it."  (178, 31)


In Judaism, the LXX, the Pseudepigrapha, Josephus and Philo


"Thus to honour (σέβειν) the one God is the teaching of the Law in εὐσεβείᾳ, 5:24 f.  εὐσεβείᾳ is, then, the totality of the Jewish religion in which gt. and small transgressions of the Law are equal, 5:20 f.  εὐσεβείᾳ is to venerate God as one and to worship Him by keeping His Law;  the two are the same thing."  (179, 51)


"This shows that the religious content of εὐσεβ- and the ἀσέβ- is wholly dominant in Philo.  Where the groups refer to the emperor or parents the sense is obviously 'to honour,' not 'to worship.'"  (180, 42)


"Action, like thought, is either εὐσεβές [honorable] or ἀσέβές [dishonorable]."   (181, 14)


In the New Testament


"The reserve of the NT in respect of the group εὐσεβ- is even greater than that of the OT → 179, 2 ff.  This is clearly associated with the fact that in Hebrew and in the mother tongue of most of the NT authors there was no direct linguistic equivalent for these Greek terms.  This may be seen in a statement like Eph. 5:33 : ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φοβῆται τὸν ἄνδρα [and let the wife respect her husband], which a true Greek would never have made.  But there are other reasons as well as the linguistic for the absence of εὐσεβ- from the Gospels and the (older) Pauline Epistles.  There is no absolute norm in εὐσεβ-.  For Socrates the voice of reason and the laws had unconditional binding force and Xenophon described his conduct as that of a εὐσεβής [devout man], → 176, 32 ff.;  but the unconditional nature of the commitment does not lie in the word εὐσεβής [devout man] itself.  What evokes εὐσέβεῖν [to revere] is not a personal entity but a vast order.  It is not ὁ θεός [a deity] but τὸ θει̑ον [the deity].  This makes the group poorly adapted for use in the OT and NT.  Furthermore εὐσεβ- lays the emphasis on the conduct of man and evaluates this morally as a virtue, → 178, 33 ff.  With moralism the concept of εὐσέβεια [godliness] also disappears in the NT.  Paul speaks, not of the εὐσεβεῖς [pious], but of the ἅγιοι [holy] and the ἐκλεκτοί [chosen].  For him εὐσέβεια [godliness] is replaced by πίστις [faith] and ἀγάπη [love]"  (182, 1)


"In the Pastorals εὐσέβεια [godliness] denotes a particular manner of life.  εὐσεβής [devout] occurs only as the adverb εὐσεβω̑ς in 2 Tm. 3:12: πάντες δὲ οἱ θέλοντες ζῇν εὐσεβῶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διωχθήσονται [all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted], Tt. 2:12: grace disciplines us  ἵνα . . . σωφρόνως καὶ δικαίως καὶ εὐσεβῶς ζήσωμεν [to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age].  Here the adverbs refer in true Greek fashion (→ 176, 29 ff.) to the relation of man to self, other men, and God.  1 Tm. 2:2 also has conduct in view: ἵνα . . . βίον διάγωμεν ἐν πάσῃ εὐσεβείᾳ καὶ σεμνότητι [so that we may lead a life in all godliness and dignity].  Related is the admonition to exercise oneself in εὐσέβεια [godliness] (1 Tm. 4:7), which is contrasted with physical exercise, i.e., a negative asceticism." . . . . "The way of life controlled by εὐσέβεια [godliness] separates the doctrine of false teachers from 'sound' doctrine, → II, 162, 9 ff.  There can thus be reference to the doctrine corresponding to piety (1 Tm. 6:3) or to a knowledge of the truth in accordance with εὐσέβεια [godliness] (Tt. 1:1)." . . . . "In this connection we find again the thought of 1 Tm. 4:8 that piety is a gain when combined with content.  This manner of life described as εὐσέβεια [godliness] is a mystery which the hymn in 1 Tm. 3:16 intimates:  it is rooted in the Christ event."  (182, 20&33&41)


"εὐσέβεια [godliness] means 'piety', i.e., conduct in relation to God.  The piety of the Pastoral is different from that of Judaism and the Greek world.  Jewish piety is  controlled by the Law → 179, 38 ff.  In the Pastorals, however, the Law plays a part only among opponents, 1 Tm. 1:7 ff.; Tt. 1:13 f.  There is no trace of a legalistic bondage of εὐσέβεια [godliness] in the Pastorals." . . . . "The author of the Pastorals could not allow that this whole approach of his adversaries was εὐσέβεια [godliness], a true honouring of God, since God was for him the Creator and Redeemer of all men.  But he extends the concept to cover all man's conduct (ἐν πάσῃ εὐσέβειᾳ [in everyone's piety] in 1 Tm. 2:2 = in every type of reverent conduct), and he uses it to denote respect for the divinely created orders which his opponents despise.  In the Pastorals, then, εὐσέβεια [godliness] does not occupy the place which πίστις [faith] did in the older Pauline Epistles.  It denotes a manner of life.  It is the honouring of God the Creator and Redeemer of all men.  Born of πίστις [faith], this takes place in everyday life.  It is the divine service which remains within the orders of life."  (183, 1&17)


"It is true that in εὐσέβεια [godliness] there is an echo of the older use of the word to denote reverence for the gods and for the orders protected by them, → 176, 24 ff.  The only point is that reverence for the orders in now grounded in the will of the Creator who is also the σωτὴρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων, [the Savior of all men], 1Tm. 4:10."  (183-184, 43)


"The word group εὐσέβ- also occurs four times in 2 Pt.  The general situation of the false teachers is a very different one here from that in the Pastorals, since libertinism is the problem instead of asceticism.  The list of virtues in 1:6 f. does not seem to follow any particular plan." . . . . "in the other references εὐσέβεια [godliness] is simply the opposite of an ungodly walk." . . . . "whatever may be our interpretation in detail (→ II. 310, 5 ff.) –  εὐσέβεια [godliness] has the general sense of a pious life, i.e, a life which is morally good."  (184, 4&11&19)


In the Post-Apostolic Fathers


"Thus  εὐσέβεια [godliness] and εὐσεβής [devout] denote the whole life of the Christian lived with an eye on God." . . . . "In what follows this is linked with hοpe in God.   εὐσέβεια [godliness] is thus the practice of trust in God."  (184, 33&36)



[The bracketed translations are mine.]



My Response to Kittle


Foerster, writing for Kittle, describes εὐσέβεια in the General Greek population as, "a proper attitude to the gods, 'piety.'"  (Kittle, p. 176, l. 2)  He extends this description as:  "An inner attitude is always expressed in the outward act."  (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."  (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.


When discussing the role of εὐσέβεια in the NT, he notes that εὐσέβεια is:  "the honouring of God the Creator and Redeemer of all men."  (183, 24)  Slightly later he notes that:  "εὐσέβεια has the general sense of a pious life, i.e., a life which is morally good."  (184, 19)  Thus, again, we are left with the inner and outer aspects of the term.  This is reconciled in what I believe the be an especially nice summary statement:  "εὐσέβεια is thus the practice of trust in God."  (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.


This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023