Friday, August 22, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 2 of 8

            The New Testament renders three different Greek words with forms of reverence.  The Gospels indicate that the Son of God must receive “reverence” (Matt 21:37; Mr 12:6; Lu 20:13), and Hebrews 12:9 indicates that if human fathers deserve “reverence,” God the Father is so much the more worthy of reverent submission.  The word employed in these verses[1] means “to cause to turn (in shame), to shame” or “to show deference to a person in recognition of special status, turn toward something [or] someone, have regard for, respect.”[2]  It is to “give heed or regard to, respect, reverence,”[3] “to show respect to a person on the basis of his high status.”[4]  Elsewhere in the New Testament the verb is employed of showing “regard” for and connected with “fearing” (Lu 18:2, 4), is rendered “shame” (1 Cor 4:14) or “ashamed” (2 Thess 3:14; Tit 2:8).  The related noun is rendered “shame” (1 Cor 6:5; 15:34), and means “the state of being ashamed, shame, humiliation” or “deference to a person in recognition of special status, respect, regard,”[5] that is, “respect, reverence.”[6]  The word indicates “a state of embarrassment resulting from what one has done or failed to do,” focusing “upon the embarrassment which is involved in the feeling of shame”[7] and which is associated with a “change of conduct, that return of a man upon himself, which a wholesome shame brings with it in him who is its subject” (Trench).  The Father and the Son are shown reverence when believers, conscious of and ashamed of their sin, approach God with deference, deep humility, abased subjection, and profound respect, recognizing that this One with whom they have to do is the omniscient and infinitely holy King.  Such reverence is not optional—those who show God reverence live (Heb 12:9)—those who do not die.
            Hebrews 12:28-29 indicates that God must be served or worshipped[8] with “acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  for our God is a consuming fire.”  The only other text in the New Testament with this word for reverence[9] translates the word as “shamefacedness” (1 Tim 2:9).  This word for reverence signifies “modesty, with . . . resulting respect.”[10]  It is man’s “attitude in face of . . . the awful, wherever and however manifested. It is dread . . . of the violation of the [standard]. Its opposite is hubris. It is thus ‘reverence’ before God . . . respect for the one visited by the [grace] of God.”[11]  Hebrews 12 associates reverence with “godly fear.”[12]  One can compare Ephesians 5:33, where “reverence” is the standard New Testament verb for “fear,”[13] signifying “to have a profound measure of respect for, (have) reverence, respect, with special reference to fear of offending.”[14]  The “godly fear” of Hebrews 12:28 is employed of the prayers of Christ in Hebrews 5:7, where the Father accepted the Lord Jesus’ prayer “in that he feared.”  The noun is related to the adjective meaning God-fearing, devout, reverent, or pious[15] found in Luke 2:25 and Acts 2:5; 8:2.  “Godly fear” involves “that mingled fear and love which together constitute the piety of man toward God”;  the devout man:
[Is] accurately and scrupulously performing that which is prescribed with the consciousness of the danger of slipping into a careless negligent performance of God’s service, and of the need therefore of anxiously watching against the adding to or diminishing from or in any other way altering, that which has been by Him commanded[.] . . . [T]he [one with “godly fear” is the] anxious and scrupulous worshipper, who makes a conscience of changing anything, of omitting anything, being above all things fearful to offend [God].[16]
Noah had such piety when he was “moved with fear”[17] to build the ark (Heb 11:7), acting out of anxious “concer[n] [and] reverent regard.”[18]  Such reverence and godly fear are necessary if believers are to “serve” or worship God “acceptably”[19] (Heb 12:28), that is, in a way that is “wellpleasing” and thus “acceptable” to Him (Rom 12:1–2; 14:18; 2 Cor 5:9; Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; Col 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21).[20]  Reverence and godly fear are the necessary attitude for acceptance before a God who is a “consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           e˙ntre÷pw.  It appears in the NT in:  Matt 21:37; Mark 12:6; Luke 18:2, 4; 20:13; 1 Cor 4:14; 2 Th 3:14; Titus 2:8; Heb 12:9.  The related noun e˙ntroph/ appears in 1 Cor 6:5; 15:34.
[2]           BDAG.
[3]           Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., G. H. Liddell & R. Scott.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996 (LSJ).
[4]           Louw-Nida.
[5]           BDAG.
[6]           Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Henry Thayer.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1978 (reprint ed.) (Thayer).
[7]           Louw-Nida.
[8]           latreu/w.
[9]           ai˙dw¿ß.
[10]         Louw-Nida.
[11]         Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Kittel, Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, & Gerhard Friedrich, eds.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1964– (TDNT).
[12]         eujla¿beia, found only in Hebrews 5:7; 12:28.
[13]         fobe÷w.
[14]         BDAG.
[15]         eujlabh/ß.  See BDAG, LSJ.
[16]         Synonyms of the New Testament, Richard Chenevix Trench.  London: Macmillan and Co., 1880 (Trench).
[17]         eujlabe÷omai.  The word is found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 23:10.
[18]         BDAG.
[19]         eujare÷stwß.
[20]         See BDAG on the related adjective euja¿restoß, the references to which are listed above.  In Hebrews 12:28 eujare÷stwß is a hapax legomenon.  Note also the verb eujareste÷w, found in Heb 11:5-6; 13:16.

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