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Friday, December 2, 2011

Phobeō / φοβέω

This is me, thinking out loud. Just thought I'd share it with others this time.

The Greek word Phobeō / φοβέω (Strong's #5399) is pronounced fo-be'-ō and is in the New Testament nearly 100 times. Here is the breakdown [for the KJV]:

62 times it is translated into the English word 'fear' 'feared' 'feareth' 'fearing'
23 times it is translated into 'be afraid'
5 times it is translated into 'be afraid of'
1 time it is translated into 'reverence'

Then there is also #5401 phobos / φόβος pronounced fo'-bos which is in the NT nearly 50 times: 41 times as 'fear' and three times as 'terror'. It is also coupled with 5399 once as 'afraid'.

And there is #5400 phobētron / φόβητρον pronounced fo'-bā-tron which is in the NT once as 'fearful sights'.

So ... what is my point?

Many months ago I was writing an article about wives submitting to their husbands. This word 'reverence' came up in one of the verses to women, so I looked it up in the Strong's. The English word 'reverence' is used in the NT 6 times ... in 3 different gospels accounting the same parable (the parable of the husbandmen and vineyard 'they will reverence my son'). In Hebrews it's used twice, both in chapter 12 ... and then of course it's used in Ephesians 5:33 - let the wife see that she reverence her husband.

I noticed that the word 'reverence' here was a different Greek word than the others. I am no Greek scholar and I do not trust in Strong's definitions entirely, so when I look up a particular word, I do not just assume Strong's has the right definition of the word. Instead, I like to see how that SAME Greek word is used in other parts of the bible - I think this gives a better picture of the use of the word in question. The word 'reverence' here in Ephesians is the Greek word "phobeo" ... and yes ... this is the ONLY time this word is translated as 'reverence' instead of 'fear' or 'be afraid' or 'terror'. Another thing I like to do is interchange the words and see if any or all of the English words used for one Greek word will fit in the different verses the word is used in context ... in almost every case, the word reverence did not make sense if it was used to replace 'fear', 'afraid' or 'terror'.

So here is the Greek word used almost 150 times in the NT. Each time it is the English word 'fear' or something very similar. One time it is the English word 'reverence' and conveniently that one time is in regards to the husband/wife relationship. Why is that? My personal thought - our modern day perverted ways of thinking cannot fathom the thought of a wife fearing her husband in that way. Sarah feared Abraham and called him lord. She submitted to him in everything. She trusted in the Lord for the one He put over her and she is the only woman specifically pointed out as an example for us in the NT.

I cannot imagine very many wives calling their husband 'lord' or even submitting to them as the scriptures say they are supposed to.

Well, those are my thoughts.


  1. Thank you for pointing this out. I noticed that myself too. I am glad to see the topic written on a bit. The shock and awe of today there would be for most ladies of this age to consider they might need to 'fear' the husband. I also notice most xlations dont even use "reverence" any more, they swap it out for respect. May I have your permission to share this on my site in the submission articles area, properly credited of course? Blessings, Eleanor McDonie

  2. Yes, that would be a blessing if you shared. Praise the Lord.

    On a side not, it's nice to see you here :) Lord bless you; I pray all is well. Love, js


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