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Respect in Marriage (Greek Word Study)

October 23, 2007

Scripture says to WIVES:

Eph 5:33 however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
This is the only occurrence I could find of an instruction for the wife to “respect” the husband. I found it interesting that the GREEK word for respect is phobeo (fear?!) Hmmmm….

5399 phobeo {fob-eh’-o}
from 5401; TDNT – 9:189,1272; v
AV – fear 62, be afraid 23, be afraid of 5, reverence 1, misc 2; 93
1) to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away)
1a) to put to flight, to flee
1b) to fear, be afraid
1b1) to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm
1b1a) of those startled by strange sights or occurrences
1b1b) of those struck with amazement
1b2) to fear, be afraid of one
1b3) to fear (i.e. hesitate) to do something (for fear of harm)
1c) to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience

The “fear” idea in the husband/wife relationship is repeated in noun form here:
1Pe 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

5401 phobos {fob’-os}
from a primary phebomai (to be put in fear); TDNT – 9:189,1272; n m
AV – fear 41, terror 3, misc 3; 47
1) fear, dread, terror
1a) that which strikes terror
2) reverence for one’s husband

Scripture says to HUSBANDS:

1PE 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Here the greek word for respect is “time” (value, esteem)

5092 time {tee-may’}
from 5099; TDNT – 8:169,1181; n f
AV – honour 35, price 8, sum 1, precious 1; 43

1) a valuing by which the price is fixed
1a) of the price itself
1b) of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold
2) honour which belongs or is shown to one
2a) of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds
2b) deference, reverence

Note: The Greek “time” respect is commanded of all believers one to another:
Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour (Greek- “time”) preferring one another

Grammar Details (of Respect in Marriage Words)

Eph 5:33 however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

from Blue Letter Bible the “respect”/phobeo/fear in the above verse is in the Subjunctive Mood

5792 Mood – Subjunctive
The subjunctive mood is the mood of possibility and potentiality.
The action described may or may not occur,
depending upon circumstances.

…and the command for husbands to give honor/respect/”timay”

1Pet 3:7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Respect is a noun, but the the “giving” is in the present tense: From the Blue Letter Bible
5774 Tense – PresentThe present tense represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time. In most cases this corresponds directly with the English present tense.


All Christians:

1Pet 2:17 Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

The mood of the verb “phobeo” here when we are instructed to “Fear God” is IMPERATIVE Its a COMMAND. In fact all the verbs in 1Pet 2:17 are in the IMPERATIVE.

Note: The COMMAND to “Honour all” includes Honour WOmen too.

My Personal Reflections:

So, phobeo (fear, reverence) is in the subjunctive mood which “is the mood of possibility and potentiality. The action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances” I have the utmost phobeo for God. That DID depend upon me, upon my heart, and exclusively upon my heart..

A marriage is a “one flesh” union. Two are joined. There is an intertwining of spirits. Each one of the Christian couple has an “old man” and a “new man”. I think God puts a LOT of grace and mercy into this “phobeo” instruction for wives (Eph 5:33) because HE knows about the one flesh, the “old men”, and how extremely difficult, even impossible, it will be in some situations for a wife to “reverence” her husband. Her phobeo toward GOD is dependent exclusively upon HER heart. GOD’s character makes phobeo for HIM (relatively) easy. Her phobeo toward her human husband is NOT dependent exclusively upon HER heart. Again, that “subjunctive mood” expresses it well: “The action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances.”


It sure sounds like a FEELING to me.
The “timay”- honor, esteem, value, respect sort of thing (which is commanded of all Christians), sounds like an ACTION, a BEHAVIOR.

How about “phobeo” is not an act of the will; it is a FEELING???

I don’t have a lot of control over how I feel. I can go through the motions of “respect”, do the behavior. But I cannot, for the life of me, muster up feelings. I’ve heard people say “love is not a feeling”. I think LOVE OR RESPECT without feelings is a pretty hollow empty and unfulfilling thing.

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