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Love and Respect?

February 11, 2010

The Greek word in Ephesians 5:33– translated “respect” in the NIV and “reverence” in several other versions – is the word phobeo, Elsewhere it is consistently translated fear, be afraid, be afraid of, etc. Here is the breakdown of translation choices in the AV: AVfear 62, be afraid 23, be afraid of 5, reverence 1, misc 2

I believe that the text of the original autographs of Scriptures is Holy Spirit inspired and God breathed down to the smallest detail. There is another word which would more accurately express what we think of as “respect”. Paul and God did not choose this word. This word is time and is used of marriage, but of the husband’s duty toward the wife, not vice versa:

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

Returning to consideration of Ephesians 5:33, a parallel instruction to wives to phobeo/phobos is found in 1 Peter 3.

1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Do you see the paradox there?
Wives, “FEAR”!
yet be “NOT AFRAID”!
The links go to the verse in the Blue Letter Bible where one can see the Greek word phobos and phobeo.

The question is WHY do Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 tell wives to have an attitude of phobeo/phobos (fear, be afraid) toward their husbands?
What does this mean?

Think about Sarah, the role model given in the 1 Peter 3 passage. How did Sarah feel when her husband packed her off to the harem of a pagan king twice? Perhaps she struggled with fear? Nevertheless, GOD was with her. HE protected her. She was quite right to fear the men: her husband, that king. She was quite justified not to trust them, not to trust their motivations nor their spiritual maturity. What about fearing GOD? She did struggle with that too at times: “Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.‘”Genesis 18:15

But God taught Sarah the same way HE teaches me and you!
GOD taught her

– by experience-

that HE is trustworthy, HE is faithful, HE is loving.

Think about Esther. There’s another woman who lived the paradox of “FEAR your husband” but “DO NOT BE AFRAID”! She feared her husband who could have had her put to death. But she trusted GOD and put her life in HIS hands.

Think about Sapphira and Ananias of Acts 5 infamy. Sapphira did not FEAR her husband nor God enough. If she had a healthy dose of phobeo/phobos, she would know that her selfish husband- like a hot stove or a loaded firearm- had the potential to be dangerous. Had she FEARED appropriately, she might have at least tried to reason with him and she certainly wouldn’t have enabled his foolishness by going along with it!

I noticed that the Ephesians 5-6 periscope uses the word “fear”/phobeo/phobos in two other instances:

Eph 5:21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (phobos) of God.

Eph 6:5Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear (phobos) and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Does the latter sound like what one thinks of as “respect”? I don’t think so! This phobos/phobeo TREMBLES. That sounds like FEAR not “respect” to me!

I find this validating. This passage is not about God setting up some impossible bar for wives, a hoop we need to jump through, a brick wall against which we must dutifully bash our heads or else we have “failed”. Quite the contrary, the instruction to wives to phobeo captures what being in a wife’s skin feels like.

The passage nowhere tells the wife to “love”. Yes, every Christian has a duty to love even our enemies as ourselves, but WHY does GOD leave out  agape “love” when talking to wives about marriage? I think GOD does that because HE is merciful. HE knows that I cannot MAKE my husband love me and lay down his life for me. I cannot MAKE him obey God’s commands to him. When he isn’t submitting to GOD’s word and will, then he is dangerous and God knows it. I am designed by God to be insecure and FEAR when married to a man who is living for himself and that is OK, just as it was OK for the slave to fear and tremble. GOD UNDERSTANDS! It is also OK that my heart is hidden from my husband. 1 Peter says it will be. A wife cannot expose the deepest treasures of her heart; she cannot trust her pearls to one who will turn and rend her and trample them underfoot. She is not safe being vulnerable like that with a man who is living for himself. Its OK to be afraid, to fear him and the damage he is capable of inflicting.

Meanwhile the treasures of her heart are very precious to GOD. GOD says the hidden person of her heart is of great value to HIM (1 Peter 3:4). GOD says “daughter of Sarah, do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (1 Peter 3:6). GOD says “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your GOD”. GOD says “perfect love casts out fear”. I am imperfect, HE is perfect. I press in to HIM that I may be comforted and feel HIS perfect love, that He would grant me, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner woman, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3)

So, what about “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (phobos) of God.” Eph 5:21??? A couple does not just get away with doing marriage the Gen 3:16 way. The consequences are painful, the cost is high. Be afraid, be very afraid!


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