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Eusebeia (Greek: εὐσέβεια from εὐσεβής "pious" from εὖ eu meaning "well", and σέβας sebas meaning "reverence", itself formed from seb- meaning sacred awe and reverence especially in actions) is a Greek word abundantly used in Greek philosophy as well as in the New Testament, meaning inner piety, spiritual maturity, or godliness. The root seb- (σέβ) is connected to danger and flight, and thus the sense of reverence originally described a healthy fear of the gods.[1][2]

The first recorded usage of the word dates to Homer, circa 1000 BCE.

The word was used in Classical Greece where it meant "personal piety in the fulfillment of human relationships". It also expressed the act of concretely and outwardly fulfilling worshiping acts towards Greek gods (gifts, sacrifices, public devotions), and by extension to honor the gods by showing proper respect to elders, masters, rulers and everything under the protection of the gods.

For Platonists, "Eusebeia" meant "right conduct in regard to the gods.” For the Stoics, “knowledge of how God should be worshiped."[3]

Progressively, and within the wider Hellenistic world, or koine, Eusebeia came to designate "inner piety", or spirituality, a duty inwardly due to God.

In Greek mythology, the concept of Eusebeia is anthropomorphized as the daemon of piety, loyalty, duty and filial respect. According to one source, her husband is Nomos (Law), and their daughter is Dike, goddess of justice and fair judgment. In other tellings, Dike is the daughter of the god Zeus and/or the goddess Themis (Order).[4]

The Indian emperor Ashoka in his 250 BCE Edicts used the word "eusebeia" as a Greek translation for the central Buddhist concept of "dharma".[5]

"Eusebeia" was adopted by Christianity to describe the awesome respect due to God and his worship. It is often translated as "godliness" in the New Testament.[6]

Spiros Zodhiates says that:

"When eusébeia is applied to the Christian life, it denotes a life that is acceptable to Christ, indicating the proper attitude of the believer toward Christ who has saved him. It is both an attitude and a manner of life."
"Divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness (eusébeia), through the true (full, personal, experiential) knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and excellence." Peter (2 Pet 1:3)

The word εὐσέβεια as it is used in the Greek New Testament carries the meaning of "godliness", and is distinct from θρησκεία (thrēskeia), "religion". Eusebeia relates to real, true, vital, and spiritual relation with God, while thrēskeia relates to the outward acts of religious observances or ceremonies, which can be performed by the flesh. The English word "religion" was never used in the sense of true godliness. It always meant the outward forms of worship. In 1Ti 3:16, the Mystery, or secret connected with true Christianity as distinct from religion. It is the Genitive of relation. (This specific meaning occurs only in Act 3:12.)] This word arises in the Greek New Testament in 1Ti 2:2, 1Ti 3:16, 1Ti 4:7, 1Ti 4:8, 1Ti 6:3, 1Ti 6:5, 1Ti 6:6, 1Ti 6:11, 2Ti 3:5, Tit 1:1, 2Pe 1:3, 2Pe 1:6, 2Pe 1:7, 2Pe 3:11.[7]


  1. Burket, Walter. Greek Religion. trans. by John Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985. (Originally published as Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassichen Epoche. Stuttgart: Verlag K. Kohlhammer, 1977.) 272-275.
  2. Mikalson, Jon. "Piety and Honor." Honor Thy Gods: Popular Religion in Greek Tragedy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. 165-202.
  3. Barclay, William (2000). New Testament Words. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 107. ISBN 066424761X. 
  4. "Eusebia: Greek goddess or spirit of piety, duty & filial respect." Theoi Greek Mythology. ed. by Aaron J. Atsma. Accessed on 2007-12-11.
  5. Hacker, Paul. Dharma in Hinduism, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 2006, 34:479-496
  6. Thayer, Joseph; Abbott-Smith, George. "Greek Lexicon entry for Eusebeia". The New Testament Greek Lexicon. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  7. E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, Kregel Publications, ISBN 0-8254-2096-2
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Eusebeia. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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