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Home > Weekly Columns > Greek Thoughts > Archives >
Article for January 25, 2009

Greek Thoughts Archives
First available on January 25, 2009

TAPEINOPHROSUNE* - Humbleness, lowliness, humbleness of mind - Part 1


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Author Bio

Bill Klein has been a pastor, counselor, and educator for the past 36 years. He has had extensive training and education in biblical languages, and has authored a Biblical Greek course.

He is currently serving as Professor of Biblical Greek at Master's Graduate School of Divinity, and president of BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America, a non-profit organization located in California that provides Bible study tapes and Greek study materials through their website


Please note that all Biblical quotes, in this and all other lessons posted to Greek Thoughts, are from The Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

This week we begin a study of tapeinofrosu/nh (Strong's #5012 pronounced tä pā nō phrō nā**), a word compounded from the adjective tapeino/v (Strong's #5011, pronounced tä pā nōs**) describing a lowly or humble person and the noun frh/n (Strong's #5424 pronounced phrān*) describing the faculty of perceiving and judging.F1 This compound, tapeinofrosu/nh, is the noun that describes the goal or end result of submitting to the Lord's humbling process.
1 Peter 5:5-6

Likewise, younger ones, be submitted to your elders; and everyone be clothed in humble mindedness (tapeinofrosu/nh) while being submitted to one another; because, "God sets Himself against proud ones, but gives grace to humble (tapeino/v) ones."

After instructing the under-shepherds (verses 1-4), Peter addresses the entire fellowship of believers telling younger Christians to be submitted to older believers. He then commands: "be clothed in humble mindedness while being submitted to one another." The command is "to be clothed." The Greek word used in this command, eÌgkombo/omai (Strong's #1463 pronounced ĕn kōm ō mī**), is compounded from the preposition eÌn (Strong's #1722 pronounced ĕn**) meaning "in" and kombo/w (pronounced kōm ō**) meaning "to tie in a knot." The noun form, eÌgko/mbwma (pronounced ĕn kōm bō mä**), is the word for a white apron with strings, which was worn by slaves. The verb form, in the imperative, as it exists here, is used to command that believers be clothed in–or put on–the servant's apron. This servant's apron is a figurative representation of our study word tapeinofrosu/nh, "humble mindedness." This humble mindedness denotes a frame of mind that has been formed through submitting to God's humbling process. Peter is commanding that believers put on a humble mindset–or humble mindedness–just as a slave would submit to putting on a coat or slave's apron; and, at the end of the verse, Peter explains why a Christian should submit to this command: "…because God is setting Himself against proud ones, but is giving grace to humble ones."

Be humbled (tapeino/w) therefore under the mighty hand of God, in order that He may exalt you in time;

Lest we think that we are to produce humility in and of ourselves, Peter calls on believers, in verse 6, to "be humbled" under God's mighty hand. This verb form is an imperative in the passive voice indicating that believers are to submit to God who will humble them.

In summary, the text indicates that people, as they exist without the Holy Spirit, are incapable of humbling themselves; and teaches that we believers are to submit to God's mighty hand as He brings us low, positioning us to receive His grace. The goal or end result of our submission is that He develops within us an attitude or mindset of lowliness. This then affects our attitudes and approach to the material world in which we live. It also affects our associations with other believers, as we will learn in the next two studies from Ephesians 4:2 and Philippians 2:3.

* TAPEINOPHROSUNE is the English font spelling of the Greek word tapeinofrosu/nh.

**English pronunciation of vowel sounds & accented syllables: āle, ăm, ärm; ēve, ĕnd; īce, ǐll; ōld, ǒdd, whö; oi as in oil; ow as in cow; ūse, ŭp, rude. Bold type indicates an accented syllable.

F1: Frh/n is the root word for frone/w (Strong's #5426 pronounced phrō ō), which describes the thought patterns comprising a person's attitude or frame of mind. (See our four-part series on tapeino/v and our seven-part series on frone/w in the archives).

Copyright Statement:

'Greek Thoughts' Copyright 2002-2019 © Bill Klein. 'Greek Thoughts' articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each story, along with a link to  2) 'Greek Thoughts' content may not be arranged or "mirrored" as a competitive online service.



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