1 Peter 5:4-5 Commentary

To go directly to that verse

1 Peter: Trials, Holy Living & The Lord's Coming
Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
See Another Chart from Charles Swindoll 

Source: Borrow Ryrie Study Bible 
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Salvation of
the Believer
1 Pe 1:1-2:12
Submission of
the Believer
1 Pe 2:13-3:12
Suffering of
the Believer
1 Pe 3:13-5:14
1Pe 1:1-1:12
1Pe 1:13-2:12
Submit to
1Pe 2:13-17
Submit in Business
1Pe 2:18-25
Submit in Marriage
1Pe 3:1-8
Submit in all of life
1Pe 3:9-12

Conduct in Suffering

1Pe 3:13-17

Christ's Example of Suffering
1Pe 3:18-4:6
Commands in Suffering
1Pe 4:7-19
Minister in Suffering
1Pe 5:1-14
Belief of Christians Behavior of Christians Buffeting of Christians
Holiness Harmony Humility

Adapted from Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa's Talk Thru the Bible (borrow)

1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kai phanerothentos (AAPMSG) tou archipoimenos komieisthe (2PFMI) ton amarantinon tes doxes stephanon.

Amplified:And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the conqueror’s crown of glory.

KJV: And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

to the younger men to obey the elders

NLT: And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: And then, when the chief shepherd reveals himself, you will receive that crown of glory which cannot fade. (New Testament in Modern English)

Wuest: And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you shall receive the victor’s unfading crown of glory. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: and at the manifestation of the chief Shepherd, ye shall receive the unfading crown of glory.

AND WHEN THE CHIEF SHEPHERD APPEARS: kai phanerothentos (AAPMSG) tou archipoimenos:

  • 1Pe 5:2; 2:25; Ps 23:1; Is 40:11; Ezek 34:23; 37:24; Zec 13:7; Jn 10:11; Heb 13:20
  • Mt 25:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46; Col 3:3,4; 2Th 1:7, 8, 9, 10; 1Jn 3:2; Rev 1:7; 20:11,12
  • 1 Peter 5 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


And when - Not "if" but "when" - Beloved are you ready? Are you living each day as if it might be the glorious day when He returns to take us home? (See Rapture versus Second Coming)

Appears (5319) (phaneroo [word study] from phanerós = manifest, visible, conspicuous from phaino = give light; become visible from phos = light) refers to an external manifestation to senses open to all. It means to make visible that which has been hidden primary reference is to what is visible to sensory perception. To cause to become visible, to make appear, to cause to be seen, uncover, lay bare, reveal. To make known, cause to be seen.

Note aorist tense denotes a single event, specifically the Second Coming of Christ (Col 3:4-note; 1Jn 2:28; 3:1, 2, 3) (1 Peter 1:20-note speaks of His first advent)

Chief Shepherd (750) (archipoimen from archí- = denoting rank or degree + poimen = a shepherd) is Jesus Christ Who died for the sheep (Jn 10:11), the Great Shepherd Who lives for the sheep (cp prayer in Heb 13:20,21-notes) and the Chief Shepherd Who comes for the sheep (1Pe 5:4).

As the Chief Shepherd Christ is in charge of the entire flock and all the elders are under-shepherds whose work will be evaluated and rewarded by Him. When the Chief Shepherd comes He is going to call us to account and ask

Did you feed My sheep?
Were you vigilant over the souls of My sheep?
Did you seek My lost sheep?
Did you guard the deposit of My truth?
Did you stand watch against the wolves?
Did you love My flock?

Torrey's Topic
Christ, the Shepherd

Foretold - Ge 49:24; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24

  • The chief - 1 Peter 5:4
  • The good - John 10:11,14
  • The great -Micah 5:4; Hebrews 13:20


  • He knows -John 10:14,27
  • He calls -John 10:3
  • He gathers -Isaiah 40:11; John 10:16
  • He guides -Psalms 23:3; John 10:3,4
  • He feeds -Psalms 23:1,2; John 10:9
  • He cherishes tenderly -Isaiah 40:11
  • He protects and preserves -Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:10; Zechariah 9:16; John 10:28
  • He laid down his life for -Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; John 10:11,15; Acts 20:28
  • He gives eternal life to -John 10:28
  • Typified -David -1 Samuel 16:11

Torrey's Topic
The Second coming of Christ

(See Related Resource: Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming)

Time of, unknown -Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32


  • Times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord -Acts 3:19
  • Times of restitution of all things -Acts 3:21; Romans 8:21
  • Last time -1 Peter 1:5
  • Appearing of Jesus Christ -1 Peter 1:7
  • Revelation of Jesus Christ -1 Peter 1:13
  • Glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour -Titus 2:13
  • Coming of the day of God -2 Peter 3:12
  • Day of our Lord Jesus Christ -1 Corinthians 1:8


  • Prophets -Daniel 7:13; Jude 1:14
  • Himself -Matthew 25:31; John 14:3
  • Apostles -Acts 3:20; 1 Timothy 6:14
  • Angels -Acts 1:10,11
  • Signs preceding -Matthew 24:3-51

The Manner of

  • In clouds -Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Revelation 1:7
  • In the glory of his Father -Matthew 16:27
  • In his own glory -Matthew 25:31
  • In flaming fire -2 Thessalonians 1:8
  • With power and great glory -Matthew 24:30
  • As he ascended -Acts 1:9,11
  • With a shout and the voice of the Archangel -1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • Accompanied by Angels -Matthew 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 2 Thessalonians 1:7
  • With his saints -1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 1:14
  • Suddenly -Mark 13:36
  • Unexpectedly -Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40
  • As a thief in the night -1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15
  • As the lightning -Matthew 24:27
  • The heavens and earth shall be dissolved, &c at -2 Peter 3:10,12
  • They who shall have died in Christ shall rise first at -1 Thessalonians 4:16
  • The saints alive at, shall be caught up to meet him -1 Thessalonians 4:17
  • Is not to make atonement -Hebrews 9:28; Romans 6:9,10; Hebrews 10:14


  • Complete the salvation of saints -Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5
  • Be glorified in his saints -2 Thessalonians 1:10
  • Be admired in them that believe -2 Thessalonians 1:10
  • Bring to light the hidden things of darkness -1 Corinthians 4:5
  • Judge -Psalms 50:3,4; John 5:22; 2Ti 4:1; Jude 1:15; Re 20:11, 12, 13
  • Reign -Isaiah 24:23; Daniel 7:14; Revelation 11:15
  • Destroy death -1 Corinthians 15:25,26
  • Every eye shall see him at Revelation 1:7
  • Should be always considered as at hand -Ro 13:12; Philippians 4:5; 1Pe 4:7
  • Blessedness of being prepared for -Matthew 24:46; Luke 12:37,38


  • Assured of -Job 19:25,26
  • Love -2 Timothy 4:8
  • Look for -Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13
  • Wait for -1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:10
  • Haste to -2 Peter 3:12
  • Pray for -Revelation 22:20
  • Should be ready for -Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40
  • Should watch for Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 21:36
  • Should be patient to -2 Thessalonians 3:5; James 5:7,8
  • Shall be preserved to Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:18; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:24
  • Shall not be ashamed at -1 John 2:28; 4:17
  • Shall be blameless at 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1Th 3:13; 5:23; Jude 1:24
  • Shall be like him at Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2
  • Shall see him as he is, at -1 John 3:2
  • Shall appear with him in glory at -Colossians 3:4
  • Shall receive a crown of glory at 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4
  • Shall reign with him at - Daniel 7:27; 2Ti 2:12; Re 5:10; 20:6; 22:5
  • Faith of, shall be found to praise at -1 Peter 1:7


  • Scoff at -2 Peter 3:3,4
  • Presume upon the delay of -Matthew 24:48
  • Shall be surprised by -Mt 24:37-39; 1 Th 5:3; 2Pe 3:10
  • Shall be punished at -2Thessalonians 1:8,9
  • The man of sin to be destroyed at 2 Thessalonians 2:8
  • Illustrated -Matthew 25:6; Luke 12:36,39; 19:12,15

YOU WILL RECEIVE THE UNFADING CROWN OF GLORY: komieisthe (2PFMI) ton amarantinon tes doxes stephanon:


Receive (2865) (komizo from komeo = tend, take care of) means to bring bear or carry (used this way only in Lk 7:37) and in the middle voice to receive back (in sense of requital, recompense or reward) or to get what is promised (as in 1 Peter 5:4 [note], Hebrews 10:36 [note]) or to get back something that is one's own or is owed to one (as in Mt 25:27)

As A T Robertson says "This is a general law of life and of God and it is fair and square."

Komizo conveys the thought of getting something for oneself and carrying it off as wages or a prize.

The verb implies, not mere obtaining, but receiving and carrying away for use and enjoyment. Peter is teaching that in that coming Day of Judgment at the bema seat of Christ these faithful shepherds will joyfully carry away as their own “the unfading crown of glory.”

Komizo can describe a reward for good (as here in 1 Peter 5:4), not a penalty for wrong (as in 2Peter 2:13 referring to the false teachers).

Thayer has this note in regard to komizo with the sense of recompense…

Since in the rewards and punishments of deeds, the deeds themselves are as it were requited and so given back to their authors, the meaning is obvious when one is said to be requited that which he has done, i.e. either the reward or punishment of the deed

Vincent says that komizo

originally means to take care of or provide for; thence to receive hospitably or entertain; to bring home with a view to entertaining or taking care of. Hence, to carry away so as to preserve, to save, rescue, and so to carry away as a prize or booty. Generally, to receive or acquire. Paul uses it of receiving the awards of judgment (2Cor 5:10; see Ep 6:8 -note; Col 3:25-note).

In Hebrews komizo is used of receiving the promise (Heb 10:36-note; Heb 11:39-note), and of Abraham receiving back Isaac (Hebrews 11:19 - see note). Peter uses it thrice, and in each case of receiving the rewards of righteousness or of iniquity. --- see 1 Peter 5:4-note; 2Peter 2:13-note.

Below are the 11 NT uses of komizo… notice that only the use in Luke 7:37 is in the active voice (gives sense of bring) and all other uses are in the middle voice (sense of receiving back)…

Matthew 25:27 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.

Luke 7:37 And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume.

Comment: Louw-Nida state that here komizo means "to carry or bring something to someone, usually implying a transfer"

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Comment: Louw-Nida write that in this use the idea to cause to experience or "to cause someone to experience something on the basis of what that person has already done—‘to cause to experience in return, to cause to suffer for, to cause to experience in proportion to, to be repaid for")

Ephesians 6:8 (note) knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

Colossians 3:25 (note) For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

Comment: Here the master or the slave shall receive back the wrong which he or she did, which reflects the general law of life and of God which is "fair and square" as they say)

Hebrews 10:36 (note) For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Comment: Komizo implies, not mere obtaining, but receiving and carrying away for use and enjoyment.

Hebrews 11:19 (note) He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.

Comment: This describes Abraham's "receiving" back of Isaac after offering him up without hesitation or stipulation.

Hebrews 11:39 (note) And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,

1 Peter 1:9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Comment: Peter is not looking at the future but at the here and now; one could literally render obtaining [komizomenoi], “presently receiving for yourselves.” The root, komizo, means “to receive what is deserved.” Flowing out of believers’ personal fellowship with Christ is the result due them, the present outcome of their faith, namely the salvation of their souls. -- MacArthur, J. 1 Peter. Chicago: Moody Press)

1 Peter 5:4  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

2 Peter 2:13 (note) (KJV is quoted as the Greek text for NAS does not use komizo) And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

There are 8 uses of komizo in the Septuagint (Ge 38:20; Lev 20:17; Ezra 6:5; Ps 40:15; Ezek 16:52, 54, 58; Ho 2:9). For example Moses records…

Genesis 38:20 When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to receive (Lxx = komizo) the pledge from the woman's hand, he did not find her.

Leviticus 20:17 'If there is a man who takes his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the sons of their people. He has uncovered his sister's nakedness; he bears (Lxx = komizo) his guilt.

Unfading (262) (amarantinos from amárantos = unfading from a = without, + maraíno = to fade) literally means unfading as a flower but is used figuratively of that which is lasting, that which does not fade away or that which lose its pristine character.

Amarantinos does not refer to the quality of the heavenly inheritance as not fading away, but rather to the makeup of the crown itself as being of amaranths, unfading flowers whose unfading quality (and which can be revived easily by being moistened with water) was the symbol of perpetuity and immortality.

Kenneth Wuest makes the point that…

The crown given to victors in either athletics or war was made of oak or ivy leaves, the festal garlands of the marriage feast, of flowers. These would wither and fade. But the victor’s crown which the Lord Jesus will give His faithful under-shepherds will never wither or fade. What form this reward will take, is not stated. 

Thayer writes that this adjective is…

composed of amaranth a flower, so called because it never withers or fades, and when plucked off revives if moistened with water; hence, it is a symbol of perpetuity and immortality (see Paradise Lost iii., 353ff)

The Columbia Encyclopedia notes that

The amaranth is from the genus Amaranthus includes several widely distributed species called amaranths that are characterized by a lasting red pigment in the stems and leaves. They have been a poetic symbol of immortality from the time of ancient Greece. (Columbia Encyclopedia)

Crown (4735) (stephanos [word study] from stepho = to encircle, twine or wreathe) refers to the crown of victory in the Greek athletic games, to the runner who crossed the goal first, to the disc thrower with the longest toss, etc. Stephanos is distinguished from another Greek word diadema (1238) which refers to a kingly crown.

In the first NT use Matthew says that

after weaving a crown (stephanos) of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews! (Mt 27:29)

Earlier Paul had used the verb form (stephanoo) reminding Timothy that

if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. (NIV, 2Ti 2:5 - notes)

The stephanos was the only prize ancient Olympic athletes received and thus it was cherished as a great treasure. How much more should we as believers "run with endurance the race that is set before" (Hebrews 12:1-note) us, knowing that the Olympic athletes "do it to receive a perishable wreath (stephanos) but we an imperishable." (1Cor 9:25)

According to Barclay stephanos had many associations in the ancient world including as already mentioned

(a) the victor's crown in the games. Smyrna had annual games which were famous all over Asia. As in the Olympic Games, the reward of the victorious athlete was the laurel crown. The Christian can win the crown of victory in the contest of life.

(b) When a man had faithfully performed the work of a magistrate, at the end of his term of office he was granted a crown. He who throughout life faithfully serves Christ and his fellow-men will receive his crown.

(c) The heathen world was in the habit of wearing crowns, chaplets of flowers, at banquets. At the end of the day, if the Christian is loyal, he will have the joy of sitting as a guest at the banquet of God.

(d) The heathen worshippers were in the habit of wearing crowns when they approached the temples of their gods. At the end of the day, if he has been faithful, the Christian will have the joy of entering into the nearer presence of God.

(e) Some scholars have seen in this crown a reference to the halo or the nimbus which is round the head of divine beings in pictures. If that is so, it means that the Christian, if he is faithful, will be crowned with the life which belongs to God himself.

The leaders’ faithful fulfilling of the negative and positive injunctions set forth in v2b-3 will be followed by God’s bestowal of a reward. The prospect of the future must have its impact on their performance in the present. The difficulties of their work, as well as their awareness of their own inadequacies and failures, will often discourage the most prudent; but “to prevent the faithful servant of Christ from being cast down, there is this remedy, to turn his eyes to the coming of Christ.”

The stephanos was awarded for victory in the games, of civic worth, of military valour, of nuptial joy, of festive gladness. Woven of perishable materials, they were used to celebrate occasion of joy or victory. The scene here envisioned may be the festive occasion of a banquet or the crowning after struggle for victorious achievement. For Peter’s readers the crowning which concluded the athletic contests would readily come to mind.

Torrey's Topic
The Reward of the Saints

  • Is from God -Romans 2:7; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 11:6
  • Is of grace, through faith alone -Romans 4:4,5,16; 11:6
  • Is of God’s good pleasure -Matthew 20:14,15; Luke 12:32
  • Prepared by God -Hebrews 11:16
  • Prepared by Christ -John 14:2
  • As servants of Christ -Colossians 3:24
  • Not on account of their merits -Romans 4:4,5


  • Being with Christ -John 12:26; 14:3; Philippians 1:23; 1Th 4:17
  • Beholding the face of God -Psalms 17:15; Matthew 5:8; Re 22:4
  • Beholding the glory of Christ -John 17:24
  • Being glorified with Christ -Ro 8:17,18; Col 3:4; Phil 3:21; 1Jn 3:2
  • Sitting in judgment with Christ - Da 7:22; Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; 1Co 6:2
  • Reigning with Christ -2 Timothy 2:12; Re 3:21; 5:10; 20:4
  • Reigning for ever and ever -Revelation 22:5
  • A crown of righteousness -2 Timothy 4:8
  • A crown of glory 1 Peter 5:4
  • A crown of life -James 1:12; Revelation 2:10
  • An incorruptible crown -1 Corinthians 9:25
  • Joint heirship with Christ -Romans 8:17
  • Inheritance of all things -Revelation 21:7
  • Inheritance with saints in light -Acts 20:32; 26:18; Col 1:12
  • Inheritance eternal -Hebrews 9:15
  • Inheritance incorruptible -1 Peter 1:4
  • A kingdom -Matthew 25:34; Luke 22:29
  • A kingdom immovable -Hebrews 12:28
  • Shining as the stars -Daniel 12:3
  • Everlasting light -Isaiah 60:19
  • Everlasting life -Lk 18:30; Jn 6:40; 17:2,3; Ro 2:7; 6:23; 1Jn 5:11
  • An enduring substance -Hebrews 10:34
  • A house eternal in the heavens -2Co 5:1
  • A city which had foundation -Hebrews 11:10
  • Entering into the joy of the Lord -Matthew 25:21; He 12:2
  • Rest -Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13
  • Fulness of joy -Psalms 16:11
  • The prize of the high calling of God in Christ -Phil 3:14
  • Treasure in heaven -Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33
  • An eternal weight of glory -2 Corinthians 4:17
  • Is great Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:35; Hebrews 10:35
  • Is full -2 John 1:8
  • Is sure -Proverbs 11:18
  • Is satisfying -Psalms 17:15
  • Is inestimable -Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9
  • Saints may feel confident of -Ps 73:24; Is 25:8,9; 2Co 5:1; 2Ti 4:8
  • Hope of, a cause of rejoicing -Romans 5:2
  • Be careful not to lose -2 John 1:8


  • Diligence -2 John 1:8
  • Pressing forward -Philippians 3:14
  • Enduring suffering for Christ -2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Hebrews 11:26
  • Faithfulness to death -Revelation 2:10
  • Present afflictions not to be compared with - Ro 8:18; 2 Co 5:17
  • Shall be given at the second coming of Christ -Mt 16:27; Re 22:12

1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Homoios neoteroi, hupotagete (2PAPM) presbuterois. pantes de allelois ten tapeinophrosunen egkombosasthe, (2PAMM ) hoti o theos huperephanois antitassetai, (3SPMI) tapeinois de didosin (3SPAI) charin.

Amplified: Likewise, you who are younger and of lesser rank, be subject to the elders (the ministers and spiritual guides of the church)—[giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel]. Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

NLT: You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: You younger members must also submit to the elders. Indeed all of you should defer to one another and wear the "overall" of humility in serving each other. 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'. (New Testament in Modern English)

Wuest: Likewise, younger ones, be in subjection to the elders. Moreover, all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes himself to those who set themselves above others, but gives grace to those who are lowly. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: In like manner, ye younger, be subject to elders, and all to one another subjecting yourselves; with humble-mindedness clothe yourselves, because God the proud doth resist, but to the humble He doth give grace;

YOU YOUNGER MEN, LIKEWISE, BE SUBJECT TO YOUR ELDERS: Homoios, neoteroi, hupotagete (2PAPM) presbuterois:

The Greek verse opens with ‘likewise,’ so having spoken of the elders being subject to the authority of the Chief Shepherd, it now calls on younger men to likewise be subject to the elders.

Be subject (5293) (hupotasso from hupó = under + tasso = arrange in orderly manner) (Click here for in depth word study of hupotasso) means literally to place under in an orderly fashion.

The aorist tense, imperative mood (aorist imperative) is a command (as from a superior officer to his troops) to fall into line under the God appointed leadership and to do it now. Aorist imperative can convey a sense of urgency. Do this now. Don't procrastinate. Remember that every command in the NT is a call to trust in and rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the desire and the power to carry out the command. If you try to carry it out in your own strength you will experience frustration. (See discussion of commands and need for the Spirit)

Hupotásso means to submit to and so to yield to authority. It is important to note that many of the NT uses are in the passive voice with a middle sense which signifies the voluntary subjection of oneself to the will of another.

Hupotasso - 38x in 31v - Luke 2:51; 10:17, 20; Rom 8:7, 20; 10:3; 13:1, 5; 1 Cor 14:32, 34; 15:27f; 16:16; Eph 1:22; 5:21, 24; Phil 3:21; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5, 9; 3:1; Heb 2:5, 8; 12:9; Jas 4:7; 1 Pet 2:13, 18; 3:1, 5, 22; 5:5. The NAS renders hupotasso as put in subjection(5), subject(16), subjected(7), subjecting(1), subjection(4),submissive(3), submit(2).

Hupotásso was a military term that meant troop divisions were to be arranged in a orderly fashion under the command of the leader. In this state of subordination they were now subject to the orders of their commander. In non-military use, hupotasso describes a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, or carrying a burden.

Submission focuses not on personality but position. We need to see authority over us not acting on their own, but as instruments in the hand of God. If we look at people as acting on their own we will eventually become bitter, but if we can see them as acting as God allows, we will become holy. A beautiful example of this is found in the life of Joseph. His brothers consistently mistreated him and it would have been very easy for him to become bitter at them. Yet he had a divine perspective on the whole situation and it helped him become a holy man of God.

"And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Ge 50:20).

Submission is an act of faith. We are trusting God to direct in our lives and to work out His purposes in His time. After all, there is a danger in submitting to others; they might take advantage of us—but not if we trust God and if we are submitted to one another! A person who is truly yielded to God, and who wants to serve his fellow Christians, would not even think of taking advantage of someone else, saved or unsaved.

AND ALL OF YOU CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH HUMILITY TOWARD ONE ANOTHER: pantes de alleloie ten tapeinophrosunen egkombosasthe (2PAMM):

Clothe yourself (1463) (egkomboomai from egkomboma = an apron a servant wears while working <> from en = in + kombóo = gather or tie in a knot, hence to fasten a garment, to clothe) (found only here in the NT) literally means to tie something on oneself with a knot or a bow and was a term often used to describe a slave putting an apron over his clothes in order to keep his clothes clean.

This verb also refers to the white scarf or apron of slaves, which was fastened to the belt of the vest and distinguished slaves from freemen, hence the idea is "gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb".

Peter uses the aorist imperative which signifies a command calling for "soldier like" obedience. This is a vitally important command that dare not be dismissed without significant consequences (e.g., pride blunts the Spirit fed stream of God's amazing grace [Jas 4:6-note], which is necessary not just for salvation the first time [Eph 2:8,9-note], but is also necessary for "salvation" daily = sanctification, present tense salvation [See the Three Tenses of Salvation]). In addition the middle voice indicates we are to initiate the action and participate in the results or effect of this action. (See discussion of commands and need for the Spirit)

Moffatt translates it “Put on the apron of humility” an appropriate paraphrase picturing the scarf or apron as the badge of a servant. How easily the world’s competitive spirit filters into the hearts of Christians and Christian workers who become envious of one another’s success. How seldom we think of ourselves as servants for Christ’s sake.

Charles Ellicott says that this verse literally means, “tie yourself up in humility” gathering it around us like a cloak to shut out the blighting winds of pride. But there is a still more delicate shade of meaning to the word “humility.” Ellicott says that the word for humility originally referred to “a peculiar kind of cape worn by slaves” and thus was “a badge of servitude.” The upshot is that these word pictures indicate that humility is not simply a passive quality but that it includes performing selflessly any task God assigns, and bringing forth spiritual fruit.

Marvin Vincent explains the picture which Peter may have had in mind when he choose the Greek verb egkomboomai, writing that it was reminiscent…

of that scene in which Peter figured so prominently—the washing of the disciples’ feet by the Lord, when he girded himself with a towel as a servant, and gave them the lesson of ministry both by word and act. Bengel paraphrases, “Put on and wrap yourselves about with humility, so that the covering of humility cannot possibly be stripped from you." (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament)

Just as Jesus laid aside His outer garments and put on a towel to become a servant, so each of us should have a servant’s attitude and minister to each other. True humility is described in Php 2:1-11. Humility is not demeaning ourselves and thinking poorly of ourselves. It is simply not thinking of ourselves at all! This was the white scarf or apron of slaves, which was fastened to the belt of the vest and distinguished slaves from freemen, hence in 1Pe 5:5, "gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb" means by putting on humility, show your subjection one to another. Also, this refers to the overalls which slaves wore to keep clean while working, an exceedingly humble garment.

Humility (5012) (tapeinophrosune from tapeinos = low lying, then low or humble + phren = to think) literally means to think or judge with lowliness and thus speaks of humiliation of mind, lowliness of mind, lowly thinking, the quality of unpretentious behavior, a humble attitude, modesty (modesty = unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities) or without arrogance. Inasmuch as we are small compared to God, this is the correct estimate of ourselves. The word indicates the esteeming one's self as small or recognizing one’s insufficiency but at the same time recognizing the powerful sufficiency of God!

Tapeinophrosune - 7x in 7v - Acts 20:19; Eph 4:2; Phil 2:3; Col 2:18, 23; 3:12; 1 Pet 5:5

John Wesley observed that “neither the Romans nor the Greeks had a word for humility.” The very concept was so foreign and abhorrent to their way of thinking that they had no term to describe it. When, during the first several centuries of Christianity, pagan writers borrowed the term tapeinophrosune, they always used it derogatorily—frequently of Christians—because to them humility was a pitiable weakness.

Vine writes that tapeinophrosune "indicates, not a merely moral quality, but the subjection of self under the authority of, and in response to, the love of the Lord Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit to conform the believer to the character of Christ. In contrast to the world’s idea of being “poor-spirited” (in Classical Greek tapeinos commonly carried that imputation), the Lord commends “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3-note).

Humility is not as much thinking less of ourselves as really not thinking of ourselves at all.

Barclay writes that…

Basil was to describe it as “the gem casket of all the virtues”; but before Christianity humility was not counted as a virtue at all. The ancient world looked on humility as a thing to be despised… In classical Greek there is no word for humility which has not some tinge of servility; but Christian humility is not a cringing thing. It is based on two things. First, on the divine side, it is based on the awareness of the creatureliness of humanity. God is the Creator, man the creature, and in the presence of the Creator the creature cannot feel anything else but humility. Second, on the human side, it is based on the belief that all men are the sons of God; and there is no room for arrogance when we are living among men and women who are all of royal lineage. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Humility was not thought of very highly in the ancient world (pun intended) and in fact was even considered to be a vice by the pagan moralists. Christ and Christianity elevated humility to the supreme virtue - the antidote for the self-love that poisons relationships.

Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself. Rather, it is having the proper estimate of oneself in the will of God. The person with humility thinks of others first and not of himself.

Humility, when it becomes self-conscious, ceases to have any value.

Jesus modeled the essence of humility which is being able to put others’ needs and desires ahead of one’s own (Php 2:3, 4-note).

BROTHERS, LET US PUT ON APRONS! - PRIDE is the most subtle of sins. It sneaks up on us when we least expect it, and it's especially dangerous because it feeds on the good things we do. If we are generous, we can't help feeling pretty good about it. If we help someone, we pat ourselves on the back. We can even be proud that we are con­quering pride! Peter gave the antidote to pride when he told us to be "clothed with humility." This means we are to put on the servant's apron. We should want to serve.

I saw this exemplified by the pastor of the church where I was saved. He served his congregation so well that people in the com­munity were surprised to learn that he was a pastor. If there was building to be done, he put on his carpenter's apron and swung a hammer. If painting, he donned his paint clothes and slung a brush. If cement work, he put on boots and grabbed a trowel. If dirt needed to be moved, he pulled on his gloves and did his part.

My pastor had a lot to be proud of, but he didn't know it; he was too busy serving. He showed us what it means to be clothed with humility. And I'm sure he learned it from Christ, who set the example by washing His disciples' feet.—D C Egner

ILLUSTRATION - When the legendary Knute Rockne was head coach at Notre Dame, a column appeared in the school paper with no clue as to who wrote it, other than the signature "Old Bearskin." The column was highly critical of the football players. Its author seemed to have inside information on the strengths and weaknesses of every man on the team. And he spared no words in lambasting each player for his shortcomings and inept performance. When players complained to Rockne about the severe criticism they received, he would sympathize with them and encourage them to get out there and do better next time. The writer of that column was never identified -- that is, until after Rockne died. And guess what? The column "died" with him. "Old Bearskin" was actually the players' best friend. He was aware of what happened to football heroes whose success on the field went to their heads. As "Old Bearskin," his criticism helped them to avoid the pitfalls of pride and to strive continually to do better. When the Lord allows someone to cut us down to size, let's thank Him for it. He cares about us and wants us to be the humble recipients of His grace.

Clothed in Humility - A young man who had been invited to a dinner given by the South African statesman John Cecil Rhodes arrived by train and had to go directly to Rhodes’s house in his travel-stained clothes. To the young guest’s horror, he found a room full of people in full evening dress. Soon Rhodes appeared, wearing an old suit. He had heard of the young man’s problem and wanted to spare him further embarrassment. Rhodes literally clothed himself with humility, a clear picture of what the apostle Peter is speaking about in today’s text. Clothing ourselves with humility toward others puts us on their level, in their shoes, and keeps us from lording it over other Christians or flaunting our position. (Today in the Word)

Francis of Assisi said that…

Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.

FOR GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD: hoti (o) theos huperephanois antitassetai (3SPMI):

Opposed (498) (antitasso from anti = against + tasso = order, set) means to set an army in array against, to arrange in battle order (to line oneself up against). The idea is to resist, to oppose, to be hostile toward.

Antitasso was a military term found in the papyri meaning "to range in battle against" and pictured an army arrayed against the enemy forces. It means to oppose someone, involving a psychological attitude and also corresponding behavior. It means to "to be an enemy of" or "to resist with assembled forces."

Antitasso is in the present tense which signifies that this is God's continual attitude toward the proud! The middle voice speaks of a "reflexive" action, wherein the subject initiates the action and participates in the carrying out of the action. The idea is that God continually sets Himself against the proud. This fact alone should be enough to cause us to run for cover from the sin of pride!

Antitasso is used 6 times in the NAS and is translated: opposed, 2; resist, 1; resists, 1; resisted, 1

But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on will go to the Gentiles ." (Acts 18:6)

Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Romans 13:2-note)

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE ." (James 4:6-note)

You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you. (James 5:6)

Vincent writes that antitasso is

A strong and graphic word. Literally, sets himself in array against, as one draws out a host for battle. Pride calls out God’s armies. No wonder, therefore, that it “goeth before destruction.

In a parallel use in James 4:6-note God opposes the proud—all who oppress others—no matter who they are. The word “resist” is a strong word which pictures an army set and arrayed against the enemy.

Vincent says

pride calls out God’s armies. No wonder, therefore, that it ‘goeth before destruction'.

Proud (5244) (huperephanos [word study] from hupér = over, above, + phaíno = shine) is the haughty person pictured with his head held high above others.

Huperephanos designates the man who, from a feeling of his own superiority, regards others with haughtiness. It describes persons puffed up with a high opinion of themselves, and regarding others with contempt, as if they were unworthy of any intercourse with them.

As Kenneth Wuest says

The word “resisteth” in the Greek is a military term, used of an army drawn up for battle. Pride calls out God’s armies. God sets Himself in array against the proud person. 

Vincent writes that huperephanos is derived

From huper = above, and phainesthai = to show one’s self… It is the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man. Compare Pr. 16:5; Ro 12:16 (mind not high things); 1 Ti 3:6.

Barclay adds that huperephanos

literally means one who shows himself above other people. Even the Greeks hated this pride. Theophrastus described it as “a certain contempt for all other people.” Theophylact, the Christian writer, called it “the citadel and summit of all evils.” The real terror of this pride is that it is a thing of the heart. It certainly means haughtiness, but the man who suffers from it might well appear to be walking in downcast humility, while all the time there was in his heart a vast contempt for all his fellow-men. This pride shuts itself off from God for three reasons. (i) It does not know its own need. … It walks in proud self-sufficiency. (ii) It cherishes its own independence. It will be beholden to no man; it will not even be beholden to God. … (iii) It does not recognize its own sin. … A pride like that cannot receive help, because it does not know that it needs help, and, therefore, it cannot ask. It loves, not God, but itself." (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)

There are several problems with pride in leaders. Pride prevents people from listening to or following God. Pride can keep those who are older from receiving or even trying to understand what those younger have to say. Pride can keep young people from listening to those who are older.

Charles Bridges comments on Pr 3:34, the source of Peter's quote…

On no point is the mind of God more fully declared than against pride - the spirit of scorning. It displaces man, and would, if possible, displace God himself. Jealous therefore of His own glory, He sets Himself in battle array, as against the usurper of His prerogative, the rebel against His dominion. Witness the Babel-builders (Ge 11:1-9); Pharaoh (Ex 14:13); Sennacherib (Isa 37.33-38); the proud opposers of his Gospel (Ps 2:1-4)--all the objects of His scorn. But most hateful to him is the sinner, that will not submit to His righteousness, that scorns the Corner-stone of salvation. How fearfully does it then become "a rock of offence," of eternal ruin! (Ro. 10:3, with Ro 9:32, 33. Mt 21:41-44.) Surely without doubt, without way of escape from His frown, He scorns the scorners.

A lowly spirit--a deep conviction of utter nothingness and guilt--
is a most adorning grace.

Nor is it an occasional or temporary feeling, the result of some unexpected hateful disclosure, but an habit, "clothing" the man (1Pet 5:5) "from the sole of the foot to the head." It combines the highest elevation of joy with the deepest abasement of spirit.

And those who sink the lowest,
stand nearest to the most exalted advancement.

For "he that scorns the scorners, gives grace to the lowly"-"more grace" (James 4:6), till his work is perfected in them. ‘He pours it out plentifully upon humble hearts. His sweet dews and showers of grace slide off the mountains of pride, and fall on the low valleys of humble hearts, and make them pleasant and fertile.' The centurion (Mt 8:5-10); the Canaanite (Luke 15:21-28); the penitent (Luke 7:44-50); the publican (Luke 18:13, 14); such as these are the objects of his favor. (Isa 66:2.) Their hearts are his dwelling-place. (Isaiah 57:15.) Their inheritance is his kingdom. (Mt 5:3). The soul, swelling with its proud fancies, has no room for His humbling grace. Blessed exchange of the little idol of self-esteem for Him; Who alone has the right! when even His own graces are only desired, as instruments to set out His glory. (Bridges' excellent, recommended online Exposition of the Book of Proverbs - comments on Pr 3:34)

Swindoll adds that…

Few qualities are more stubbornly persistent within us than pride. It is ever present! I find it absolutely amazing that we who deserve to have been left as aborted fetuses and not given life (as Paul put it earlier) should have anything to feel proud about. Nevertheless, pride is always there, ever ready to defend itself. It is also clever. It has the ability to go underground and mask its ugliness in subtle, quiet ways. Because it doesn’t fit the Christian life for anyone to be overtly proud, we find our pride in other ways: our work, our salaries, our prestige, our power and influence, our titles, our clothing, our approach to people, our tendency to manipulate. It is all so unattractive, so inappropriate. As powerful as any influence, pride is a classic grace killer.

But let it be understood that God will not bless what springs from pride. As Scripture repeatedly reminds us, He brings His mighty hand down over our lives and presses His sovereign fingers into areas where it hurts. We sigh, we squirm, we struggle, and (hopefully) we lay hold of grace and finally submit. What blessed submission! It is in those hurting areas where we cannot handle it on our own that God does His very best work.

George Matheson of Scotland echoes the discipline of his personal despair in his book Thoughts for Life’s Journey when he writes:

My soul, reject not the place of thy prostration! It has ever been the robing room for royalty. Ask the great ones of the past what has been the spot of their prosperity; they will say, “It was the cold ground on which I once was laying.” Ask Abraham; he will point you to the sacrifice of Moriah. Ask Joseph; he will direct you to his dungeon. Ask Moses; he will date his fortune from his danger in the Nile. Ask Ruth; she will bid you build her monument on the field of her toil. Ask David; he will tell you that his songs came from the night. Ask Job; he will remind you that God answered him out of the whirlwind. Ask Peter; he will extol his submission in the sea. Ask John; he will give the palm to Patmos. Ask Paul he will attribute his inspiration to the light that struck him blind. Ask one more—the Son of Man. Ask Him whence has come His rule over the world. He will answer, “From the cold ground on which I was lying—the Gethsemane ground; I received my sceptre there.” Thou too, my soul, shalt be garlanded by Gethsemane. The cup thou fain wouldst pass from thee will be thy coronet in the sweet by-and-by. The hour of thy loneliness will crown thee. The day of thy depression will regale thee. It is the desert that will break forth into singing; it is the trees of thy silent forest that will clasp their hands. (George Matheson, Thoughts for Life’s Journey 1907) (Online Reference page 266-267) (Front page - Thoughts for life's journey)

My fellow pilgrim, is the progress more painful than you expected? Thinking you were in for a Disneyland experience, have you been surprised to find yourself on cold, barren ground—lonely, depressed, and broken? Are you beginning to wonder if you are on the wrong road? Trust me, you are not. God is at work in you. His “mighty hand” is above you. His love is around you. His grace is available to you. Awake and claim it.

George Matheson and John Bunyan both would agree: You are in the “robing room for royalty.” The tailor’s name is Grace … and when you are perfectly fitted, the process will end. (The Grace Awakening. Thomas Nelson 2003)

F B Meyer

Pride is one of the most detestable of sins; yet does it find lodgment in earnest souls, though we often speak of it by some lighter name. We call it - independence, self-reliance. We do not always discern it in the hurt feeling, which retires into itself, and nurses its sorrows in a sulk … We are proud of our humility, vain of our meekness; and, putting on the saintliest look, we wonder whether all around are not admiring us for our lowliness.

ILLUSTRATION - The story is told of a young Scottish minister who walked proudly into the pulpit to preach his first sermon. He had a brilliant mind and a good education and was confident of himself as he faced his first congregation. But the longer he preached, the more conscious everyone was that “the Lord was not in the wind.” He finished his message quickly and came down from the pulpit with his head bowed, his pride now gone. Afterward, one of the members said to him,

“If you had gone into the pulpit the way you came down, you might have come down from the pulpit the way you went up.”

THE RIPENING SELF - In his early years of ministry, the English preacher Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was a harsh and self-assertive man. One day he was visiting a friend and fellow pastor in a nearby village. When he left to go home, his friend’s daughters complained to their father about Simeon’s manner. So he took the girls to the backyard and said, “Pick me one of those peaches.” It was early summer, and the peaches were green. The girls asked why he wanted green, unripe fruit. He replied, “Well, my dears, it is green now, and we must wait; but a little more sun, and a few more showers, and the peach will be ripe and sweet. So it is with Mr. Simeon.”

Simeon, in due time, did change. The warmth of God’s love and the “showers” of misunderstanding and disappointment were the means by which he became a gentle, humble man.

The God of all grace works in all His children, humbling the proud and exalting the humble, to make them ripe and sweet. Our task is to take hold of God’s grace to endure our afflictions with patience, without growing weary.

In time, He will “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle” us (1 Peter 5:10-note). We must “wait on the LORD” and “be of good courage” (Ps 27:14). — David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Our fruitfulness and growth in Christ
Won’t happen instantly,
But meditating on God’s Word
Will bring maturity. —Sper

Salvation is the miracle of a moment; growth is the labor of a lifetime.

GIVES GRACE: didosin (3SPAI) charin:

Gives (1325) (didomi) means to give, to bestow, to confer, to make a present of something, to put something into another's possession. The 1828 Noah Webster's Dictionary has an excellent definition of give as "to pass or transfer the title or property of a thing to another person without an equivalent or compensation". Note that this verb didomi is in the present tense which signifies this giving is not just a one time gift but pictures God's desire to continually bestow the gift of grace upon His children! Our benevolent God ever seeks to bless us with His grace, despite the widespread opinion held by many unbelievers that He is out to get us! No, in fact "He is out to give to us"! He continually gives amazing grace. And as Augustine adds "God gives what He demands."

Are you in need of His grace today? Beloved of the Father, the Spirit of Christ has sufficient supply to meet your EVERY need (cp 2Co 9:8, 1Co 15:10, Titus 2:11-note, Titus 2:12-note, Php 4:13-note, Php 4:19-note, 2Co 12:9-note, 2Co 12:10-note). Do you need to humble yourself to "get low enough" so that His grace can freely flow?

Grace (5485) (charis [word study]) is God’s generous favor to undeserving sinners and needy saints. When we depend on God’s grace, we can endure suffering and turn trials into triumphs. Grace enables us to serve God in spite of difficulties (1Cor 15:9,10). Whatever begins with God’s grace will always lead to glory (Ps 84:11 [note]; 1Pe 5:10-note). First Peter shows how the three themes of suffering, grace, and glory unite to form an encouraging message for believers experiencing times of trial and persecution. These themes are summarized in 1Pe 5:10 (note) a verse we would do well to memorize.

Grace is not license to do as we please, but the power to do as we should. God’s grace insures that those who have been truly regenerated will persevere until the end of life. This aspect of the work of grace (cp, "the gospel of grace of God", Acts 20:24) is called sanctification, a work of God “whereby we are renewed in the whole man and are enabled more and more to die daily unto sin and to live unto righteousness” as stated by the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Ro 12:2 note; Ep 4:23-note; Col 3:10-note; 2Cor 4:16). (Torrey's Topic Sanctification)

We can never be submissive to each other until we are first submissive to our Lord and Master Christ Jesus, a truth of which we need to be constantly mindful for we are no longer our own but belong to Him (1Co 6:18, 19, 20, Titus 2:14-note). It takes grace to submit to another believer, but God can and will give that needed grace if we humble ourselves before Him.

Wuest explains that grace (charis) as used by the pagan Greeks…

referred to a favor done by one Greek to another out of the pure generosity of his heart, and with no hope of reward. When it is used in the New Testament, it refers to that favor which God did at Calvary when He stepped down from His judgment throne to take upon Himself the guilt and penalty of human sin. In the case of the Greek, the favor was done to a friend, never an enemy. In the case of God it was an enemy, the sinner, bitter in his hatred of God, for whom the favor was done. God has no strings tied to the salvation He procured for man at the Cross. Salvation is given the believing sinner out of the pure generosity of God’s heart.

The Greek word charis referred to an action that was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and was therefore commendable. What a description of that which took place at the Cross! The grace spoken of here is sanctifying grace that part of salvation given the saint in which God causes him to grow in Christ-likeness through the ministry of the Holy Spirit… (Sanctifying grace is) the enabling grace for daily Christian living which is given to the saint yielded to and dependent upon the Holy Spirit. [Ed note: Grace equates in essence with the Spirit of Christ indwelling me and enabling me to overcome sin. I cannot overcome it… it will overcome me if I try. All attempts to defeat the flesh in my own power will fail]. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Spurgeon exhorts believers to gladly accept a prone position (the root meaning of humility - see below) in order that grace might flow down most efficaciously…

Humble hearts seek grace, and therefore they receive grace. Humble hearts yield to the sweet influences of grace, and so grace is bestowed on them more and more largely. Humble hearts lie in the valleys where streams of grace are flowing, and hence they drink of them. Humble hearts are grateful for grace and give the LORD (Jehovah) the glory of it, and hence it is consistent with His honor to give it to them.

Come, dear reader, take a lowly place. Be little in thine own esteem, that the LORD may make much of thee. Perhaps the sigh breaks out, "I fear I am not humble." It may be that this is the language of true humility. Some are proud of being humble, and this is one of the very worst sorts of pride.

We are needy, helpless, undeserving, hell-deserving creatures,
and if we are not humble we ought to be.

Let us humble ourselves because of our sins against humility, and then the LORD will give us to taste of His favor. It is grace which makes us humble, and grace which finds in this humility an opportunity for pouring in more grace. (Ed: Read that again!)

Let us go down that we may rise.

Let us be poor in spirit that God may make us rich.

Let us be humble that we may not need to be humbled but may be exalted by the grace of God (Jas 4:10, 1Pe 5:6-note). (Faith's Checkbook)

TO THE HUMBLE: tapeinois de didosin (3SPAI) charin:

Spurgeon comments that…

Many people have often been humbled, and yet they have not become humble. There is a great difference between the two. If God withdraws His grace and allows a Christian to fall into sin, that fall humbles him in the eyes of all good people, and yet he may not become humble. He may never give a true sense of how evil his actions have been. He may still persevere in his lofty spirit and be far from humility. When this is the case, the proud spirit may expect a fall, for the rod will make wounds when pride is not abated with gentler blows. The most hopeful way of avoiding humbling affliction is to humble yourself. Be humble, that you may not be humbled (Jas 4:10). Put yourself into a humble attitude and draw near to God in a lowly spirit, and He will cease chiding.

Humble (5011) (tapeinos) means low, not high, not rising far from the ground. It speaks of one's condition as lowly or of low degree. It described what was considered base, common, unfit, and having little value. It pictures one brought low, as for example by grief. Tapeinos is descriptive particularly of attitude and social positions.

Tapeinos is used 8 times in the NAS and KJV (Matt. 11:29; Lk. 1:52; Ro. 12:16; 2Co. 7:6; 10:1; James. 1:9; 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5) and is translated: depressed, 1; humble, 5; lowly, 1; meek, 1. In the KJV tapeinos is translated: base, 1; cast down, 1; humble, 2; lowly, 1; of low degree, 2; of low estate, 1.

There are 44 uses in the Septuagint -Lev. 13:3, 4,, 20, 21, 25, 26; 14:37; 27:8; Jos. 11:16; Jdg. 1:15; 1 Sam. 18:23; Esther 1:1; Job 5:11; 12:21; Ps. 10:18; 18:27; 34:18; 82:3; 102:17; 113:6; 138:6; Prov. 3:34; 11:2; 16:2; 30:14; Eccl. 10:6; Is 2:11; 11:4; 14:32; 25:4; 26:6; 32:7; 49:13; 54:11; 58:4; 66:2; Jer. 22:16; Ezek. 17:24; 21:26; 29:14; Amos 2:7; 8:6; Zeph. 2:3; 3:12

The best "definition" of tapeinos is found in the attitude of our Lord Jesus Christ Who declared…

Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble (tapeinos) in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. (Mt 11:29)

The other NT uses of tapeinos include…

  • He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. (Luke 1:52)
  • Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. (Ro 12:16 - note)
  • Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek (tapeinos) when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! (2Cor 10:1)
  • But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus (2Cor 7:6)
  • But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position (James 1:9-note)
  • But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. (Jas 4:6-note)

The original sense of low lying soon gave rise to metaphorical uses, NIDNTT (online) listing several…

(a) low socially, poor, of little social position and influence (Hdt., 5th cent. B.C. onwards), powerless, unimportant;

(b) as a result of one’s social standing, with slavish outlook, a synonym of not free;

(c) despondent, downcast (Thuc., 5th cent. B.C. onwards; cf. Eng. “I’m feeling down”);

(d) in Socratic and post-Socratic ethical teaching the word was separated from its social links, but retained a depreciatory connotation. Men should avoid the two extremes of arrogance, provocation and pride (hybris), and of grovelling, servile behaviour and base flattery.

(e) Occasionally the word is used with a good connotation in individual, social, ethical and religious contexts. Where this is so, it does not mean humble, but unassuming (in Xen.), obedient, conforming one’s behaviour to the righteous laws of the gods (Aesch., Plato). In all these uses there remains the memory of the original physical meaning of below, low, in comparison with that which is above or higher. 

The verb tapeinoō (from Hippocrates, 5th cent. B.C. onwards) represents in all its varieties of meaning the various shades of meaning of the adj.: to level, humble (socially, politically, economically), harm, make small, make humble, discourage (with fate or life as subject), make one obedient, or self-effacing, make a person obey a regulation (of the reason) (and also the appropriate pass. forms). The reflex. form with heauton and the mid. (from Diod.Sic., 1st cent. B.C. onwards used also for mental states) meaning humble oneself, demean oneself, are used normally only in a derogatory sense. Yet Philodemus of Gadara (1st cent. B.C.) demands that those who humbled themselves, should be comforted and lifted up and Plut. (1st cent. A.D.) mentions the custom of humbling oneself before the gods by covering the head during sacrifice and prayer....

OT The fundamental difference between the Gk. and the biblical use of these words has already been indicated. In the Gk. world, with its anthropocentric view of man, lowliness is looked on as shameful, to be avoided and overcome by act and thought. In the NT, with its theocentric view of man, the words are used to describe those events that bring a man into a right relationship with God and his fellow-man (From NIDNTT - tapeinos)

Related Resource

Wuest writes that tapeinos…The word is found in an early secular document where it speaks of the Nile River in its low stage in the words, “It runs low.” The word means “not rising far from the ground.” It describes the Christian who follows in the humble and lowly steps of his Lord. (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

Larry Richards has some excellent comments on tapeinos writing that…

In Greek culture, tapeinos and its derivatives were words of contempt. The Greeks saw man as the measure of all things. Thus, to be low on the social scale, to know poverty, or to be socially powerless was seen as shameful. Only seldom in classical Greek do these words have a positive tone, commending an unassuming or obedient attitude. Scripture, however, sees the universe as measurable only against God. Compared to him, human beings are rightly viewed as humble. Thus in Scripture tapeinos and its derivatives are nearly always used in a positive sense (exceptions are in 2Co 10:1; Col 2:18-note, Col 2:23-note). Tapeinos represents a person's proper estimate of himself in relation to God and to others. In this sense, Jesus himself lived a humble life, depending completely on God and relating appropriately to all around him (Mt 11:29). It is the humble, Jesus says, whom God will exalt in his good time (Lk 14:11; 18:14). While the thought of the OT about humility infuses the NT, we learn more about humility in the Gospels and the Epistles.

Mt 18:1-4 helps us see humility expressed in relationship with God. The disciples asked Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The text tells us that Jesus "called a little child and had him stand among them." Jesus then told them that unless they were to "change and become like little children" they would be unable to enter heaven's kingdom. He explained, "Whoever humbles (tapeinoo - from tapeinos) himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Just before this, Jesus had presented himself to Israel as God's Son and their promised Messiah. Israel refused to respond. But what of the child? When he was called, he came immediately, responding to Jesus' word. Humility in our relationship with God is seen when we refuse to stand in judgment on his Word but instead respond immediately, recognizing God as the ultimate authority in our life. The dependence and responsiveness of the child is to mark our attitude in our personal relationship with the Lord.

The NT often exhorts humility in relationships with other believers (e.g., Eph 4:2). Paul gives the example of Jesus' humility (Php 2:5, 6, 7, 8) to encourage compliance with his exhortation: "In humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil 2:3-4).

This attitude is explored further in Ro 12:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. The introductory instruction goes like this: "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (Ro 12:3). That faith is to find expression within the body of Christ, as each member of the body uses his gifts to serve his fellows. Moved by a sincere love, each is told, "Honor one another above yourselves" (Ro 12:10), and "Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited" (Ro 12:16).

It is in seeing others as persons of great worth because they are loved by God and in seeing ourselves as their servants that we find the fulfilling lifestyle of humility. (BORROW Expository Dictionary of Bible Words) (Bolding added)

Vincent writes that tapeinos

The word has a history. In the classics it is used commonly in a bad and degrading sense, of meanness of condition, lowness of rank, and cringing abjectness and baseness of character. Still, even in classical Greek, this is not its universal usage. It is occasionally employed in a way which foreshadows its higher sense. Plato, for instance, says, “To that law (of God) he would be happy who holds fast, and follows it in all humility and order; but he who is lifted up with pride, or money, or honor, or beauty, who has a soul hot with folly, and youth, and insolence, and thinks that he has no need of a guide or ruler, but is able himself to be the guide of others, he, I say, is left deserted of God” (“Laws,” 716). And Aristotle says: “He who is worthy of small things, and deems himself so, is wise” (“Nich. Ethics,” iv., 3). At best, however, the classical conception is only modesty, absence of assumption. It is an element of wisdom and in no way opposed to self-righteousness (see Aristotle above). The word for the Christian virtue of humility (tapeinophrosune), was not used before the Christian era, and is distinctly an outgrowth of the Gospel. This virtue is based upon a correct estimate of our actual littleness, and is linked with a sense of sinfulness. True greatness is holiness. We are little because sinful. Compare Luke 18:14. It is asked how, in this view of the case, the word can be applied to himself by the sinless Lord? “The answer is,” says Archbishop Trench, “that for the sinner humility involves the confession of sin, inasmuch as it involves the confession of his true condition; while yet for the unfallen creature the grace itself as truly exists, involving for such the acknowledgment, not of sinfulness, which would be untrue, but of creatureliness, of absolute dependence, of having nothing, but receiving all things of God. And thus the grace of humility belongs to the highest angel before the throne, being as he is a creature, yea, even to the Lord of Glory himself. In his human nature he must be the pattern of all humility, of all creaturely dependence; and it is only as a man that Christ thus claims to be lowly; his human life was a constant living on the fulness of his Father’s love; he evermore, as man, took the place which beseemed the creature in the presence of its Creator” (“Synonyms,” p. 145). The Christian virtue regards man not only with reference to God, but to his fellow-man. In lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself (Phil 2:3, Rev.). But this is contrary to the Greek conception of justice or righteousness, which was simply “his own to each one.” It is noteworthy that neither the Septuagint, the Apocrypha, nor the New Testament recognize the ignoble classical sense of the word. (Greek Word Studies)

Trench writing about tapeinos says that…

“The work for which Christ’s gospel came into the world was no less than to put down the mighty from their seat, and to exalt the humble and meek. It was then only in accordance with this its mission that it should dethrone the heathen virtue megalopsuchia (human magnanimity and great souledness), and set up the despised Christian grace tap., in its room, stripping that of the honor it had unjustly assumed, delivering this from the dishonor which as unjustly had clung to it hitherto; and in this direction advancing so far that a Christian writer has called this last not merely a grace, but the casket or treasure house in which all other graces are contained … And indeed not the grace only, but the very word tap., is itself a fruit of the gospel; no Greek writer employed it before the Christian era, nor, apart from the influence of Christian writers, after.” (Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament)

William Barclay writes that

The Greek had an adjective for humble, which is closely connected with this noun—the adjective tapeinos. A word is always known by the company it keeps and this word keeps ignoble company. It is used in company with the Greek adjectives which mean slavish, ignoble, of no repute, cringing (which is the adjective which describes a plant which trails along the ground). In the days before Jesus humility was looked on as a cowering, cringing, servile, ignoble quality; and yet Christianity sets it in the very forefront of the virtues. Whence then comes this Christian humility, and what does it involve?

(a) Christian humility comes from self-knowledge. Bernard said of it,

“It is the virtue by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness, in consequence of the truest knowledge of himself.”

To face oneself is the most humiliating thing in the world. Most of us dramatize ourselves. Somewhere there is a story of a man who before he went to sleep at night dreamed his waking dreams. He would see himself as the hero of some thrilling rescue from the sea or from the flames; he would see himself as an orator holding a vast audience spell-bound; he would see himself walking to the wicket in a Test Match at Lord’s and scoring a century; he would see himself in some international football match dazzling the crowd with his skill; always he was the centre of the picture. Most of us are essentially like that. And true humility comes when we face ourselves and see our weakness, our selfishness, our failure in work and in personal relationships and in achievement.

(b) Christian humility comes from setting life beside the life of Christ and in the light of the demands of God. God is perfection and to satisfy perfection is impossible. So long as we compare ourselves with second bests, we may come out of the comparison well. It is when we compare ourselves with perfection that we see our failure. A girl may think herself a very fine pianist until she hears one of the world’s outstanding performers. A man may think himself a good golfer until he sees one of the world’s masters in action. A man may think himself something of a scholar until he picks up one of the books of the great old scholars of encyclopedic knowledge. A man may think himself a fine preacher until he listens to one of the princes of the pulpit. Self-satisfaction depends on the standard with which we compare ourselves. If we compare ourselves with our neighbour, we may well emerge very satisfactorily from the comparison. But the Christian standard is Jesus Christ and the demands of God’s perfection—and against that standard there is no room for pride.

(c) There is another way of putting this. R. C. Trench said that humility comes from the constant sense of our own creatureliness. We are in absolute dependence on God. As the hymn has it:

“‘Tis Thou preservest me from death
And dangers every hour;
I cannot draw another breath
Unless Thou give me power.
My health, my friends, and parents dear
To me by God are given;
I have not any blessing here
But what is sent from heaven

We are creatures, and for the creature there can be nothing but humility in the presence of the creator. Christian humility is based on the sight of self, the vision of Christ, and the realization of God. (W. Barclay: The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians Westminster John Knox Press)

J C Ryle writes that…

that there is no grace which should distinguish the Christian so much as humility. He that would be great in the eyes of Christ, must aim at a totally different mark from that of the Pharisees. His aim must be, not so much to rule, as to serve the Church. Well says Baxter, "church greatness consists in being greatly serviceable." The desire of the Pharisee was to receive honor, and to be called "master." (Mt 23:2, 6,7) The desire of the Christian must be to do good, and to give himself, and all that he has to the service of others. Truly this is a high standard, but a lower one must never content us. The example of our blessed Lord, the direct command of the apostolic Epistles, both alike require us to be "clothed with humility." (1Pe 5:5.) Let us seek that blessed grace day by day. No grace is so beautiful, however much despised by the world. No grace is such an evidence of saving faith, and true conversion to God. No grace is so often commended by our Lord. Of all His sayings, hardly any is so often repeated as that which concludes the passage we have now read, "Whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt 23:12) (J. C. Ryle. Expository Thoughts - Matthew)

The greatest saints of God in every age of the Church have always been men of John the Baptist's spirit. In gifts, and knowledge, and general character they have often differed widely. But in one respect they have always been alike--they have been "clothed with humility." (1 Pet. 5:5.) They have not sought their own honor. They have thought little of themselves. They have been ever willing to decrease if Christ might only increase, to be nothing if Christ might be all. And here has been the secret of the honor God has put upon them. "He that humbles himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:11.)

If we profess to have any real Christianity, let us strive to be of John the Baptist's spirit. Let us study HUMILITY. This is the grace with which all must begin, who would be saved. We have no true religion about us, until we cast away our high thoughts, and feel ourselves sinners. This is the grace which all saints may follow after, and which none have any excuse for neglecting. All God's children have not gifts, or money, or time to work, or a wide sphere of usefulness; but all may be humble. This is the grace, above all, which will appear most beautiful in our latter end. Never shall we feel the need of humility so deeply, as when we lie on our deathbeds, and stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. Our whole lives will then appear a long catalogue of imperfections, ourselves nothing, and Christ all…

The greatest saint in the sight of God, is the man who is most thoroughly "clothed with humility." (1Pe 5:5.) Would we know the prime secret of being men of the stamp of Abraham, and Moses, and Job, and David, and Daniel, and Paul, and John the Baptist? They were all eminently humble men. Living at different ages, and enjoying very different degrees of light, in this matter at least they were all agreed. In themselves they saw nothing but sin and weakness. To God they gave all the praise of what they were. Let us walk in their steps. Let us covet earnestly the best gifts; but above all, let us covet humility. The way to true honor is to be humble. No man ever was so praised by Christ, as the very man who says here, "I must decrease," the humble John the Baptist. (J. C. Ryle. Expository Thoughts - John)

John Ruskin (1819-1900) wrote that "The first test of a truly great man is humility."

Spurgeon said that "Humility is to make a right assessment of oneself." "Do not be proud of race, face, or grace." (Point: everything and anything we have is from God Alone so how can we boast?) The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem.

Dwight L. Moody declared that "Unless you humble yourself before (God) in the dust (Note: tapeinos = not rising far from the ground), and confess before Him your iniquities and sins, the gate of heaven, which is open only for sinners saved by grace, must be shut against you forever."

Puritan William Secker wrote that "Pride is a sinner's torment, but humility is a saint's ornament."

Puritan William Gurnall said that "Humility is the necessary veil to all other graces."

Andrew Murray on humility…

Do you want to enter what people call "the higher life"? Then go a step lower down.

As someone said, "The ears of barley that bear the richest grain always hang the lowest."

John Flavel had it right declaring "They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud."

F B Meyer wrote "I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other. It is not a question of growing taller, but of stooping down, to get His best gifts.

An unknown saint wrote "Become nothing if you would become something." In His rules of success, you must stoop to rise, go down to get up, and shrink to grow.

Warren Wiersbe wrote that "To be poor in spirit means knowing yourself, accepting yourself, and being yourself to the glory of God."

After the memorial service for George Whitefield a staunch supporter of Whitefield accosted John Wesley, who had disagreed on some theological points with Whitefield, asking

"Mr. Wesley, do you think you shall see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?"

"No," retorted Wesley.

"I was afraid you would say that," lamented the lady.

Wesley however went on to say "George Whitefield will be so near to the throne of God, that men like me will never catch a glimpse of him."

Wesley's humility clothed him all his life and at one point he wrote to Francis Asbury, the founder of Methodism in America, "Oh, beware do not seek to be something! Let me be nothing, and Christ be all in all."

Richard DeHaan, wrote an excellent little book on 1 Peter, in which he gave this test of true humility describing

First, the test of precedence

"Do you feel badly when others are honored, because they outshine you?"

Second, he noted that then comes the test of sincerity

"All too often, people say things about themselves to sound humble, when they really are not."

Third, the test of criticism:

"Do you react unfavorably when someone points out your shortcomings?"

If you gave yourself a perfect score on this test, you failed the test of humility (from Richard DeHaan, Good News for Bad Times).

Humility is the opposite of pride, the sin that has always separated fallen men from God, making them, in effect, their own gods. Genuine humility involves believers’ not thinking too highly of themselves and requires that they regard one another as more important than themselves (see Philippians 2:3-note)

In addition to Dr Barber's notes below see (Torrey's Topic "humility") The humble man realizes that all that he has comes from God and must be given back to God. John the Baptist said:

“A man can receive nothing, unless it have been given him from heaven.” Jn 3:27

Humility is the hallmark of the servant resting in, and sent from, the Father’s presence (contrast false humility translated "self abasement" in Col 2:18) (note). There is a sense in which God’s true servant is always a defeated man. The one who drives on with a sense of his own importance, who is unwilling to appreciate the worthlessness of his own best efforts and is always seeking to justify himself—that one will not be meek, and so will lack the essential enablement by which God’s work must be accomplished. Our brokenness must not be feigned; we must not be content with the mere language and appearance of humility. We, too, must be as conscious of Divine mercy in our being recovered for God’s service as we are of the original mercy which drew us from the dark waters of death.

Humility is quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or irritated or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have my blessed home in the Lord Jesus, where I can go in and shut the door and be with my Father in secret, and be at peace when all outside is trouble.

The Father may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it. True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of ourselves as in not thinking of ourselves at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about. What I want is, to forget myself and to look at the Lord Jesus Christ who is indeed worthy of all my thoughts. Doubts are not marks of humility; unbelief is really evidence of pride.

When we are conscious of pride we fancy that humility will meet our need, but the answer to pride is not humility, it is the Lord Jesus, and He is the answer to every need. The Father will not give you humility or patience or love as separate gifts of grace; He has given you the Lord Jesus, and if you simply trust Him to live out His life in you, He will be humble, patient, loving and everything else you need. When we think we're humble--we're not.


In his exposition of Ephesians 4 (Click here), Wayne Barber has a practical discussion of the practical significance of tapeinos/humility

In Ephesians 4:1, 2, 3 (notes) What does this word "humility" mean?… The word (in Eph 4:2-note) is the Greek word tapeinophrosune (from tapeinos + phren = to think) which means to think less of yourself. The root word tapeinos… means to get down as flat as you can possibly get so nobody can see you at all… to be level with the earth. The Greek verb phren … speaks of a framed attitude of the mind… an attitude. So what is the attitude we must have towards ourselves? The attitude is that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (cp Ro 12:16-note). We need to get down where we belong. Listen, the only way up is to bow down before God. Do you want a proper estimate of self? Here it is… Die. Get down, flatten out, so that the Lord through His divine enablement can continue to keep you united with the body of Christ.

There are 3 things that I want you to see about humility. Paul uses it three times in three different books and each teaches us something about humility.

(1) Acts 20:19.

This is an important Scripture because Paul is speaking… with the elders of Ephesus (Ed: He is on his way back to Jerusalem and then on to Rome to be imprisoned and he will never see these men again). He has brought them down to Miletus. In this passage, we see that an attitude of humility is essential to serving the Lord Jesus Christ… Some people think, "God is so glad to have me on His team." That is about as unbiblical as anything you could say. God doesn’t want to use anything about who we are (Ed: That is our flesh nature in which there is no good thing! cp Ro 7:18-note). He wants us to be an empty vessel so He can infuse His power in our life (Ed: cp 2Co 4:7, 2Ti 2:21-note, Jesus referring to Paul in Acts 9:15KJV). Humility is an essential attitude which is necessary for us to carry out effective service for Christ. Let’s back up to Acts 20:18 to catch the context

And when they came to him [the elders coming down to Miletus from Ephesus], he said to them, ‘You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving (douleuo from doulos = conveys idea of one serving another as a slave serves his master and = present tense signifies this was Paul's continual attitude and action toward) the Lord with all (pas = all without exception, speaks of completeness) humility (tapeinophrosune [word study]) and with tears and with trials (peirasmos [word study]) which came upon me through the plots of the Jews

The first point about the essential attitude of humility in serving Christ is that when it is there, everybody else knows it. Paul says "you know… you saw… you experienced." Paul said, "You know that I was serving out of humility." How did they know? Paul didn’t tell them. I like what Ian Thomas said, "I can’t. He never said I could. He can. He always said He would." That is the essence of humility… When you have that attitude, everybody knows it… You are not aware that they are aware, but they are aware. Paul said, "You know."

Secondly, if humility is real it will provoke those who are "religious" (Ed: Christianity if more about relationship than about "religion".). Look at Acts 20:19: "serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews." Is he talking about all Jews? No. He is talking about the "religious" group… Religion is what man does, and therefore, man has to stand up to do it. Christianity is what God does, and man has to get down in order to allow God to do it. The two cannot peacefully coexist… When you start being humble of mind, it means you are aware totally of what you are not, what He (Christ) is and Who He (Christ) is. You wait until He initiates it (Ed: e.g., a "good work") so that He might anoint it (Ed: And empower it.).

The third thing is in Acts 20:22. If this humility is real, then God’s will will always be preeminent above your will. Acts 20:22 says…

And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

We know what happened to him… We know he has been in prison for five years because he went to Jerusalem. At this point in Acts 20:22 he doesn’t know. He said, "I don’t have my will." Everyone tried to stop him from going to Jerusalem, but he said, "I have to go. I am chained to His chariot. I am bound to His Spirit. I am a prisoner of Jesus. I am a bond-servant of Christ." (cp Acts 21:12, 13, 14) When humility is a reality in your life, it is not what you wear or don’t wear. It is your attitude towards God which works in your life. You don’t have an agenda which you place before God. You just want His agenda in your life. So we see that humility is the essential attitude in serving Christ (Ed: His will not our will - see same idea inherent in the term doulos [word study] = a bondslave or bond servant).

2 Secondly

In Colossians 3:1,2, (note) humility is the attitude of those seeking a higher calling. The context is Col 3:1…

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking (present imperative = make this your lifestyle, the desire of your heart above all else to continually, intentionally, diligently seek) the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on present imperative = command to continually have this mindset) the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Col 3:1-see note, Col 3:2-see note)

With this context now look at Col 3:12

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved (Ponder your privilege and your position in Christ that it might motivate you to… ), put on (aorist imperative - command to do this now, do it effectively. Don't delay!) a heart of compassion, kindness, humility (tapeinophrosune [word study]), gentleness and patience.

Humility is part of the garment of the lifestyle of those who are seeking a higher calling. Who are these humble people? They are not seeking their own calling. They are seeking His calling. They are not looking for the praise of men. They are looking for the glory of God in their life (cp Mt 5:16-note). It is an attitude that originates from their new life in Christ.

3 Then finally

in Philippians 2 we see this attitude of humility once more. This attitude is not only essential to serving Christ, it is not only the attitude of those seeking Christ, but it is also the very attitude of our Savior Himself.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind (tapeinophrosune [word study]) regard one another as more important than yourselves… 5 Have this attitude (present imperative = make this your lifestyle) in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled (tapeinoo) Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name (Php 2:3-note, Php 2:5, 6, 7-note, Php 2:8, 9-note)

Have you ever heard someone preach on this passage but not put it in context? We know what Christ did. We know He emptied Himself of His glory, but Paul says is that you are to have the same attitude in you that He had before He came to this earth to die on a cross. So therefore be strengthened in the inner man with an ability that you don’t normally have (cp Eph 3:16-note). It is an ability He has place within you. Who is in you? It is Christ Himself (Col 1:27b-note; Ro 8:11-note). Let that attitude be released in your life. That is His attitude. What is it? Philippians 2:3 says,

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind (tapeinophrosune [word study]) let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. (Php 2:3-note)

I hope you are beginning to see something… If I truly have a high view of salvation, I will have a proper estimate of myself. Therefore, I am going to be humble in the way I approach the body of Christ. My attitude is, I know that I can’t, but I also know that He can. I want to be strengthened with might in the inner man with His power (cp Eph 3:16-note).

Many think that talking badly of ourselves is the ideal of humility; whereas the simplest and more real humility is to feel unaffectedly that we are too bad to be worth talking about. Only One is worthy of all our thoughts and words and ways, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, Whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite. (Is 57:15)

In his heart there is a little altar where he bows down before himself, and in his eyes there is something which looks at all men with a silent contempt.

GARBAGE DETAIL - It was once my privilege to preach in a church where love and warmth were especially evident. I was impressed by the members' willingness to pitch in and work. On the Sunday I spoke, three services were scheduled. The women of the church had provided a bountiful meal to be served between the meetings for visitors who had traveled a long distance.

Following the dinner, after most of the people had left, I noticed a distinguished-looking couple clearing the tables and dumping the paper plates into large plastic bags. When I complimented them on what they were doing, they said matter-of-factly, "Oh, we're the 'garbage detail.' We volunteered to clean up after every church function. We consider it a ministry."

How wonderful that this man and woman were not only available to serve the Lord, but they humbly did what others might consider demeaning work. These dear people were glad to be what they cheerfully called the "garbage detail."

Some members of the body of Christ are called to serve in places of prominence; others to labor quietly behind the scenes. Regardless of what the Lord asks us to do, let's be willing to do it by serving one another through love, knowing that ultimately we are serving the Lord. — Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

There's surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth's harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life's short day
For Jesus the Crucified. —Prior

There is no insignificant task in the church.

DOOR OF HUMILITY - Over the centuries, the entrance to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity has twice been made smaller. The purpose in the last case was to keep marauders from entering the basilica on horseback. It's now referred to as the "Door of Humility," because visitors must bend down to enter.

As we age, bending our knees becomes more and more difficult and painful. In the physical realm, some people courageously undergo knee replacement surgery. To avoid years of increasingly painful joint damage, they endure several weeks of agony.

Like physical knees, spiritual knees can grow stiff over time. Years of stubborn pride and selfishness make us inflexible, and it becomes increasingly difficult and painful for us to humble ourselves. Seduced by false feelings of importance when others submit to us, we never learn that true importance comes from submitting ourselves to God and to others (Ephesians 5:21-note; 1 Peter 5:5).

As we celebrate Jesus' birth, it's good to remember the Door of Humility, for it reminds us that we all need new knees-knees that will bend. Humbly is the only way to enter the presence of God.

What better way to honor the One who bent so low to be with us. — Julie Ackerman Link (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Christ's humble birth should help us see
What life in Him can bring;
It's not acclaim that we should seek
But service for our King. -Branon

The road to victory is paved with humble submission to God.

KNOWN FOR HUMILITY - It seemed as if the guest preacher wanted to be sure we were all impressed with his credentials. In his message he informed us of his greatest accomplishments, and he told us that among his friends were a number of well-known, influential Christians.

Maybe you've heard church leaders make statements like this: "Numbers are not important to our church, but in the past 3 years we have grown 600 percent and increased our giving by 800 percent." Soon after they say they're not interested in numbers, they start tossing them around! It's a subtle way of bragging.

I can't be too critical, though. I've seen pride in my own life. I was standing by the literature table of a church when someone picked up a copy of Our Daily Bread. "Do you read that?" I asked. "I start every day with it," came the reply. "Well, I write for it," I heard myself say. Pride—ugh!

As servants of Christ, we should be known for humility. First Peter 5:5 tells us to "be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" We should be unpretentious, talk about other people's accomplishments, and focus on serving others.

Lord Jesus, please help us to guard our hearts against pride, and teach us to be humble. — David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Self-centeredness brings misery,
A proud heart brings much pain;
But those with true humility
Have lasting peace to gain. —Sper

No garment is more becoming to a child of God than the cloak of humility.

CLIMBING HIGHER - Pastor Dale Kurtz laughed so hard that his sides ached. He was watching a frustrated squirrel trying to climb the metal pole supporting a bird feeder. The squirrel repeatedly got part way up, then slowly slid down the pole in a heap. In an describing this incident, Kurtz wrote, "What the squirrel didn't know was that I had greased the pole!"

Kurtz then pointed out that "greasing the pole" is one of Satan's tactics to hinder Christians in their spiritual climb. The "grease" he often uses is our own pride, complacency, and self-sufficiency. How he must laugh!

In today's Bible reading, Peter listed four things that will help us continue in our spiritual climb and not slide back:

  • Submitting to one another (1Pe 5:5).
  • Humbling ourselves before Almighty God (1Pe 5:6).
  • Casting all our care on our caring Lord (1Pe 5:7).
  • Disciplining ourselves and being watchful (1Pe 5:8).

These four actions and attitudes enable us to resist Satan's attacks (1Pe 5:9) and allow God's grace to strengthen us and cause us to be established in our faith (1Pe 5:10).

Satan wants to keep us from making progress in our spiritual life. With the Lord's help, though, we can keep on climbing. — Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Onward and upward your course plan today,
Seeking new heights as you walk Jesus' way;
Heed not past failures, but strive for the prize,
Aiming for goals fit for His holy eyes. --Brandt

To avoid sin's tragedy, learn Satan's strategy.


F B Meyer in his book Tried by Fire has the following discussion of humility…

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."--1 Peter 5:5-6.

ONE of the chief signs of the unrenewed spirit is the haughty self-complacency with which it bears itself. To resent an insult; to stand upon fancied rights; to vaunt superiority; to show "the silver, and gold, and spices, and precious ointment," in the ostentatious and vainglorious way which brought reproof and chastisement on Hezekiah--this is the manner of the world.

And this insidious sin of pride dies hard in the child of God; nay, it may be questioned if ever we shall be perfectly quit of it on this side the gates of pearl. It is Protean in its form, changing with every temperament, suiting itself to every mood, clinging as a Nessus cloak even around the flesh of the converted man. Christian men are proud of their houses, and carriages, and wealth, and position. Christian women are proud of their person, and dress, and rank, and children. Christian ministers are proud of their influence, and sermons, and the admiration they receive. A bit of flattery, a newspaper notice, a conscious success, are food enough for pride to grow fat upon, till it begins to fancy that all the world is thinking of it, and feels that the most extravagant praise is but a grudging tribute to its worth.

May I not press this upon my readers further, urging each to consider his own character and behaviour in the light of these words. We must be convicted of pride before we seek the grace of true humility. Pride is one of the most detestable of sins; yet does it find lodgment in earnest souls, though we often speak of it by some lighter name. We call it independence, self-reliance. We do not always discern it in the hurt feeling, which retires into itself, and nurses its sorrows in a sulk. We do not realize how much it has to do with our withdrawing from positions where we feel ourselves outshone by some one who excels us, and with whom we do not care to enter into comparison with the certainty of being second best. It would not be at all easy for us to be silent; to take the lowest place; to learn--where now we count it our prerogative to teach.

And sometimes, when we are clearly worsted, and obliged to step down, we begin to pride ourselves on the sweetness of our disposition in taking the affront so pleasantly. We are proud of our humility, vain of our meekness; and, putting on the saintliest look, we wonder whether all around are not admiring us for our lowliness. I fear me that Bunyan's shepherd-boy, sitting in the lowland glade, and singing, would have become proud of being so low, had he known that his lowliness was to render him immortal. There is at least one preacher whom I know, who has been proud of his sermons on humility, and ostentatious of his efforts to be meek. And thus, even if the soul should array itself in the garb of humility, however simple and plain it be, there is imminent risk of its becoming vain.

"Of all the evils of our corrupt nature, there is none more connatural and universal than pride, the grand wickedness, self-exalting in our own and others' opinion. St. Augustine says truly, that which first overcame man is the last thing he overcomes. Some sins, comparatively, may die before us; but this hath life in it, sensibly, as long as we. It is as the heart of all, the first living, the last dying; and it hath this advantage, that whereas other sins are fomented by one another, this feeds even on virtues and graces as a moth that breeds in them, and consumes them, even in the finest of them, if it be not carefully looked to. As one head of this hydra is cut off, another rises up. It will secretly cleave to the best actions, and prey upon them. And therefore there is so much need that we continually watch, and fight, and pray against it, and be restless in the pursuit of real and deep humiliation, daily seeking to advance further in it."

The metaphor used in this passage is surely derived from that most touching incident on the eve of the crucifixion, when, though having present to his mind his origin and destiny, our Lord took upon Him the form of a servant. "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded." What a lovely vesture did that stripping, that towel, that lowly attitude, between them make! Not even when He stood radiant on the Mount of Transfiguration did He seem to be dressed so fair. Surely Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as He. And so the injunction comes to us all, that we should adopt the same livery, and each one don his garb. "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." The question is --how to be humble.


"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder." In Athens it was held to be a matter of first importance that the young should pay deferential respect to their seniors. And even among the precepts of the New Testament, it would be hard to find one more salutary and beautiful than that of the old law: "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD" (Lv 19:32.).

We need to repeat these maxims of wisdom and grace in the ears of each new generation. It is impossible not to notice the great laxity in such matters which is spreading through modern society, loosening its bands, and affecting its stability. Perhaps it is that children are too early taught habits of self-reliance, or are too precocious in their studies. But certain it is that they are more apt to dictate than to submit. Young shoulders are disinclined for the yoke. And yet how many bitter memories are being stored up for coming days! We remember how Dr. Johnson, in late life, stood bareheaded in the rain, in the market-place at Lichfield, in remorseful remembrance of boyish disobedience to his dead father. "Ye younger, submit."

Of course there are occasions when conscience forbids us to submit; and then we must respectfully state the reasons of our refusal, at whatever cost. But these occasions are comparatively rare. And in all doubtful cases--in all cases where a good conscience is not directly infringed--we should submit. Where young Christians have asked my advice as to the way they should behave, when their parents urge them to go to places which, if left to themselves, they would not choose, I invariably answer that, if their conscience absolutely prohibits them, as to the theatre, music-hall, or ball, they have no alternative but to refuse; but, where the question is as to indifferent things, so long as they are under parental control they should yield, if it be insisted on, after they have stated their scruples or objections.

There are, however, other relationships in life besides that of parent and child. We are constantly thrown with those who have seen more of life; have lived more years; and acquired more experience than ourselves: and who have claims upon us. To all such--unless where their character has absolutely forfeited all their claims on our respect--there should be service without servility; meekness without meanness; consideration without cringing; politeness without a thought of policy.

And the cultivation of this habit of deference to those who are older and better than ourselves, with a distinct intention to acquire thereby some new tinge of humility, is to take a considerable step in that direction.


"All of you be subject one to another."

Of course there must always be a diversity of function in society; but the very positions in it which we have inherited or acquired give us opportunities of exercising this constant life of self-denial for those around us.

To submit to discomfort, that we may promote their comfort. To submit to inconvenience, that we may make life easier for them. To submit to the cross, that we may save them, though at the cost of our blood. It is the same teaching as came out before in the injunction to "submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake."

Yield before wrong. Hold your mouth in subjection, choking back the proud, resentful words leaping up there for expression and chafing for utterance. Give up even your rights, rather than go to law to keep them. "If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." And submit in such matters, not from mean-spiritedness or cowardice, but because you will accept each opportunity which is put into your way of acquiring the grace of humility.

Let the servant take the rebuke of the master meekly, not careful to vindicate himself, save where the cause of God may be jeopardized by his fault. Let the employee receive the remonstrance of his employer quietly, eager to comply with any righteous demand, and to learn in silence. Let the believer who has said or done anything unkind and unjust to a fellow-believer confess it with shame, and put the scourge into his brother's hands, while he stands meekly to bear the inflicted strokes. Let us not shrink from humbling ourselves before our servants and children, if we have sinned against them. Strong as rocks and lions in our advocacy of the truth as it is in Jesus, let us be as the reed swept by the storm when it is merely a question of our good name, and prestige, and well-being. And let our single purpose be in all to learn the grace of humility, in all the occasions for its practice which our God throws in our way.


"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God."

Ah, what infinite sorrow men lay up for themselves in resisting the Divine will! If you fret and chafe against his appointments, finding fault with Him because He has not given you another lot, some other partner for your life, some more congenial occupation, you cannot but be wretched. For at the bottom of all such dispositions, which fume as the waves of the sea, there lurks a feeling of disappointed pride, which thinks that it deserved some better treatment from God, and considers itself ill-used.

But who are we that we demand so fair and comfortable a lot--we whose first father was a gardener who stole his Master's fruit; who have sprung from the dust but yesterday; and who have piled Alps on Andes of repeated sin? Let us accept what God sends. The worst is ten thousand times better than we deserve. The hardest is the better evidence of a love which dares not spoil us. The whole is dictated and arranged by such wisdom as cannot for a single instant err.

The shadow cast by that mighty hand is dense and dark; its pressure is almost overwhelming. David cried, as he felt it, "Day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer." But bend beneath it. Its pressure may be felt in personal suffering, in rebuke, or shame, or persecution, or in loss of property, or in some other form of chastisement, yet take each as another opportunity of putting into practice this injunction to humility.

"Lie still my soul! whatever God ordains is right and good; thou deservest nothing better; what right hast thou to be sitting at the royal table at all, when thou hadst forfeited it for the swine's fare? If thou hadst thy rights, thou wouldst be now in the outer gloom."


Let us try to get a true estimate of ourselves. Let us judge ourselves now that we be not judged at the last:--

(1) Look into thyself in earnest--

"And truly, whosoever thou be that hast the highest conceit of thyself, and the highest causes of it, a real sight of thyself will lay thy crest. Men look on any good, or fancy of it, in themselves, with both eyes, and skip over as unpleasant their real defects and deformities. Every man is his own flatterer. But let any man see his ignorance, and lay what he knows not over against what he knows; the disorders in his heart over against any right motion of them; his secret follies against his outwardly blameless carriage--and it shall be impossible for him not to abase and abhor himself?

(2) Accustom yourself to took at the good in others.--

Many of us compare ourselves at the best with others at their worst, and of course we come off with advantage, at least in our own esteem. We are so much keener to see the defects than the excellences of our companions. We look at the one with the magnifying glass, and at the other with the reversed telescope. But if we were to be as keen on their virtues as now on their vices, always looking for the compensating grace, always making such allowances as we can find, always magnifying what is lovely and of good report, and thinking of these things, then we should find the bubbles of our self-congratulation pricked and burst.

(3) Accept all kind, good things, from whatever source, as the gift of God, and tune your heart in praise to Him.--

It is very pleasant to be thanked and kindly spoken of; to be surrounded by dear friends with their honeyed words: and we may be thankful when such hours shine on us; as it is impossible for them to last, if only we are true to our Master. And whilst they tarry they will not hurt us, if only we pass on all kind speeches in thanksgiving and praise to God. When we can transmute all praise, into Praise, all speeches into Speech, and gifts into Sacrifices, failing down to worship Him who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, we shall emerge from the ordeal, without having contracted guilt.

(4) Claim the humility of Jesus.--

As you go through the world, not only set yourself to resist pride, but make every temptation towards it an occasion for lifting your heart to Christ to receive from Him something more of his own sweet and humble spirit. "Thy humility, Lord!" There are many incitements to this: God resisteth the proud.--The Greek word here is very expressive. He sets Himself in battle array. Ah, miserable attempt to withstand God. Pharaoh perishing in the Red Sea is the perpetual evidence of the futility of the conflict. All things may seem to prosper for a time; but discomfiture is certain, and will be final.

He giveth grace to the humble.--

"His sweet dews and showers of grace slide off the mountains of pride, and fall on the low valleys of humble hearts, making them pleasant and fertile. The swelling heart, puffed up with a fancy of fulness, hath no room for grace. The humble heart is most capacious, and, as being emptied and hollowed, can hold most." The vessels which are most heavily laden sink lowest in the water; and those which can sink lowest, without danger, are they which are most heavily freighted. Oh for the humble heart which can hold most grace; and, as it obtains more, sinks still lower in its own esteem!

He will exalt in due time.--"The lame take the prey." The meek inherit the earth. The master of the feast bids those who take the lowest rooms to go up higher. Moses, the meekest man, has taught the principles of jurisprudence to half the world, and sits on the judgment-seat. The martyr's stake has ever been a throne from which the sufferer has ruled after-ages. The men and women of gracious, retiring spirit wield the truest authority in town or village. These who can die on the cross, pass through the grave to the Ascension Mount. Be humble, not only in outward mien, but in the inner shrine of thy spirit; and in due time, not to-day or to-morrow, but in his own time the Lord will exalt thee to inherit the earth. (F. B. Meyer. Tried By Fire)

Torrey's Topic Humility

  • Necessary to the service of God - Micah 6:8
  • Christ an example of - Matthew 11:29; John 13:14,15; Philippians 2:5-8
  • A characteristic of saints - Psalms 34:2


  • Regarded by God - Psalms 138:6; Isaiah 66:2
  • Heard by God - Psalms 9:12; Isaiah 10:17
  • Enjoy the presence of God - Isaiah 57:15
  • Delivered by God - Job 22:29
  • Lifted up by God - James 4:10
  • Exalted by God - Luke 14:11; 18:14
  • Are greatest in Christ’s kingdom -Matthew 18:4; 20:26-28
  • Receive more grace - Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6
  • Upheld by honour - Proverbs 18:12; 29:23
  • Is before honour - Proverbs 15:33
  • Leads to riches, honour, and life - Proverbs 22:4


  • Put on - Colossians 3:12
  • Be clothed with - 1 Peter 5:5
  • Walk with - Ephesians 4:1,2
  • Beware of false - Colossians 2:18,23
  • Afflictions intended to produce - Lev 26:41; Deut 8:3; Lam 3:20
  • Want of, condemned - 2Chr 33:23; 36:12; Jer 44:10; Da 5:22
  • Temporal judgments averted by - 2Chr 7:14; 12:6,7
  • Excellency of - Proverbs 16:19
  • Blessedness of - Matthew 5:3

Exemplified -

  • Abraham - Genesis 18:27
  • Jacob - Genesis 32:10
  • Moses - Exodus 3:11; 4:10
  • Joshua - Joshua 7:6
  • Gideon - Judges 6:15
  • David - 1 Chronicles 29:14
  • Hezekiah - 2 Chronicles 32:26
  • Manasseh - 2 Chronicles 33:12
  • Josiah - 2 Chronicles 34:27
  • Job - Job 40:4; 42:6
  • Isaiah - Isaiah 6:5
  • Jeremiah - Jeremiah 1:6
  • John the Baptist - Matthew 3:14
  • Centurion - Matthew 8:8
  • Woman of Canaan - Matthew 15:27
  • Elizabeth - Luke 1:43
  • Peter - Luke 5:8
  • Paul - Acts 20:19