Godliness is behavior reflecting biblical beliefs in one’s thought, speech, and acts
Application or so what?
Paul wrote Timothy to “discipline (Greek very γυμναζω gumnazo, to train, like our word gymnasium for the place in which we can train) yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things.” This was specifically addressed to Timothy, but we see in the context that it has application to all believers (1 Timothy 4.8-11). Also see 1 Peter 1.3,6,7; 2 Peter 3.11. All believers ought to train so we may become godly. We gain godliness through spiritual growth. Spiritual training, like physical training, requires regular workouts or practice in which we slowly become spiritually stronger and increase in spiritual ability. For the Christian this requires learning Scripture plus the ministry of the Holy Spirit plus faith plus practice-application in life. We often face hardships in life and these hardships, which we call tests or suffering, are opportunities to practice our spiritual training. Over time our thought, speech, and action increasingly reflect our biblical beliefs. A godly believer is a maturing believer, a believer making progress in spiritual training. We are all in spiritual training so we may become godly—believers who reflect biblical beliefs in our thought, speech, and acts.
Scripture for the noun godliness (ευσέβεια eusebeia) Strong #2150
- Acts 3:12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? Godliness catches the attention of others.
- 1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Godliness is how we live.
- 1 Timothy 3:16 And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. Godliness describes Jesus Christ.
- 1 Timothy 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Practice living right so to gain godliness.
- 1 Timothy 4:8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. Godliness benefits life now and gains reward in the future life.
- 1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness. Doing a good job for those we work for is a part of godliness.
- 1 Timothy 6:5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Some falsely think that godliness is a way to get rich.
- 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. Actually, godliness combined with contentment (αὐτάρκεια here a self sufficiency with any resources one has) is a means to a satisfied life.
- 1 Timothy 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. A spiritual leader and teacher should pursue godliness.
- 2 Timothy 3:5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. Some people fake godliness by trying to act good without God’s power working in them.
- Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness. Faith and full knowledge of the truth go hand in hand with godliness.
- 2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. God’s power has given us all we need for a godly life (life and godliness are likely hendiadys).
- 2 Peter 1:6-7 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; 2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. God’s promises have made it possible for us to partake of the divine nature which includes the virtue of godliness.
- 2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness. Knowing that the present earth as we know it will pass away by God’s judgment should motivate us to biblically based living right now.
The related verb is ευσεβεω eusebeo. Note the similarity to the noun. The verb means to be reverent, respectful, devout, show piety to someone, to worship. It is found in Acts 17.23 and 1 Timothy 5.4. The 1 Timothy passage helps our understanding of godliness.
1 Timothy 5:4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
Dictionary Meaning of the noun ευσέβεια eusebeia, godliness
- A Greek English Lexicon Bauer Arndt, Gingrich, Danker. Duty which man owes to God… Christian Piety, godliness, religion.
- Greek English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains Louw-Nida. Behavior reflecting correct religious beliefs and attitudes; to live as God would have us live or to live as God has told us we should live.
- Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. In the Greek world: piety; to respect and uphold the gods; knowledgeable cultic worship inner devotion. Hellenistic: worship, respect; philosophers—living according to the will of the gods; piety is a part of virtue and not a commitment. Judaism: in 4 Maccabees used for respect and worship of God by knowing and applying the law of Moses. Josephus (AD 37-100) keeping the law—primarily in faith and worship; virtue is a part of piety and is a main virtue. Philo (20 BC-AD 50): respect for rulers and parents; mostly toward God; legal observance is godliness, but with a true view of God. New Testament: In the pastorals it is a manner of life relative to self, others, and God that is in accord with sound teaching. True godliness covers everyday conduct in honoring God as Creator and Redeemer. Peter uses godliness for a godly life, a morally good life. Acts uses it for a kind of conduct—a moral conduct.