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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Reverence

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REVERENCE.—The sentiment of veneration, a feeling of high regard and admiration. When cherished towards a superior, it is an emotion of respectful awe. When directed towards God, it is an essential factor in Divine worship. This sentiment usually finds expression in acts of courtesy, respect, or adoration, so that the object held in reverential regard receives fitting homage. But it is to be noted that the term θρπσκεία, which in Acts 26:5 emphasizes the ritual side of religion, does not occur in the Gospels (cf. Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, Introd., Aphor. xxiii.).

The terms which denote reverence towards God come properly under ‘worship,’ in which reverence is an essential quality; but it may be proper to include in this article passages which involve reverence towards Jesus Christ in the days of His flesh. In the Gospel narratives several terms are used to express the feeling of reverence, but there is no decisive reason to distinguish the usage of these terms as they occur in the Synoptics and in the Fourth Gospel. The term ‘reverence,’ as the translation of ἐντρέπεσθαι—‘to turn one’s self unto’—is found only a few times. It is used in the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:37, Mark 12:6, Luke 20:13), where the idea is that even those who had ill-treated the servants might show proper respect and honour to the Son. (See also the usage of the same word in the parable of the Unjust Judge, who ‘feared not God, neither regarded man,’ Luke 18:2-4).

The word τιμή and its derivatives are used to express high reverential regard and profound respect (Matthew 13:57; Matthew 15:4-6, Mark 7:10, John 5:23; John 5:41; John 8:49; John 8:54). Here the regard due to a prophet of God, the affectionate respect of children for their parents, and reverence for the Son, as for the Father, are expressed. The term προσκυνεῖν, which means ‘to kiss the hand to,’ and then ‘to bow down before,’ is often used in the Gospels to signify the sentiment of reverential regard, and even of worship (Matthew 2:2; Matthew 2:8-11; Matthew 4:9; Matthew 14:33; Matthew 15:25; Matthew 20:20; Matthew 28:17, Mark 5:6; Mark 15:19). In these passages we have reference to the adoration of Jesus by the Magi, Herod’s desire to do homage to the child at Bethlehem, the request of the devil that Jesus should worship him, the disciples doing homage to their Lord by the sea, the Canaanite woman humbling herself before Jesus, the mother of James and John as she made her bold request for her two sons, the disciples after the resurrection of Christ, the demoniac of Gadara before Jesus, the mock homage paid to Jesus on the Cross. In many of these passages the outward act of bowing down is implied.

In one place (John 9:31) the term θεοσεβής is used to describe a worshipper of God, or one who regards and treats God with reverence. In several places certain physical acts are significant of reverence, such as προσπίπτειν, ‘to fall down before’ (Mark 3:11; Mark 5:33, Luke 8:28); γονυπετεῖν, ‘to bend the knee’ (Matthew 17:14, Mark 1:40); πίπτειν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον, ‘to fall upon the face.’ These movements of the body are expressive of feelings of reverential regard. In some passages δοξάζειν, ‘to glorify,’ is used in a rather suggestive way to set forth the idea of giving reverence to (as in Matthew 6:2; Matthew 9:8, Mark 2:12, Luke 5:25-26; Luke 7:16, John 8:54; John 17:1-4), where hypocrites seeking glory of men, people of different sorts giving glory to God, the Father glorifying the Son, and the Son giving glory to the Father, are alluded to. In the Lord’s Prayer, ἁγιάζειν, ‘to hallow’ or ‘hold sacred’ (Matthew 6:9) the name of God, implies the sentiment of reverence in its highest form. The terms ἀσπάζειν, ‘to salute,’ and ἀσπασμός, ‘salutation’ (Mark 9:15; Mark 15:18, Luke 1:29-41), are also expressive of reverential regard.

Some additional passages may be merely noted, wherein words and phrases denote reverence in different aspects: Matthew 7:29; Matthew 8:8; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 21:9-15; Matthew 22:21; Matthew 23:12; Matthew 26:12, Mark 1:7; Mark 9:1-10, Luke 2:9-20; Luke 7:16; Luke 7:44-45; Luke 8:35-37; Luke 19:35; Luke 23:11, John 12:3; John 12:14; John 13:13; John 21:15; John 21:17.

In the Gospel narratives it is evident that the sentiment of reverence has a large place. It is at root a certain psychical state, or temper of the soul. This temper seeks expression in certain outward acts. In religion this state of the soul is fundamental, and its expression in ritual acts is natural.

Literature.—C. F. Kent, Messages of Israel’s Lawgivers (1902), 247; A. H. M. Sime, Elements of Religion2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , 15, Epic of God (1902), 53; E. Wordsworth, Thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer (1898), 63; G. H. Morrison, Flood-tide (1901), 103; Newman, Par. and Plain Serm. i. 295, v. 13, viii. 1; T. G. Selby, Lesson of a Dilemma (1893), 123; Phillips Brooks, Light of the World (1891), 253.

Francis R. Beattie.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Reverence'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/r/reverence.html. 1906-1918.

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