Whatever is Honorable

This post is a continuation of my series examining the Greek words associated with the “Whatever is” statements in Phil 4:8.  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Today I examine the Greek word for honorable which is σεμνός (semnós). 
σεμνός – with a broad stroke, the definition simply is “dignified” (Zodhiates, 2000). That is “worthy of respect, honor and/or dignity” (Arndt, Danker & Bauer, 2000). Another way of putting it is “honorable” (Louw & Nida, 1996).

This specific Greek word only appears four times in the New Testament, all from the Apostle Paul. The first being the Phil. 4:8 passage and then three more times (all NASB):

1 Tim. 3:8-9 – Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
1 Tim. 3:11 -Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
Titus 2:2- Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. 

We see that this is used to describe both men and women who serve God. Continuing the theme from the last post about “True,” “Honorable” also includes this sort of upright moral standard of being ‘above reproach’ (Arndt, Danker & Bauer, 2000).

While the Apostle Paul demands a lot of things (no gossiping, patient temperament, faithfulness, sensibility, sound faith, not hypocritical, not addicted to wine, a clear conscience, etc) these are things that can be obtained by all believers. We should strive to attain these things. We, as saints, have a higher citizenship, a heavenly one. These characteristics are majestic and awe–inspiring qualities which  invites and attracts others towards us, towards Christ (Zodhiates, 2000). Amen!

Think honorably. Dwell on thoughts that are noble. Get a mentor who is dignified and can help you focus on dignity in your own thoughts and behaviors. 

If you love Greek Word study, for homework look up the root and related words:

sébomai [reverence, worship], sebázomai [to worship], sébasma [object of worship], Sebastós [His Majesty], eusebḗs [pious], eusébeia [piety], eusebéō [to be pious], asebḗs [impious], asébeia [impiety], asebéō [to get impiously], semnós [worthy of respect], semnótēs [reverence]
(Kittel, Friedrich & Bromiley, 1985).


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (919). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1010). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (221). New York: United Bible Societies.

Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Whatever is True

Yesterday, I introduced a blog series on Phil. 4:8. We will be examining the Greek word for each of the English nouns after the famous “Whatever is” statements in Phil. 4:8.

The first “whatever is” statement is: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true,…”

The Greek word for the English word “true” is ἀληθής (alēthḗs). This means to be ‘without a lie’ (Zodhiates, 2000).

The word appears in the New Testament 26 times, 21 of which the word simply means ‘true.’

3 Times it occurs as ‘truthful.’ It also occurs once as ‘truly’ in (Jn. 4:18) and once as ‘real’ in Acts 12:9, describing that what the Angles had done was real and not a vision or something fake.

Here are some of the definitions for this Greek word in context of Phil 4:8 via some of the popular and established Bible Dictionaries:

True in conduct, sincere, upright, honest and just (Zodhiates, 2000).

Not concealing, instead truthful (Strong, 2009).

Honest, truthful, having integrity (Mt 22:16) (Swanson, 1997).

Consistently “upright,” (Kittel, 1964).

There are two themes that catch my eye. First, is the idea of merely living honest and truthful. The second is living ‘upright.’ Living true is not just about living honestly, even many atheists attempt to live honest and truthfully. What is interesting is that to be ‘true’ according to his passage is also to live true to a moral standard, to live ‘upright.’ I believe Paul had this in mind when he chose this Greek word but we will be looking more at the other Greek words in this verse as the series continues and I believe that the moral upright standard will continue to be a theme. As with all of Paul’s theology, righteousness is so important. Living upright is one of the facets to righteousness.

How do we live this way?

Think truthfully. Dwell on things that are true. Live honestly. I get the strong sense from my studies that we are to live as valid Christians (Beasley-Murray, 2002, p. 129). By this we are to actually be real about every aspect of our lives. We are to be honest and truthful in all things. We are to honor Christ with our words, actions, thoughts and behaviors. In every way we are to be upright and authentic. We are to be true saints, true followers of Christ, true scholars of the Word and true in every step we take. We need Christ to help us as we walk honestly at every step of the way.


Beasley-Murray, G. R. (2002). Vol. 36: John. Word Biblical Commentary (129). Dallas: Word,


Vol. 1: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G.
                    Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (248). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The
                    Hebrew Bible (9–10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New
                      Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.).
                     Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Php 4:8, NASB)

This verse has had a lot of impact on me in my life. For the next few weeks, I will looking at each of the Greek words Paul uses in this passage:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true (αληθη), whatever is honorable (σεμνα), whatever is right (δικαια), 

  whatever is pure (αγνα), whatever is lovely (προσφιλη),
whatever is of good repute(ευφημα), if there is any excellence (αρετη)
and if anything worthy of praise (επαινος), dwell on these things. 

Newberry, T., & Berry, G. R. (2004). The interlinear literal translation of the Greek New Testament (Php 4:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
I’ll be looking closely at these Greek Words and explaining how we are to be living with this information.