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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: τιμη

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/t/t-i-m-et.html

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

τιμη

The noun τιμη (time), literally means worth or dearness and may describe something that is deemed dear or valuable, but also simply the pecuniary value or purchasing price of some commercial good. Our noun comes from the verb τιω (tio), which is curiously absent from the New Testament but often used in the classics. It means to honor, revere, prize highly, or simply just price in the sense of putting a price tag on an item. When this verb is used as a legal term it means to estimate the amount of punishment due to a criminal; the price to pay.

Our noun τιμη (time), being such a pivotal word, is ubiquitous in the New Testament. It's often translated with "honor" but that may be a bit unfortunate as in our modern world this word mostly describes an incurred value and the compliance therewith, while our noun τιμη (time) represents an intrinsic value and the recognition thereof. Translators of the Bible (particularly Roman ones) were quite hung up on shows of reverence and honor, but sentiments like that rarely crossed the minds of the authors of the New Testament, especially in the sense that honor and being honored would be things to pursue. In stead the authors stressed a pursuit of practical value and usefulness, not of applause and medals. The verb φιλοτιμεομαι (philotimeomai, see below), means value-loving not honor-loving.

In the New Testament our word always has to do with the recognition of something or someone's true identity and employability (Hebrews 5:4). Husbands are not to vainly "honor" their wives (what does that mean, anyway?) but to consciously recognize their specific and particular value to the house (1 Peter 3:7; "according to knowledge"; also see 1 Thessalonians 4:4) in the same way that the kings of the earth will incorporate their specific and particular value into the workings of the City of God (Revelation 21:23-26). All this may seem terribly imperial but it really isn't. Being unemployed or underestimated is a grave assault on a person's self-esteem and employing someone is the same as confirming that person's value. The people of Malta "showed respect to" Paul and company with "many dearnesses" (Acts 28:10), but that was in response to Paul's healing half the island and just prior to the people lavishing their guests with everything they themselves required.

A prophet can't do much good in his own home town (Matthew 13:57-58), but this may not have to do with the recipients' faith or their failure to endow their cousin with garlands, but rather with that the job of a prophet was to get fresh information (from wherever and of any kind), which means that folks with really fresh material were usually foreigners and not your next door neighbor (Isaiah 28:11). If your neighbor, who's been always exposed to the same things you have, all of a sudden starts dispensing things you have never heard of, he's most probably making them up as he goes along (Matthew 13:56; and see our article on the word πιστις, pistis, meaning faith, or sureness).

Our noun τιμη (time) may denote the fetching price of a transacted estate (Acts 4:34, Acts 5:2, Acts 7:16), or the monetary equivalent of goods (Acts 19:19) or people (Matthew 27:9, 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23). It may denote political clout (Hebrews 3:3) or value pertaining to the quality of life (Colossians 2:23) or value pertaining to governmental quality (1 Timothy 5:17). And it may be used in the general and amorphous sense of "the good stuff" (Romans 13:7). Neither Romans 9:21 nor 2 Timothy 2:20-21 speak of honorable vessels and dishonorable vessels (come on) but of vessels with the good stuff (like costly, perfumed oil) versus similar vessels with the not-so-good stuff (a slosh of wonky olive oil). What Paul meant precisely with an "honored body part" (1 Corinthians 12:23) has never quite been made clear, but people in Paul's days had different views on certain items than we do now. Proof that a man was one with the pack appears to have been the object of frequent scrutiny and came, therefore, from a highly esteemed member (Acts 16:3).

A few times, particularly when God is the subject and our noun is in the genitive form, it describes the act of high estimation or the recognition of true identity and employability (1 Timothy 1:17, 6:16, Revelation 5:13, 7:12).

This noun's derivatives are:

  • The verb τιμαω (timao), meaning to esteem highly, to rightly estimate as valuable or to show such disposition; to respect (Matthew 15:4, 1 Timothy 5:3, John 12:26), or to prize or price (to render a fixed value upon something: Matthew 27:9). It occurs as translation of the Hebrew verb כבד (kabed), meaning to give weight to, or be impressed with (Matthew 15:4-6).
  • The adjective τιμιος (timios), meaning respected or honored (Acts 5:34, Hebrews 13:4), or dear or precious (Acts 20:24, James 5:7). This word often describes preciousness of gems (1 Corinthians 3:12, Revelation 17:4).
  • The noun τιμιοτης (timiotes), meaning precious (things) or more general: wealth (Revelation 18:19 only).
Compound derivations used in the Bible:
  • Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning without: the adjective ατιμος (atimos), meaning without value or respect (Matthew 13:57), or of low character or reputation (Mark 6:4, 1 Corinthians 4:10). Its derivatives are:
    • The verb ατιμαζω (atimazo), meaning to disrespect (Luke 20:11), to abuse (John 8:49, Acts 5:41) or devalue (Romans 1:24).
    • The noun ατιμια (atimia), meaning dishonor or disgrace (Romans 1:26, 2 Chronicles 6:8).
    • The verb ατιμοω (atimoo), meaning to disgrace (Mark 12:4).
  • Together with the adjective βαρυς (barus), meaning heavy or burdensome: the noun βαρυτιμος (barutimos), meaning so precious that its acquisition means a huge burden for the buyer; burdensomely expensive (Matthew 26:7 only).
  • Together with εν (en), a particle that governs the dative and thus means in, on, at etcetera: the noun εντιμος (entimos), meaning "enhonor". In English translations this word is usually rendered simply honored or dear (Luke 7:2, Philippians 2:29).
  • Together with the adjective ισος (isos), meaning alike or equal: the adjective ισοτιμος (isotimos), meaning of equal honor or equal value (2 Peter 1:1).
  • Together with the adjective φιλος (philos), meaning friend [of]: the verb φιλοτιμεομαι (philotimeomai), literally meaning to be value-loving and used in the sense of to aspire or make something an ambition (Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 4:11).
  • Together with the adjective πολυς (polus), meaning much, many or great: the adjective πολυτιμος (polutimos) meaning of great honor or price; very valuable (Matthew 13:46, John 12:3).
  • Together with the verb οραω (horao), meaning to see: the verb τιμωρεω (timoreo), literally meaning to watch one's price, but rather used in the sense of seeing to the price of one's actions, to make someone pay the price (Acts 22:5, Acts 26:11).

A wonderful extra-biblical word is the Platonic noun τιμοκρατια (timocratia), denoting "a state in which the love of honor is the ruling principle" (Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon).


Associated Biblical names