Honor in the Bible: How Often is it Mentioned and What Does it Mean?

Curious about honor in the Bible? Uncover the astonishing number of times honor is mentioned and discover what the Bible truly says about this virtue.

Last Updated:
March 28, 2024
8 Minutes

Table of Contents

In our journey to unravel the multifaceted nature of the divine word, we often come across terms that require careful interpretation, elucidation, and resonance with our modern understanding. One such term is 'honor', a concept deeply woven into the intricate fabric of biblical literature. The term 'honor' embraces a broad spectrum of meanings, each reflecting the richness of biblical teachings and philosophy. As we delve into the textm the mention of 'honor' is found not just to berandom, but strategic in its illustration of virtuous living and ethical alignment.

According to the biblical world order, 'honor' transcends superficial respect or regime, elevating itself to the high pedestal of divine expectation from mankind. It is mentioned more than 160 times in the Bible, its frequency only outweighed by other virtues such as 'love' and 'faith'. 

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” – Proverbs 21:21 (ESV)

From extending honor to parents as a divine responsibility, to honoring God as a manifestation of our reverence, the interpretation of 'honor' is both vast and nuanced. Let us step into this exploration with an open heart and a discerning mind, poised to perceive the profound impact of honor on Christian values and contemporary life.

What is the biblical definition of honor?

In examining the biblical definition of honor, we find that it revolves around the concepts of respect, esteem, and great regard. However, in the context of the Bible, honor transcends the mere act of veneration and encapsulates a profounder facet of morality and interpersonal relationships

Honor in the Scriptures is often associated with the virtues of integrity, righteousness, and respect. For instance, a person embodying honor in the biblical sense would maintain integrity, even when no one is watching, because they're conscious of their accountability to a higher authority, which in this context, is God. 

Furthermore, the Bible emphasizes that honor should be bestowed upon all God's creations as an act of Him serving. It is a virtue that not only brings people closer to God but also fosters tranquility within communities, thus strengthening societal bonds. Therefore, the practical application of honor, as per the Bible, extends to servitude, respect, humility, and the promotion of righteousness. 

We also observe that honor, as described in the Bible, serves as a form of worship, with honor being reflective of a person's reverence for God. Therefore, one's actions, words, and even thoughts should spring from a place of honor, consistently affirming the respect we owe God and His creation. Hence, honor is one of the cornerstones of Christian ethics and represents a nobility of character that every believer is urged to aspire for. 


  • The biblical definition of honor encompasses respect, esteem, and great regard,
  • Biblical honor is associated with virtues of integrity, righteousness, and respect,
  • According to the Bible, honor should be bestowed upon all beings as servitude to God,
  • Honor, in biblical context, also serves as a form of worship,
  • Honor symbolizes a cornerstone of Christian ethics.

How often is the concept of honor discussed in the Bible?

Discussions involving the concept of honor are generously scattered across the sacred pages of scripture. It is a principle revered and emphasized in multiple narratives and teachings in the Bible. As a cardinal virtue, the term "honor" specifically appears more than a hundred times in different versions of the Bible, underlining its theological significance

The presence of honor in the Bible is not confined to these direct mentions alone. Countless narratives and doctrines indirectly propagate the spirit of honor, manifesting as respect, integrity, and kindness towards others. Fundamentally, honor is portrayed as quintessential in strengthening relationships, fostering humility, and drawing individuals closer to God - emphasizing the idea that honoring one's fellows is synonymous with honoring God himself. The Bible promotes personal honor and esteems those who live honorably, embodying virtues such as righteousness and respect. 

This concept permeates all aspects of Biblical narrative – shaping stories, directing moral imperatives, even defining the character of God and his relationship with humans. It resonates deeply with the biblical worldview, demonstrating how one's actions directly reflect on their character and, subsequently, on their honor. 


  • Honor is a cardinal virtue heavily discussed throughout the Bible, with the term itself appearing more than a hundred times.
  • Honor isn't limited to direct mentions and is reflected in discussions related to respect, integrity, kindness, and righteousness among others.
  • The Bible suggests that honoring others is synonymous with honoring God, indicating the theological significance of this virtue.
  • Honor shapes many stories and moral directives in the Bible, showcasing how one's actions, and thus their honor, reflect their character.

How is the term 'honor' used in different contexts within the Bible?

The term 'honor' serves a plethora of roles within the multifaceted texts of the Bible. At its fundamental level, the Bible employs the term to attribute respect, praise, and high regard within interpersonal relationships. Notably, this could be seen among equals, as well as a form of reverence towards individuals of a higher social or spiritual rank.  

Furthermore, the Bible uses 'honor' as a marker of societal rank or distinction. This is particularly common in historical narratives where individuals are recognized for their accomplishments or characters. For instance, warriors, kings, prophets and those dedicated to the service of God, are often accorded honor in the biblical narratives as a sign of their societal status. 

The Bible also understands 'honor' as a spiritual virtue, an act of reverence and respect towards God. Here, honor is a form of worship and surrender before the divine. This includes not only verbal confession of God's greatness but also the manifestation of praises through righteous living and respect towards the creations of God. 

Lastly, the Bible uses 'honor' in a relational aspect, particularly within the familial relationships. It emphasizes honor to parents, to spouses, and to elders. This encompasses not just respect, but also obligations and care. 

It is vital to understand that the usage of 'honor' is intricate and versatile, reflecting the richness and vastness of biblical teachings, in both the Old and the New Testaments


  • The term 'honor' in the Bible is used to attribute respect, high regard, and praise within interpersonal relationships.
  • 'Honor' is utilized as a marker of societal rank or distinction, often accorded to individuals recognized for their accomplishments or characters.
  • As a spiritual virtue, 'honor' signifies the act of worship and respect towards God, which includes living righteously and respecting God's creations.
  • The concept of 'honor' in the Bible is utilized in a relational aspect, emphasizing respect and care towards familial relationships such as one's parents, spouse, and elders.

How does the frequency of 'honor' in the Bible compare to other virtues?

We comprehend that the term 'honor' is consistently mentioned throughout the Bible, it's a virtue that aligns with God's teachings and expectations of His creation. However, when we compare the instance of 'honor' in the scriptures with other virtues such as 'love', ‘faith’, 'grace', and 'hope', a distinctive pattern emerges. 

The virtue of 'love' often overshadows 'honor' when tallying their frequency. This is due to the central emphasis on 'love' as the greatest of all virtues in the Bible. It's rightly affirmed in 1 Corinthians 13:13 stating that "these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love". The explicit mention of 'love' is a consistent rhetoric in the teachings of Jesus wherein it is brought forth as the quintessential Christian virtue. 

The virtues 'faith' and 'hope', often coined along with 'love', often exceed the mention of 'honor'. The reason being, these three virtues become the trifecta that bolsters the concept of Christian living as outlined in scripture. 

Nevertheless, 'honor' maintains its key position in the scriptures. While it might be mentioned numerically less compared to the aforementioned virtues, 'honor' possesses enormous significance in biblical teachings. This can be especially found in passages regarding interpersonal relationships, treatment of parents, how one should behave within their societies, and in the application of justice and righteousness. Thus, frequency should not be mistaken for importance. 


  • The virtue of 'love' is often more frequently mentioned in the Bible compared to 'honor'.
  • 'Faith' and 'hope' are also frequently cited virtues that can surpass 'honor' in terms of count.
  • The frequency of citing a certain virtue does not diminish its importance in the biblical context.
  • Even though 'honor' might be mentioned less often compared to love, faith, and hope, it still holds vital importance in the Bible's teachings which cover familial, social, ethical, and justice-oriented aspects.

Does the meaning of 'honor' change in different books of the Bible?

The Bible, a compilation of different books with varying contexts and viewpoints, presents the concept of honor in diverse lights. However, despite these variances, the crux of the term 'honor' remains anchored in respect, regard, or a high estimation of worth. 

In the Old Testament, 'honor' pertains predominantly to a reverence associated with the divine and familial relations. For instance, in Deuteronomy and Exodus, the adherents are repeatedly exhorted to honor God (YHWH) through obedience and worship, indicative of the elevated status of the divine in their faith. Further, at an anthropocentric level, the principle of honoring one’s parents, as a part of the Ten Commandments, is an emphasis on the inviolability of filial duty and respect. 

The New Testament, on the other hand, expands this concept to include honoring all individuals irrespective of their societal status, reflecting the changes ushered in by Jesus Christ’s teachings. What remains consistent is that honor begets honor - the virtue of reciprocity, present across both the Old and New Testaments. The Apostle Paul’s Epistles (Romans, Ephesians, and others) especially stress expressing honor towards every individual as an important Christian duty. 


  • 'Honor' in the Bible carries an inherent essence of respect and reverence.
  • In the Old Testament, 'honor' primarily pertains to reverence for God and familial duty.
  • The New Testament extends the idea of 'honor' to all individuals, reflecting the teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • The principle of reciprocity, i.e., honor begets honor, is consistent throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
  • The meaning of 'honor' while retaining its core significance, is nuanced and context-dependent, changing subtly over the different books of the Bible.

What are some examples of honor being practiced in the Bible?

The biblical narrative is replete with instances demonstrating the practice of honor. A prime example is seen in the story of Joseph. Despite being wrongly accused and imprisoned, Joseph displayed an unwavering commitment to uprightness, retaining a deep respect for his authority figures. Thus, keeping his integrity intact - a virtuous demonstration of honor. His elevated status in the Egyptian society afterward was a direct result of his honorable conduct.

Moving to the story of Ruth, we witness another exemplary display of honor. Ruth, a Moabite widow, defied societal norms to stay with her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, out of pure loyalty and respect. Her deep commitment to her verged on the extraordinary, embodying the essence of honor as care genuine and regard for another person. 

Lastly, Jesus himself was the epitome of an honorable figure. His interactions with the outcasts of society - the lepers, tax collectors, and prostitutes - showcased honor in its purest form. Jesus extended love, acceptance, and respect to those ordinarily scorned by society, thereby exhibiting the true meaning of honor in the biblical sense. 


  • Joseph, in his adversities, displayed honor through his integrity and respect for authority figures.
  • Ruth demonstrated honor through her steadfast loyalty and genuine regard for her mother-in-law, Naomi.
  • Jesus incarnated honor by extending love, acceptance, and respect to the marginalized sections of society.
  • Honor, as practiced in the Bible, extends beyond mere deference, embodying righteousness, loyalty, acceptance and a judgment free attitude towards all.

How does the Old Testament and New Testament differ in their use of 'honor'?

Isolating and understanding the notion of 'honor' in both the Old and the New Testament can be enlightening, as there does indeed exist a certain degree of difference in how the term is conceived. The Old Testament, with a highly collectivist bend, frequently diffuses the concept of honor in context of respect given towards authority viz. parents, kings, and the elderly. The commandments mention 'Honor your father and mother so your days may be long.' This underscores how the Jewish society greatly valued honor of elders. 

Furthermore, the Old testament displays honor as tied to servitude toward God and righteousness. The faithful Job, for instance, showed unwavering honor to God amidst hardships. The Hebrew word 'Kabod', popularly used for honor in the Old Testament, refers to weight or heaviness - implying the profound depth and importance of this virtue. 

Meanwhile, the New Testament presents a more individualized interpretation of honor. While it advocates the same honor of authority as the Old Testament, it also sanctifies personal honor fostered through virtuous behavior. Honor transforms from a societal obligation to a personal choice intrinsically tied to Christian discipleship. An example is Jesus Christ Himself, who by lowering His status to washing His disciples' feet, displayed an immense sense of honor. The Greek word 'Timao', used for honor, refers broadly to estimable value; implying that honor held a substantially versatile connotation in the New Testament. 


  • Old Testament emphasizes honor as respect towards authority and righteous servitude towards God.
  • New Testament, while continuing the honor of authority, also emphasizes personal honor through virtuous behavior and humble service.
  • The Hebrew term 'Kabod' in Old Testament and the Greek term 'Timao' in the New Testament have different connotations - reflecting the nuanced interpretations of honor.
  • Both Testaments view honor as a crucial virtue linked to the worship and service of God.

Are there any controversies or debates about the meaning of honor in the Bible?

As is common with nearly any aspect of a sacred text such as the Bible, there have been debates and controversies over time regarding the meaning and interpretation of 'honor'. These discussions often arise within differing cultural contexts, as well as between varying schools of theological thought. The challenge lies in defining an abstract concept like honor, which carries a multitude of connotations and interpretations that heavily rely on cultural norms and personal beliefs.

For instance, some believe that the Biblical concept of honor is primarily about one's status or standing in a community, thus relating it to public admiration and respect. Others contend that it is more about personal integrity and righteousness, viewing honor as the inner quality that inspires respect and reverence. These conflicting perspectives can lead to varying interpretations of Biblical passages and therefore different applications in the context of Christian values and ethics. 

Moreover, there are debates that center on the relationship between honor and popular theological concepts like grace and righteousness. Some argue that honor in the Bible is a reward for righteousness, which can create tension with the idea of grace — that God’s favor comes not from human effort or character, but is freely bestowed. This ongoing dialogue highlights the multi-faceted nature of honor in the Bible and its nuanced usage throughout the text. 


  • There are ongoing debates and controversies over the interpretation of 'honor' in the Bible.
  • These debates often center around whether 'honor' is about public respect and recognition versus personal integrity and righteousness.
  • The biblical relationship between honor, grace, and righteousness also sparks controversy, as some view honor as a reward for righteousness, potentially conflicting with the concept of grace.

How does the biblical understanding of honor influence Christian ethics?

The biblical understanding of honor wields significant influence over Christian ethics, shaping behaviors, guiding decision-making processes, and constructively influencing interpersonal relationships among Christians. The principles of respect, dignity, acknowledgement, and recognition that are encapsulated in the biblical definition of honor provide an ethical compass that Christians strive to follow in their daily lives. 

For instance, the Bible emphasizes the honoring of parents as a fundamental Christian virtue, ingrained in the Ten Commandments. This is not confined solely to the act of obedience but extends to demonstrate esteem and recognition of their wisdom and experience – a core Christian ethic guiding familial relationships. 

Moreover, the ethics of humility, integrity, and respect are directly rooted in understanding the biblical definition of honor. Christians are exhorted to honor all, irrespective of their social or economic status, reinforcing the Christian ethical principle of equality which acts against discrimination and prejudice. 

Christian ethics, heavily influenced by the scriptural understanding of honor, also promote the respect of those in authority, urging Christians to show due difference - not merely as a compulsory act of obedience but as an acknowledgement of their roles in leading and shaping society. Such honor-based principles are key in fostering a spirit of cooperation, leading to harmonious societal interactions. 


  • The biblical understanding of honor significantly influences Christian ethics, shaping behaviors, guiding decision-making, and constructively impacting interpersonal relationships.
  • Honor as a core Christian ethic is not confined to obedience but extends to the recognition, appreciation, and respect of wisdom and experience.
  • Christian ethics promote honor for all, irrespective of their social or economic status, fostering a spirit of equality and combating discrimination and prejudice.
  • Scripture guides Christians to respect those in authority as an acknowledgement of their roles in society, commanding a spirit of cooperation, leading to harmonious societal interactions.
  • Ultimately, biblical honor acts as the yardstick of Christian ethical conduct, envisaging a community bound together by mutual respect and conscientious action.

Can the biblical definition of honor be applied to modern life?

Undeniably, the biblical concept of 'honor' still holds relevance and applicability in modern life. The fundamental principles of respect, esteem, and high regard for others dictated by the Bible transcend time and context. In the digital age, we often find a lack of civility and respect, thus the biblical precept of honor could offer guidance in restoring these key values. Serving others with kindness and respect, a form of honor, is not a notion confined to ancient scripts.

Indeed, we can incorporate it into our daily interactions, both in the physical and digital world. This is not limited to personal relationships but extends to professional settings. Implementing the biblical understanding of honor could inspire individuals to treat their colleagues, clients, and competitors with dignity and respect, fostering a more productive and enjoyable work environment for everyone involved. It could also instill a sense of accountability, which heightens integrity. Honor thus becomes a guiding principle that influences decisions, agreements, and even dispute resolution. 

Let's also reflect on our familial and personal relationships. Much like in the biblical accounts of Joseph and Mary's patience, Ruth's loyalty to Boaz, and Jesus' humility towards society's marginalized, modern relationships could immensely benefit from the practice of honor. It inspires patience in misunderstandings, steadfast loyalty in adversity, and consistent kindness and respect for all individuals, regardless of societal standards or norms. 

As believers, we're called to display honor not just toward those in authority or those we admire, but also toward those who challenge us. This extends the concept of honor beyond mere respect into an aspect of love, as it requires us to regard others highly, even when it's difficult. This approach to honor leads us to understand that it is not merely a virtue, but an action that exemplifies and furthers the love of God in our lives and the lives of those we come into contact with. 

In its essence, the Bible's perspective on true honor is a powerful tool for positive impact and change in today's society. Through honor, we can uphold dignity, promote mutual respect, and encourage a sense of community. It guides us to lead lives that reflect the virtues of integrity and humility; principles that are well-aligned with modern frameworks for ethical living. The practice of honor, as defined in the Bible, has the capacity to foster a more loving, respectful, and gracious world in which each person is recognized for their intrinsic value and unique contribution. 


  • The biblical definition of honor, while ancient, remains applicable in our modern lives due to its emphasis on respect, regard, and esteem.
  • Implementing principles of honor within the professional sphere fosters mutual respect, productivity, and accountability.
  • In personal and familial relationships, biblical honor encourages patience, loyalty, and kindness, mirroring the virtues seen in biblical figures like Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
  • At a community level, biblical honor challenges superficial societal norms, promoting more wholesome values such as integrity, humility, and respect for others.
  • The biblical definition of honor serves as a timeless guide that can shape and enhance various aspects of today's life, making it both relevant and beneficial to contemporary society irrespective of individual faith or belief.

Facts & Stats

The term 'honor' is mentioned approximately 164 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

In the New International Version of the Bible, 'honor' is mentioned around 127 times.

'Honor' appears 109 times in the New Living Translation of the Bible.

Honor in the Bible is not just about respect, but also about moral integrity and character.

The concept of honor in the Bible is closely tied to the ideas of glory, dignity, and reverence.


Timothy 5:17

Peter 2:17

John 5:23

Peter 3:7

John 12:26

Colossians 3:17

Mark 7:10

Leviticus 19:32

Frequently asked questions

Leave a comment
Christian Pure Team
Written By:
Christian Pure Team
Find Out More
Christian Pure Merch

Explore our Products

Handcrafted christian products to bless your home.

Back to top

Related Articles

Instagram @type_writer

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.