In our Greek Word Devotional series, we discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. Let’s look at 1 Peter 5:6-7 and its usage of the word hupsoō, or exalt.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”
The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:
Greek pronunciation: hoo PSAH oh
CSB translation: exalt
Uses in 1 Peter: 1
Uses in the NT: 20
Focus passage: 1 Peter 5:6
Hupsoō refers to lifting something to a higher location. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, Christ was lifted up on the cross (Jn 3:14). This concept of lifting up is figuratively extended to mean to exalt or honor (raising something to a position of higher status). In the example above, the lifting up of Jesus referred to is his crucifixion (cp. Jn 8:28). The one who possesses the higher authority must be the one who exalts others to a higher status (Lk 1:52; Ac 2:33; Jms 4:10; 1Pt 5:6). He made the people of Israel prosper in Egypt (Ac 13:17), and he exalts the humble (Mt 23:12; Lk 14:11, 18:14). Elsewhere, Paul humbled himself so that those in the Corinthian church might be exalted (2Co 11:7).
There’s one line in this excerpt that catches my eye: “The one who possesses the higher authority must be the one who exalts others to a higher status.” Since there is no higher authority than God, we know that he is capable of lifting up all people and all things.
And who does he exalt? The humble. Who does he humble? Those who exalt themselves (Mt 23:12; Lk 14:11; 18:14). When we try to exalt ourselves, it’s as if we are telling God that we have more authority than he does. And this is why we must be humbled. And once we are humbled, and acknowledge our humility, it is then that he exalts us.
Now, what gives Jesus the power to lift us up? For one, he is God incarnate. Additionally, the fact that he himself was lifted up onto the cross, dying to save us from ourselves—our sin, our selfishness, our hubris, etc. He is the ultimate authority, and therefore the only one who can lift up.
So let us humble ourselves before the cross of Christ, so that we may be exalted as new creations under the authority of the one who spoke the world into existence.