I recently began thinking about some of the virtuous women mentioned in the Bible and what stood out about their character. I was particularly drawn to Ruth and Esther.
These two women are the true definition of dignity. Their uprightness made them stand out on various occasions. After reading these two books, I felt the topic of virtue would be excellent for our teenage girls in church.
After studying some relevant scriptures, I organized a seminar the next month, which turned out to be a success. Inspired by this event, I felt it would be of great importance to reach more people with this topic; therefore, I curated this article.
So, what is the Biblical meaning of virtue?
Biblically, virtues generally denote an intransigent compliance with morality principles. The scripture is clear that these moral excellences are sought and not prized (2 Peter 1:5). Christians perceive that all humans can attain virtues of any kind as our masterpiece, to whom we were created in his image and likeness, is good naturally.
Join me and stay in touch as we extensively navigate the Biblical meaning of virtue. In the article, we look at what the bible says about virtue, Virtue’s Hebrew meaning, Biblical examples and verses on virtues, and what it means to be virtuous for Christians.
Still, from a biblical perspective, the article analyzes the Godly virtues and the virtuous woman in reference to Philippians 4:8 and Proverbs 31, respectively.
Lastly, we will tackle what it means to be called to a virtuous life and if it is necessary to be virtuous for us to be saved.
What does the bible say about virtue?
The bible precisely states that virtue is not granted or prized but sought.
In 2 Peter 1:5, the phrase “make effort” has been adopted to imply the struggles individuals ought to employ to pursue virtue: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.”
While composing some parts of the scripture, Apostle John was convinced that every believer could be virtuous, as God himself, whom humans were created in his image and likeness, is naturally virtuous.
In 1 John 1:5, the apostle affirms to his congregants that the primary quality he and other disciples learned about God from Jesus was that God is virtuous without any bad aspects: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
Some Christians believe that John’s teachings urged his audience and the present church to emulate God in being good.
What is the Hebrew meaning of virtue?
According to Linguistics professionals, the word virtue in Hebrew, also termed chayil, can be adapted to mean a force, either of men, an army, or other resources.
Its Hebrew meaning generally denotes something excellent and mighty, as it is its English meaning.
In Proverbs 31, Solomon writes of a woman of chayil, a woman of valor, stating that she is invaluable and dignified, the same as a virtuous person.
Bible verses and examples of virtue in the bible
It is worth noting that the bible does not at any instant outline a complete set of qualities one ought to have to be considered virtuous.
Based on Biblical scriptures and teachings on virtue, some believers piece together various traits that an individual of virtue should strive to possess.
For instance, Apostle Paul’s teachings encourage believers to abandon their ways and conform to God’s ways of living. Galatians 5:22-24 outlines the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which, when emulated, requires no adherence to any law to be good.
From such scriptures, a broad spectrum of believers are convinced that the outlined traits like kindness and peace, among others, should be observed for virtuousness.
Other than the aforementioned Galatians 5:22-24, numerous scriptures give believers clues to potential traits that could result in virtuousness: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Colossians 3:12 implies that believers should uphold compassion, humility, and gentleness to emulate God’s righteousness: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Additionally, the scripture also mentions patience as one of the anticipated traits from God’s chosen people to uphold a level of holiness portrayed by God.
In seconding other scriptures hinting at virtuous characteristics, Ephesians 4:2 also insists on humility, gentleness, and compromising with others in love: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Benefits of Virtuousness
Besides the scriptures directing believers towards achieving virtuousness, other verses encourage them to seek Godly virtues because of the attached promises unto virtuousness.
Therefore, some believers incline their conduct to achieve virtuousness due to the attached promises. For instance, Psalm 55:22 assures the righteous that God shall never forsake them.
On the other hand, Galatians 6:9 motivates believers to consistently practice virtuousness as they will reap a harvest if they don’t grow weary.
Other promises include security and blamelessness, as stipulated in Proverbs 10:9 and Proverbs 19:1, respectively.
What does it mean to be virtuous for Christians?
Believers perceive that being virtuous entails consistently displaying an impeccable extent of morality. However, it is not a matter of attaining perfection, as that is impossible for human beings as per the scripture.
Romans 3:23 says that all humans sin regardless of their religion and denomination, thus falling out of God’s glory: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Therefore, most believers are convinced that it is not a matter of perfection but repetitive practice of principles and traits leading to virtuousness until the principles become part of one’s natural behavior.
Such believers are ultimately convinced that a virtuous individual will progress from perceiving what is right to executing their perceptions.
Such people naturally find themselves choosing what they utter, act, or value to the extent that their good conduct becomes part of them, as per some believers’ perception.
Per the scripture, being virtuous entails outstanding others in doing what is right before the Lord. Mathew 5:14-16 compares a righteous person to an illumination of the universe or a house erected on top of a hill.
For both imageries, the component outstands without the intent of being conspicuous. A wide spectrum of Christians is inclined to believe that virtuousness does not entail intentional exceptional, but one’s traits distinguish them from the rest.
What are Godly virtues according to Philippians 4:8?
According to Philippians 4:8, Godly virtues encompass truthfulness, nobleness, purity, love, and admirableness.
In this context, Paul did not outline any specific virtue to be emulated by his Congregants in Philippi but offered them a framework on which the virtues should be judged if they are godly or not.
First, the apostle outlines truthfulness as the initial aspect of determining godly virtues. Some Christians believe that the scripture stipulates that God values veracity among his chosen people.
Often, veracity or truthfulness is closely allied to justice, and believers often adopt and apply them simultaneously.
Further, the scripture also mentions other aspects, such as rightness and purity, considered the virtues to be adopted by believers.
Some Christians believe the scripture urges them to uphold the rightness and purity of heart and body, otherwise regarded as holiness.
Also, the scripture mentions nobleness, which escalates to dignity. In reference to honorableness, Philippians 4:8 conforms to 1 Timothy 3:8-11 which urges believers, especially religious leaders, to uphold self-respect and honor.
To some Christians, the nobleness virtue challenges them to face life seriously and amass the honor of being in a position to convince lost souls and convert them to Christ.
Lastly, Philippians 4:8 mentions other virtues, such as admirableness, ensuring God’s chosen people stand out: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
What does it mean that we are called to a virtuous life?
To the majority of Christians, being called to a virtuous life entails transitioning from an ungodly to a righteous and God-pleasing life.
Believers perceive that Christ’s dying for their sins on the cross rendered them free of their initial sins to a new and sanctified way of life that necessitated one to practice virtuousness.
After Christ’s death, Peter urges fellow believers to practice righteousness so as to stay in the newly acquired sanctified state as Jesus had paid for all their blemishes.
In 2 Peter 1:3-5, the disciple reminds believers that Jesus’ divine power gave them their new state of a godly life. In the same context, he motivates his fellow believers to add goodness (virtuousness) to their faith in Christ.
With such goodness and faith, believers perceive that an individual called to a virtuous life can be able to show that they truly belong to Christ.
From such perceptions, some believers are convinced that an individual called to a virtuous life is protected from stumbling back to unrighteous living by Christ’s nature within them.
Alternatively, some Christians believe living a virtuous life is actualizing the fruits of the Holy Ghost, including love, joy, and gentleness, among others outlined in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
To Christians, leading a virtuous life requires no law to guide their conduct as they will oversee their actions in the right way naturally.
In Romans 8:5, Apostle Paul challenges his congregants that whoever lives by the Holy Ghost has their intentions and minds set on what the Spirit wants and, thus, does not require laws to guide them on what the Spirit wants: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
Who is the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31?
As much as a specific name was not attached to any exact woman discussed in Proverbs 31, some Christian authors believe that Bethsheba is the Virtuous woman the entire Proverbs 31 chapter is about.
However, one should not be too inclined towards the who’s but more focused on the what’s making up the Proverbs 31 subject.
Generally, the chapter outlines several must-have components of a virtuous woman, including dignity, patience, diligence, generosity, courage, wisdom, patience, and devotion.
Proverbs 31:10 states that the dignity of a virtuous woman exceeds rubies’ value. Theologians believe the woman should be aware of her value besides amassing significant praise.
Her patience and diligence are expressed in terms of hard work, especially in hard chores necessitating a lot of time and effort input (Proverbs 31: 13-17).
On the other hand, her generosity is likened to her ability to offer her hard-earned resources to the poor wholeheartedly. Proverbs 31:20 reads, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
In the same chapter, verse 25; the scripture symbolizes the woman’s courage with her ability to laugh at future days, yet unsure of what the days have in store for her.
Proverbs 31:26 directly speaks of her wisdom about the clarity of her decisions.
In contrast, her devotion is attached to her fear of the Lord, regardless of her charm and beauty, which might be distractive and deceptive.
Do we have to be virtuous to be saved?
A wide spectrum of believers are convinced that virtuousness is a necessity for individuals to be saved.
From some Christians’ perception, an individual is guaranteed to be saved and inherit the eternal kingdom if they lead a virtuous life naturally, without intentional control of their conduct.
For a believer, virtue should be propagated naturally and supernaturally to be saved. Some believers, especially of the Catholic denomination, perceive that human beings are naturally filled with disordered passions, thus necessitating virtue to tame them for a believer to be saved.
From their perspective, humans are full of anger, envy, pride, and lust, among other sins, that necessitate godly virtue to be tamed.
They are convinced that such sins, when left unattended, may jeopardize a believer’s faith and sanctity, thus preventing them from being saved.
As a Christian, I have always been passionate about sharing God’s word with young people. This inspired me to pursue a Certificate in Christian Education, an Undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, and a Graduate degree in Theology. My knowledge in school and experience from dealing with the youth made me an expert at discussing Christian-related topics. I feel privileged working as the Coordinator of the Christian Youth Ministry at Christian Faith Guide. You can read more about me on the about us page.