Analysis #1 for Obey


Here we will perform Analysis Item #1

  • How are other Greek words that are translated into the same English word/clause.
  • How does the contextual use of these other words in other verses inform our understanding of the use of the same English word in this verse.

In summary, we are identifying whether the word in this verse should be thought of in the same sense that we typically think of the word in English OR are there some refinements and/or boundaries on how we should understand this word in this context.

English Definition of Obey

  • To comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of

The word obey implies that one party has command authority over another party.  A strong majority of people would assume that this is the case when this word is used.  The idea of obedience does not leave room for optional compliance.  Compliance is explicitly expected when the word obey is used.

Since there aren’t too many words in the Greek that that are translated to obey, it isn’t too hard to look at their usage in other places in the Bible.


The noun forms of obey are not analyzed here because they do not add or take away from this analysis.  Looking only at the verbs is sufficient for review and drawing conclusions about the words for obey in the Bible.  The avid student can review the comparable words in noun form to verify this assumption.

Greek Words Translated to ObeyWords for Obey

  • #1 – (71%) 20 of 28 – hupakouo [verb] (Strong’s 5219)
    • Matthew 8:27; Mark 1:27, 4:41; Luke 8:25, 17:6; Acts 6:7; Romans 6:12, 6:16, 6:17, 10:16; Ephesians 6:1, 6:5; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 3:20, 3:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 3:14; Hebrews 5:9, 11:8; 1 Peter 3:6
  • (14%) 4 0f 28 – peitho [verb] (Strong’s 3982)
    • Valid: Romans 2:8;  James 3:3
    • Less Valid: Galatians 5:7; Hebrews 13:17
  • #2 – (11%) 3 of 28 – peitharcheo [verb] (Strong’s 3980)
    • Acts 5:29, 5:32; Titus 3:1
  • #3 – (4%) 1 of 28 – eisakouo [verb] (Strong’s 4238)
    • 1 Corinthians 14:21

#1 – (71%) hupakouo – obey, obeyed, obeying

See Keyword – hupakouo and review the definitions of this word.

This is not the word used in Hebrews 13:17.  This is important and significant.  This is clearly the Greek word that denotes obedience to commands, but the author of Hebrews specifically avoided it in Hebrews 13:17.

(14%) peitho

See Keyword – peitho and review the definitions of this word.  We will focus on this word for Analysis Item #2.

This is the word used in Hebrews 13:17.  It is listed here only to show the percentage of times peitho is translated to obey as compared to other words that are translated to obey

#2 – (11%) peitharcheo – obey, followed

See Keyword – peitharcheo and review the definitions of this word.

#3 – (4%) eisakouo – obey, hear

See Keyword – eisakouo and review the definitions of this word

This word does not add to or take away from our study of peitho.  This is a more specialized word for “hear and obey” which is used a limited number of times.


  • This analysis boils down to two words:  hupakouo and peitho.  Hupakouo is the common word for obey and it is the one used in all the cases where command obedience is expected.  Peitho does not carry the same sense of the need for command obedience.
  • The Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary definition of peitho seems to be very relevant and important for balancing our understanding of what is meant by this verse.
  • The use of the word “obey” in Hebrews 13:17 needs to be reconsidered.  It conveys the wrong meaning because the vast majority of the occurrences of “obey” in the English text come from hupakouo which clearly indicates the need for obedience.