To the Romans, the shameless were "without forehead," at least figuratively. "Effrontery" derives from Latin "effrons," a word that combines the prefix "ex-" (meaning "out" or "without") and "frons" (meaning "forehead" or "brow"). The Romans never used "effrons" literally to mean "without forehead," and theorists aren't in full agreement about the connection between the modern meaning of "effrontery" and the literal senses of its roots. Some explain that "frons" can also refer to the capacity for blushing, so a person without "frons" would be "unblushing" or "shameless." Others theorize that since the Romans believed that the brow was the seat of a person's modesty, being without a brow meant being "immodest," or again, "shameless."
Reading about this word I immediately thought of the passage in Hebrews 4:
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 KJV)
As I examined this passage I did not get the impression that the "boldness" was in any way prideful or arrogant.
Imagine if you were to find yourself face to face with someone to whom you owe money... a great deal of money... that you have owed for a long period time... and you cannot currently pay them. There would be a great measure of discomfort during that encounter. We owe G-d a tremendous debt as a result of our sin and that is a debt that we can never pay. Such a debt would naturally make us uncomfortable in His presence. Instead we are told to come "boldly" before the throne because our debt has been paid. There is no longer any discomfort in our encounters with one another.
The NASB translates this passage as follows:
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
The Greek word translated as "boldly" in the King James and as "confidence" in the NASB is parresia. Here are some other examples of where the word is used:
And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. (Mark 8:32)
"For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." (John 7:4)
Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. (John 7:13)
The gospel of John goes on to use parresia several times in this manner: plainly, publicly, openly. We should approach the throne in a plain, public, and open manner. Not with effrontery, pride, and arrogance.
There is one additional point to be made from this passage: the verse begins with therefore which makes the verse the conclusion of some point. What is the point? It is found in the preceding verse:
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Our high priest can sympathize with our weakness. He was tempted in all things (just like us) but was without sin. It is in the merit of His sinlessness that our debt has been paid. Therefore (as a consequence) we can boldly (plainly, publicly, openly but without effrontery) come before the throne of grace. We should be mindful of our heart and our attitude lest we insult the Spirit of grace and merit the severer punishment described in Hebrews 10:29.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)