Misquote: “Fear doesn’t come from God” Well, actually, it does. Our emotion of fear, healthy respect, or awe isn’t some demon with a job title of “the Spirit of Fear”. Instead, it’s an important part of our makeup that aids in our protection by warning of possible or impending danger. Read the entire Bible, keeping references to ‘fear’ in context, and you’ll learn that we’re taught to fear – God, for instance, because of His incredible power and just nature. You’ll also find that the ‘fear’ we often take out of context actually refers to cowardice in proclaiming the gospel of salvation through Jesus!
This misunderstanding hinges on taking 2Timothy 1:7-8 out of context. Here’s the abused reference:
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God —2Timothy 1:7-8.
The Greek word used here for ‘timidity’ (also translated as ‘fear’ in some versions) is deilia (Strong’s G1167). Incidentally, this is the only place this word is used! It comes from the Greek word deilos (Strong’s G1169), which is used in only three places and represents the fear of men – cowardice (Matthew 8:26, Mark 4:40, and Revelation 21:8).
Indeed, cowardice isn’t of God. In fact, He gives His Spirit to those who follow, and that Spirit brings boldness and the wisdom necessary to tell others about the gospel that leads to life (i.e. Mark 13:11). So, who are the cowardly? Those without the Spirit who are headed to God’s judgment and wrath. Let’s take a brief look at the other types of fear that can be very good for us who do have the Spirit.
- Fear of God and Christ (i.e. Luke 7:16, Acts 13:16, Romans 13:7, 2Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:12, 1Peter 1:17). This healthy fear is represented by the Greek word phobos (Strong’s G5401); it indicates alarm, fright, or terror.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. —2Corinthians 7:1.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling —Philippians 2:12.
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth —1Peter 1:17.
- This next ‘fear’, phobeō (Strong’s G5399), comes from the one we just covered, and it basically means to ‘be in awe of’ or revere. Examples of its use can be found in Luke 12:4-5, Romans 11:20-21, Acts 5:10-11, and 1Peter 2:17.
“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”—Luke 12:4-5.
Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. —1Peter 2:17.
So, what’s the takeaway here? Don’t be a coward. God has offered you a way out of His judgment and wrath through our Christ’s sacrifice. If you’ve taken that path, then you know the gospel that brings life and have a testimony of some kind. Share it with others by the wisdom and boldness of the Spirit. And, have a healthy respect for the power, authority, impartiality, and just nature of our God and Christ!
With this, we’ll end our current series of Apocalyptic Misquotes. Never fear, though – we’ll continue to train in righteousness through weekly blogs as we equip believers to become followers.