International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
fer (yir'ah, yare'; phobos, phobeo):
"Fear" is the translation of many words in the Old Testament; the chief are: yir'ah, "fear," "terror," "reverence," "awe," most often "the fear of God," "fear of Yahweh" (Gen 20:11; 2 Ch 19:9, etc.); also of "fear" generally (Job 22:4; Isa 7:25; Ezek 30:13, etc.); yare', "to be afraid," "to fear," "to reverence" (Gen 15:1; Lev 19:3,14; Dt 6:2, etc.); pachadh, "fear," "terror," "dread" (Gen 31:42,53; Dt 11:25; 1 Sam 11:7 the King James Version; Job 4:14; Isa 2:10 the King James Version, etc.).
"Fearful" (timid) is the translation of yare' (Dt 20:8; Jdg 7:3); "to be feared," yare' (Ex 15:11; Dt 28:58; compare Ps 130:4); in Isa 35:4, it is the translation of mahar, "hasty," "them that are of a fearful heart," margin "Hebrew hasty"; perhaps, ready to flee (for fear).
"Fearfully" (Ps 139:14): yare', "I am fearfully (and) wonderfully made," so the Revised Version (British and American); "and" is not in the text, so that "fearfully" may be equivalent to "extremely," to an awesome degree; compare Ps 65:5, "by terrible things .... in righteousness"; 66:3, "How terrible are thy works (yare' "fearful "); the Septuagint, Peshitta, Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) have "Thou art fearfully wonderful."
"Fearfulness" occurs In Ps 55:5 (yir'ah); Isa 21:4 (pallatsuth), the Revised Version (British and American) "horror"; Isa 33:14 (re`adhah, "trembling"), "Fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," the Revised Version (British and American) "Trembling hath seized the godless ones."
In the New Testament the chief words are phobos, "fear," "terror," "affright" (Mt 14:26; 28:4,8; Lk 21:26; 1 Jn 4:18, etc.), and phobeo, "to put in fear" (both used of ordinary fear) (Mt 1:20; 10:26; 28:5; 2 Cor 12:20, etc.); of the fear of God, the noun (Rom 3:18; 2 Cor 7:1), the verb (Lk 18:4; 23:40, etc.); deilia, "timidity," "fear," occurs in 2 Tim 1:7, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear," the Revised Version (British and American) "a spirit of fearfulness"; ekphobos, "frightened out (of one's senses)," "greatly terrified" (Heb 12:21; compare Dt 9:19; The Wisdom of Solomon 17:9 the King James Version); apo tes eulabeias is translated (Heb 5:7) "(of Christ) who was heard in that he feared," the Revised Version (British and American) "having been heard for his godly fear"; so all the Greek commentators; eulabeia, properly, "caution," "circumspection," is used in the New Testament for godly fear (Heb 12:28, the Revised Version (British and American) "reverence and awe," margin as the King James Version); compare eulabes (Lk 2:25; Acts 2:5; 8:2); eulabeomai, "to act with caution" (Acts 23:10). Deilos, "fearful," "timid," occurs in Mt 8:26; Mk 4:40; Rev 21:8, "Their part shall be .... the second death"; phoberos, "fearful," "terrible" (Heb 10:27,31); phobetron, "something fearful," "a terrible sign or portent" (Lk 21:11, Revised Version (British and American) "terrors").
Fear is a natural and, in its purpose, beneficent feeling, arising in the presence or anticipation of danger, and moving to its avoidance; it is also awakened in the presence of superiors and of striking manifestations of power, etc., taking the form of awe or reverence. Fear has been said to be the source of religion, but religion can never have originated from fear alone, since men are impelled to draw nigh with expectation to the object of worship.
"Fear" is certainly a prominent element in Old Testament religion; the "fear of God" or of Yahweh, "the fear of the Lord," is indeed synonymous with religion itself (Ps 34:11; Prov 1:7; Isa 11:2,3; Jer 2:19; Eccl 12:13, "the whole duty of man," the Revised Version, margin "the duty of all men"). But although the element of dread, or of "fear" in its lower sense, is not always absent and is sometimes prominent in the earlier stages especially, though not exclusively (Ex 23:27, 'emah; 1 Sam 11:7; 2 Ch 20:29; Ps 119:120; Isa 2:10,19,21), it is more the feeling of reverent regard for their God, tempered with awe and fear of the punishment of disobedience. As such it is a sentiment commanded and to be cherished toward Yahweh (Ex 20:20; Dt 6:13; Josh 4:24; 1 Sam 12:24; Job 6:14; Ps 33:8; 34:9; Prov 23:17; Eccl 5:7, etc.). It is an essential element in the worship and service of Yahweh (2 Ki 17 often; Ps 2:11, etc.); it is a Divine qualification of the Messiah (Isa 11:2,3). This "fear of Yahweh" is manifested in keeping God's commandments, walking in His ways, doing His will, avoiding sin, etc. (Ex 20:20; Dt 6:13,14; 2 Sam 23:3; Ps 34:4,9 parallel Prov 8:13; 16:6). It is the true wisdom (Job 28:28; Ps 25:14; Prov 1:7; 15:33); it gives life (Prov 10:27, etc.), blessedness (Ps 128:1,4), sufficiency (Ps 34:9), Divine friendship (Ps 25:14), protection (Ps 34:7), deliverance (Ps 85:9), forgiveness (Ps 130:4). In Ps 90:11 the King James Version has "According to thy fear so is thy wrath," the Revised Version (British and American) "and thy wrath according to the fear that is due unto thee"; the meaning probably is "thy wrath is in proportion to thy fear."
The "fear of the Lord" is a frequent phrase in Apocrypha, and is highly exalted, e.g. Ecclesiasticus 1:11-30; the idea of it became gradually more and more elevated; in 2:15,16 it is joined with the love of God.
"Fear" is the natural consequence of sin (Gen 3:10; 4:13,14; Prov 28:1); it comes as a punishment (Dt 28:25,28). The fear of man and of evils are dangers to be avoided, from which the fear of God delivers (Nu 14:9; 21:34; Ps 23:4; 31:14, etc.).
"Fear" sometimes stands for the object of fear (Prov 10:24; Isa 66:4); for the object of worship (Gen 31:42,53, "the God of Abraham, and the Fear of isaac," pachadh).
In the New Testament dread, or fear of God in the lower sense, is removed; He is revealed as the loving and forgiving Father, who gives to men the spirit of sonship (Rom 8:15; 2 Tim 1:7; 1 Jn 4:18); we are invited even to come "with boldness unto the throne of grace," with confidence, assurance (parrhesia), which, however, may have its literal meaning of free "utterance" (Heb 4:16; 10:19); but there remains a filial fear and sense of awe and of the greatness of the issues involved (Rom 11:20; Eph 5:21, the Revised Version (British and American) "of Christ"; 1 Tim 5:20; Heb 4:1); all other fears should be dismissed (Mt 8:26; 10:26-28,31; Lk 12:32); in Mt 10:28; Lk 12:5, "fear" is used in the sense of "stand in awe of," so perhaps Lk 23:40; to "fear God" is sometimes used in the New Testament as equivalent to religion (Lk 18:4; Acts 10:2,35; 13:16,26, used of proselytes); in Heb 10:27, it is said that if Christ be willfully rejected, nothing remains but "a fearful looking for (the Revised Version (British and American) "expectation") of judgment," and 10:31, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," in which places "fearful" means "terrible," something well to be feared. the Revised Version (British and American) gives frequently a more literal rendering of the words translated "fear."
W. L. Walker
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'fear'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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