Reverent Fear Definition Essay

For other uses, see Fear of God (disambiguation).

Fear of God refers to fear or a specific sense of respect, awe, and submission to a deity. People subscribing to popular monotheistic religions might fear divine judgment, hell or God's omnipotence.


See also: Devekut § Forms of love and fear of God

The first mention of the fear of God in the Hebrew Bible is in Genesis 22:12, where Abraham is commended for putting his trust in God. In Isaiah 11:1-3, the prophet describes the shoot that shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, "The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord." Proverbs 9:10 says that "fear of the Lord" is "the beginning of wisdom".[1]

The Hebrew words יִרְאַ֣ת (yir’aṯ) and יִרְאַ֣ת (p̄aḥaḏ) are most commonly used to describe fear of God/El/Yahweh.

Bahya ibn Paquda characterized two types of fear as a lower "fear of punishment" and a higher "fear of [divine awe] glory." Abraham ibn Daud differentiated between "fear of harm" (analogous to fear of a snake bite or a king's punishment) and "fear of greatness," analogous to respect for an exalted person, who would do us no harm. Maimonides categorized the fear of God as a positive commandment, as the feeling of human insignificance deriving from contemplation of God's "great and wonderful actions and creations." [2][3]


According to Jerry Bridges, "There was a time when committed Christians were known as God-fearing people. This was a badge of honor."[4]

From a theological perspective "fear of the Lord" encompasses more than simple fear. Robert B. Strimple says, "There is the convergence of awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, confidence, thankfulness, love, and, yes, fear."[5] In the Magnificat (Luke 1:50) Mary declaims, "His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him." The Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8) finds Jesus describing the judge as one who "...neither feared God nor cared for man." Some translations of the Bible, such as the New International Version, sometimes replace the word "fear" with "reverence". It can also mean fear of God's judgment.

The Fear of God is felt because one understands the "fearful expectation of judgement". Still, this is not a fear that leads one to despair, rather it must be coupled with trust, and most importantly, love. In Psalms 130:3-4, it is said, "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared."

In the New Testament, this fear is described using the Greek word φόβος (phobos, "fear/horror"), except in 1 Timothy 2:10, where Paul describes γυναιξὶν ἐπαγγελλομέναις θεοσέβειαν (gynaixin epangellomenais theosebeian), "women professing the fear of God", using the word θεοσέβεια (theosebeia).

Fear of the Lord[edit]

Roman Catholicism counts this fear as one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. In Proverbs 15:33, the fear of the Lord is described as the "discipline" or "instruction" of wisdom.[6] Writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Jacques Forget explains that this gift "fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him."[7] In an April 2006 article published in Inside the Vatican magazine, contributing editor John Mallon writes that the "fear" in "fear of the Lord" is often misinterpreted as "servile fear" (the fear of getting in trouble) when it should be understood as "filial fear" (the fear of offending someone whom one loves).[8]

Lutheran theologian Rudolf Otto coined the term numinous to express the type of fear one has for the Lord. Anglican C. S. Lewis references the term in many of his writings, but specifically describes it in his book The Problem of Pain and states that fear of the numinous is not a fear that one feels for a tiger, or even a ghost. Rather, the fear of the numinous, as C. S. Lewis describes it, is one filled with awe, in which you "feel wonder and a certain shrinking" or "a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant of or prostration before it". It is a fear that comes forth out of love for the Lord.


In the Bahá'í Faith, "The heart must be sanctified from every form of selfishness and lust, for the weapons of the unitarians and the saints were and are the fear of God."[9]

Alternate views[edit]

Author Boyd C. Purcell and atheist Sam Harris have each compared doctrines promoting the fear of God to living under the Stockholm syndrome, where hostages feel a misplaced sense of connection and affection for the hostage taker.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^The New Jewish Publication Society of America Version translates the Hebrew as discipline.
  2. ^"Fear of God". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  3. ^Office of the Chief RabbiArchived October 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^Bridges, Jerry. The Joy of Fearing God, p.1, WaterBrook Press, 1997
  5. ^"The Fear of the Lord". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  6. ^The New Revised Standard Version translates the Hebrew as instruction.
  7. ^Forget, Jacques. "Holy Ghost." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 3 September 2016
  8. ^Mallon, John (April 2006). "The Primacy of Jesus, the Primacy of Love". ISSN 1068-8579. 
  9. ^"Fear of God", Bahá'í Library Online
  10. ^Spiritual Terrorism: Spiritual Abuse from the Womb to the Tomb, by Boyd C. Purcell, page 199, 2008, ISBN 1434378888.

External links[edit]

Look up theophobia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Essay on fear is a very interesting topic to write about, because this topic is very actual to each of us.

Fear – is the notion, which is familiar to each of us. It can be grounded, or ungrounded. Ungrounded fear is mostly connected with different phobias of a person. Grounded fear is a protective function of the body, and one of the major instincts of every person.

Phobias are being influenced by psychological factors. Even the person himself can’t explain when and why this fear appeared for the first time. Phobias can be different. There is a huge variety of them. The fear of closed space, of water, of  darkness, etc. However, in most cases, such fears can be easily overcome by a person. It can be done with the help of medicine and with the help of your own strength. Any person can get rid of the phobias he have.

Grounded fear is the fear of the safeness of your life, family or health. It is a normal state of any human being, because it is normal for each of us to be worried about these issues. Mostly, this fear is presented in the life of a person not all the time. It usually appears in a certain circumstances. For example, the person can’t throw himself under the car consciously, as he is afraid to lose his life. The instinct of self-preservation is peculiar to animals also.

What do you usually think about when you hear the word “fear”? Every person have different answer to this question, as the number of fears truly corresponds to the number of people, who live on the Earth. It is normal to have fears, but we also should remember that out fears can influence out health. That is tightly connected with the fact, that any fear causes stress. Our heart beating becomes faster, our blood pressure becomes higher and our nerves are suffering a lot. That is why, we should always try to handle our fears, in order to avoid severe consequences, which may occur to our health.

Fears of some people can be found really funny. For example, people may be afraid of birds or mice, and it is really funny, as these animals can cause no harm to any person. Others may be afraid of getting married, or simply afraid of the responsibilities. These are the fears, that can be simply handled.

It is a well-known fact, that all our fears are in our head. The way we treat them determines the way we can handle them. The best solution is to face your fears. For example, if you are afraid of snakes, simply hold one. You will see that there is nothing dangerous and it will help you to handle your fear, or at least to see, that there is nothing so scary about it. We have enough strength to handle our fears.

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