The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Defining 'fear'

Afraid, reverent awe or bigger yet?

Our high school Sunday school class discussed Webster's Dictionary definitions of "fear": "to be afraid of: expect with alarm" and "to have a reverential awe of God." How do you interpret the word "fear" as used in the Bible?

Like you, I've struggled to find a way to express the truth of the phrase "fear of God" without using the word "fear." But I can't. The phrase "reverential awe" isn't strong enough if we take seriously Luke 12:4-5: "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who after he has killed has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!"

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February issue


Embracing diversity