Fear, Fearful, Fearfulness - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Fear, Fearful, Fearfulness

[ A-1,Noun,G5401, phobos ]
first had the meaning of flight," that which is caused by being scared; then, "that which may cause flight,"
(a) "fear, dread, terror," always with this significance in the four Gospels; also e.g., in Acts 2:43; Acts 19:17; 1 Corinthians 2:3; 1 Timothy 5:20 (lit., "may have fear"); Hebrews 2:15; 1 John 4:18; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:15; by metonymy, that which causes "fear," Romans 13:3; 1 Peter 3:14, RV, "(their) fear," AV "(their) terror," an adaptation of the Sept. of Isaiah 8:12, "fear not their fear;" hence some take it to mean, as there, "what they fear," but in view of Matthew 10:28, e.g., it seems best to understand it as that which is caused by the intimidation of adversaries;
(b) "reverential fear,"

(1) of God, as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral, not a mere "fear" of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him, a "fear" which banishes the terror that shrinks from His presence, Romans 8:15, and which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God, Acts 9:31; Romans 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:21 (RV, "the fear of Christ"); Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:17 (a comprehensive phrase: the reverential "fear" of God will inspire a constant carefulness in dealing with others in His "fear"); 1 Peter 3:2, 1 Peter 3:15; the association of "fear and trembling," as e.g., in Philippians 2:12, has in the Sept. a much sterner import, e.g., Genesis 9:2; Exodus 15:16; Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 11:25; Psalms 55:5; Isaiah 19:16;

(2) of superiors, e.g., Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:18. See TERROR.

[ A-2,Noun,G1167, deilia ]
"fearfulness" (from deos, "fright"), is rightly rendered "fearfulness" in 2 Timothy 1:7, RV (for AV, "fear"). That spirit is not given us of God. The word denotes "cowardice and timidity" and is never used in a good sense, as No. 1 is. Cp. deilos, B, No. 2, below, and deiliao, to be fearful (AV, "afraid"), John 14:27.

[ A-3,Noun,G2124, eulabeia ]
signifies, firstly, "caution;" then, "reverence, godly fear," Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 12:28, in best mss., "reverence;" in general, "apprehension, but especially holy fear," "that mingled fear and love which, combined, constitute the piety of man toward God; the OT places its emphasis on the fear, the NT ... on the love, though there was love in the fear of God's saints then, as there must be fear in their love now" (Trench, Syn, xlviii). In the Sept., Joshua 22:24; Proverbs 28:14.

Note: In Luke 21:11, phobetron (akin to No. 1) denotes a terror, RV, "terrors," for AV, "fearful sights," i.e., objects or instruments of terror.

[ B-1,Adjective,G5398, phoberos ]
"fearful" (akin to A, No. 1), is used only in the Active sense in the NT, i.e., causing "fear, terrible," Hebrews 10:27, Hebrews 10:31; Hebrews 12:21, RV, "fearful," for AV, "terrible."

[ B-2,Adjective,G1169, deilos ]
"cowardly" (See A, No. 2), "timid," is used in Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40; Revelation 21:8 (here "the fearful" are first in the list of the transgressors).

[ B-3,Adjective,G1630, ekphobos ]
signifies "frightened outright" (ek, "out," intensive, and A, No. 1), Hebrews 12:21 (with eimi, "I am"), "I exceedingly fear" (See No. 4); Mark 9:6, "sore afraid."

[ B-4,Adjective,G1790, entromos ]
"trembling with fear" (en, "in," intensive, and tremo, "to tremble, quake;" Eng., "tremor," etc.), is used with ginomai, "to become," in Acts 7:32, "trembled;" Acts 16:29, RV, "trembling for fear;" with eimi, "to be," in Hebrews 12:21, "quake" (some mss. have ektromos here). See QUAKE, TREMBLE. The distinction between No. 3 and No. 4, as in Hebrews 12:21, would seem to be that ekphobos stresses the intensity of the "fear," entromos the inward effect, "I inwardly tremble (or quake)."

[ C-1,Adverb,G880, aphobos ]
denotes "without fear" (a, negative, and A, No. 1), and is said of serving the Lord, Luke 1:74; of being among the Lord's people as His servant, 1 Corinthians 16:10; of ministering the Word of God, Philippians 1:14; of the evil of false spiritual shepherds, Jude 1:12. In the Sept., Proverbs 1:33.

[ D-1,Verb,G5399, phobeo ]
in earlier Greek, "to put to flight" (See A, No. 1), in the NT is always in the Passive Voice, with the meanings either
(a) "to fear, be afraid," its most frequent use, e.g., Acts 23:10, according to the best mss. (See No. 2); or
(b) "to show reverential fear" [See A, No. 1,

(1) of men, Mark 6:20; Ephesians 5:33, RV, "fear," for AV, "reverence;"

(2) of God, e.g., Acts 10:2, Acts 10:22; Acts 13:16, Acts 13:26; Colossians 3:22 (RV, "the Lord"); 1 Peter 2:17; Revelation 14:7; Revelation 15:4; Revelation 19:5;
(a) and
(b) are combined in Luke 12:4-Luke 12:5, where Christ warns His followers not to be afraid of men, but to "fear" God. See MARVEL, B, No. 1, Note.

[ D-2,Verb,G2125, eulabeomai ]
"to be cautious, to beware" (See A, No. 3), signifies to act with the reverence produced by holy "fear," Hebrews 11:7, "moved with godly fear."


(1) In Acts 23:10 some mss. have this verb with the meaning
(a) under No. 1.

(2) In Luke 3:14, diaseio, "to shake violently, to intimidate, to extort by violence, blackmail," is rendered "put no man in fear" in AV marg. See VIOLENCE.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words