What Does It Mean To Fear The Lord?

Q. My question concerns fearing the Lord. What exactly does that mean ? I have Christian friends that say we should “fear the Lord” or “fear God”. Some go so far as to say, they are afraid of Him, and that we should be afraid of Him. I don’t fear Him, He’s my Father and I’m not afraid of Him. I respect His authority, and I know He’ll correct me when I need it. Should I have a sense of fear ?

A. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated fear in the phrase “fear the Lord” is yare. Besides fear it can also mean revere, honor, or respect. In the New testament the Greek word phobos is translated fear and when used to describe our feelings for the Lord can be compared to the reverence a wife feels for her husband. I think your notion of respect for His authority is a good interpretation.

Interestingly, while this phrase appears numerous times through out the Old Testament, it’s only used twice in the New. This is due to the fact that God has made peace with us through the blood of Jesus, shed for us on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20). In Romans 8:15 Paul wrote, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Abba is the most intimate Greek term for father, roughly equivalent to Daddy in English.

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