This Sunday, I will be preaching on Luke 12:1-12. In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples about fear in light of growing opposition from the Pharisees and the threat of violent crowds pressing in to hear and see him. Jesus tells us, what and who we should and should not fear.
As I studied and considered this topic, verses from across the Bible began to surface and more and more kept coming until I wasn’t sure a 1-hour worship service could contain the content. In light of that, I wanted to share an appendix of verses worth considering together as we approach the topic of fear, and specifically, the main Biblical theme of the fear of God. Below is a collection of verses for us to prime our hearts to the magnitude of this Biblical theme.
Fear is a primary emotion discussed in the Bible. In Genesis 3, when God comes looking for Adam and Eve, Adam says the reason they are hiding is because they are afraid (Genesis 3:10). The first mention of “love” doesn’t come until Genesis 22.
In my study, I found that every Biblical author, excluding a few of the smaller prophets in the Old Testament, contains an implicit or explicit command to, “Fear God”. To prove this, I have chosen one verse from almost every book of the Bible below. When it comes to those who don’t include a specific command, they often make up for the fact in the theme and narrative. The book of Esther, for example, is all about taking courage for what God has appointed for us, “for such a time as this (Esther 4:14)”, and while the Apostle John does not have commands to fear in his gospel or letters, the culmination of the book of Revelation is the global fear of the Lord.
These verses are very diverse. Some are in the context of a narrative, some are directly from God’s mouth, and some through the prophets or apostles; but this theme of “the fear of the Lord” is consistent across genres and generations. I hope you will read these passages and meditate on what it means for you to, “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”
He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now, I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times
You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
1 Samuel 12:24
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
2 Samuel 23:3:
The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God.
1 Kings 8:41-43:
Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.
2 Kings 17:35-36:
The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them,but you shall fear the Lord,
1 Chronicles 16:25:
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods.
2 Chronicles 19:7:
Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes.”
I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
“The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God.”
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun;
They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain.
Thus says the Lord God: “I will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis; there shall no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt; so I will put fear in the land of Egypt.
I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever;
Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days
The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”
Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
The voice of the Lord cries to the city— and it is sound wisdom to fear your name.
O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction.
And the people feared the Lord.
My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name.
Gospels and Acts:
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
New Testament Letters:
the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
1 Corinthians 2:3
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.
2 Corinthians 5:11
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
1 Timothy 5:20
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
1 Peter 2:17
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.