CSB News & Information

Greek Word devos – phobeō

Phobeō - fearIn our Greek Word Devotional series, we discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. Let’s see how Matthew 10:28 uses phobeō or fear:

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:

Greek pronunciation: fah BEH oh
CSB translation: fear
Uses in Matthew: 18 (Mk, 12; Lk, 23; Jn, 5)
Uses in the NT: 95
Focus passage: Matthew 10:28

Like the English term fear, Greek phobeō covers a broad spectrum of meanings, including worry (Mt 1:20), discomfort at potential circumstances (Mt 2:22; 10:31; 14:5; 21:26,46), and feelings of awe and/or terror, especially in the presence of the supernatural (Mt 9:8; 10:28; 14:27; 17:6-7; 27:54; 28:5,10). Phobeō has two main applications in the NT: fear of God and fear of man or circumstances. In regard to the former, fear can be understood as a healthy understanding of who God is, his power, and what he demands from us (cp. Pr 1:7; 9:10). The unbeliever should tremble in terror before such a God, for he is the one who can “destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28). For the believer, however, such fear is replaced by a relationship in which perfect love can flourish (1Jn 4:18; cp. Rm 8:15), though awe of God’s greatness remains (2Co 5:11; 7:1).

We’re nearing Halloween, which has plenty of people pondering fear. We see skeletons and clowns and witches and more any time we walk down the street or into the store.

It’s also true that we live in a world which essentially functions on fear. Our culture wants us to be afraid – be afraid of your neighbors, be afraid of the news, be afraid of anything – and often we buy into this fear and let it control our lives.

But that’s not how fear should operate in our lives. There’s unhealthy and healthy fear, and many of us don’t know the difference. Unhealthy fear is what makes us afraid of being wrong, afraid of other people, afraid of God. Healthy fear, however, pushes us to revere God and draws us closer to him. When we have a healthy fear of God, we desire to follow him closely. And when we follow him closely, our unhealthy fears begin to fade. We see others as God sees them, not in fear but in love.

May we fear God, and in fearing God learn to better love ourselves and others.