Tuesday, November 12, 2013

W4T (Word for Today) – δἐος – awe

It seems like we hear this word daily. “It was so awesome,” or “I have some awesome news for you.” In both these cases, the word “awe” has the attribute of joy and success attached to it. But if you consider the word in its verb form, “φοβερίζω – to be in awe” we also see the root connected to fear. But awe is not fear as we would think it today.

We are told to be in awe of God. However, the excitement commonly associated with awesome just doesn’t fit. So most settle upon the idea of fear, and MANY Christians lives in fear of God, but God doesn’t desire us to fear Him….or does He?

The Lord said to Isaac, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you.” (Genesis 26.24)

Saint John the Theologian (the one whom Jesus loved – see John 19.26) said, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4.18)

But then Saint Paul says, “Do not be haughty, but fear” (Romans 11.20) and “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13.6)

And in Acts we read, “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9.31)

On the surface it might seem like a conflict. In Greek, the word we read as “fear” has many uses including, but limited to, “be afraid.” In EACH case above, the use is NOT “be afraid” but (based upon the citations listed above, which are not exhaustive by any means) ONLY Genesis and Saint John’s, “There is no fear…” uses the characteristic of “be afraid” and in this case we are NOT supposed to be afraid.

So today, walk in the awesome contemplation of the Lord (Acts 9.31) . Do not be haughty, but cautious (Hebrews 13.6). But whatever you do……do be afraid of God. He doesn’t want that.


Mina Fouad said...

I really love this!
But, in Proverbs (such as in 2:5 "Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord") the 'fear of the Lord' occurs a lot.
Does 'fear' here mean something else?

Fr. Athanasios C Haros said...

Mina, I believe the answer to your question is in verses 1-4 "My son, if you receive the words of my commandment and hide them within yourself, your ear will be obedient to wisdom, and you will incline your heart to understanding; you will entrust it to your son as an admonition. For if he calls upon wisdom, and you utter your voice for understanding; if you seek perception with a strong voice, if you seek her as silver and search her for her as treasure.....THEN you will understand...