Monday, August 19, 2013


The exact phrase, "the fear of the Lord," appears thirty times in the Bible.  Of those, only one is in the New Testament:  Acts 9:31.  As is the case with nearly every verse in the Word of God, this verse needs to be understood in its context.  Luke wrote that following Saul's conversion, he went to Jerusalem, and all the disciples were afraid of him (Acts 9:26).  Luke had to be referring to the Apostles, because according to Acts 8:1, the entire Church, with the exception of the Apostles, had scattered for fear of Saul's persecution.  But after Barnabas spoke up for Saul, the Apostles believed that he had met the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9, 27).  Ironically, the man they had feared, had to be given a protective escort by the brethren, from Jerusalem to his home town of Tarsus (Acts 9:11, 29-30).

Now, let us look at Acts 9:31, and see what Luke was saying about "the fear of the Lord."  It reads,

"Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified;
The great fear the Church had of Saul and his men, had not only been relieved by his conversion, the faith of the members of the Body of Christ was increased.  After all, their greatest enemy had ceased to persecute them, and had even become one of them!  If God could protect them from Saul, He could protect them from anyone!

and walking in the fear of the Lord,
At last, it appeared that the words of their Lord had been confirmed.  Jesus had said, "I am with your alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen" (Mt. 28:20).  And He is quoted by the writer of Hebrews as saying, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).  Interestingly, it is the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus), who wrote the statement, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31)! 

The word "fear" in Acts 9:31 is translated for the Greek φόβος (phobos), from which we get the word "phobia."  A "phobia," according to a medical dictionary, is "an intense but unrealistic fear that can interfere with the ability to socialize, work, or go about everyday life."  As it is used in this verse, the verb "walking" would indicate the disciples were living out their lives unhindered by a paralyzing fear of man or, for that matter, even of God.  What they had was a "healthy respect" for God; that is, a reverence for Him.  Born again believers are aware that we are loved by God, and consequently, we have had our fear of Him "cast out" (1 Jn. 4:18).    

and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." 
Jesus had told His disciples that they would, one day, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16-17).  In fact, He addressed Him as the "Comforter."  There is no fear when God is comforting you, and when others see the Fruit of the Spirit in you (Gal. 5:22-23), they want "What" you have:  Jesus!

Reverence for God and the Fruit of the Spirit, multiplies; they do not divide!

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