Fear God + Love God


Today’s observation will be different, because it will have no conclusion to it. I have not yet learned to find complete harmony between these two concepts.

The first one is this: many times in scripture, we are told to fear the LORD. In fact, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom! I will only list a couple verses here containing this exhortation, but there are dozens.

Proverbs 14:26-27

In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Psalms 33:8

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Another thing we are commanded to do is to love the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind and might.

Mark 12:29-30

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.


This all seems perfectly good and harmonious until we come to a verse in First John.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

So wait…this verse tells us that fear and love cannot exist together. Love will cast out fear. What does it all mean?

Maybe it’s saying that we as humans do not have a perfect love of God because if so we wouldn’t have to fear God.

I don’t think that is what it is though.


Maybe the key lies in that verse in Proverbs 8:13a, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil…”

I don’t really know for sure. I’m gonna be studying it in more depth, and then maybe I’ll come back and edit this. For now, what are the thoughts of my readers?



9 thoughts on “Fear God + Love God

  1. Okay, I can’t resist sharing my thoughts on this. In my NASB study bible they had a little note on the bottom talking about the word ‘Fear’ in relation to fearing God. They defined fear (in that sense) as to trust and obey God. I can’t remember if there was more to that, but that was something that’s always stuck out to me. I’ll probably go look it up and double check, but that was what came to mind when you talked about this. 🙂

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  2. Classical commentaries on verses that mention “fear of the Lord” say this is an expression meaning reverence for and obedience to God, an attitude that hates the idea of offending and saddening God. The “fear” part of that seems to be an attitude and an avoidance of sin, not trembling or dread of God.

    Martin Luther called it filial fear—the deep respect a child has for a parent, and the love that leads the child away from what will displease and sadden the parent. This attitude looks at God very similarly, and with all our awe, respect , worship and love.

    Filial fear is regularly distinguished from servile (or slavish) fear—the kind of fear that dreads punishment and pain and causes one to shrink away from God. This fear is founded not in love but in self-preservation and dread of pain and consequences.

    Put another way, servile fear says, “If I do this, God will hurt me!” and filial fear—the fear of the Lord—says, “God is awesome, and I love and trust Him, so I’m going to do what pleases Him and stay away from what displeases Him.” Servile fear makes obedience and love difficult. Filial fear is founded in love and makes obedience a delight.

    My understanding of 1 John 4:18—which seems to mirror classical commentators as well as pastors like Charles Spurgeon—is that love and dread of God are polar opposites, like roommates fighting for control of as much of the room as they can get. God didn’t give us freedom in Christ so we could be afraid of Him, but that we might call Him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). As our awareness of God’s love for us grows and deepens, any dread of Him gets weaker and weaker. Dread of God, death, the day of judgment—we are freed from those dreads as love of God fills up and thrives in our hearts.

    GotQuestions.org puts it very concisely: “Believers have no reason to be scared of God.” I don’t think I could put it any better than that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting thoughts! 🙂 I think that there are more than one kinds of fear… fearing God to me means to respect Him, adore Him, and understand His power. While other fear… like fear of snakes, the future, the unknown, heights, etc., is a different sort of fear. Sort of like what John is saying. Actually, your post reminds me of an article I wrote about the fear of God a few weeks ago: https://foundwhoiam.com/2017/10/10/fear-of-god-vs-fear-of-man/… oh! And this other one about reconciling the different ‘sides’ of God: https://foundwhoiam.com/2017/09/08/lord-and-savior/. (Sorry, I’m not trying to be self promoting, I just thought they might be helpful to you 😉 )

    Liked by 2 people

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