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Bible Lexicons

Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament


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deilia (Strong's #1167) Fear

eulabeia (Strong's #2124)

phobos (Strong's #5401) Terror

Deilia is always used in a bad sense, eulabeia predominantly in a good sense (though sometimes in an evil sense), and phobos is used both ways.

Deilia (cowardice) is only used once in the New Testament ( 2 Timothy 1:7).Deiliao (Strong's #1168) is used in John 14:27, and deilos (Strong's #1169) is used in Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40; and Revelation 21:8. Deilia is associated with anandreia (L-S113, unmanliness; Plato, Phaedrus254c; Leges2659a), leipotaxia (L-S1053, desertion; Lysias, In Alcibiadem, p140), psychrotes (L-S2028, sluggishness; Plutarch, Fabius Maximus17), and eklysis (L-S513, faintness; 2 Maccabees 3:24). Josephus applied it to the spies who brought an illreport of the Promised Land. It is constantly contrasted with andreia, and deilos is contrasted with andreios (manly). Deilia seeks to shelter its timidity under the more honorable title of ulabeia and pleads that it is indeed asphaleia.

Phobos, often used with tromos, is a middle term that is sometimes used in a bad but more often in a good sense in the New Testament. Plato added aischros (Strong's #150) to it when he wanted to indicate an unmanly timidity.

Eulabeia only occurs twice in the New Testament ( Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 12:28), and on each occasion it means piety contemplated as a fearof God. This usage is based on the image of the careful handling (eu lambanesthai) of some precious yet fragile vessel that might easily be broken if treated less delicately and meticulously. Such caution in conducting affairs springs partially from a fear of failure that easily exposes it to the charge of timidity. It is not surprising, then, that fear came to be regarded as an essential element ofeulabeia and sometimes as its only sense. For the most part, it is not dishonorable fear that is intended but the fear that a wise and good man might maintain. Cicero stated: "Turning away from evil, if it should occur with reason, would be called cautionand would be perceived to reside in wisdom alone; however, should it be without reason and with slight and faint fright, it would be termed fear. "Cicero probably had the definition of the Stoics in mind. They denied phobos was a pathos (Strong's #3806), but they affirmed eulabeia was a virtue. By using these distinctions, the Stoics tried to escape the embarrassments of their ethical position, which led them to admit that the wise man might feel "even certain indications of the passions of anger" but not the "passions" themselves. Nevertheless, these distinctions did not conceal the Stoics' virtual abandonment of their position. They were, in fact, really only fighting about words; they were "name-calling," as a Peripatetic adversary charged.

The more distinctly religious aspect of eulabeia will be covered in section48.

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Bibliography Information
Trench, Richard C. Entry for 'Fear'. Synonyms of the New Testament. 1854.

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