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Chapter 12:28. With reverence and godly fear The first word, αἰδως, means “modesty,” as rendered in 1 Timothy 2:9, and it is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. It has in the classics the meaning of respect and reverence. The second word, εὐλαθεία, properly means caution, circumspection, awfulness, and hence dread and fear. It is found only here, and chapter 5:7. It occurs as a passive participle twice, in Acts 23:10, and in chapter 11:7, and means to be influenced or moved with fear. Neither “godly” nor “religious” ought to be added to it.

It may seem difficult to reconcile this “fear” or dread with that love, and confidence, and delight with which God is to be served according to the evident testimony of Scripture, especially of the New Testament. But were we to take the first word as meaning “modesty,” (or humility,) as rendered by Beza, we might regard the words as describing what we ought to feel in considering what we are in ourselves, and what the danger is to which we are exposed. The meaning then would be, that we are to serve God under a deep consciousness of our own weakness, and under a fear or dread of the danger of apostasy, though that dread may arise in part from an apprehension of what God will be to apostates, according to what is said in the following verse. Without these two feelings it is indeed impossible for us in our present state to serve God acceptably; for without humility arising from a sense of unworthiness and weakness, we shall not be capable of appreciating his mercy; and without the dread of sin, and especially of apostasy, we shall never depend as we ought on God’s power to preserve us.

These feelings do not in the least degree interfere with the exercise of love, gratitude, or confidence, but on the contrary strengthen them. The weak shall be supported, but he must feel his weakness; and those who dread sin (not God) shall be kept and preserved; but they must feel this dread. And the more our weakness is felt, the stronger we shall be, as Paul says, “When I am weak, then am I strong;” and the more we fear and dread sin, the safer we shall be. But, like Peter, we shall stumble and fall if we become self­confident and exempt from the dread of sin.

No other meaning but that of fear or dread belongs to εὐλαθεία, wherever found, either as a noun or a participle. It is the fear of evil and not the fear of God. See the Sept., in Joshua 22:24; and 1 Macc. 3:30; 12:42. There is no place found where it denotes the fear of God.

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