These verses show us that the COMMAND to fear (seen in other verses) is not a mere wish or religious talk. Scripture shows us that people actually did what they were supposed to do. People today who refuse to fear God have no legitimate excuse!
In many instances, this fear is associated with some other character trait, or else results in some type of action. This is not our focus here, so only the fear part of the verses is listed. This word may be translated as fear, afraid, revere, etc., and is shown in italics.
The context of the passages will show the specific nature of the fear that is mentioned.
1. AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT: This verse illustrates two types of fear. (It shows that context will determine the significance of the word.)
Exodus 20:20 - Moses told the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of him will remain with you to keep you from sinning."
2. He/they "feared God." (A basic statement of fact, a general attitude.)
Genesis 22:12 - About Abraham: I know that you fear God.
Genesis 42:18 - Joseph, to his brothers (who did not recognize him): I fear God.
Exodus 1:17 - The midwives feared God (and did not kill the babies).
Exodus 1:21 - The midwives feared God.
2 Kings 4:1 - Unnamed prophet from the past ... he revered the Lord.
Nehemiah 7:2 - Hananiah the commander of the fortress (or perhaps Hanani, also mentioned in the verse) ... a faithful man who feared God more than many.
Job 1:1 - A man named Job... feared God.
Job 1:8 - Job ... a man who fears God.
Job 2:3 - Job... a man who fears God.
Jeremiah 26:19 - Hezekiah feared the Lord and sought his favor.
Haggai 1:12 - The people who had returned from the exile: They all showed reverence for the Lord.
Malachi 2:5 Levi... revered Me, and stood in awe of My name.
Acts 9:31 - The church throughout the area was living in the fear of the Lord.
Acts 10:2 - Cornelius and all his family were devout and God-fearing.
Acts 10:22 - Cornelius is a righteous and God-fearing man.
3. At a specific time or situation. (These may be unique situations or temporary instances.)
Exodus 3:6 - Moses (at the burning bush) hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Exodus 14:31 - When Israel saw the Lord's great power against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord.
Joshua 5:14 - When the commander of the Lord's army came, Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence.
2 Samuel 6:9 - When Uzzah touched the ark and died: David was afraid of God that day.
1 Chronicles 13:12 - When Uzzah touched the ark and died: David was afraid of God that day.
2 Chronicles 17:10 - During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the fear of the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah. (They did not war with Judah.)
2 Chronicles 26:5 (some mss.) - Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. [Some mss - the vision of God.]
Job 9:35 - Job, during his affliction: "If only there were a mediator between God and I, then I could speak without fearing him, but as it now stands, I cannot."
Job 23:15 - Job, during his affliction, and expecting more to come: "This is why I am terrified of him; ... I fear him."
Jonah 1:16 - (The men threw Jonah overboard and the sea grew calm.) Then the men greatly feared the Lord, ... offered a sacrifice ... made vows to him.
Acts 7:32 - Moses (at the burning bush) shook with fear and did not dare to look.
Hebrews 12:21 - Moses (at Mount Sinai) was trembling and afraid.
4. A generalized statement. (Nobody is specifically referred to.)
Job 37:24 - Men revere him (i.e., God, because of his power, justice and greatness).
Psalm 65:8 - Those living in distant places stand in awe of your wonders.
Psalm 76:12 - He is feared by the kings of the earth.
Psalm 89:7 - God is greatly feared in the council of the holy ones (= those who stand in his presence).
Psalm 119:120 - (Anonymous) My flesh trembles in fear of you.
5. Emphasis is on the reason for the fear.
Genesis 3:10 - Adam: "I heard you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Genesis 28:17 - After Jacob's dream of a stairway to heaven: He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place... the house of God, the gate of heaven!"
Deuteronomy 9:19 - Moses, recounting an event in which Israel had sinned against God: "I was afraid of the Lord's anger and hot displeasure against you."
2 Chronicles 20:29 - During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the fear of God was on all the surrounding kingdoms, when they heard that the Lord had fought against Israel's enemies.
Psalm 76:8 - When the Lord pronounced judgment: The earth feared, and was quiet.
Acts 5:11 - Great fear came upon the whole church, as well as on all who heard about the death of Ananias and Sapphira.
Acts 19:17 - When the people heard about what happened to the sons of Sceva (v. 13-17): Fear fell upon them all.
6. Emphasis is on something about those who feared God.
Ezra 10:3 - The people: "Let us make a covenant before our God ... in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God." [= Their counsel was worthy of consideration.]
Malachi 3:16 - Those who feared the Lord - encouraged each other and the Lord took note of it. A book of remembrance was written for those who feared the Lord.
Acts 13:26 - The message of salvation is for both children of Abraham, and God-fearing Gentiles.
2 Corinthians 5:11 - Since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others (about the good news).
7. Anticipation of fear in the future. (Refers to a point in time after the statement was made, and is often a prophetic statement.)
Joshua 4:24 - God stopped the Jordan River so that ... you might always fear the Lord your God.
1 Kings 8:39-40 - Part of a prayer: (When Israel is judged and they turn back and pray) ... then respond according to what is in their hearts, so that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land.
Psalm 5:7 - David (because of the Lord's mercy): "I will bow in reverence toward your holy temple."
Psalm 40:3 - Many will see (my expression of praise) and fear, and will trust in the Lord.
Psalm 52:6 - The righteous will see (the judgment of the wicked) and fear.
Psalm 64:9 - All mankind will fear (when they see God's judgments).
Psalm 67:7 - God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Psalm 102:15 - (When God shows favor to Israel) ... the nations will fear the name of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:3 - The future king (= Jesus) will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 19:16 - The Egyptians, in the day of judgment ... will shudder with fear (as the Lord Almighty raises his hand against them).
Isaiah 25:3 - (Because of God's judgments) ... a strong people will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
Isaiah 59:19 - (When God comes in judgment) ... people from both east and west will fear the name of the Lord.
Micah 7:17 - (When the nations are judged) ...they will come with dread to the Lord our God; they will be afraid because of you (God).
Zechariah 9:5 - (When God comes in judgment...) Ashkelon will see it and be afraid.
8. The "ought" or obligation to fear. (Sometimes a command is implied.)
Deuteronomy 5:29 - Oh that Israel's hearts would be inclined to fear me!
Psalm 76:7 - You alone must be feared.
Psalm 96:4 - The Lord ... is to be feared above all gods.
Jeremiah 10:7 - Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? This is your due!
Amos 3:8 - The lion (God) has roared--who will not fear?
Malachi 1:14 - My name is feared among the nations.
Revelation 15:4 - Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name?
9. The word "fear" as part of a title or description of God.
Isaiah 11:2 - "The Spirit ... of the fear of the Lord" (= the Holy Spirit) will rest on Him (the future king - Jesus).
Genesis 31:42 - "the Fear of his (Jacob's) father Isaac" (= the God of Abraham).
Genesis 31:53 - "the Fear of his (Jacob's) father Isaac" (= the God of Abraham and of Nahor).
10. "God-fearing" as a description of people who "worship" or have "devotion" to God (either the true God or a false god).
Acts 2:5 - God-fearing Jews were staying in Jerusalem.
Acts 13:50 - God-fearing women (and also men of the city) persecuted Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 17:4 - A large number of God-fearing Greeks (and others) joined Paul and Silas.
Acts 17:17 - Paul reasoned with God-fearing Greeks (and others).
Verses used: Genesis 3:10; 22:12; 28:17; 31:42, 53; 42:18; Exodus 1:17, 21; 3:6; 14:31; 20:20; Deut. 5:29; 9:19; Joshua 4:24; 5:14; 2 Samuel 6:9; 1 Kings 8:39-40; 2 Kings 4:1; 1 Chron. 13:12; 2 Chron. 17:10; 20:29; 26:5; Ezra 10:3; Neh. 7:2; Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; 9:35; 23:15; 37:24; Psalm 5:7; 40:3; 52:6; 64:9; 65:8; 67:7; 76:7-8, 12; 89:7; 96:4; 102:15; 119:120; Isaiah 11:2-3; 19:16; 25:3; 59:19; Jeremiah 10:7; 26:19; Amos 3:8; Jonah 1:16; Micah 7:17; Haggai 1:12; Zech. 9:5; Malachi 1:14; 2:5; 3:16; Acts 2:5; 5:11; 7:32; 9:31; 10:2, 22; 13:26, 50; 17:4, 17; 19:17; 2 Cor. 5:11; Hebrews 12:21; Rev. 15:4.