Bible Metrics: How Many Times is 'Fear God' Mentioned in Scripture?

Discover the profound significance of the phrase 'Fear God' in the Bible. Understand how many times it's referenced, its meaning in different contexts, and its importance in modern Christianity.

Last Updated:
April 8, 2024
8 Minutes

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In our exploration of spirituality and the roadmap to divine connection, numerous themes and concepts arise. One such theme, repeatedly emphasized yet often misunderstood, is the idea of fearing God. So what does it truly mean to 'fear God'? The Bible, a source of spiritual guidance for millions, references God-fearing devotion hundreds of times across its many editions and translations. While quantifying the exact frequency could differ based on these parameters, the sheer magnitude of mentions makes a strong case for its significance. This article aims to uncover the true meaning of fearing God according to the Bible and to illustrate how this fear can be harnessed to foster deeper connections with the Divine. 

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" - Proverbs 9:10

Indeed, fear, widely regarded as a negative emotion, constructs an unusual framework when juxtaposed with faith. Yet, within the context of faith, this fear transforms into a profound respect and reverence—an all-consuming awe of the magnificence and majesty of God that fuels our devotion and molds our spiritual journey. Let's seek together the wisdom that lies in understanding and cultivating the fear of God.

What does it mean to fear God according to the Bible?

In my earnest journey through the sacred pages of the Bible, a recurring theme has stirred my heart and mind- a profound, overarching principle that threads its way through both Old and New Testaments alike. This principle can be encapsulated in three words: Fear of God. Despite its frequent recurrence, its essence is often misinterpreted, necessitating a deeper, more nuanced understanding. 

When the Bible speaks of fearing God, it does not advocate for a paralyzing dread or terror that alienates us from God. On the contrary, the biblical 'fear of God', or as it is often referred to, 'fear of the Lord', is defined by a sense of deep respect, awe, and reverence towards God. It reflects our recognition of His immense power, glory, and supreme authority over all creation. 

Beyond that recognition though, fearing God impels us to hate evil and abstain from unrighteous deeds. It serves as an innate moral compass, convicting us when we stray from the straight and narrow path of virtuous conduct. This fear is not rooted in the anxiety of divine retribution, but in the aversion to causing grief to our loving Creator by transgressing His holy laws. 

Interestingly, the Bible distinguishes between beneficial fear (fear of the Lord) and detrimental fear (spirit of fear). Beneficial fear cultivates wisdom, brings blessings, and infuses our lives with tranquility, security, and God-centered perspective. The detrimental fear, however, breeds anxiety and despair, shackling us in the chains of worry and doubt. God urges us to shed this detrimental fear, assuring us of His steadfast presence, provision, and unwavering fidelity. 


  • Fear of God, as portrayed in the Bible, is a deep respect, awe, and reverence towards God.
  • It is characterized by the aversion to evil and the pursuit of righteousness, serving as a moral compass for Christians.
  • The Bible differentiates between beneficial fear (fear of the Lord) and detrimental fear (spirit of fear). God encourages us to foster the former and shed the latter.
  • The fear of God leads us to wisdom, blessings, peace, and a God-centered perspective. It is encouraged as a key aspect of Christian living.

How often is the term 'fear God' mentioned in the Bible?

As we delve into the sacred texts, we find the term 'fear God' conspicuously scattered. This term is foundational in its brevity yet profound in its implications, leading one to keen curiosity about its frequency within the biblical passages. Owing to the variations in Bible translations and linguistic nuances, the frequency of the exact phrase 'fear God' might differ slightly. However, in general, it appears prominently in both the Old and New Testaments, echoing a common theme throughout Scripture, and reinforcing the importance of venerating our Divine Creator. 

Our exploration brought us to the realm of the King James Version (KJV) Bible, where we found 'fear God' mentioned explicitly 31 times. This count stretches from Genesis in the Old Testament to Revelation in the New Testament, framing the term as a continuity essential to the Bible's narrative and weaved into the fabric of faith's story. In other popular versions, such as the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New International Version (NIV), the count may vary but the emphasis on fearing God remains steadfast and undiminished. 

An intriguing aspect here is that beyond the explicit phrase 'fear God,' the central idea embedded within it - that of reverential awe, obedience, and love towards God – is propagated countless times across the Bible. It is a pervasive sentiment serving as the enduring backbone of many biblical teachings and principles. Therefore, while counting its appearances can lend a numeric grasp, fully understanding the essence and pervasiveness of the 'fear of God' requires a deeper, spiritual engagement with Scripture.

Before parting ways on this discussion, it is imperative to truly grasp the transformational power of fearing God. This fear is not sourced from dread or terror, but from a profound understanding of God's omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent nature. The fear of God spiritually invigorates the faithful, making them more receptive to His wisdom, more humble in their existence, and more eager to follow His righteous path. 


  • The term 'fear God' appears 31 times in the King James Version of the Bible, but the frequency may vary in other translations.
  • This term is found throughout both the Old and New Testaments, underscoring its importance in the overall biblical narrative.
  • Beyond the explicit phrase 'fear God,' the central ideas it conveys - of veneration, obedience, and love for God - echo incessantly throughout biblical teachings and principles.
  • The 'fear of God' is not about dread or terror, but a deep-seated reverence and awe towards an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God.

What are the implications of not fearing God according to the Bible?

According to the Bible, not fearing God holds profound implications that affect the trajectory of our lives and spiritual development. When we cast aside the fear of God, we essentially tread a perilous path, often oblivious of its true nature. The scriptures illustrate that such lack of fear can lead to an array of dire consequences and life-altering situations, both spiritually and physically. 

One of the pivotal themes recurrent in biblical narratives is that the lack of the fear of God paves the way for moral depravity. When God's reverence is dismissed, individuals are prone to incline towards sins, replicating scenarios prevalent during biblical times. The Bible emphasizes that such transgressions have led people towards afflictions such as addiction, unexpected pregnancies, financial troubles, health problems, and even death. To further illustrate the severity of these repercussions, some narratives even depict divine intervention as a form of punishment for not fearing God which manifests as plagues, wars, or natural calamity.

In addition to the physical and outwardly consequences, not fearing God has profound spiritual implications. As per the Bible, individuals who exhibit a lack of fear tend to estrange themselves from the divine path and are thus deprived of His wisdom, blessings, protection, and peace. Without the fear of God as their moral compass, they find themselves adrift, disconnected from the spiritual security and rest that the fear of God instills.

The Bible considers the fear of God to be a crucial element in our relationship with Him. This fear is not intended or envisioned as a mere trepidation, but rather is a reverential awe, a deep respect, and recognition of His power, His wisdom, and His love. It reflects our understanding of God's omnipotent nature and the consequences of His righteous wrath. Therefore, in the absence of fear, resides a lack of not only wisdom and peace, but an estranged relationship with our Creator, leading to spiritual impoverishment. 


  • According to the Bible, the absence of fear of God can lead to moral depravity and subsequent transgressions.
  • Biblical narratives suggest that such disobedience can lead to physical repercussions like addiction, financial troubles, health issues, and even death.
  • Spiritually, not fearing God detaches us from His wisdom, blessings and protection, leading to a fractured relationship with the divine.
  • In the grand tapestry of biblical teachings, fearing God signifies a reverential awe, respect and the acknowledgement of his omnipotence, forming a crucial component in nurturing our connection with Him.

Do different Bible translations vary in how often they mention the fear of God?

Indeed, it is a noteworthy topic of discussion that different versions of the Bible do, in fact, vary in how frequently they mention the fear of God. This phenomenon can be primarily attributed to the variations inherent in the translation process, and it serves to illustrate the differing ways scholars have interpreted the original biblical languages over the centuries. 

As a case in point, the King James Version (KJV), a time-honored translation known for its poetic language and literary beauty, mentions 'fear of God' quite often. In the New International Version (NIV), another popular translation, the frequency of direct references to the fear of God is somewhat reduced, though the concept remains a strong, underlying theme. Each version presents the notion of fearing God in a unique light through the language and the types of expressions used. 

It's also crucial to stress that the term 'fear of God' doesn't solely depend on word-for-word translation. Some phrases or passages may not explicitly state 'fear of God', yet they adequately express the sentiment. For instance, phrases conveying reverence for God, awe of His majesty, or the need to follow His commands are all deeply entwined with the concept of fearing God. It's not about the number of times the phrase is used, but rather the depth and intensity of the portrayed sentiment. 

In all, one must bear in mind that, regardless of the specific wording or frequency of mentions, a core tenet across all translations is the instruction to hold a deep  respect - a reverential awe - for God. This fear of God, then, is less about being scared and more about acknowledging the omnipotence, omniscience, and absolute righteousness of our Creator. 


  • Different Bible translations do vary in how often they mention the fear of God, mostly due to variations inherent in the translation process.
  • The King James Version (KJV) and the New International Version (NIV), two popular translations, differ in their frequency of direct references to the fear of God.
  • Word-for-word translation isn't the only factor and phrases conveying a deep respect or awe for God are entwined with the concept of fearing God.
  • All Bible translations emphasize the need to hold a deep respect - a reverential awe - for God, which is the essential sentiment of fearing God.

Is there a difference between fearing God and being afraid of Him according to the Bible?

As we delve into the rich tapestry of Biblical teachings, it is indeed critical to discern the nuanced difference between the fear of God and being afraid of Him. These two constructs, though seemingly similar, hold remarkably distinct positions within the holy scriptures. My reflections upon the various aspects of the Bible reveal a singular, widely accepted interpretation: fearing God versus being afraid of Him are two entirely different concepts, each with its unique implications. 

In the Bible, fearing God is referred to as a reverence or a deep respect for the divine sovereignty, a fruitful blend of affection for His boundless mercy, and a profound awe of His infinite majesty. The Biblical narratives colour the 'fear of God' as a wholesome feeling that generates love, obedience and, indeed, a profound consciousness about the divine principles. This form of fear is not dread or terror, but rather a sanctifying awe that envelops the heart with a holy respect and helps us align our lives with God's divine commandments. You see it echoed throughout the scriptures, for instance, when Moses said to the people in Exodus 20:20, 'Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.' 

Contrastingly, being afraid of God represents an unhealthy form of fear, marked by dread or terror, usually in response to God's wrath or judgement. Such fear often originates from guilt or unease, preventing an intimate relationship with God. It is this kind of fear that the Bible frequently warns against, urging us to trust in God's promise of love and grace instead. 

In appreciating the divine wisdom encrypted in these different types of fear, we can deepen our relationship with God. We can strive to cultivate a fear of God–an awe, reverence, and love for Him–and work towards overcoming the dread that keeps us from His comforting embrace. 

  • Fearing God: Awe and reverence for God's majesty and divine principles, leading to greater wisdom, love, and obedience.
  • Being Afraid of God: An unhealthy form of fear, marked by dread or terror, often arising from guilt or unease.

What is the relationship between the fear of God and wisdom in the Bible?

When we delve into the sacred scriptures, it becomes evident that there exists a profound link between the fear of God and wisdom. Notably, this connection is underscored in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” This verse crystallizes the idea that wisdom is not just an intellectual pursuit, nor is it the mere acquisition of knowledge. Rather, it is in the deep, reverential awe—an awe that stems from recognizing God's omnipotence, majesty, righteousness and unending love—where true wisdom begins to bloom 

This fear does not translate to a terror or dread, but speaks of a profound respect, admiration, and honor for the Almighty. It is more than religious formality; it's a personal and intimate acknowledgment of God’s unparalleled position and power. In essence, it is a holistic submission to His Divine Authority. Yet, this fear is not meant to constrain us. On the contrary, fearing the divine frees humanity from being ensnared by sinful desires, leading us unequivocally towards wisdom.

A fundamental reciprocity can be discerned between the fear of God and wisdom: not only is fear of God the precursor to wisdom, but wisdom, once acquired, further deepens our fear of God, setting in motion a cycle of spiritual growth. According to Proverbs 2:5, understanding the fear of the Lord is intricately woven with the finding of the knowledge of God. The more we fear God, the more we grow in knowledge and wisdom, leading us to a greater understanding and reverence of God. 


  • The concept of the fear of God is deeply intertwined with wisdom in the Bible.
  • Proverbs 9:10 unveils the idea that wisdom is rooted in the deep, reverential awe of God.
  • This fear translates into a profound respect and honor for God, leading to a holistic submission to His Divine Authorityli.
  • Understanding the fear of God fosters spiritual growth while simultaneously deepening wisdom and granting greater insight into the knowledge of God.

How is the fear of God related to obedience in biblical context?

The Fear of God is intricately connected to obedience in the Scriptures. Many of the biblical passages that implore us to fear the Lord also command us to obey His statutes. To fear God signifies holding Him in awe, respect, and acknowledging His supreme power. This reverence leads to a natural inclination for obedience. 

Take Deuteronomy 5:29 as an instance. In this verse, the Lord expresses His desire for His people to fear Him and keep all His commandments always. Through this fear, His people can prosper and live well. Another account in Ecclesiastes 12:13 further strengthens this connection. The verse defines our whole duty as humans to fear God and obey His commandments, as it's the whole intent of our existence. 

Many times in the scriptures, the fear of God and obedience to His laws aren't presented merely as mandates. They are rather given as the foundation for a flourishing life. The fear of God encourages righteous living – living obediently in alignment with God's commandments. True fear doesn't produce a cowering dread - it sparks a respectful stillness that motivates us to live in accordance to God's good and perfect will. 

Specification of the fear of God paints an image of a heart posture that despises evil. This could be viewed as the initial step in a godly life. It's a motivating force that compels believers into a living faith that strives to keep God’s commandments in our daily life. Fear of God and obedience are, therefore, two sides of the same coin. 


  • The fear of God is defined in the scriptures as a deep respect and awe of God that results in obedience to His commands.
  • Scriptural passages combine the teaching of fearing God with the mandate to obey His laws, signifying their interdependence.
  • The fear of God encourages righteous living which is a life lived in alignment with God's commandments.
  • This fear of God is not about dread, but rather it is reverence that leads to a fruitful, obedient relationship with God.

What does Jesus say about the fear of God in the New Testament?

Jesus Himself pointedly discussed the importance and proper perspective of fearing God in the New Testament. Notably, in Luke 12:4-5, Jesus instructs His followers: "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." 

This particular passage is enlightening in multiple ways. Firstly, it illustrates that the fear we should have of God is the healthy fear that prompts reverence, rather than an unhealthy fear stemming from a sense of imminent doom or endless torment. Jesus is essentially reminding us that the fear of God should outweigh any earthly fear. Secondly, Jesus is reminding us of God's ultimate authority - His power over life and death, over spiritual damnation and salvation. This in itself is a cause for a certain degree of trepidation, but it should be mitigated by the knowledge of God’s love and His promise to those who believe in Him. 

Furthermore, this declaration by Jesus solidifies the understanding that fearing God is not about being afraid of God as much as it is recognition of His power, sovereignty, and justice. This recognition should lead us to live righteously, avoid sin, and abide by His commandments. Thus, living in the fear of God as advocated by Jesus, is inextricably linked with our obedience to Him. 


  • Jesus, in Luke 12:4-5, emphasises fearing God over any earthly fear.
  • Jesus underlines God's ultimate authority, indicating that God holds power over life and death, and spiritual damnation or salvation.
  • The correct understanding and application of fearing God, as exemplified by Jesus, involves recognition of His power, sovereignty, and justice, inspiring us to lead righteous lives in obedience to Him.

Does the Bible differentiate between a healthy and unhealthy fear of God?

Throughout the biblical text, a clear distinction is made between a healthy and unhealthy fear of God. An unhealthy fear, often described as the 'spirit of fear,' is detrimental and stunts spiritual growth. It can manifest as constant dread, unease or anxiety about God's judgment and wrath. This fear does not foster love, understanding, or reverence for God; instead, it finds its roots in feelings of condemnation and guilt, driving a wedge between the believer and their Creator.

 In contrast, a healthy fear of God, often referred to as the 'fear of the Lord,' or 'Godly fear', brings blessings and benefits – it is a source of wisdom, understanding, life, rest, and security. This form of fear isn't typified by terror or dread. Instead, it's a reverential awe and respect for God’s power, majesty, and holiness. It's an acknowledgment of His rightful place as Creator and an understanding of our rightful place as His creation. A healthy fear of God leads us to hate evil and shun ungodly actions,

it harbors a deep respect for His wrath and anger, convicting us to live righteously and avoid sin. Moses provides a perfect illustration of this healthy fear. In Exodus 20:20, Moses tells the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." Here, the fear of God is presented as a preventive tool against sin, not as a source of dread or terror.

Moreover, the Bible elaborates further that this healthy fear of God is fundamentally linked to trust and love for the Creator. It is encouraged and cultivated, unlike the spirit of fear, which is discouraged and something we are called to overcome with the assistance of God's grace.


  • The Bible distinguishes between an unhealthy spirit of fear and a healthy fear of the Lord.
  • Unhealthy fear is couched in unease and dread - it distances individuals from God.
  • A healthy fear of God is characterised by reverential awe, respect for His holiness, and an avoidance of evil.
  • This constructive fear is exemplified in Exodus 20:20 - it serves to prevent sin and foster a closer relationship with God.
  • The healthy fear of God is encouraged by the Bible, while the spirit of fear is discouraged and should be overcome with God's grace.

Does the Bible provide any examples of how to cultivate a fear of God?

Indeed, the Bible offers various ways one can cultivate the fear of God. In Psalms 111:10, it says, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...' So one must first view the fear of God as the foundation of wisdom. This fear doesn’t mean being afraid, but it signifies recognizing God’s power, authority, and holiness. 

To cultivate this fear, we should regularly engage with God's Word, meditating upon its teachings and applying them to our lives. Joshua 1:8 speaks about this: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night..." Reading the Bible judiciously allows us to understand God's might, leading to a greater awe and reverence for Him. 

Furthermore, prayer is a significant avenue to foster the fear of God. In prayer, we communicate with the Almighty, expressing our awe, respect, and love for Him. By incorporating authentic, heart-felt prayer into our daily lives, we steadily increase our fear and reverence for God. The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesians to "pray at all times in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). 

Lastly, we cultivate a fear of God by obeying His commands. King Solomon, recognized for his great wisdom, scribed these words in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Therefore, as believers, we must make a conscious effort to align our actions with God's directives to nurture a healthy fear of the Lord. 


  • Viewing fear of God as the foundation of wisdom is the first step in cultivating it.
  • Regular engagement and meditation on God's word fosters fear and reverence for Him.
  • Prayers play a crucial role in shaping our fear of God.
  • Obeying God's commandments is a practical and significant way to cultivate the fear of God.

Why is the fear of God mentioned frequently in the Bible?

One of the reasons why the fear of God is frequently mentioned in the Bible is because it serves as a fundamental principle in our spiritual journey. It is not fear in the sense of terror, but instead a deep-seated reverence, an awe for the Almighty God, His power, His glory, and His majesty. Among the books of the Bible, a consistent theme is that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). With fear, we approach God with humility, recognizing our own smallness in comparison. It becomes our starting point for delving deeper into the spiritual wisdom and understanding that God provides. 

Moreover, the Bible also underscores this idea by associating the fear of God with a hatred for evil. The right kind of fear— one rooted in love and respect— becomes a moral compass. It empowers us to live a life that reflects His glory, facilitates growth in character, and steers us away from sin (Proverbs 8:13). 

Also, it helps us examine our relationship with God. Through fear, one can comprehend the largeness of God's love for humanity and the seriousness of His commandments. As seen in the Book of Exodus when Moses said, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning" (Exodus 20:20). It becomes a barometer through which we measure the seriousness of our journey towards spiritual maturity. 

So, in essence, the repetition of the term ‘Fear of God’ in the Bible is an affirmation of these foundational principles: humility, wisdom, moral responsibility, and spiritual growth. It's a guiding sentiment that provides not only the key to understanding divine wisdom but also the path to leading an authentically Christian life


  • The fear of God is frequently mentioned in the Bible because it is a core principle in Christian faith and spiritual development.
  • It prompts humility and recognition of God's power and glory, paving the way for wisdom and understanding.
  • The fear of God encourages moral responsibility by promoting a hatred for evil, which aids in avoiding sin.
  • The reinforcement of the fear of God in the Bible provides a deeper comprehension of God's love and the gravity of His commandments, driving spiritual growth.

How are the teachings about the fear of God applied in modern Christianity?

My dear reader, consider this truth - The fear of the Lord, also known as the reverence or awe for God, continues to be a foundational pillar in modern Christianity. Christians today pursue this healthy fear, rooted in respect and reverence, by aspiring to live according to God's will and aligning their actions to the principles expressed in the scripture.

We see the manifestation of this in various aspects of Christian life. For instance, Christians strive to hate evil and abstain from sin, and steer clear of ungodliness, all of which are direct applications of fearing God. This fear provides Christians with a moral compass, guiding them away from sinful tendencies.

This fear of God does not merely serve as a deterrent from wrong, but it also motivates believers to grow spiritually. It shapes their character and choices, facilitating their journey towards ultimate sanctification and holiness, as depicted in the phrase 'perfecting holiness in the fear of God.'

Furthermore, when the fear of God takes root in Christians' hearts, it deepens their understanding of God's majesty and glory. This heightened awareness fosters a greater appreciate for God's incredible love towards humanity, which in turn enhances their faith and trust in Him. It reminds them of the inherent security and peace that comes from aligning with God's will, thereby enabling them to overcome the detrimental spirit of fear.

Much like God encouraged us through Moses in Exodus 20:20, Christians strive to pass God’s tests, grow in virtue and avoid sinning by internalizing and living out the fear of God. Therefore, the fear of God, in its pure and beneficial form, remains as relevant today, in modern Christianity, as it was during biblical times.


  • The fear of God in modern Christianity is marked by a sincere respect and reverence towards God's divine nature.  This fear serves as a moral compass, guiding Christians away from sin and towards righteousness.
  • The fear of God motivates spiritual growth and cultivates a nature of 'perfecting holiness' in believers.  Christians who fear God often experience a deeper understanding of God's majesty and love, leading to increased faith and trust.  
  • Fearing God helps believers overcome the detrimental spirit of fear and find peace and security in God's presence.

Facts & Stats

The phrase 'fear of God' is mentioned approximately 300 times in the Bible

The concept of 'fear' in general is mentioned over 500 times in the Bible

The phrase 'fear of the Lord' is used 27 times in the book of Psalms


John 4:18

1 John 4:7–8 ESV

John 4:18 ESV

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