In the OT 'the fear of the Lord' is frequently a definition of piety. The purpose of the giving of the Law is the implanting of this fear in the hearts of men (De 4:10); it is the sum of religious duty (De 6:13) and prompts to obedient and loving service (De 10:12). 'Fear cannot be appraised without reference to the worth of the objects feared' (Martinean, Types of Ethical Theory, ii. 184); hence it is on the revelation of the Divine nature as 'holy and to be feared' (Ps 111:9) that this fundamental principle of religion rests: those who know His name have learnt that to fear Him is true wisdom (Ps 111:10) and true blessedness (Ps 112:1). In the NT mention is made of a fear which has high moral quality and religious value. 'The fear of the Lord' was the rule by which the early Christians walked (Ac 9:31), and when an uncircumcised foreigner became a devout worshipper of the God of Israel he was known as 'one that feareth God' (Ac 10:2; cf. 2Co 7:1; Php 2:12; 1Pe 1:17; 2:17; Re 14:7; 15:4; 19:5). Although the usual Gr. word for 'fear' is not used in Heb 5:7, the reference to the 'godly fear' of the perfect Son emphasizes the contrast between reverent awe and slavish terror.
The fear which 'hath punishment' (1Jo 4:18) is the result of sin (Ge 3:10). The sinner, under condemnation of the Law, is in 'bondage unto fear' (Ro 8:15), and inasmuch as 'the sting of death is sin' (1Co 15:56), he is also through fear of death
FEAR, a painful apprehension of danger. It is sometimes used for the object of fear; as, "the fear of Isaac," that is, the God whom Isaac feared, Ge 31:42. God says that he will send his fear before his people, to terrify and destroy the inhabitants of Canaan. Job speaks of the terrors of God, as set in array against him, Job 6:4; the Psalmist, that he had suffered the terrors of the Lord with a troubled mind, Ps 88:15. Fear is used, also, for reverence: "God is greatly to be feared" in the assembly of his saints. This kind of fear, being compatible with confidence and love, is sometimes called filial fear; while "the fear which hath torment," being the result of conscious guilt, and the anticipation of punishment, is removed by that "love" to God which results from a consciousness of our reconciliation to him.
The filial fear of God is a holy affection, or gracious habit, wrought in the soul by God, Jer 32:40, whereby it is inclined and enabled to obey all God's commandments, even the most difficult, Ge 22:12; Ec 12:13; and to hate and avoid evil, Ne 5:15; Pr 8:13; 15:6. Slavish fear is the consequence of guilt; it is a judicial impression from the sad thoughts of the provoked majesty of the heaven; it is an alarm within that disturbs the rest of a sinner. Fear is put for the whole worship of God: "I will teach you the fear of the Lord," Ps 34:11; I will teach you the true way of worshipping and serving God. It is likewise put for the law and word of God: "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever," Ps 19:9. The law is so called, because it is the object, the cause, and the rule of the grace of holy fear.