A word aroused my attention when I was reading Revelation 21:8, this word is "δειλοῖς" which has the following translations in Arabic and English versions of the Bible:

  • الخائفون.
  • الجبناء.
  • Fearful.
  • Cowards.
  • Cowardly.

Revelation 21:8 (KJV):

  1. But the fearful,and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

I would be glad if you give me the accurate translation of the Greek word.

I wonder, is "Fear" or even "Cowardice" a Sin necessitates punishment and judgement, even suffering the second death?!

  • 1
    It could refer to denying the faith. Feb 1, 2020 at 20:10
  • 3
    Within the overall context of Revelation, it refers to the fear of professing Christ in the face of persecution.
    – Lucian
    Feb 2, 2020 at 15:30

6 Answers 6


δειλοῖς does not exist independently in the verse, but is clearly tied to ἀπίστοις, or unbelieving, as the grammatical cases of each word indicate. Being fearful or cowardly and being unbelieving here, are a package deal. They go together. They are in this context synonyms of each other connected by the copulative καὶ to show the union between, and the relationship of, fear and unbelief.

As such, there is of necessity a judgment that must be rendered against anyone who can be so categorized. Such a person's fear or cowardliness has generated within him or her a degree of unbelief sufficient to damn him or her as being unworthy to enter the Holy City through the first resurrection and so, suffer the second death.

Unbelief is not mere mental dissent to elements of Christian doctrine or practice, but also contains the germ of all that goes with unbelief, such as disobedience and the unrighteousness disobedience causes. And the main germ of unbelief is cowardice, that is, not having the moral fortitude to make a covenant with God through Christ and stay with it faithfully until the end.

That is why cowards and unbelievers are lumped in with the remaining crowds of sinners enumerated in Revelation 21:8. Their cowardice and unbelief leave them open to engaging in other sin acts against the Lord.


It might be better translated cowardly.

The word appears only three times in the New Testament - here and in two of the Gospels:

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26)

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· τί δειλοί ἐστε, ὀλιγόπιστοι; τότε ἐγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησε τοῖς ἀνέμοις καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:40)

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί δειλοί ἐστε οὕτω; πῶς οὐκ ἔχετε πίστιν;

Both passages pertain to Jesus' calming of the storm from the ship. The word also appears about 10 times in the Greek Septuagint.

The verse in Revelation is not referring to any kind of fear, but rather the fear that dissuades one from engaging in ascetical struggle. Andrew of Caesarea, a Greek commentator who lived in the late 7th and early 8th century, wrote here:

In every way, God, who thirsts for our salvation, exhorts us for the inheritance of his blessings through both goodness and misfortunes, by leading us to see the splendor of the heavenly Jerusalem and the dark and grievous gloom of the Gehenna of fire, so that either by yearning for eternal glory or by fear of endless shame, since there is (still) time, we will work to effect the good, along with renouncing ail the rest, and those cowardly and unmanly in the contest against the devil.*

*Eugenia Constantinou, "Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse in the Ancient Church of the East: Studies and Translation", Ph.D. Thesis, Université Laval, Quebec, 2008.


The word "δειλός" translated as "fearful" in the KJV is Strong's Gr. 1169. The definition is cowardly or fearful. Many of the English translations use "coward" or "cowardly" at Rev. 21:8. But, the ASV, the GNV, the KJV, and the YLT are among those that translate it as "fearful".

It is not just any fear, because we are to fear God to be obedient to His commandments (Gen. 22:12; 42:18; Ex. 1:17; 18:21, etc.) which is reverence and piety, the knowledge of God and the beginning of wisdom. (1)

This fear in Rev. 21:8 is the first on the list of sinful characteristics of those that will be cast into the "lake of fire". It is listed first because it is the first point of failure to do what YHVH commands us to do.

Both of the first two answers have merit, but the better scripture to refer to is 2 Tim. 2:7-8,

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;" (KJV)

and also,

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isa. 33:14, KJV)

Sin, missing the mark, includes not only the actions we do that are against God, but the ones we do not do that keep us from obeying. Just as in the parable of the talents for the unfaithful servant (Matt. 25:14-30), his fear kept him from doing what he was told to do.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16, KJV)

It is fear that is the first step of walking away from the command, because many fear the regard of men, rather than the judgment of God. They put the opinions and regard of men above God. They fear others will think less of them, and so they sit on the sideline, just watching, neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:15-16). This is being ashamed of the testimony, the gospel of Christ.

As only those who are immersed into Christ are saved, then all others who were afraid to believe will be cast out. It is listed first because, if allowed to take control, fear stops the heart from full belief, and full faith, and prevents us from taking the step required. This belief is the action word of support and confirm from Deut. 1:32.

"Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God," (KJV)

It is Strong's Heb. 539, "אָמַן" or "aman". (2) Belief and faith are action words. We demonstrate our belief and faith in God through our obedience, doing what He commands we do. By obeying His commands we have put our full confidence and dependence upon Him, confirming His sovereignty. The spies who were afraid, who reported to Moses in fear of the giants in the land did not do what God commanded. God described their failure as unbelief.

So, the fearful in Rev. 21:8 are those who did not do what God commanded them to do.


1) Strong's Heb 3374, "יִרְאָה" or yirah; fear - at BDB 3 Biblehub

2) Strong's Heb. 539, "אָמַן" or aman; Biblehub

Further reading about immersion / baptism at my blog ShreddingTheVeil.org:

1) The Thief on the Cross here

2) Crossing Over here

  • I voted up (+1) but you relate the fearfulness more to, as it were, lack of confidence in keeping a legal rule than you relate it to a matter of unbelief in God, himself. I think your emphasis is incorrect, but still worthy of a vote.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 2, 2020 at 9:49
  • @Nigel, TY. But, God Himself defined it in Deu. 1:32 as I mentioned. Failing to act as God commands is unbelief. Baptism is not a legal rule. It is a command.
    – Gina
    Feb 2, 2020 at 14:07
  • Gina.. How do we relate this to prophecy fulfilment. Feb 4, 2020 at 17:20
  • @Faith, as the OT prophecies were "until John" & as John came teaching the very same thing Christ spoke - that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, it was at hand in the 1st cent. AD during the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4) when Christ was made manifest in "these last days" (1 Pet. 1:20) of the 1st cent AD. OT prophesy repeated in the NT prophesies for the fulfillment in the last days of the Mosaic covenant, & the last days of that animal sacrificial temple in Jerusalem. Since that temple was destroyed in AD 70 as Christ told His disciples in Matt. 24, all who die outside of Christ ever since...
    – Gina
    Feb 4, 2020 at 18:22
  • @Faith cont'd... face judgment. The 1st of those listed are the fearful who did not obey the command to be immersed into Christ. Rev. 14:13 - from henceforth, meaning life would continue after that judgment of Jerusalem and the old temple in AD 70. At that time, those held in Hades were released (Matt. 25; Rev. 20) & all who have died since are judged on an individual basis as we pass from this life to the next (John 5:24). Prophesy fulfilled. Last days were never about the end of time, nor the end of the physical world. See my blog - ShreddingTheVeil.org.
    – Gina
    Feb 4, 2020 at 18:27


Indeed, being “fearful” in this context is tied to faith…..not showing faith outwardly that is. God gives us each a measure of faith and it is up to us to manifest that faith through good works...such as love, patience, gentleness, joy, etc,

Faith is made manifest by our good works towards the hearing of the Lord’s voice as He opens up the Scriptures to our understanding. His words are the “true and faithful” words and those who hear and believe (true believing= faith is manifest outwardly) are written (“write”) in the book of life. We seal that God is true by the hearing and believing (where faith is active) of the testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 21:5-8 KJV (5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (7) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

But the “fearful”….those who are afraid to show their faith outwardly….are cast out.

(8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Case in point, many leaders believed on Jesus but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him for fear of being put out of the synagogue. Faith without good works is dead…and in this case, there was no outward confession of their faith in Him because of their fear.

They did abide in darkness as they did not manifest the light of their faith with good works for all to see.

John 12:41-46 KJV (41) These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (42) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: (43) For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. (45) And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. (46) I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

They did not confess the Son of man before men and were kept out because of fear. They were denied.

Luke 12:7-9 KJV (7*) But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (8) Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: (9) But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.*

What profit is there if a man says he has faith but does not manifest that faith by his works? Faith alone cannot save him. Good works completes our faith. Faith alone is dead.

James 2:14 KJV (14) What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

This is highlighted in the parable of the talents. We are all given a measure of faith by the Lord and we are to PROFIT with our faith in an outward showing of that faith with good works. Each one was profitable with the amount of faith he was given except for the man given one talent.

The guy with the one talent did nothing except hide his talent in the earth. He hid his faith and was cast into outer darkness as a result where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Faith alone does not save a person.

Matthew 25:24-30 KJV (24) Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: (25) And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (26) His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: (27) Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. (28) Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. (29) For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

What PROFIT is there in having faith without good works? This is why the Lord labeled him an “unprofitable servant”. Faith alone does not save as we must manifest outwardly our God-given measure of faith.

(30) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Some will not manifest their faith in what they hear (the Word of God spoken in truth) because of the fear of “tribulation or persecution” by their fellow churchgoers and will be quickly tripped up by it. They fear and shrink back unto destruction.

Matthew 13:20-21 KJV (20) But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; (21) Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.


It refers to times in history when a "Christian" tries to save his/her life by giving another Christian up to the persecuting totalitarian regime. Jesus warns about this in Mat 16:25:

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (NIV)


Mat 24:9 (NIV) "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death"

Luk 17:34,35 (NIV) I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

It is not OK to sacrifice a friend, or relative, to save oneself from persecution. But it is OK to try to dodge persecution by fleeing:

Mat 10:23 (NIV) "When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another".


John 16:7-11 (KJV)
7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Believing in Jesus means, at the core of one's being, it is understood that: we are "from beneath" and he is "from above; that we are "of this world" and he is "not of this world"; that he is the manifestation of the Word of God -- in Jesus' own words: "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak".
    In other words, when Jesus speaks, it is God, Himself, speaking.

This knowledge concerning Jesus is not acquired by personal effort or intellect, but is exclusively a miraculous revelation of the Father by means of the Spirit -- "the Comforter... will reprove the world..."

In John 12:47-48 (KJV) Jesus said:

47And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Not everyone who is reproved by the Spirit will want to accept it:

John 8:24 (KJV)
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

God is not sugar-coating His message here.


In regard to the question: Is "Fear" or even "Cowardice" a Sin necessitates punishment and judgement, even suffering the second death?

The answer is NO. God will not mete out punishment for the fearful.

The "fearful" are those who are afraid/anxious/uneasy about having Jesus as their king/sovereign and have misgivings about life in a realm governed according to God's principles. They will reject the Father's message concerning Jesus, i.e. they will prefer not to believe it -- life in this world according to the rule of its princes is of greater profit to them than life would in any realm in which Jesus rules.

The fear of such is about letting go of what they have. They will chance the possibility of punishment and the second death, rather than risk letting their individuality or power or wealth or influence go.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said:

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

If people fear to come to Jesus, believing that the prospect of giving up what they have is not easy, and that what might be demanded of them would be a greater burden than they currently bear, then they will CHOOSE the possibility of judgement rather that the possibility of reward. In fact, for them, the rewards of the Father will seem like punishments.

God is all about giving people what they want, and He will do everything He can to persuade them, without extinguishing their freedom to choose, that it is folly to choose what they want in preference to what He wants. For He wants abundant life for all, and what they want is abundant life for themselves.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.