1John 4:18 ASV;

  1. There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Does "because fear hath punishment" mean "He who fears will be punished"?

I mean, Does the phrase mean:

  • The fear of the day of judgement is in itself a kind of torment or punishment?, For example.


  • He who fears in this earthly life, will be punished in the day of judgement, as fear is a kind of Sin.

Does this allude to: Revelation 21:8 ASV;

  1. But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part {cf 15i shall be} in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.

4 Answers 4


Two scenarios: In the first we have the man who always is extra careful with the accelerator pedal, because he fears accidental speeding, with possible speeding fines. In the second we have the fearless man who always speeds, because he has enough money to pay for speeding fines. Thus, poor people fear more than rich people.

Some fear is good according to Jesus:

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28, NKJ)

Regarding Rev 21:8, most bible translations on Biblehub has the word “cowards”, instead of “fearful”. In either case the implied meaning of the word δειλοῖς, according to Strongs, is “faithless”, which main meaning, according to Oxfords Dictionary, is to be disloyal.


To understand the passage, it is necessary to understand what John means by "love"/"perfect love", yes? My thought is that he is using the word (agape) to refer to covenant loyalty. IE: Not emotional fervor but rather commitment.

"Fear" in this context does not refer to godly fear but rather a lack of confidence in God's loyalty, consistency and faithfulness. This fear regarding God is ultimately experienced as an "excruciating" insecurity. "Has torment" means "is experienced as a horrific uncertainty".

Mature (IE: "perfect"), or "complete" confidence in God's love, John seems to be saying, will provide no harbor for any uncertainty of one's covenant status.

Earlier in the epistle John is engaged in rebuking the notion that one can walk in darkness and still claim fellowship with God:

[1Jo 1:5-6 NLT] (5) This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. (6) So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.

But here he wants to assure those who have been smitten into repentance and are committed to pleasing God, that despite their failures, their sins have been forgiven and they have no reason to fear:

[1Jo 3:18-24 NLT] (18) Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (19) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. (20) Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. (21) Dear friends, if we don't feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. (22) And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. (23) And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. (24) Those who obey God's commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

These distinctions are disturbingly subjective, but this is how John seems to want to be understood. If you dismiss the requirement to walk in the light then, despite your bravado, you will be condemned, but if you embrace the call to holiness, even if you fail miserably, you will be accepted. The "perfect love" is the mature, honest embrace of both the lofty (and in all honesty, out of reach) requirement to be holy to the LORD and the embrace of the consistent, constant and uncompromised assurance of forgiveness of every failure. This push-pull tension of holiness and forgiveness is never without intense difficulty in the experience of the saint, most inclined to see the case against the sinner and finding more difficulty receiving the undeserved but covenantally provided forgiveness of the inevitably errant saint.

[1Jo 1:5-10 NLT] (5) This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. (6) So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. (7) But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (8) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. (9) But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (10) If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.


In BPT09

(...) Quem tem medo receia o castigo e, por isso, quem tem medo não é perfeito no amor.

which translates to

(...) Who is afraid is afraid of punishment and, therefore, who is afraid is not perfect in love.

What I extract from it is that our reverence for God (which we all must have) doesn't come out of fear but love. As we read in 1 Peter 2:17 (NASB)

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Or in Philippians 2:12 (NASB)

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

Both passages allude to respecting God, the previously mentioned reverence. In other words, it's taking out of consideration "nominal Christianity" or any other path away from God.


I do not believe either possibility represents the teaching of 1 John 4:18. The central thrust of the verse is rather simple:

You can have love for God or you fear (are frightened of) God; BUT not both! People who love God have nothing to fear in the judgement. People who fear God do so because they are not forgiven and so fear punishment.

Thus, true love for God drives out any fear we have of God.

This same idea is presented in Rev 6:15-17 where we read about the wicked at Jesus' return:

Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the commanders, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and free man hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”

See also 2 Thess 2:8. Note the wicked actually ask (actually beg!) to be destroyed when they see God. By complete contrast, at the SAME event, the righteous' reaction is the opposite as recorded in Isa 25:9 -

And in that day it will be said, “Surely this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He has saved us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Therefore, when the Lord returns, the wicked ask to be destroyed and the righteous are elated. This perfectly illustrates the difference between fear of God and love of God.

This principled love of God (1 John 4:8, 16) is to be imitated by all Christians (John 13:34, 35) and is motivated by God’s love for us (1 John 4:9, 10, 19-21, 2 Cor 5:14). Thus, love is quintessentially Christian (of Christ) and reached its zenith when God gave Jesus as the solution to the sin problem (2 Cor 5:14, Eph 2:4, 3:19, 5:2, John 3:16). Therefore, Christians should have as their primary focus their love of, and love to God (Matt 22:37, Deut 6:5), and secondarily love to fellow humans (Matt 22:39, Lev 19:18).

The fact that a person loves God and basks in the God's love for him/her means that there is no fear of punishment at all - see John 5:24, 25, 28, 29

Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life. Truly, truly, I tell you, the hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

More succinctly, 1 John 5:11, 12 puts it this way:

And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

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