And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 KJV


Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Hebrews 5:7 KJV

Did Jesus as a carnal man fear common death or as the incarnate logos fear the Greek Thanatos?

  • 3
    The incarnate (not 'carnal') Son feared only God. This is evident from the four accounts of his days on earth.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 15:18
  • This is more of a question for the English Language Usage site. "Fear" isn't the same as "afraid". It means being aware of and taking into consideration the power or potential effects that something might have. "afraid" is a negative response, "fear" is a positive response. Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 23:54
  • 1
    This is yet another question where the Title question doesn't appear to have any direct connection to the given quotations. Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 23:56

2 Answers 2


One of Merriam-Webster's definitions of "fear" is "profound reverence and awe especially toward God." This is the definition we should think of here. The OP may be right that as a fully human being Jesus would naturally fear death, but the author of Hebrews does not refer to that particular fear here. Rather, he refers to Jesus' pious fear of God, to whose will Jesus' humanity submitted.

The reference is to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus implored God to "let this cup pass" from him. But since God had already determined it was necessary for Jesus to go the way of the cross, He could not respond positively to this prayer. In that sense, the Father did not "hear" Jesus. Rather, He "heard" because Jesus, as a completely pious human being, feared God and ultimately submitted to Him, saying "not my will by thine."

The NSRV version departs from the literal meaning of the text, but renders its internal meaning more clearly when it translates Heb. 5:7 as

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

So yes, Jesus 'feared' death; but in this passage, that is not what the author refers to. Jesus, as a human being, feared God; and that is the reason he was heard.

  • NIV also translates it reverent submission. NASB says "devout behavior", and NASB95 says "piety".
    – RonJohn
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 4:59
  • This is also why it's a Bad Idea to read a 400 year old translation: word meanings change.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 5:00

Don't rely on just one translation, especially on an old obscure translation KJV. First compare Bible versions, then read commentaries and word meaning. The phrase is "because of reverence eulabeia", not "in that he feared".

See how NKJV corrects KJV

who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear

The word actually means reverence of God. Εὐλάβεια, ας, ἡ [εὐλαβής] ‘appropriate demeanor’, reverent submissiveness/compliance Hb 5:7; 12:28. (Danker). Whereas the Matthew verse uses phobia for being afraid.

Eulabeia is only used for reverence or fear of God. It cannot mean to refer death. BDAG3 states,

the primary mng. relates to exercise of caution; in dealing with the transcendent realm one must be esp. cautious about giving offense to deities, hence ‘reverence, piety’, and in our lit. prob. only of reverent awe in the presence of God, awe, fear of God (Diod S 13, 12, 7 ἡ πρὸς τὸ θεῖον εὐ.; Plut., Camill. 139 [21, 2], Numa 75 [22, 7], Aemil. Paul. 256 [3, 2], Mor. 549e, 568c [‘hesitation’]; UPZ [s. above]; Pr 28:14; Philo, Cherub. 29 εὐ. θεοῦ, Rer. Div. Her. 22; 29) μετὰ εὐ. καὶ δέους with awe and reverence Hb 12:28 (s. δέος and cp. Epicharmos 221 Kaibel) μετὰ φόβου καὶ πάσης εὐ. with fear and all reverence Pol 6:3. So prob. also εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐ. Hb 5:7 (ἀπό 5a; s. JJeremias, ZNW 43, ’52/53, 107–11; AStrobel, ZNW 45, ’54, 252–66) heard because of his piety. But others (e.g. Harnack, SBBerlAk 1929, 69–73=Studien I 245–52; HStrathmann4 ’47 ad loc.) prefer to take the word here in the sense fear, anxiety (as Demosth. 23, 15; Plut., Fab. 174 [1, 2]; Herodian 5, 2, 2; Wsd 17:8; Philo, Leg. All. 3, 113, Virt. 24; Jos., Ant. 11, 239; 12, 255) heard (and rescued) from his anxiety. εὐ. has the sense scruple, hesitation in Plut., Mor. 568c.—DELG s.v. λαμβάνω. M-M. TW. Sv.

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