December 29, 2015

δειλία, Cowardice

December 29, 2015

Deilos means timidity or cowardice. The form deilos according to HELPS “describes a person who loses their moral gumption (fortitude).”

Different feelings are invoked depending on whether “fear” or “cowardice” is used in English translations. The word “fear” gives us a sense of how we respond or react to a situation whereas cowardice implies inaction because of lack of courage or bravery. The spirit of power (dunamis) contradicts the spirit of cowardice as action contradicts inaction. These scriptures suggest then that believers should be people of action and not inaction.

Used by Jesus in Mark 4:40-41 and Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7. Several English translations actually use the word cowardly:

And he said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still not have faith?” – Mk 4:40, NET Bible, ISV, and GODS WORD.

For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of self-control. – 2 Tim 1:7, Berean Literal Bible

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Tim 1:7, NASB

For the Spirit which God has given us is not a spirit of cowardice, but one of power and of love and of sound judgement. 2 Tim 1:7, Weymouth

For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion. 2 Tim 1:7, Darby

It is also used in Revelation 21:8 in the form deilois which means the cowardly.

Aristotle had this to say about deilos:

Now almost everybody holds that the brave man is concerned with fears, and that courage is one of the virtues. And in our schedule previously we distinguished daring and fear as contraries, for they are indeed in a manner opposed to one another. It is clear, therefore, that the persons named after these states of character will also be similarly opposed to each other—that is, the coward (for that is the term that denotes being more afraid than is proper and less daring than is proper) and the daring man (for that denotes the characteristic of being less afraid than is proper and more daring than is proper—and from this the name is derived, as the word ‘daring’ is cognate with the word ‘dare’). So that since courage is the best state of character in relation to feelings of fear and daring, and the proper character is neither that of the daring (for they fall short in one respect and exceed in another) nor that of the cowardly (for they also do the same, only not as regards the same things but inversely…


Biblical Definition

Biblical Definition

1169 deilós (an adjective derived from deidō, “fear-driven”) – properly,dreadful, describing a person who loses their “moral gumption (fortitude)” that is needed to follow the Lord.

1169 /deilós (“fearful of losses”) refers to an excessive fear (dread) of “losing,” causing someone to be fainthearted (cowardly) – hence, to fall short in following Christ as Lord.

[1169 /deilós is always used negatively in the NT and stands in contrast to the positive fear which can be expressed by 5401 /phóbos (“fear,” see Phil 2:12).]

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