Understanding What 'Coward' Means in the Bible: An In-Depth Look
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Understanding What ‘Coward’ Means in the Bible: An In-Depth Look

The Bible speaks of cowardice as a negative trait. It is often associated with fear, doubt, and lack of faith. But what exactly does the term “coward” mean in the context of the Bible? In this section, we will explore the definition and significance of cowardice in the Scriptures. Through our analysis, we can gain a deeper understanding of this concept and its relevance to our lives as believers.

Key Takeaways

  • Cowardice as portrayed in the Bible is often linked to faithlessness and fear.
  • Understanding what it means to be a coward can help us avoid giving into our fears and doubts.
  • The Bible offers guidance on how to overcome cowardice and embrace courage.
  • Cowardice is a negative trait that can have dire consequences when left unchecked.
What does coward mean in the bible

Cowardice in Scriptures: A Closer Examination

The Bible addresses the concept of cowardice in various passages, whether it directly uses the term or not. By examining these passages, we can gain insight into how the Bible views cowardly behavior and how it relates to a person’s character and relationship with God.

Bible Verses About Cowardice

One example of a Bible verse that mentions cowardice is found in Revelation 21:8, which states, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” This verse emphasizes how cowardice, along with other sinful behaviors, condemns an individual to eternal punishment.

Another passage, found in Deuteronomy 20:8, addresses the fear of battle. It states, “Then the officers shall add, ‘Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’” This passage acknowledges the existence of fear, but also emphasizes the importance of bravery and not allowing fear to spread to others.

The Consequences of Cowardice in the Bible

The Bible also highlights the consequences of cowardly behavior. In 1 Samuel 15, God commanded King Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions. However, Saul only partially obeyed, sparing the Amalekite king and some of the spoils. When Samuel confronted him, Saul lied and shifted blame. As a result of his cowardice and disobedience, God rejected Saul as king and later, he died in battle.

Another example of cowardice is found in Matthew 26:69-75. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, denied knowing Jesus out of fear of persecution. After realizing his mistake, Peter wept bitterly. This passage illustrates the damaging effects of cowardice, such as betraying loved ones and feeling deep regret and shame.

Final Thoughts

By examining the passages that touch upon cowardice in the Bible, we can better understand its significance and implications. Cowardice is not just an absence of courage, but is also linked to issues such as disobedience, betrayal, and lack of faith. To avoid the severe consequences of cowardice, we must learn to trust in God’s strength and guidance, and strive to develop the courage and obedience that are pleasing to Him.

Examples of Cowardliness in the Bible: Lessons from the Past

The Bible is full of stories that portray a range of human behavior, including instances of cowardice.

One example of this can be found in the book of Exodus. After the Israelites had been freed from slavery in Egypt, they were led by Moses into the wilderness. However, when they reached the Promised Land, they sent spies to scout out the territory. When the spies returned with news of strong opposition, the Israelites were filled with fear and refused to enter the land. In Numbers 14:1-4, they complained and lamented, saying, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!”

This reaction demonstrates several characteristics of cowardice in a biblical context. First, the Israelites were consumed with fear and lacked trust in God’s ability to protect them. Second, they were willing to give up their promised blessings for the sake of their own safety. Finally, they were unwilling to take action and face their challenges, instead choosing to retreat.

Another example can be found in the life of King Saul. When he was faced with the Philistine army, Saul was so afraid that he disobeyed God’s commands and offered a sacrifice without the presence of the prophet Samuel. Later, when he was to face the giant Goliath, he was so intimidated that it was David who stepped up to defeat him.

These examples show that cowardice in a biblical context is characterized by fear, lack of trust in God, and an unwillingness to take action and face challenges.

However, there are also numerous examples of individuals who overcame their fears and demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. For example, David was able to defeat Goliath despite being much smaller and less experienced in battle.

By examining these examples of cowardice and courage in the Bible, we can gain insight into the characteristics of a coward in a biblical context. We can also learn valuable lessons about how faith and trust in God can empower us to face our fears and overcome our weaknesses.

Overcoming Cowardice: Biblical Teachings on Courage

As a believer, it’s important to understand the biblical perspective on being a coward and how to overcome this trait. The Bible provides several teachings on courage that can inspire and motivate individuals to face their fears and rise above them.

One key principle for overcoming cowardice is faith in God. When we trust in God and rely on His strength, we can find the courage to face even the most daunting challenges. The Bible encourages us to “be strong and courageous” and to not be afraid or discouraged because “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Another important teaching on overcoming cowardice is to put our trust in God’s promises. Rather than dwelling on our fears and doubts, we can focus on God’s faithfulness and the promises He has made to us. As the psalmist writes, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4).

Finally, the Bible reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles. Just as God was with Joshua and the Israelites as they conquered the Promised Land, He will be with us as we face our own battles. As Paul writes, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

The Power of Courage: Examples from the Bible

Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of courageous individuals who overcame their fears and relied on God’s strength to achieve great things. One such example is David, a young shepherd who defeated the giant Goliath with nothing but a sling and a stone. Despite his youth and inexperience, David trusted in God’s power to deliver him from his enemy.

Another example is Esther, who risked her life to save her people from a plot to destroy them. Despite the danger and uncertainty, Esther trusted in God’s guidance and found the courage to approach the king and plead for her people’s safety.

These examples demonstrate the power of faith and courage in overcoming cowardice. By putting our trust in God and drawing on His strength, we too can face our fears and accomplish great things for His glory.

The Significance of Cowardice in the Bible: Lessons for Today

The biblical definition of cowardice is closely tied to fear and lack of faith. In the Bible, cowardice refers to the act of succumbing to fear or intimidation, rather than trusting in God and taking action based on faith. Cowardice is seen as a negative trait that hinders an individual’s ability to fulfill God’s plan for their life.

Understanding the significance of cowardice in the Bible can provide valuable lessons for believers today. By examining the biblical examples of cowardice and its consequences, we can better understand the importance of courage, faith, and trust in God.

One of the most significant examples of cowardice in the Bible is the story of the Israelite spies who were sent to scout out the Promised Land. The majority of the spies came back with a negative report, saying that the land was inhabited by giants and impossible to conquer. Only Joshua and Caleb encouraged the Israelites to trust in God’s promise and take possession of the land. As a result, the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for forty years before finally entering the Promised Land.

This example highlights the importance of courage and faith in God. When we allow fear and doubt to control our actions, we miss out on the blessings and opportunities that God has in store for us.

Another biblical example of cowardice is found in the story of Peter denying Jesus three times. Despite being a close friend and follower of Jesus, Peter succumbed to fear and denied knowing Him when confronted by the authorities. However, Peter later repented and became a powerful leader in the early church. This story emphasizes the possibility of redemption and the importance of turning to God in times of weakness and failure.

Overall, the significance of cowardice in the Bible is that it serves as a reminder of the importance of courage, faith, and trust in God. By understanding the biblical definition of cowardice and examining its consequences, we can learn valuable lessons and strive to live out our faith with courage and conviction.

Grasping the Biblical Perspective on Cowardice

As we have explored in the previous sections, cowardice is a term that appears throughout the Bible, carrying significant weight and importance. From our examination of various Bible verses and examples of cowardly behavior, it is clear that cowardice is viewed negatively in the biblical context. The Bible encourages believers to overcome their fear and embrace courage, relying on God’s strength and power to do so.

The Importance of Understanding the Biblical Definition of Cowardice

By understanding the biblical definition of cowardice, we can more effectively grasp why it is considered a character flaw and why we should strive to overcome it. Cowardice involves being afraid to take action or speak out when faced with difficulty or danger. This can lead to missed opportunities, unfulfilled potential, and negative consequences for oneself and others.

The Lessons of Cowardice for Today

Although the Bible was written thousands of years ago, its lessons and teachings remain relevant and applicable to our lives today. By examining examples of cowardly behavior and the biblical teachings on courage, we can gain valuable insights into how to live a more fulfilling, purposeful life.

One lesson we can take away from the Bible’s perspective on cowardice is the importance of relying on God’s strength and power to face our fears. As believers, we can trust that God is always with us and empowers us to do great things despite our weaknesses and limitations.

The Call to Action

As you reflect on the biblical perspective on cowardice, we encourage you to consider how it applies to your own life. Are there areas where you have been allowing fear to hold you back? How can you rely on God’s strength and power to overcome your fears and embrace courage?

Remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). By embracing courage and trusting in God, we can fulfill our potential and make a positive impact in the world.


What does the term “coward” mean in the Bible?

In the Bible, the term “coward” refers to someone who lacks courage, especially in the face of adversity or standing up for what is right. It signifies a person who is easily intimidated, fearful, and unwilling to take necessary action.

Are there any Bible verses that address cowardice?

Yes, several Bible verses touch upon the concept of cowardice. For example, in Revelation 21:8, it states that the cowardly will have their place in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which signifies the consequences of cowardly behavior. Other passages, such as Joshua 1:9 and 1 Corinthians 16:13, encourage believers to be courageous and stand firm in their faith.

Can you provide examples of cowardliness in the Bible?

Certainly. One example is found in Exodus 32 when the Israelites grew fearful and cowardly in the absence of Moses, leading them to create a golden calf to worship. Another instance is seen in 1 Samuel 17 when Goliath taunted the Israelite army, and only the young David had the courage to face him. These examples highlight the characteristics and consequences of cowardice in a biblical context.

How can one overcome cowardice according to the Bible?

The Bible teaches that overcoming cowardice requires faith, trust in God, and reliance on His strength. Verses like Isaiah 41:10 and Psalms 27:14 encourage believers to take courage, knowing that God is with them. By relying on God’s power and promises, individuals can overcome their fears and embrace courage in their lives.

What lessons can we learn from the Bible’s perspective on cowardice?

Understanding cowardice within a biblical context provides valuable lessons and guidance for believers today. It teaches us to recognize the importance of courage in facing challenges, standing up for what is right, and trusting in God’s strength. Additionally, it highlights the consequences of surrendering to fear and the need to rely on God’s power to overcome cowardice.

Why is it important to grasp the biblical perspective on cowardice?

Grasping the biblical perspective on cowardice helps believers align their thoughts, attitudes, and actions with God’s teachings. It enables individuals to cultivate courage, confront their fears, and ultimately grow in faith. Understanding the significance of cowardice in the Bible can shape one’s character, relationships, and decision-making, leading to a more empowered and impactful life.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.