1 Peter 2:17
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
There are two principal species of fear, as we may readily perceive by consulting our own emotions — the fear of apprehension, and the fear of respect. The first has for its foundation that evil which he who is feared can inflict; the second arises from the high idea we have of him for whom we entertain this sentiment. The first is exercised towards a being who, we suppose, has the will and the power to hurt us; the second is felt when, apprehending nothing from his anger, we entertain esteem and veneration for him.
1. Let us commence with the fear of respect. This is always felt by the true believer. Can he avoid feeling it, when he views on one hand the splendour of the perfections of God, and on the other his own littleness and baseness?
2. With respect to the fear of apprehension, which has as its foundation the evils which God can inflict on us, it is of two different kinds; we may fear to offend and displease God, and we may fear to be punished for it. When the former is the motive of this fear, it is called filial fear, because it is the sentiment of an affectionate child towards its parent. This fear has as its source love and gratitude.
3. With respect to the other kind of fear of apprehension, that which is founded only on the dread of future punishment, it is (considered absolutely and in itself) neither morally good nor evil. Not morally good, since we see it every day felt by the most wicked, and since the devils themselves tremble under it. Not morally evil, since it is a sentiment that reason would require; since God has used the threatenings of this punishment to deter men from sin. It becomes morally good only when united with filial fear. It is morally evil when accompanied with love of sin, with distrust, and despair. It then acquires the name of servile fear.
(H. Kollock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.