Posted by: pmarkrobb | November 3, 2013

the most repeated command

I went to visit a friend and colleague recently to ask him a few questions.  I knocked on his office door, he motioned me in, and I sat quietly for a moment as he finished an email.  As he raised his head after clicking “Send,” I was ready to get right to the point.  I opened my mouth to speak, but he beat me to the punch.  “Do you happen to know the most repeated command in the Bible?”  The question caught me off guard, something I’ve become accustomed to with this particular friend and colleague.  He has a delightful habit of using a witty comment or deep question as a conversational welcome.  I settled back in my chair and began to think.

“I should know this,” I thought.  I admit I was a bit embarrassed as I sat for what seemed like forever in silent consideration.  It didn’t seem to faze him as he patiently and graciously waited for my response.  In the end I had to admit, “I honestly don’t know.”  “Fear not,” he answered quickly.  He went on to share that it occurs more than 200 times in scripture.  In my own investigation, I found there to be varying totals, but complete agreement that a variation of “Fear Not” or “Do not be afraid” was the most repeated command in the Bible.  We discussed it only briefly that day, but the thought is still with me over a week later.

That thought resurfaced yesterday morning as I read the last several verses of Mark 11.  The chief priests, teachers of the law, and the elders come to Jesus as he is walking through the temple and “boldly” challenge Him.  “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” (Mark 11:28)

I can see the scene in my mind, and I can see Jesus not at all caught off guard, as I was in my friend’s office.  I love his response back to them … a single question with the answer they were seeking held out as a prize for the “right answer” to His own.

The leaders huddle and begin to discuss their response.  Jesus has thrown them what they have judged to be a curve ball question.  In the short narrative on their discussion, their second option is interrupted with a sentence within a set of parenthesis.  That sentence describes the tension that existed in coming up with the “right answer,” and it was where the thought resurfaced for me.

(They feared the people…

In the midst of this huddle, there were highly learned men.  But rather than collaborating in the pursuit of truth, they succumbed to fear.  These learned leaders became crippled by the fear of saying the wrong thing.

We can be quick to judge the group harshly, but as I read and re-read those few words, I wondered how different I really am from them.  I wonder if you’d be with me in feeling convicted that this is too many times my response in the shadow of a bold question that demands a simple and truthful answer.  In pursuing the answer do I pursue the truth, or does the fear of what others will think, say or do, cripple me?   And if I pursue the truth and find it, do I speak it in love, or does the fear of what others will think, say or do, cause me to say, “I don’t know?”

In answer to all of this, I hear the Spirit whispering the command into my heart just as God breathed it into the pages of scripture … “fear not.”



  1. Truth as opposed to fear, one leads to freedom the other to bondage. The choice seems obvious, but why can it be so hard at times? Help Lord.

  2. “Fear Not” 🙂 Thanks for sharing this! It has gripped my thoughts for awhile now. I am not sure I can adequately share them, but thanks for the forum to think them out loud in. 🙂

    Maybe we get wrapped up (bound) in the emotion and how we feel in the presence of misplaced (twsited, fallen) fear and stop there. “The fear of man will prove to be a snare.” (Proverbs 29:25) Never moving beyond that place of misplaced fear to examine and observe what it (fear) really is. What is its proper place? Does it have a place? Do we rid ourselves of fear? Or is fear a God proivided reaction that God has equipped (created) within us? Does understanding and having the right relationship with fear protect us from its abuses? Is there a Godly fear and a worldly fear? I think of the scriptures that speak of the fear of the Lord/God as a good thing. “Fear the Lord your God…” “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God…..” Assemble the people……so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God…..” (All from Deuteronomy) Psalm 19:9 – “The fear of the Lord is pure.” Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning……adds length… a fountain……teaches a man…..leads to life.” (All from Proverbs) The shoot, Branch of Jesse (Messiah), “will delight in the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:3)

    Perhaps the 200 plus commands in God’s Word to “fear not” simply point out how often my fears are misplaced…… man. Not that I should never fear, but that I “fear not” what I am fearing at the moment.

    I know there is question over what “the fear of the Lord” means – terror and fright vs. honor, respect and awe. Is it one or the other? Can it be both? I am uncertain. (I know, I am asking a lot of questions – I am thinking out loud/in print. Thanks for allowing that! :)) But perhaps a better knowing of fear’s place and purpose results in us hearing less “fear not” and “delighting [more] in the fear of the Lord”. That a truthful relationship with fear, not the absence of fear, leads to freedom. A response to worldy and Godly “fighteners” that looks nothing like my response rooted in misplaced, twisted, fallen fear.

    Thanks for time to think! 🙂

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