Regarding the true interpretation
Having familiarized the Ephesians with
the mystical character of matrimony and teaching them that
Matrimony is an important mystery, and having pointed out
the analogy of the matrimonial bond to the union of Christ
with the Church and appointing the man to be the head of the
woman -according to the Holy Bible- in the analogy that
Christ is the Head of the Church, and also having taught
them that both man and woman -according to the Holy Bible-
are one body and one spirit as members of the body of the
Church (which is the Body of Christ, who loved us as His own
flesh), the Apostle Paul recommends to each and every one of
the men to love his own wife they way that Christ loved the
A more perfect love than this kind of
love the Apostle could not recommend to a man. With
this recommendation, he not only elevated love to its most
exalted position, but also ennobled it and spiritualized it
and sanctified it. After this recommendation to men
and the defining of a man's relationship towards a woman,
and the degree and the quality of that love towards her, and
also the elevation of matrimony to a purely sacred and
spiritual level along with the man's duties towards the
woman, the Apostle then proceeds to formulate and define the
woman's duties towards her man; and all these things he
encapsulates in the following quote: «and
the woman see that she be in fear of the man».
Pursuant to the words spoken by Paul
regarding the love of a man towards his woman and regarding
the degree and quality of his love, the "fear" referred to
in this Scriptural quote cannot possibly be expressing
something that appalls and intimidates the woman. The
Church, as the Body of Christ, loves and at the same time
"fears" our Lord Jesus Christ, as Her Saviour and Her Head.
This "fear" of the Church towards Jesus Christ is born out
of the bounteous love towards the One Who has loved Her, and
is expressed and displayed as an extreme reverence towards
Him; as a reverence towards His commandments, as an extreme
obedience towards Him, and as a willingness to please Him.
This love of the Church towards the Saviour is expressed as
a "fear", that She may fall short in something and forfeit
His love, by having proven Herself unworthy of it.
This is the Church's "fear" towards the Saviour Christ.
It is in this exact nuance and significance that the Apostle
wrote that the woman should be "in fear" of the man.
Through this quote the Apostle Paul
sought the tightening of the bonds of marital love; because,
just as the Church's love and "fear" towards the Saviour
Christ make Her even dearer -as a bride- to the Bridegroom
Christ, thus the love and "fear" of the woman towards her
man make her even dearer to him.
It is our intention to prove that this
"fear" has nothing whatsoever in common with the fear
suspected by certain ladies who tend to smile during the
reading of this passage during the sacrament of marriage,
and that it is in fact something sacred, pure and just, and
that it is compulsory for the women, as a divine command
that ensures their happiness and eternal bliss, as well as
their unbreakable bond of mutual love.
Fear is a feeling inherent in man.
This feeling is expressed as cowardice,
as awe, as terror, under circumstances in which a person's
life is threatened. This feeling is also expressed as
agitation and worry, under circumstances in which there is a
threat to a person's honour or his fortunes, whether fairly
The degree of a greater or lesser display
of fear or agitation and worry is analogous to, or of the
same magnitude as, the actual danger itself, or analogous to
the magnitude of the fantasy that is aroused. The
feeling of fear is sometimes also displayed during
circumstances where there is no actual threat or risk during
the time that man is overcome by that feeling, however, it
is manifested, for fear of a possible future danger which
may originate from our own negligence towards things that
are dear to us. This feeling is expressed either as an
extreme love towards something, or an extreme reverence, or
extreme forethought or as incessant care.
Accordingly, fear - being something that
is expressed variously in various situations, and as
something that is born out of various causes - must
necessarily be characterized differently. Therefore,
the fear that is expressed as awe or cowardice or terror,
can be referred to as "natural", while the fear that is
expressed as agitation and worry, as well as the fear that
is expressed as love and reverence, can be referred to as
"ethical". Hence, natural fear differs from ethical
fear, depending on the causes that give rise to it.
Natural fear always pertains to the
irreproachable passions, inasmuch as they have as sole cause
the endangerment of life. Ethical fear does not always
pertain to something irreproachable as it is twofold,
inasmuch as it originates from the qualitatively varying
ethical causes of love and of hatred. And just as the
causes that produce it are extreme opposites, so are their
characters the extreme opposites. The fear that is born out
of love is sacred, pure and just, and is expressed as the
soul's sensitivity in favour of the person being loved, in
the form of caring about, providing for, and looking after
This sacred fear is defined by
Theophylaktos as an accentuation, a heightening of piety,
who said that: "(Sacred)
is the accentuation of piety, just as piety is a withdrawn
(ὁ φόβος (ὁ ἱερός)
ἐπίτασις ἐστιν εὐλαβείας ὥσπερ καί εὐλάβεια συνεσταλμένος
and again: "Fear
and piety and a heightened honour"
(φόβος ἐστίν αἰδώς
καί εὐλάβεια καί ἐπιτεταμένη τιμή)
Ecumenios says the following, regarding
this fear: "Perfective
fear is exempt of awe, which is why it is called pure and
remains throughout the ages"
τελειωτικός δέους μέν ἀπήλλακται, διό καί ἁγνός εἴρηται καί
διαμένων εἰς αἰῶνα αἰῶνος),
while in the Holy Bible, the word "fear" is often taken in
the sense of "respectfulness" and "piety" and with it is
expressed the passion for
a perfect knowledge and familiarization with the divine.
Fear born out of hatred is a profane fear and is expressed
as an aversion and repulsion towards someone, as
indifference and hostility. Regarding this kind of
fear, Clement of Alexandria says: "The
species of fear is accompanied with hatred, which slaves
feel towards hard masters"
(Τό ἕτερον εἶδος τοῦ φόβου μετά μίσους γίνεται ᾧ δοῦλοι
δεσπόταις κέχρηνται χαλεποῖς).
Sacred fear is the fear towards God, the
fear towards parents, the fear towards the husband and the
fear towards the divine and the human laws, and it springs
from within love.
Profane fear is the fear of damnation.
This is what the trespassers of divine and human laws are
afraid of. It springs from within a wicked conscience.
The Church recommends to Her children the
sacred, the pure and the holy kind of fear. This is
the fear that She also recommends to the woman who
approaches marital bonding and who is placed under a new,
ethical law; and the Church requires this, for the sake of
the woman's happiness.
Sacred fear, being an impassionate thing,
is not a threat for anything perilous. This fear - as
a feeling - relates to love, and it generates piety inside
the soul, so that she does not reach the point of being
despised by the man through the outspokenness of love, as a
certain Father says...
The moral, pure fear is one of the seven
charismas of the Holy Spirit, which the Holy Bible calls
"the fear of God". In the Holy Bible, justness is
characterized as a fear of God:
just man, one who fears God..."
The "fear of God" is the starting point
of wisdom. The divine Gregory the Theologian says that "The
beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, which is like a
first swaddling-cloth; and wisdom, having transcended fear
and ascending further up as love, forges us into
friends of God and sons, instead of servants".
(Ἀρχή σοφίας φόβος Κυρίου οἷόν τι πρῶτον σπάργανον · καί
σοφία τόν φόβον ὑπερβᾶσα καί εἰς ἀγάπην ἀναβιβάσασα Θεοῦ
φίλους ἡμᾶς καί υἱούς ἀντι δούλων ἐργάζεται).
And Sirach says: "Wisdom’s
garland is fear of the Lord, sprouting peace and well-being
(Στέφανος σοφίας φόβος Κυρίου ἀναθάλλων εἰρήνην και ὑγείαν
ἱάσεως) (Wisdom of Sirach, 5:15).
The holy Fathers call this fear of God a
love towards God: "Fear
of God is a love towards Him; love is a series, whose
beginning depends on the person's heart on the one hand, and
on the other, it touches the hand of God, Who forever draws
him towards the fear of Him"
(φόβος Θεοῦ ἀγάπην
πρός αὐτόν ἐστιν · ἀγάπη δε σειρά τις, ἦς ἡ μέν τῶν ἀρχῶν
ἐξαρτᾶται τῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καρδίας, ἡ δε ἑτέρα ἅπτεται τῆς
τοῦ Θεοῦ χειρός ἕλκοντος αὐτόν ἀεί πρός τόν αὐτοῦ φόβον).
And Basil the Great says: "Salvific
is fear, and a maker of Sanctification"
(σωτήριος ὁ φόβος
καί Ἁγιασμοῦ ποιητικός ἐστι)
This sacred fear that is mentioned in the
Holy Bible relates to one's reverence and love towards
another. This is how the interpreters and translators
of the New Testament comprehended and interpreted it.
In the Greek translation of the Holy Bible published in
Oxonia, chapter 5, verse 33 of the Epistle to
Ephesians was translated as: "...except
that each of you, let him love his woman as he loves
himself; and the woman, let her be
of her man"
(Πλήν καί σεῖς οἱ
καθ' ἕνα, ἕκαστος τήν ἑαυτοῦ γυναίκα οὕτως ἄς ἀγαπᾷ ὡς
ἑαυτόν · ἡ δε γυνή ἄς σέβηται τόν ἄνδρα)
In the Latin translation it appears as
autem videto, ut
Here, the verb "timeo", as surmised from the translations of
other European languages, has the meaning of
In the French translation of Paris it is
rendered as: «que
In the Italian translation: «ed
altresi la moglie
It is in this sense that all the European
languages have translated this verse.
Even in the ancient Hebrew language, the
fear towards God is interpreted by the interpreters as a
fear derived from respect, from reverence, as in the verse
of Leviticus 19:3 : "Let
each fear his mother and his father..."
which is interpreted as "every
his mother and his father"
Likewise we note in the verse of Joshua 4:14: "....
as they had Moyses, for as long
a time as he lived...",
which was interpreted by the lexicographers of the
Hebrew-Greek lexicon by
M.N.Ph. Sauder and M.I.Trenel as "comme
The same meaning is also ascribed, in other passages of
the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament.
It was in this sense that the the word
(fear) was also used by the Apostle Paul, who is so unjustly
attacked by the ladies, whom he has elevated to such an
Therefore, the causes behind divorces
should not be regarded as originating from the fear - as
taught by Paul - but should be sought elsewhere; perhaps in
the lack of that sacred "fear"....
Translation by K. N.