Who are “The Cowardly”? By definition: Deilos (di-los) is an adjective which is used to refer to the “timid or fearful” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon) “But that just doesn’t seem right- being ‘timid’ or ‘fearful’ surely isn’t as bad idolatry, adultery, or murder! Why would God condemn them to hell?” Let’s see if some N.T. examples will help to explain.
Who are “The Cowardly”? Matt.14:22-27 Those frightened by unnatural fears. Think about it: 1) had these disciples ever seen “a ghost” before, and therefore had reason to be fearful of one; or, 2) had a ghost ever previously done them harm? Perhaps even more to the point, weren’t they where Jesus told them to be and doing what Jesus told them to do? Should any disciple ever be fearful when obeying God, cf.1Pet.3:6?
Who are “The Cowardly”? Matt.14:28-33 Those afraid to walk by faith rather than by sight. If we boil this down, Peter- at this point at least, didn’t trust Jesus with his life enough to walk by faith. It is a common problem for us as well when we prefer the earthly over the heavenly, 2Cor.5:1-10.
Who are “The Cowardly”? John 18:28-38 39-40; 19:1-6 8-16 Those afraid to act according to their own convictions. Coming to the knowledge of truth is only preparation for battle, 2Tim.3:7; the real fight is then doing what we know to be right, Rom.7:14-15ff; Jas.4:17. Such cowardice has consequences, Heb.10:26.
Who are “The Cowardly”? Matt.25:24-30 Those so afraid of doing something wrong that they do nothing. Of course it is proper to fear doing wrong, Rom.2:9. But when that fear becomes obsessive to the point that it paralyzes us into becoming spiritually motionless, we have become cowards just like the “one talent man,” and will suffer the same fate.
Who are “The Cowardly”? Matt.15:12-13 Those silenced or muffled by fear of offending. This is the real danger of our modern plague of political correctness! When we become so fearful of offending someone, anyone, or everyone that we stop speaking Truth, we have become cowards, cp. Acts 5:17-21a.
Who are “The Cowardly”? Matt.10:26-33 26:69-75 Those afraid of persecution or being ostracized. Peter’s great courage in standing for and defending the Faith was forged from the previous fear of the fires of persecution. It is sometimes all too easy for us to equivocate and deflect rather than to tell and stand for Truth, cp. John 9:14-23 24-38.
Now do we understand why “the cowardly” will not attain heaven? How could they if they’re too afraid: To trust Jesus enough to walk by faith? To act according to their own convictions? Of doing something wrong that they do nothing? Of offending to speak Truth? Of persecution or being ostracized to defend the Truth and those who tell and obey it? The bottom-line question is: Will you be counted as cowardly or courageous? Be faithfully courageous, 1John 4:18!