What Does the Old Testament Say About Courage?
In the Old Testament, courage is frequently presented as an essential quality for leaders, warriors, and all who trust in God. The foundation of this courage often rests on the assurance of God’s presence and faithfulness. For instance, as Joshua prepared to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, God commanded him: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
This divine promise of constant companionship served as the basis for Joshua’s bravery. Similarly, when facing overwhelming odds or formidable enemies, the Israelites were reminded to rely on God’s strength and not be governed by fear.
The Proverbs also emphasized the intrinsic bravery of the righteous, stating that “the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1), suggesting that a right relationship with God instills innate courage.
What Does the New Testament Say About Courage?
The New Testament continues the theme of courage, now deeply intertwined with faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers are encouraged to stand firm in the face of persecution, holding fast to their faith.
When Peter and John boldly proclaimed Jesus’ teachings before the religious authorities, their courage was evident and recognized even by those who opposed them (Acts 4:13). The Apostle Paul, in his epistles, regularly exhorted churches to be steadfast and courageous in their faith.
To the Romans, he posed a rhetorical question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), underscoring the invincible nature of divine support. This sentiment is echoed throughout the epistles, suggesting that the courage of New Testament believers stemmed from their unwavering trust in Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As Joshua takes on the mantle of leadership after Moses, God reminds him to be brave and assured. The divine promise of God’s presence acts as the bedrock for this courage, emphasizing that with God by one’s side, fear should have no place.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Moses assures the Israelites with words of encouragement as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. The emphasis here is on God’s unwavering presence, serving as a source of strength and bravery against any foe.
1 Chronicles 28:20 (NKJV)
“Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.”
David, while giving instructions for building the temple, instills courage in his son Solomon. This exhortation not only promotes the virtues of strength and courage but also underscores the importance of perseverance in accomplishing divine tasks.
Psalm 27:14 (NASB)
“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
This Psalm emphasizes the interplay of patience and courage. It suggests that true bravery often requires waiting on God’s timing, trusting in His plans, and drawing strength from that trust.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God’s assurance to the people of Israel during their challenges reaffirms the recurring Biblical theme that God’s presence is a primary source of courage. In times of despair, this promise serves as a beacon of hope and a call to bravery.
Acts 4:13 (NIV)
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Peter and John’s fearless proclamation of Jesus’ teachings in the face of opposition showcased their immense courage. The source of their bravery was evident—it stemmed from their association with Jesus, emphasizing that divine association bestows unparalleled strength.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV)
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”
Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians is a call to vigilance, strength, and bravery in their faith journey. It’s a reminder that the Christian path requires both watchfulness and courage to navigate its challenges.
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Paul reminds Timothy that fear isn’t of divine origin. Instead, believers are endowed with power, love, and clarity of mind—all tools that embolden them to face adversities courageously.
Philippians 1:28 (ESV)
“…and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”
Paul speaks of the courage the Philippians demonstrate in the face of opposition. Their bravery is not just a testament to their faith, but also serves as a sign of their adversaries’ eventual downfall.
Ephesians 6:10 (NASB)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
As Paul describes the spiritual armor, he commences with a call to derive strength and courage from the Lord. This sets the stage for understanding that spiritual battles require divine empowerment for victory.
Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV)
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.'”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego display unwavering courage in the face of death, emphasizing their faith in God’s power to save. Their bravery stands as a testament to the commitment they hold to their beliefs, even when threatened by a powerful king.
Psalm 31:24 (ESV)
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”
The Psalmist encourages those waiting on the Lord to be of good courage. The verse underscores the relationship between patience, strength, and bravery when entrusting oneself to God’s timing.
Proverbs 28:1 (KJV)
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
The Proverb contrasts the behaviors of the wicked and the righteous, suggesting that righteousness inherently brings about boldness and courage, much like the bravery of a lion.
Acts 28:15 (NIV)
“The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people, Paul thanked God and was encouraged.”
Paul, despite his hardships, finds encouragement and courage through the support of fellow believers. This demonstrates how communal support in faith can uplift and embolden individuals in their spiritual journey.
2 Chronicles 15:7 (NKJV)
“But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”
King Asa of Judah receives a prophetic word urging him to remain courageous and steadfast. The assurance of reward serves as motivation to persevere in times of challenge.
Psalm 138:3 (ESV)
“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”
The Psalmist testifies to God’s responsiveness and the fortitude he received through divine intervention. It’s a testament to how calling upon God can infuse one with renewed strength and courage.
Romans 8:31 (NASB)
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
Paul’s rhetorical question underscores the unmatched power of having God on one’s side. It emphasizes the boundless courage that comes from knowing that God’s support is unwavering.
Hebrews 13:6 (KJV)
“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Drawing from Psalms, the author of Hebrews reiterates the courage that comes from reliance on God. The sentiment is clear: with the Lord as one’s helper, there’s no need to fear any earthly threat.
1 Peter 3:14 (NIV)
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
Peter encourages believers to stand firm in righteousness even if it invites suffering. The promise of divine blessing provides comfort and courage to face adversities head-on.
Psalm 56:3-4 (ESV)
“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. What can flesh do to me?”
The Psalmist acknowledges fear but promptly counters it by expressing trust in God. This declaration underscores the transformative power of faith, converting fear into courage.
Revelation 21:7 (NKJV)
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”
The promise to those who overcome challenges and adversities is not just an inheritance but also an intimate relationship with God. The prospect of this divine communion provides courage to face and surmount any obstacle.
Mark 5:36 (NASB)
“But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, ‘Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.'”
Even in the face of seemingly irreversible circumstances, Jesus encourages belief over fear. His words serve as a reminder of the miracles that can unfold when one approaches challenges with faith and courage.