The Bible has a lot to say about the topic of courage. What are your favorite courage scriptures in the Bible?
Courage from Encouragement
I love what I call the three E-migo’s…edify, exhort, and encourage (or give courage to). We all need encouragement from time to time just as we all need courage. What does the word encouragement mean and what does it have to do with courage? When the word is used in the Old Testament, it is the word “chazaq” which means “to strengthen, prevail, be strong, courageous.” In the New Testament the Greek word for encouragement is “paraklesis” which is quite different from the word encouragement in the Old Testament. Paraklesis is extremely close to the word used for the Holy Spirit “Paraclete.” Breaking down the word for “paraklesis” or encouragement in the New Testament we take the first part of this compound world “para.” Para means to come along side. Someone who encourages another comes alongside the person they want to encourage and gives them courage. The second part of the compound word is “klesis” which can mean a calling near, a summons or call for help, exhortation, admonition, and consolation. So in the New Testament, the word for encouragement can be said to be someone who comes along side another to be near, to respond to their call for help, to exhort them, admonish them and console them and yes, to give them courage. That is what encouragement does…it gives others the courage to carry on. Although we are restricting these verses to courage, what is courage except having the courage to go on, through the help of others (paraklesis) or through God? The word for courage is “tharseo” and means to “be of good courage” or “of good cheer” so I have necessarily tied encouragement to courage because to be encouraged is to be of good courage or of good cheer.
My Favorite Six Courage Bible Verses
In Acts 4:34-37 it says about Barnabas,” There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Barnabas’ name is interesting. It is the Greek form of an Aramaic name and remember that Aramaic is what they spoke in Judea at this time. Bar means “son of” and “abas” is close to that of abba or daddy or father so Barnabas could be referred to as “the son of an encouraging father” but the Aramaic form may mean “son of a prophet.” His given name was Joseph, which is Hebrew in origin and means “he will add” and did he ever add to the church. He added his personal wealth, he added his service, he added his encouragement and by his support of Saul (the destroyer) turned Paul (little one) was accepted into the church. He gave the church the courage to trust Paul. Barnabas was always the encourager. We need this so very much in the world and in the church today because many of us lack courage. Even thou we are seeking to find Scriptures about courage, like I said, encouragement is like “giving courage” to another.
In Joshua 1:5-7a, 9 God spoke directly to Joshua and said “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.”
Good things come in threes with God and three times God repeated to Joshua to have courage. When God repeats something twice, it is of supreme importance but when it is mentioned thrice, it is of the highest importance possible, like God’s only attribute that is mentioned three times is that he is holy, holy, holy. God told Joshua that “no man shall be able to stand before you all [get that, all] the days of your life.” God associated strong and courageous as going together.
Deuteronomy 31:5-7a, 23 “the Lord will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel. Be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”
Before God told Joshua three times to be strong and courageous, He told His servant Moses the same thing and once again He ties in the words strong and courageous together as necessary elements in being mutually inclusive but how can a person be strong and courageous? They must believe that, like God did with Moses and Joshua, He “goes with you [and] He will not leave you or forsake you.” God goes with every believer and it should give us courage to know that He will never, ever leave you and He will never, ever forsake you.
Psalm 56:3-4 “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 words “in God I trust” are where the statement “In God we trust” comes from that is printed on American currency. To not be afraid is to put your trust in God and when you have this trust in God, you will think “what can flesh (mankind) do to me.” Trust is the almost the opposite of fear like peace is from anxiety. Trust and obey God and leave the consequences up to Him.
Ezra 10:3-4 “Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.”
It takes a lot of courage today to not only obey God but to make a covenant to put away all of the things of the world from our lives that are sinful. This is what the people did. They trembled at the commandments of God and stated publicly to “let it be done according to the Law.” They didn’t just talk the talk but they walked the walk and rose up to the task and the people said that they were with them and to “be strong and do it.” It is hard to stand up and confess your sins and it seems even harder to get up and do it but what takes courage is pleasing to God. This shows that you also tremble at His Word. It takes real courage to stand up for what is right in this evil world and to bend the knee and confess your sins to God.
Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Will that ever be said of you? Can you be bold and astonish those who are not yet saved and proclaim the judgment of God to everyone who refuses to repent and trust in Christ? It is very hard. My mouth gets dry, my heart pounds, and my palms get sweaty, yet I know that there isn’t a person you will ever meet that God doesn’t want to save or that He has already saved. That is 100% of everyone! Be bold in the Lord’s commission because the real power is in the message and not in the messenger.
If you fear and lack courage, ask the Lord to strengthen you and He will. What is it that you need courage for? Is it to witness to strangers on the street? How about family (that is even harder for me). Maybe it is to your co-workers. It might even be all the difficulties you are going through right now to just keep on keeping on. Ask the Lord for courage in proclaiming the gospel and if you are nervous, welcome to the club. I would tell you what others in my church told me and what God told Joshua and Moses, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Now isn’t that encouraging? Shouldn’t those words give you courage?
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon