Luke 12:4–34 represents the most extensive discourse in the NT concerning humanity's dual responsibility both to fear and not to fear God. Jesus deftly negotiates this tension without excising the terrible aspect of God-fearing: God remains both the fearsome, "demanding" judge with authority to kill and consign to hell (12:5, 20) and the winsome nurturer of all life, inspiring joy and confidence rather than fear and anxiety ("Do not be afraid," 12:4, 7, 32). This article aims to unfold Jesus' densely packed argument, driven by two principal concerns: one theological, focused on the character and activity of God, especially as Creator (and related images of Father, Bird-Keeper, Landowner, Farmer, and Shepherd); and the other therapeutic, focused on the care and security of his "friends" (12:4, 14) and "flock" (12:32) in an anxious world ruled by a gracious (yet still fearsome) God. Put another way, Luke 12:4–34 constitutes a banner example of creational and pastoral theology, guiding wise cognitive-emotional appraisals of fear, both helpful and harmful, within a God-centered view of life and death.

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