Paraskevidekatriaphobia

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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If you don’t know what that is, I can’t say as I blame you. If I were a smart aleck, I might “explain” that paraskevidekatriaphobia is a derivation of triskaidekaphobia, but that would probably leave most of our readers just as befuddled. But the latter is the fear of the number thirteen, and the former refers to the more specific phobia of fear of Friday the 13th.

Before you start thinking that people with these phobias should just grow up and get over it, you might want to consider how society itself contributes to this fear. You’ve never stepped off the elevator on to the thirteenth floor of a tall building, simply because the highly educated architects that design our skyscrapers superstitiously refuse to include one. If that old movie made it seem rational that Kris Kringle was Santa Claus by noting that the United States Post Office directed mail to him, its easy to understand how buildings without a 13th floor make a fear of the number 13 seem rational as well.

The effects of paraskevidekatriaphobia are claimed to be extensive. Since many Americans refuse to fly or conduct business on a Friday the 13th, it is said the economy suffers an estimated 800 million dollar loss every time this date rolls around. Back in the 1930s, the influence of this phobia even reached the highest office in our land, as FDR refused to travel on Friday the 13th.

It may surprise you to learn that the origin of this phobia finds its roots in the Bible, when thirteen men observed the last supper. One was a traitor, and tradition (wrongly) holds that the Lord was crucified a few hours later on a Friday.

What’s the cure for paraskevidekatriaphobia? An old joke says if you can pronounce the word, you’re cured! In 1913, a pastor tried to cure people by officiating at Friday the 13thweddings without charge. But since superstition is the veneration of something that deserves none, a better way to help people overcome this superstition is to do what Paul did when he encountered some superstitious people (Acts 17:22) and preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (v. 23-31). The world considers Paul’s gospel to be superstition (Acts 25:19), “but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Paul’s use of the present tense here shows his gospel is more than just “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). Once we are saved, his gospel “is” still the power of God to help us overcome “the spirit of fear” with the spirit “of…a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7), a mind made sound by a full knowledge of Paul’s gospel.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


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