CARE, CAREFULNESS, CAREFUL; weighing down of the mind, anxiety, mental uneasiness, solicitude, worry, or to have charge or custody of someone or thing.
These terms esp. in KJV may easily be misapplied because they connote not only due regard, concern and oversight, but also mental anxiety and tormenting solicitude. Originally the words signified that which distracted the heart from the true object of life (cf. Matt 13:22; Luke 21:34; 2 Cor 11:28). Although they include the idea of worry or anxiety, that is not the sole or primary meaning, as may be seen in 1 Peter 5:7 KJV, “casting all your care (Gr. μεριμνα̂ν) upon him, for he careth (Gr. μέλει, G3508) for you.” RSV “cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you”; i.e., with paternal interest which will provide for your needs. Anxiety is the fruit of a misconception of God and a false sense of values.
“Care” (2 Cor 7:11, RSV “godly grief”) produces studious diligence in God’s service, whereas confused and anxious thoughtfulness (Phil 4:6 RSV “anxiety”) which destroys rejoicing and trust in God’s providential care is condemned (cf. 1 Pet 5:7 RSV). In 2 Corinthians 8:16 “care” indicates diligent concern for others’ welfare, and Luke 10:35 uses “care of” for oversight and service to another with a view to protection and preservation.
Jesus’ prohibition of “taking thought” (Matt 6:25-34) does not forbid “reasonable forethought” (Gr. prónoia) about the future, for a part of the discipline of a godly life involves man’s scrupulous discharge of his obligations to all for whom he bears definite responsibilities.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
kar, kar’-fool-ness, kar’-fool: The English word "care" has such a variety of meanings, and so many Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible are translated by this English expression and its compounds, that it is difficult to organize them into a single brief article. We may do so, however, by remembering that into our word are really woven two strands, one Teutonic and one Latin. The former element implies a measure of trouble or sorrow, as the pain from a blow, a throb, a distress in the mind; the latter, from Latin cura, implies a stretching forward, attention to some person or thing. We can often discern these two senses side by side in the Bible, and sometimes they almost run into one another. This is so especially in the King James Version. We can treat the subject best by keeping separate, as far as possible, these two senses.
I. In the Sense of Anxiety, Solicitude.
In the Old Testament (da’agh, "to have concern or anxiety for"). "Not be careful in the year of drought" (Jer 17:8). (sum lebh, "to set the heart upon"), "If we flee away, they will not care for us" ("set their heart upon us" King James Version, margin, 2Sa 18:3).
In the New Testament (memrinao), "Thou art careful and troubled" ("anxious" the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version, Lu 10:41). "He that is unmarried careth for things that belong to the Lord" ("is careful for," the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version, 1Co 7:32-34). "Members should have the same care one for another" (1Co 12:25). "Who will naturally care (the American Standard Revised Version "care truly") for your state" (Php 2:20). "Be careful for nothing" ("in nothing be anxious," the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version, Php 4:6). The Apocrypha has "careful" (Baruch 3:18) and the Revised Version (British and American) has "be not careful overmuch," where a distinction is plainly made between care in the sense of anxiety and of attention, for a person cannot be too attentive, but he may be too anxious (2 Esdras 2:27).
II. In the Sense of Attention.
In the sense of attention, with the flavor of earnestness added from the original Teutonic meaning of the word care, we have the translation of spoude, "speed," "earnest care." "What carefulness it wrought in you" ("earnest care," the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, 2Co 7:11). "Our care for you in the sight of God" ("earnest care," the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, 2Co 7:12). "Put the same care into the heart of Titus" ("earnest care," the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, 2Co 8:16). We have also phronein, the infin. used as a substantive "Your care for me hath flourished" ("thought," the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, Php 4:10). Also phrontis, "thought" ("care" the American Standard Revised Version, The Wisdom of Solomon 6:17; 7:4).
"A land which Yahweh thy God careth for" darash, "seek after" ("seeketh after," the Revised Version, margin, the American Revised Version, margin, De 11:12). "No man careth for my soul" ("sought" King James Versions margin, Ps 142:4; chashach). "We are not careful to answer" (King James Version, also compare the margin, the American Revised Version, margin; "We have no need to answer," the Revised Version (British and American), the American Standard Revised Version, Da 3:16). In the New Testament epimeleomai, "Take care of him" (Lu 10:34,35). "How shall he take care of the church of God?" (1Ti 3:5). phrontizo, "to be thoughtful or mindful of," "may be careful to maintain good works" (Ti 3:8).