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The following sample
text comesfrom the book of Romans.
being filled with all
unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy,
murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 backbiters, hateful to
God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient
to parents, 31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural
Verse 29 has a vivid expression—filled
with unrighteousness. After God was rejected men’s minds had new
space for wicked ideas and practices. It didn’t take long for the
Gentiles to fill up their lives and minds with sin. They became involved
with many evils, twenty-three of which are specified by the following
words. A short definition will be offered for each of these sins plus a
point or two of application. The Beacon Bible Commentary (8:55-56)
attempts to categorize these sins. It says the first four (excluding
fornication) “refer to injustices with respect to the well-being and
properties of others.” The next five “are injustices in which we harm
the person of our neighbor.” The next six are “dispositions of the mind
centering in pride.” The final seven “relate to the destruction of all
natural sentiments and affections.” Concerning the expression “being
filled,” this same source (8:56) says: “literally ‘stuffed.’”
Unrighteousness (adikia) – Unrighteousness of heart and life (Thayer, p. 12). The word translated unrighteousness is a comprehensive term that includes all the following sins. It is the “genus that spawns all the other sins that follow. These are sins of thought, word, and deed. They are both against one’s self and against one’s neighbor. Some sins are inward, others are outward” (Complete Biblical Library, Romans, p. 35).
Fornication (porneia) – Illicit sexual intercourse in general (Thayer, p. 532). Richardson says the term is “sexual intercourse outside of marriage or even sensuality in general” (p. 16). This word is lacking in the best manuscripts but the Beacon Bible Commentary (8:56) suggests “This presents no problem since the subject has been exhausted in the preceding section.”
Wickedness (poneria) – Malice (Thayer, p. 530). Wickedness, baseness, maliciousness, sinfulness (Gingrich and Danker, p. 690). This word describes the desire to harm someone. “It is the active, deliberate will to corrupt and to inflict injury” (Barclay, Romans, p. 27). The Beacon Bible Commentary (8:56) defines it as “active mischief.”
Covetousness (pleonexia) – Greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice (Thayer, p. 516). This spirit pursues “its own interests with complete disregard for the rights of others, and even for the considerations of common humanity” (Barclay, Romans, p. 27). The book of “Ephesians shows that pleonexia (covetousness, BP) is not restricted to monetary ‘greed’; it also suggests an ‘insatiable’ appetite for other things (Ephesians 4:19 suggests a more sexual understanding)” (CBL, GED, 5:207). “‘Covetousness’ was regarded by Jews as an extremely heinous sin, a characteristic of pagans who were separated from God. Paul accented this same view in Colossians. Because pleonexia is an outcome of pure selfishness, it also leads easily to dishonesty and deceit. The man ruled by pleonexia considers his fellowman to exist solely for his own profit. The heart that is covetous lives for the present moment. The Christian, in contrast, lives for the future” (ibid).
Maliciousness (kakia) – Malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure (Thayer, p. 320). This term describes “a man who is destitute of every quality which would make him good” (Barclay, Romans, p. 27). This word “typifies the wide range of wicked behaviors that oppose godly living and righteousness” (CBL, GED, 3:218).
Envy (phthonos) – This describes sadness occasioned by the thought of another’s good (Spicq, 3:435). This sin “looks at a fine person, and is not so much moved to aspire to that fineness, as to resent that the other person is fine. It is the most warped and twisted of human emotions” (Barclay, Romans, p. 28). This sin prompted the chief priests to deliver Jesus to Pilate (Mk. 15:10). For additional information about this sin, see the commentary on Gal. 5:21 and Phil. 1:15.
Murder (phonos) – Murder or killed (Gingrich and Danker, p. 864). “We may never have struck a man in our lives, but who can say he never wanted to strike anyone?” (Barclay, Romans, p. 28). It is of no surprise that envy and murder are listed next to each other. Cain envied his brother and killed him (Gen. 4:1-11).
Strife (eris) – Contention, strife, wrangling (Thayer, p. 249). Though the KJV translates this with the word debate, the word “really means ‘strife’” (Earle, p. 140). This sin follows hatred in Gal. 5:20 and is connected to it. When anyone harbors the emotion of hate, there will be contention.
Deceit (dolos) – Deceit, cunning, treachery (Gingrich and Danker, p. 203). This describes “the man who has a tortuous and a twisted mind, the man who cannot act in a straightforward way, the man who stoops to devious and underhanded methods to get his own way, the man who never does anything except with some kind of ulterior motive. It describes the crafty cunning of the plotting intriguer who is found in every community and every society” (Barclay, Romans, pp. 28-29). This word is applied to the people who plotted against Jesus (Mt. 26:4).
Malignity (kakoetheia) – The tendency to put the worst construction upon everything (Rienecker and Rogers, p. 351). “It is terrifying to think how many reputations have been murdered in gossip over the teacups, when people maliciously put the wrong interpretation upon a completely innocent action” (Barclay, Romans, p. 29). This word is found only here in the New Testament.
Whisperers (psithuristes) – To whisper or speak into one’s ear. A whispering that is actually secret slander (adopted from Thayer, p. 676). Those guilty of this sin “will take a man apart into a corner and whisper a character-destroying story” (Barclay, Romans, p. 29). “The verb is used here only in the New Testament, and the corresponding noun ‘whisperers’ in 2 Corinthians 12:20 only. The evil is that of secretly conveying information, whether true or false, detrimental to the character or welfare of others” (Vine, 1:335).
Backbiters (katalalos) – Defamer, evil speaker (Thayer, p. 332). This sin “describes the man who trumpets his slanders abroad. He openly makes his accusations and tells his tales” (Barclay, Romans, p. 29). “The word, here only in the New Testament, does not necessarily involve the absence of the person attacked” (Vine, 1:336).
Hateful to God (theostuges) – Hateful to God, exceptionally impious and wicked (Thayer, p. 288). Anyone guilty of this sin sees God as “the barrier between him and his pleasure. God is the chain which keeps him from doing exactly as he likes. He would gladly eliminate God if he could, for to him a godless world would be a world where he would have, not liberty, but license” (Barclay, Romans, p. 30). This word occurs only here in the New Testament.
Insolent (hubristes) – An insolent man, one who, uplifted with pride, either heaps insulting language upon others or does them some shameful act of wrong (Thayer, pp. 633-634). Barclay says this term “describes the spirit of the man who is so proud that he defies God.” Also, “It is the sadism which finds delight in hurting others simply for the sake of hurting them” (Romans, p. 30). This is “self-centered and violent cruelty” which has no regard for others (CBL, GED, 6:334). This term is rendered “despiteful” in the KJV. The only other place in the New Testament where this term is found is 1 Tim. 1:13 (“injurious”).
Haughty (huperephanos) – With an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty (Thayer, p. 641). This type of person “never looks at people on the street unless it pleases him to do so. He invites a man to a meal and then does not appear himself, but sends his servant to attend to his guest. His whole life is surrounded with an atmosphere of contempt and he delights to make others feel small” (Barclay, Romans, p. 31). In the KJV this term is translated “proud.” The word is found only here, Lk. 1:51; 2 Tim. 3:2; Jas. 4:6 and 1 Pet. 5:5.
Boastful (alazon) – An empty pretender, a boaster (Thayer, p. 25). A man guilty of this sin “boasts of trade deals which exist only in his imagination, of connections with influential people which do not exist at all, of gifts to charities and public services which he never gave or rendered. He says about the house he lives in it is really too small for him, and that he must buy a bigger one. The braggart is out to impress others—and the world is still full of such people” (Barclay, Romans, p. 31). In this passage, Paul described the past. In 2 Tim. 3:2, the only other place where this term occurs in the New Testament, he used it to describe the future.
Inventors of evil things (epheuretes) – An inventor, contriver (Thayer, p. 265). “The phrase describes the man who, so to speak, is not content with the usual, ordinary ways of sinning, but who seeks out new and recondite vices because he has grown tired and blasé, and seeks some new thrill in some new sin” (Barclay, Romans, p. 31). This term occurs only here in the New Testament.
Disobedient to parents (apeithes) – A refusal to submit to parental authority. “Paul saw those who are ‘disobedient to parents’ as typical of the wickedness of mankind” (CBL, GED, 1:332). Lenski (Romans, p. 122) observed, “Godless parents raise godless children and thus get to taste the bitter fruits of their own sowing in their own offspring.” For additional information about parents, children, and what obedience means, see the commentary on Eph. 6:1.
Without understanding (asunetos ) – Unintelligent, without understanding (Thayer, p. 82). “The word describes the man who is a fool, the man who cannot learn the lesson of experience, the man who is guilty of incredible folly, the man who will not use the mind and brain that God has given to him” (Barclay, Romans, p. 32). This word is also used in verse 21 (“senseless”).
Covenant-breakers (asunthetos) – Covenant breaking; faithless (Thayer, p. 82). “In the great days of Rome Roman honesty was a wonderful thing. A man’s word was as good as his bond” (Barclay, Romans, p. 32). “To fully understand the seriousness of faithlessness, one need only examine the company with which it is placed (slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful, disobedient, senseless, heartless, ruthless, filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity)” (CBL, GED, 1:476). This word occurs only here in the New Testament. The RSV translates it “faithless.” The NASB renders it “untrustworthy.” In light of the other sins Paul listed, this word may have a special emphasis on the marriage bond.
Without proper affection (astorgos) – Unloving (Gingrich and Danker, p. 118). “The natural bonds of human affection had been destroyed” (Barclay, Romans, pp. 32-33). This word “describes an unloving, uncaring attitude toward those who are the very nearest, such as one’s immediate family. Even the sinner can usually exhibit love for those who are closest to him” (CBL, GED, 1:473). This term described “the destruction of all feelings of natural tenderness, as is seen by the mother who exposes or kills her child, a father who abandons his family, or children who neglect their aged parents” (Beacon Bible Commentary, 8:57-58). “Even brutes show such love” (Lenski on Romans, p. 122).
Implacable (aspondos) – This word is in the KJV. It occurs only here and 2 Tim. 3:3. Thayer (p. 81) says it described those who “cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant.” The word may be likened to someone who will not cease hostilities or accept reconciliation. Such a person is usually unwilling to forgive.
Unmerciful (aneleemon) – Without pity. This “is the lowest rung in the downward ladder of Rom. 1:29-32 and so the completest negation of the knowledge of God” (Brown, Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:597). This sin marks an “extreme departure from the knowledge of God” (CBL, GED, 1:258). This term occurs only here in the New Testament.
1:32: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.
Cranfield (p. 38) said, “The sentence implies that approving of others’ doing evil deeds is even more depraved than doing them. This has often been judged - and still is judged by some commentators - to be untrue. But a good many have argued - surely rightly - that it is indeed true that the man who applauds and encourages those who practice something shameful, though not himself practicing it, is not only as depraved as those who practice it, but very often, if not always, actually more depraved than they. For those who applaud and encourage the vicious actions of others make a deliberate contribution to the establishment of a public opinion favorable to vice and thereby promote the corruption of an unnumbered multitude; and they will not usually have been under any such powerful and violent pressure as those who commit the actions will quite often have been.” The word translated “consent” (suneudokeo) is rendered “have pleasure” in the KJV. This term is used elsewhere, and one of these other passages is Acts 8:1 (“consenting”). Here, it means “approve, applaud” (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 3:305).