Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
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(29) Let no corrupt communication . . .—The word rendered “corrupt,” is a strong word, signifying “rotten”; used in Matthew 7:17-18, and elsewhere in the literal sense, here alone in the metaphorical. By the corrupt word, probably, here is meant especially the foul word, which is rotten in itself, and spreads rottenness in others.

The use of edifying.—This is a mistranslation, by inversion, of a difficult expression, “the building up of the need”—that is, the supplying by suggestion of good the peculiar “need” or defect of the hearer’s spiritual state. Perhaps, as before, the word “good” may be taken for gracious and full of sympathy, noting by the quick insight of love what each man’s need is, and hastening to speak accordingly, so as to “give grace” or blessing to meet that peculiar need. The same use of the word “grace” is found in 2Corinthians 1:15 (“that ye might have a second benefit”). The same idea is found in 1Thessalonians 3:10, “to perfect that which is lacking in your faith.”

Here again we have a similar treatment of moral duty. The corrupt word is forbidden, not because it defiles the speaker’s own soul, and is an offence in the pure eyes of God, but because it is a sin against others, pulling down instead of building them up, and aggravating, instead of supplying, their moral defects. Like the falsehood, and wrath, and dishonesty, forbidden above, it sins against the unity of all in God.

Ephesians 4:29-30. Let no corrupt communication — Or discourse, dictated by corruption in the heart of the speaker, and tending to corrupt the minds or manners of hearers; proceed out of your mouth — At any time, or on any occasion. The original expression, λογος σαπρος, is literally, rotten or putrid speech; that is, speech offensive to the hearers, or calculated to infect them with sin; and is in direct opposition to that which is seasoned with salt, and is recommended (Colossians 4:6) as tending to preserve persons from corruption. The apostle does not merely include in this expression obscene discourse of every kind, but also all flattery, calumny, railing, boasting, tale-bearing, backbiting, commendations of vice and impiety, profane jestings on religion, its ministers and professors, trifling conversation; and, indeed, all discourse that is not either about necessary business, or, as the next clause expresses it, is not good to the use of edifying — Calculated to instruct, direct, reprove, encourage, excite to duty, comfort, or in some way edify and minister grace to the hearers. And grieve not — By any act of disobedience, particularly by any kind of corrupt discourse, or by any of the following sins; the Holy Spirit of God — The original expression is very emphatical, το Πνευμα, το αγιον, του Θεου, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, of God. Grief is ascribed to the Holy Spirit here metaphorically; for, strictly speaking, he is incapable of pain or disquiet of any kind. But he acts, on the occasion referred to, as men do who are grieved. And the purport of the caution is, Do not cause him, by any sinful temper, word, or work, to withdraw from you, as a friend does whom you grieve by unkind or improper behaviour. The expression conveys a strong idea of the love which the Holy Spirit bears to men in general, and to the disciples of Christ in particular; and of his desire to promote their salvation. Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption — The time when you shall receive the redemption of your bodies from the grave; (Romans 8:23;) shall be acquitted at the judgment-seat of Christ, fully delivered from all the consequences of sin, and made perfectly and unchangeably happy: the day when your redemption will be fully completed. See note on Ephesians 1:13.

4:29-32 Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them: Christians should beware of all such discourse. It is the duty of Christians to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring persons to think seriously, and to encourage and warn believers by their conversation. Be ye kind one to another. This sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behaviour. Mark how God's forgiveness causes us to forgive. God forgives us, though we had no cause to sin against him. We must forgive, as he has forgiven us. All lying, and corrupt communications, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice, grieve the Holy Spirit. Provoke not the holy, blessed Spirit of God to withdraw his presence and his gracious influences. The body will be redeemed from the power of the grave at the resurrection day. Wherever that blessed Spirit dwells as a Sanctifier, he is the earnest of all the joys and glories of that redemption day; and we should be undone, should God take away his Holy Spirit from us.Let no corrupt communication proceed - see the notes on 1 Corinthians 15:33. The word rendered "corrupt" (σαπρὸς sapros) means bad, decayed, rotten, and is applied to putrid vegetable or animal substances. Then it is applied to a tree that is of a useless character, that produces no good fruit; Matthew 7:17. Then it is used in a moral sense, as our word "corrupt" is, to denote that which is depraved, evil. contaminating, and may denote here anything that is obscene, offensive, or that tends to corrupt others. The importance of this admonition will be appreciated when it is remembered:

(1) that such obscene and filthy conversation prevailed everywhere, and does still among the pagan. So general is this, that at almost every missionary station it has been found that the common conversation is so corrupt and defiling that missionaries have felt it necessary to send their children home to be educated, in order to secure them from the contaminating influence of those around them.

(2) those who have had the misfortune to be familiar with the common conversation of the lower classes in any community, and especially with the conversation of young men, will see the importance of this admonition. Scarcely anything can be conceived more corrupt or corrupting, than that which often prevails among young men - and even young men in the academies and colleges of this land,

(3) its importance will be seen from the "influence" of such corrupt communications. "The passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it;" the expression of such a thought deepens the pollution on the soul, and corrupts others. It is like retaining an offensive carcase above ground, to pollute the air, and to diffuse pestilence and death, which should at once be buried out of sight. A Christian should be pure in his conversation. His Master was pure. His God is pure. The heaven to which he goes is pure. The religion which he professes is pure. Never should he indulge himself in an obscene allusion: never should he retail anecdotes of an obscene character, or smile when they are retailed by others. Never should he indulge in a jest having a double meaning; never should be listen to a song of this character. If those with whom he associates have not sufficient respect for themselves and him to abstain from such corrupt and corrupting allusions, he should at once leave them.

But that which is good to the use of edifying - Margin, to edify profitably." Greek, "to useful edification:" that is, adapted to instruct, counsel, and comfort others; to promote their intelligence anti purity. Speech is an invaluable gift; a blessing of inestimable worth. We may so speak as "always" to do good to others. We may give them some information which they have not; impart some consolation which they need; elicit some truth by friendly discussion which we did not know before, or recall by friendly admonition those who are in danger of going astray. He who talks for the mere sake of talking will say many foolish things; he whose great aim in life is to benefit others, will not be likely to say that which he will have occasion to regret; compare Matthew 12:36; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Proverbs 10:19; James 1:19.

29. corrupt—literally, "insipid," without "the salt of grace" (Col 4:6), so worthless and then becoming corrupt: included in "foolish talking" (Eph 5:4). Its opposite is "that which is good to edifying."


that which, &c.—Greek, "whatever is good."

use of edifying—literally, "for edifying of the need," that is, for edifying where it is needed. Seasonably edifying; according as the occasion and present needs of the hearers require, now censure, at another time consolation. Even words good in themselves must be introduced seasonably lest by our fault they prove injurious instead of useful. Trench explains, Not vague generalities, which would suit a thousand other cases equally well, and probably equally ill: our words should be as nails fastened in a sure place, words suiting the present time and the present person, being "for the edifying of the occasion" (Col 4:6).

minister—Greek, "give." The word spoken "gives grace to the hearers" when God uses it as His instrument for that purpose.

Let no corrupt communication; unprofitable, unsavoury, not seasoned with the salt of prudence, Colossians 4:6: see Mark 9:50.

To the use of edifying; Gr. to the edification of use, by an hypallage, for, to the use of edifying, as our translators render it, implying, that the great use of speech is to edify those with whom we converse. But the same word translated use, signifies likewise profit, and necessity, and, by a Hebraism, this (as the latter substantive) may be instead of an adjective, and the words translated, to useful, or profitable, edifying, or, (according to the marginal reading), to edify profitably, with little difference of sense from the former: or, to necessary edifying; and then it respects the condition and necessities of the hearers, to which our discourse must be suited by way of instruction, reprehension, exhortation, or consolation, as their case requires.

That it may minister grace to the hearers; by which some grace may be communicated to or increased in them, by instruction, reprehension, exhortation, &c.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,.... As unsavoury speech, foolish talking, light and frothy language, that which is filthy, unprofitable, noxious, and nauseous, and all that is sinful; such as profane oaths, curses, and imprecations, unchaste words, angry ones, proud, haughty, and arrogant expressions, lies, perjury, &c. which may be called corrupt, because such communication springs from a corrupt heart; is an evidence of the corruption of it; the subject matter of it is corrupt; and it conveys corruption to others, it corrupts good manners; and is the cause of men's going down to the pit of corruption: wherefore a restraint should be laid upon the lips of men; men have not a right to say what they please; good men will be cautious what they say, otherwise their religion is in vain; and conscious of their own weakness, they will pray to God to set a watch before their mouth, and to keep the door of their lips, and not suffer anything to come out,

but that which is good for the use of edifying: or "for edification", as the Syriac version renders it; the Arabic version reads, "for the edification of all"; that is, that hear; and the Vulgate Latin version and Claromontane exemplar, "for the edification of faith": for the building up of saints on their most holy faith, and for the encouragement and increase of the grace of faith: in the Greek text it is literally, "for the edification of use"; for useful edification, or what is useful for edification; and is suited to the present want or opportunity, as the word is by some rendered: and that must be "good", which answers such an end; meaning not that the language should be formally and grammatically good, though to speak with propriety is useful and serviceable, and tends the more to instruction and edification; but that which is materially good, or the subject of it is good; that which is true, pure, pleasant, and profitable:

that it may minister grace unto the hearers; may be grateful and acceptable to them, or may minister the grace of God to them; that is, the doctrine of grace, the Gospel of the grace of God; and be a means of conveying the principle of grace into the hearts of the hearers, and of drawing it forth into exercise where it is; and such speech or communication which springs from a gracious heart, and from a principle of grace in the heart, and is upon the subject of the grace of God, is most likely to be thus useful and edifying: agreeably to all this are some sayings of the Jews (h),

"says R. Joshua ben Levi, for ever let not a man suffer any thing "that is filthy", or unseemly, to proceed out of his mouth; says R. Ishmael, for ever let a man discourse , "in a pure language";''

not corrupt.

(h) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 3. 1.

{17} Let no {n} corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister {o} grace unto the hearers.

(17) He bridles the tongue as well, teaching us to so temper our talk, that our hearer's minds are not destroyed, and are rather instructed.

(n) Literally, rotten.

(o) By grace he means that by which men most profit with regard to going forward in godliness and love.

Ephesians 4:29. After the three definite exhortations, Ephesians 4:25-26; Ephesians 4:28, now follow more general and comprehensive ones.

Πᾶς λόγοςμὴ ἐκπορ.] The negation is not to be separated from the verb. With regard to every evil discourse, it is enjoined that it shall not go forth, etc. See Fritzsche, Diss. II. in 2 Cor. p. 24 ff.

σαπρός] corrupt; in the ethical sense: worthless (ὃ μὴ τὴν ἰδίαν χρείαν πληροῖ, Chrysostom), pravus; opposite: ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας. See, in general, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 377 f.; Kypke, II. p. 297 f.

ἀλλʼ εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκ. τ. χρ.] but if there is any (discourse) good for the edification of the need, sc., let it proceed from your mouth. On ἀγαθός with εἰς, πρός (Plat. Rep. vii. p. 522 A, and Stallbaum in loc.), or infinitive, denoting aptitude or serviceableness for anything, see Kypke, II. p. 298.

πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας does not stand by hypallage for εἰς χρείαν τῆς οἰκοδομῆς (Beza), but τῆς χρείας is genitive objecti; it is the need just present, upon which the edifying (Christianly helpful) influence of the discourse is to act. Rückert and Olshausen take ἡ χρεία for οἱ χρείαν ἔχοντες. Arbitrarily and to the disturbance of the sense, since in fact every one has need of edification, consequently τῆς χρείας would convey nothing at all characteristic, no modal definition of ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομ.

ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσι] aim of the ἐκπορ. ἐκ τ. στ. ὑμ., previously conceived as supplied: in order that it (this discourse) may bestow grace, i.e. benefit, on the hearers, may bring blessing for them. Opposite of such discourses: 2 Timothy 2:14. Theodoret (ἵνα φανῇ δεκτὸς τοῖς ἀκ.), Luther, Calovius, Raphel, Kypke, Zachariae, Michaelis, Koppe, Rosenmüller, and others, including Rückert, Meier, Matthies, Baumgarten-Crusius: in order that it may afford pleasure, be agreeable, to the hearers. Comp. also Chrysostom, who compares the discourse to a fragrant ointment. But, apart from the fact that discourses, which are good πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας, cannot always be agreeable (1 Corinthians 7:8 ff.), this interpretation is opposed to linguistic usage, according to which χάριν δίδωμι always signifies gratificari, to confer a kindness, to show a service of love, or the like (Jam 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Exodus 3:21; Psalm 84:12 [11]; Tob 1:13; Soph. Aj. 1333; Plat. Legg. iii. p. 702 C; also in the passages adduced by Wetstein and Kypke).

Ephesians 4:29. πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω:let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth. πᾶςμή, the well-known Hebraistic form, the negative attaching itself to the verb, = “non-utterance—let that be for every corrupt word”. λόγος = word, in the sense of a saying, speech or utterance. σαπρός, lit. rotten or worn out and unfit for use, and then worthless, bad (e.g., qualifying trees, fruit, fish as the opposite of καλός, Matthew 7:17; Matthew 12:33; Matthew 13:48; Luke 6:43, etc.). Here it does not seem to mean filthy, but, as the following clause, ἀγαθός, κ.τ.λ., suggests, bad, profitless, of no good to any one. Some, however, give it the more specific sense, = foul, as including scurrilous and unbecoming utterance (Abb.).—ἀλλʼ εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας: but such as is good for edification of the need. ἀλλʼ εἴ τις, = but such as, but whatever; lit. = “but if there is any … let it proceed out of your mouth” (Mey.). ἀγαθός with πρός or εἰς is sufficiently frequent in classical Greek in the sense of suitable, serviceable for something (e.g., Plato, Rep., vii., p. 522 A). The phrase οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας is somewhat difficult to construe. Its difficulty probably accounts for the reading πίστεως instead of χρείας in [476]1[477], etc. It cannot be dealt with by inversion as it is put in the AV, “to the use of edifying”; nor as equivalent to “those who have need” (Rück.); nor as = “as there may be need” (Erasm., qua sit opus). Neither can it be a gen. of quality, as if = “seasonable edification”. The τῆς must have its full value, especially after the anarthrous οἰκοδομήν; and the χρείας is best taken either as the gen. obj., = “edification applied to the need” (Mey., Alf., Abb.), or the gen. of remote reference (Ell.; cf. Win.-Moult., p. 235), “edification in reference to the need,” i.e., to the present need. So the Vulg. (am.) gives ad aedificationem opportunitatis.—ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσι: that it may give grace to the hearers. So the RV. The AV also gives “minister grace unto the hearers”. The other old English versions likewise render χάριν, grace, except Tynd., who makes it “that it may have favour,” and Cov., who renders it “that it be gracious to hear”. Not a few (Theod., Luth., Rück., etc.) make it = give pleasure. But χάρις usually means favour or benefit, and the phrase διδόναι χάριν expresses the idea of doing a kindness to one (Soph., Ajax., 1333; Plato, Laws, iii., p. 702 c; Exodus 3:21; Psalm 84:11); and in the NT it has this sense with the specific notion of gracious kindness or service (2 Corinthians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 8:6; Jam 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). So it is here. The λόγος is the subj., and the clause gives the Christian object of every speech or utterance, viz., to do good to the hearers, to impart a blessing to them (Ell.). For words with a different result cf. 2 Timothy 2:14.

[476] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[477] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

29. no corrupt communication] Or, better, speech, as R.V.—Another moral inference from membership in Christ.

Corrupt:—lit., “rotten, putrid.” The Latin versions render simply sermo malus, and the Gr. adjective may (by usage) bear this merely general reference to “evil” of any sort; worthlessness, uselessness, as well as impurity. But we recommend the narrower reference, as certainly more native to the word, and as extremely likely à priori, in view of the moral pollution of common conversation in heathen society.

the use of edifying] Lit., “for edifying of the need,” i.e., as R. V. well paraphrases, for edifying as the need may be. The thought of the spiritual influence of one “living stone,” and one “limb of Christ’s body,” upon another, so largely illustrated in previous passages, is still present. See Ephesians 2:21, Ephesians 4:16, and notes.

minister grace] Lit., give grace, instrumentally.

Bp Burnet says that he had never been in the company of his master, Abp Leighton, without receiving spiritual benefit.

Ephesians 4:29. Σαπρὸς, corrupt) Having the savour of oldness [of “the old man”], Ephesians 4:22; without grace, insipid, Colossians 4:6. Its opposite is good.—μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω, let—not proceed) If it be already on the tongue, swallow it again.—εἰ τίς) if any [whatsoever], as often soever: However, equal facility of expression is not demanded of all.—πρὸς οἰκοδομὴντοῖς ἀκούουσι, for edifying—to the hearers) This mode of speaking is not such as tends to no profit; it does not subvert the hearers, as those words of which we read, 2 Timothy 2:14.—δῷ χάριν, may give grace) There is great efficacy in godly conversation.

Verse 29. - Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. Not pagans only, but some of whom better things might be expected, need this charge. How revolting is the tendency in some circles to foul and blasphemous conversation; to profane and obscene jests, songs, and allusions: to feed as it were on moral garbage! From Christian mouths no such word should ever issue - it is simply abominable. But that which is good for improvement of the occasion, that it may give grace to them that hear. Speaking should ever bear on improvement or edification, especially on turning passing things to good account. This should be the aim; it does not require speaking to be uniformly grave, but to have an object. It may be quite right to have an enlivening object, but among Christians it should always be such as befits their profession, and tends to help on the exalted objects at which they aim. Ephesians 4:29Corrupt (σαπρὸς)

See on Luke 6:43, and see on Colossians 4:6.

That which is good (εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς)

Lit., if any is good. Discourse that is good, whatever it be.

To the use of edifying (πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας)

Lit., for the building up of the need. Rev., edifying as the need may be. Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

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