Ephesians 4:31
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
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(3 a) In Ephesians 4:31 to Ephesians 5:2, he deals with malignity, as utterly unworthy of the love of God manifested to us in Jesus Christ.

(31) Let all bitterness.—There is a similar enumeration in the parallel passage, Colossians 3:8; and in all such catalogues in St. Paul’s Epistles, while it is vain to seek for formal and elaborate system, there is always profound method and connection of idea. Here the first symptom of the temper forbidden is “bitterness,” or sharpness—a word seldom used, and generally in half-poetical passages (see Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; Hebrews 12:15)—that is, an acerbity of temper, ready to take offence and break out in anger. The next stage is “wrath and anger,” that is, passionate outburst, and the deeper anger of which it is at once effect and cause. (Comp. Romans 2:8; Colossians 3:8; Revelation 19:15.) In these the smouldering bitterness kindles into flame. The last stage is “clamour and evil speaking”—“clamour” (used in this sense only here) being the loud fury of the first burst of wrath, passing into the more deliberate evil-speaking, as the temper cools down without losing its settled anger.

With all malice.—All are various exhibitions of “malice”—that is, evil mindedness or malignity—the general disposition which is the opposite of goodness, graciousness, and sympathy. (Comp. Romans 1:29; 1Corinthians 5:8; 1Corinthians 14:20; James 1:21; 1Peter 2:1.) By the law of human nature they rise out of this temper, and react upon it so as to intensify its bitterness. Both it generally, and they in particular, must be resisted and cast out.

Ephesians 4:31-32. Let all bitterness — Of disposition or expression, or, as some render the word, all peevishness; and wrath — Or indignation, as θυμος seems here to signify; that is, anger mingled with contempt or disgust; the next expression in the original, οργη, rather signifying wrath, or lasting displeasure; and clamour — Loud threatenings, brawlings, or other intemperate speeches, whereby inward anger vents itself. And evil speaking — Mentioning the faults of absent persons, be it in ever so mild and soft a tone, or with ever such professions of kindness; with all malice — Every unkind disposition, every temper contrary to love. Here appears to be a beautiful retrogradation, beginning with the highest and descending to the lowest degree of the want of love. Or perhaps, as Dr. Doddridge observes, “it was not the apostle’s intention that a different idea should be annexed to each different word here used: Possibly it might only be his intention, in amassing so many almost synonymous expressions together, to show that he would have them to be on their guard against all the malevolent passions, and those outrages of speech and expression which they tend to produce. And the like remark may be applied to many other passages of Scripture, and particularly to those where all kinds of lewdness are forbidden in such a variety of phrase and language.” And be ye kind one to another — Courteous and obliging in your daily deportment; tender-hearted — Greek, ευσπλαγχνοι, tenderly compassionate; especially toward those that are in any affliction or distress; forgiving one another the injuries done, or supposed to be done you; even as God — Showing himself kind and tender-hearted in the highest degree; for Christ’s sake — Through his atonement and intercession, by which God could exercise his mercy to you in a way consistent with his holiness and justice; hath forgiven you — Such inexcusable and heinous injuries and affronts, as are infinitely greater than any which it is possible for you to receive from your fellow-creatures.

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 all bitterness - see the notes on Ephesians 4:2.

And wrath - The word here does not differ essentially from anger.

Anger - see the note on Ephesians 4:26. All cherished, unreasonable anger.

And clamour - Noise, disorder, high words; such as men use in a brawl, or when they are excited. Christians are to be calm and serious. Harsh contentions and strifes; hoarse brawls and tumults, are to be unknown among them.

And evil-speaking - Slander, backbiting, angry expressions, tale-bearing, reproaches, etc.

With all malice - Rather, "with all evil" - κακίᾳ kakia. Every kind and sort of evil is to be put away, and you are to manifest only that which is good.

31. bitterness—both of spirit and of speech: opposed to "kind."

wrath—passion for a time: opposed to "tender-hearted." Whence Bengel translates for "wrath," harshness.

anger—lasting resentment: opposed to "forgiving one another."

clamour—compared by Chrysostom to a horse carrying anger for its rider: "Bridle the horse, and you dismount its rider." "Bitterness" begets "wrath"; "wrath," "anger"; "anger," "clamor"; and "clamor," the more chronic "evil-speaking," slander, insinuations, and surmises of evil. "Malice" is the secret root of all: "fires fed within, and not appearing to by-standers from without, are the most formidable" [Chrysostom].

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger; these all seem to relate to the inward affection, as the two following to the effects of it in the words.

Bitterness may imply a secret lurking displeasure at another, or rather a confirmed and permanent one;

wrath, the first boiling up of the passion, which affects the body in the commotion of the blood and spirits; and

anger, a greater height and paroxysm of the same passion, or an eager desire of revenge: see Colossians 3:8.

And clamour; such inordinate loudness as men in anger are wont to break out into in their words.

And evil speaking; either with respect to God or man, though the latter seems particularly meant here; railing, reviling, reproaching, &c., the ordinary effects of immoderate anger.

With all malice; maliciousness, or malignity of heart, in opposition to kindness and tenderness, Ephesians 4:32: see Romans 1:29 1 Corinthians 5:8 14:20 Titus 3:3.

Let all bitterness,.... These words are a dehortation from several vices good men are liable to, by which the Spirit of God is grieved: "bitterness" sometimes designs the corruption of nature, which is the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity; and sometimes actual sins and transgressions, even those of God's own people, which are evil and bitter things; and sometimes heretical doctrines, which are roots of bitterness; and sometimes sinful words spoken by the saints, one against another; and here perhaps it signifies, the first offence taken in the mind, against any person, upon any account, which should at once be put away, and not encouraged:

and wrath: heat of spirit, which follows upon bitterness, or upon the spirit being embittered and offended; see Ezekiel 3:14.

And anger; a sinful one, cautioned against before, Ephesians 4:26.

And clamour and evil speaking; such as brawlings, contentions, contumelies, reproaches, slanders, &c. arising from an embittered, wrathful, and angry disposition: these should all

be put away from you, with all malice; being the deeds of the old man, unbecoming such as are born again, and grieving to the Spirit of God.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Ephesians 4:31-32. Πικρία] Bitterness, i.e. fretting spitefulness, Acts 8:23; Jam 3:14. See Wetstein, ad Rom. iii. 14; Loesner, Obss. p. 344 f.; Wyttenbach, ad Plut. Mor. VI. p. 1033.

As to the distinction between θυμός (ebullition of anger) and ὀργή, see on Romans 2:8; Galatians 5:20. The context shows, we may add, that here loveless and hostile anger is meant: hence there is no inconsistency with Ephesians 4:26.

κραυγή] clamour, in which hostile passion breaks out, Acts 23:9.[251]

ΒΛΑΣΦΗΜΊΑ] not: “verba, quae Dei honorem … laedunt,” Grotius; but, in accordance with the context, evil-speaking against the brethren, comp. Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 6:4; Matthew 12:31; Matthew 15:19.

κακία] is here not badness in general, vitiositas (Cic. Tusc. iv. 15. 34), but, in harmony with the connection, the special spitle, malice, Romans 1:29; Colossians 3:8. This is the leaven of the πικρία κ.τ.λ.

γίνεσθε] not be, but become, in keeping with the ἀρθήτω ἀφʼ ὑμῶν.

χρηστοί] kind, Colossians 3:12. See Tittmann, Synon. pp. 140, 195. The conjecture that the word contains an allusion to the name Christians (Olshausen), is an arbitrary fancy.

εὔσπλαγχνοι] compassionate. Comp. Manass. 6; 1 Peter 3:8, and the passages from the Test. XII. Patr. in Kypke.

χαριζόμενοι] forgiving, 2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 12:13. The explanation donantes (Vulgate), largientes (Erasmus), is not in keeping with the context.

ἑαυτοῖς] equivalent to ἈΛΛΉΛΟΙς. See on Colossians 3:12.

ΚΑΘῺς ΚΑῚ Ὁ ΘΕῸς Κ.Τ.Λ.] Motive to the ΧΑΡΙΖ. ἙΑΥΤ., from their own experience of the archetypal conduct of God. Matthew 6:14; Matthew 18:21 ff.

ἘΝ ΧΡΙΣΤῷ] in Christ, in whose self-surrender to the death of atonement the act of the divine forgiveness was accomplished, Ephesians 1:6 f.; 2 Corinthians 5:19.

[251] Chrysostom calls the κραυγή the steed of anger.

Ephesians 4:31. πᾶσα πικρία: let all bitterness. The noun πικρία occurs thrice again in the NT, and with different shades of meaning (Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; Hebrews 12:15). Meyer makes it = fretting spitefulness here. But it seems to be more than that (cf. χολὴ πικρίας as a description of exceptional wickedness in Acts 8:23), and to mean resentfulness, harshness, virulence. In Jam 3:11 τὸ πικρόν is contrasted with τὸ γλυκύ, and in Ephesians 4:14 it qualifies ζῆλον which again is coupled with ἐρίθειαν. The πᾶσα has the force of “all manner of”. Harshness in all its forms whether in speech or in feeling (the latter, perhaps, being specially in view as the contrasting χρηστοί suggests) is to be put away.—καὶ θυμὸς καὶ ὀργή: and wrath and anger. These two words are often conjoined in non-biblical Greek, in the LXX and in the NT (e.g., Romans 2:8; Colossians 3:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15). So far as they differ, the distinction is that θυμός is fury, the more passionate and passing sentiment, the burst of anger, and ὀργή the settled disposition. So in Sir 48:10 we get the phrase κοπάσαι ὀργὴν πρὸ θυμοῦ. See Trench, Syn., pp. 123–125.—καὶ κραυγή: and clamour. κραυγή is sometimes the cry of distress (Hebrews 5:7; Revelation 21:4). Here it is the outcry of passion (Acts 23:9). καὶ βλασφημία: and evil speaking. Here it is obviously slanderous or injurious speech with reference to brethren (Matthew 12:31; Matthew 15:19; Mark 3:28; Mark 7:22; Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 6:4). So πικρία, the harsh, virulent temper, works θυμὸν καὶ ὀργήν, wrath and anger, and these again induce κραυγὴν καὶ βλασφημίαν, passionate clamour and hurtful speech.—ἀρθήτω ἀφʼ ὑμῶν σὺν πάσῃ κακίᾳ: be put away from you together with all malice. κακία may mean either wickedness generally (Acts 8:22; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Peter 2:16); or ill-will, malignity in particular (Romans 1:29; Colossians 3:8; Titus 3:3; Jam 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1). The context points to the latter here. So Wicl., Cov., Rhem., AV, RV; while Tynd. gives “maliciousness,” and the Bish. “naughtiness”.

31. all … all] Observe the uncompromising scope of the precept. Revolution in principle was to result in nothing short of revolution in temper and practice.

wrath … anger] The two original words occur together also Romans 2:8; Colossians 3:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15 (“the wrath of the anger of God”). The word rendered “wrath” denotes rather the acute passion, and the other the chronic. See Trench, Synonyms, § xxxvi.—There is no real contradiction here to Ephesians 4:26. The aim there was to limit the admission of anger only to the rare cases where it could be present “without sin.” Here the question is not of the exception but of the rule. Personal irascibility, personal feud and quarrel, were to be things past and gone out of Christian life.

clamour] The violent assertion of rights and wrongs, real or supposed.

evil speaking] Gr. blasphêmia. Our word “blasphemy” is now confined to “evil speaking” against God and Divine things, but the Gr. word includes all kinds of slander and opprobrium. It is used (verb, noun, or adjective) of evil speaking against man, or human things, often in N.T.; e.g. 1 Corinthians 4:13 (A. V., “defamed”); 1 Corinthians 10:30; Colossians 3:8; Titus 3:2.

be put away] Or, taken away. The verb is in the aorist imperative, enjoining a decisive act, a definite and total rejection of these phases of evil. Such an act, and the maintenance of its results, would be only possible “in Christ”; but so it could be done. See the parallel passage, Colossians 3:8, where the precept is as decisive and as inclusive as here.

malice] The Gr. word sometimes bears the sense of “evil,” “ill,” in general; e.g.the evil” of “the day,” Matthew 6:34. But where, as here, it forms one of a list of vices (cp. Romans 1:29; Colossians 3:8; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 2:1), it tends to mean the bitter and unjust habit of mind which we denote by malice. (See Trench, Synonyms, § xi.) It is here mentioned last, as the deeper and more subtle sin of which those just mentioned are manifestations. Unkindness, in its inmost secret, is to be a thing cast out.

Ephesians 4:31. Πικρία, bitterness) Its opposite is in Ephesians 4:32, χρηστοὶ, kind to all.—θυμὸς, harshness, cruelty [sævitia]) Its opposite is merciful, viz., to the weak and the miserable.—καὶ ὀργὴ, and anger) Its opposite is forgiving, viz., towards those who injure us. Thus far the climax descends, in reference to things forbidden.—βλασφημια, blasphemy) [evil-speaking] an outrageous (heinous) species of clamour. Love takes away both.—κακίᾳ) wickedness. This is the genus, therefore with all is added. [It denotes that depravity (evil-disposition, malice), by which a man shows himself illnatured and troublesome to those who associate with him.—V. g.]

Verse 31. - Let all bitterness; not only in speech, but in mind, disposition, habit. And wrath and anger; nearly synonymous, but perhaps" wrath" is equivalent to the tumultuous excited state of mind, out of which comes anger, the settled feeling of dislike and enmity. And clamor and evil-speaking be put away from you; "clamor," equivalent to the loud noise of strife, the excited shouting down of opponents; "evil-speaking," the more deliberate habit of running down their character, exciting an evil feeling against them in the minds of others. With all malice; equivalent to wishing evil, whether in a more pronounced or in a latent and half-conscious form, whether expressing itself in the way of coarse malediction or lurking in a corner of the heart, as an evil spirit of which we should be ashamed; all are rags of the old man, as disgraceful to Christians as literal rags to a man of position; utterly unworthy of the regenerated child of God. Chrysostom, rather fancifully, treats them as a genealogy: "Bitterness bred wrath, wrath anger, anger clamor, clamor evil-speaking, which is railing." Ephesians 4:31Bitterness (πικρία)

Bitter frame of mind.


What is commanded in Ephesians 4:26 is here forbidden, because viewed simply on the side of human passion.

Anger (θυμὸς)

Violent outbreak. See on John 3:36; see on James 5:7.

Clamor (κραυγὴ)

Outward manifestation of anger in vociferation or brawling.

Evil-speaking (βλασφημία)

See on Mark 7:22.

Malice (κακίᾳ)

The root of all the rest. See on James 1:21.

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