Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:…
The apostle commands us to put away five forms of it along with the temper out of which they spring.
I. BITTERNESS. This points, not to mordant speech merely, but to a sour, irritable, splenetic temperament, which places a man in an attitude of constant antagonism with his fellow-men. It argues want of love and consideration for others. Its effects are
(1) to spoil our own comfort;
(2) to excite the hatred of others;
(3) to destroy our influence for good.
II. WRATH. This suggests the fierce mental excitement that springs out of bitterness. It is "a fever in the heart, and a calenture in the head, and a fire in the face, and a sword in the hand, and a fury all over." Wrath is sinful because it springs from want of love, from misunderstanding, and from pride (Proverbs 21:24).
III. ANGER. This is a more settled habit of the spirit. There is an anger that is lawful (ver. 26), so far as it proceeds from a lawful cause, is directed to a lawful object, and is guided to a lawful issue. But the anger here is altogether sinful. It is an anger
(1) that is accompanied with hatred;
(2) that breaks out into curses (Psalm 106:33);
(3) that is excited by the wrong done to ourselves rather than by the dishonor done to God;
(4) that is long cherished;
(5) that unfits us for holy duties.
We ought to put it away from us, because
(1) God forbids it (Colossians 3:8);
(2) because it disturbs both mind and body;
(3) because it is folly as well as sin (Proverbs 14:17, 29);
(4) because it may lead to eternal ruin.
IV. CLAMOR. This is the cry of strife; the noisy, impetuous brawling, which gives outlet to the dark hostility within.
V. EVIL-SPEAKING. This points to the license of speech which wounds the reputation of others. It is an outrage alike upon truth and charity.
VI. MALICE. This marks the rooted enmity out of which all the five forms of evil naturally spring. It has been remarked that their genealogical relationship is manifest in the very order of their mention: "Acerbity of temper exciting passion, that passion matured into strong indignation, that indignation throwing itself off in indecent brawling, and that brawling darkening into libel and abuse, a malicious element lying all the while at the basis of these flagrant enormities." We are commanded to put them all away.
1. They find their true place among the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
2. They are not only inconsistent with but opposite to the nine graces of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and their indulgence in any degree by Christians has the effect of grieving the Spirit.
3. They are inconsistent with that worthy walk which belongs to the vocation with which we are called (ver. 1). - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: