Gossip or talebearing is sharing poisonous reports with someone in private that wouldn’t be said in front of the person talked about – Dr. L. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. It’s indulging in idle/inappropriate talk or rumors (statements made without known authority for its truth); it is talking to someone and telling them something about another person (whether what is said about that person is true or not) with the object of belittling or tearing down that person’s character or reputation, and whose business it’s not.

Write down the principle or truth that’s taught in each of the following passages:

Prov. 11:13

Prov. 17:9

Prov. 18:8

Prov. 20:19

Prov. 25:9-10

1 Tim. 3:11

Titus 2:3


Slander is to attack, make, or spread false statements about someone that are harmful to that person’s character or reputation.

Prov. 6:12-15

Prov. 10:18

Prov. 16:28

Eph. 4:31

Col. 3:8

Titus 3:2 (first word)

1 Cor. 4:13

1 Pet. 2:1

1 Pet. 2:12


Filthiness is whatever is morally hateful; deformed; revolting; what excites disgust, physical or moral; whatever is vile or disgusting in speech or conduct; base; obscene (e.g., describing some masochistic or perverted sex scene).

Eph. 5:4


Silly or foolish talk is talk that is characteristic of fools; senseless; frivolous; stupid and sinful together; lack of forethought and wisdom and is godless (e.g., “your mama wears Army boots”; “let’s see who can spit the farthest”; “my belly button looks better than yours”; “let’s jump across this deep ravine that’s 7 ft. across”; “how many angels can fit on the top of a pin?”).

Eph. 5:4 (second word)

2 Tim. 2:23


Evil speaking is speech or words that destroy or tear down another person wrongly.

Psa. 34:13

1 Pet. 3:9-10

Matt. 5:11

Lk. 6:45


Worldly and empty chatter or fruitless discussion is vain/worthless, empty-jabberings; devoid of godliness; unholy talk (e.g., whether some villain in a video game can conquer the world or a heated argument about some sports team being better than another sports team); high sounding philosophies (e.g., Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, etc.); useless disputes about fictitious, genealogical histories and hair-splitting debates about niceties in the Law of Moses (e.g., Can you spit on the Sabbath?).  The latter is useless reasoning, argumentation that gets no where (e.g., Can God create a rock that is so heavy that He can’t lift it?); wrangling about fanciful tales and words (e.g., anagrams, rearranging the letters of a word to form new words, e.g., “Samuel” is “as a mule” – the letters in the word “Samuel” are rearranged to say “as a mule”).  Knowledge (falsely called in 1 Tim. 6) is supposed, superior insight in terms of fables and genealogies (e.g., how Mary, Jesus’ mother, died and what happened to her body).

1 Tim. 6:20-21

2 Tim. 2:14-18

1 Tim. 1:4-7

Titus 1:9-14

Titus 3:9


The tongue, mouth, and words are personified as the agents of destructive or constructive communication.

Prov. 18:21

                (“love it” – the tongue; are talkative); (“eat its fruit” – suffer the consequences of what they say).

 Prov. 29:20

Prov. 10:20

Prov. 10:32

Prov. 13:3

Prov. 15:4

Prov. 15:28

Prov. 9:13

Prov. 27:2

Psa. 17:3

Psa. 39:1

Jude 1:4, 16

Matt. 5:11

Matt. 15:18-20

Matt. 12:34-37

James 1:26

James 3:2-12

Titus 3:9


Coarse jesting is joking or speaking that is skillful, witty, flippant, satirical, mocking, irreverent, vulgar, crude, or morally offensive; a smart or shrewd intimation.

Eph. 5:4 (third word)


Unwholesome word is worthless, profitless; corrupt; putrid; unedifying.

Eph. 4:29


Swearing is to use profane or blasphemous language.

Ex. 20:7

Lev. 19:12

Psa. 139:20


Grumbling or disputing.  The first word means muttering undertoned words of rebellion or discontentment against God’s word or will.  The second word means arguing with God about His word or will (i.e., Ex. 4:1-13; Jn. 6:41-43).

Phil. 2:14-15

1 Cor. 10:10


Lying is the utterance by speech or act of that which is false, with the intent to mislead or delude.

Prov. 6:16-17, 19

Psa. 34:13

Prov. 12:22

Col. 3:9


Abusive speech is improper or wrongly damaging speech.

Col. 3:8

1 Tim. 6:4


Uncontentious means not argumentative or quarrelsome (this does not apply to defending the faith, however – i.e., Titus 1:11; Acts 18:28).

Titus 3:2 (second word)


Speaking against Christians is criticism of believers because their outlook is different from our own.  (James is not saying that one should eliminate constructive criticism or avoid all judgment about the character and abilities of others – i.e., Jn. 7:24; 1 Cor. 5:12.  Dealing with wrong teaching or ungodly living of believers is not the issue here.).

James 4:11


Harsh word is a grievous word; calling foul names; to scold or chide for some wrong doing, offense, or error; unpleasantly sharp, cruel, or rough  (It’s not necessarily wrong to do in certain situations – i.e., Matt. 23:13-35).

Prov. 15:1


Reprove is to convict; express disapproval of, find fault with; it’s to show you where you are wrong.

Prov. 19:25

Prov. 27:6

Prov. 9:8

Matt. 18:15-17


Admonish is to warn someone through instruction of their wrong doing.

1 Thes. 5:14 (regarding the “unruly”)


Correct is to instruct or discipline; it’s to show you what you should do.

2 Tim. 2:24-26


Rebuke is to address in sharp and severe disapproval.

Lk. 17:3

Prov. 24:25

1 Tim. 5:1



What are the principles or instructions given regarding the rightness of these statements:

Jn. 7:24

Acts 15:19-20

1 Cor. 1:10-11

1 Cor. 5:12-13

1 Cor. 6:1-5

1 Cor. 14:29; Acts 17:11

1 Tim. 1:3

2 Tim. 2:14

Titus 1:9-14

2 Tim. 4:2-4

1 Jn. 4:1-3 


By whom, about whom, to whom, and concerning what are these examples supportive?

Matt. 15:1-2, 7-14

Matt. 16:23

Lk. 9:51-55

Matt. 23:1, 13-35

Jn. 21:21-22

Acts 15:36-38

1 Cor. 5:1-5

1 Tim. 1:18-20

2 Tim. 1:15

2 Tim. 2:16-18

2 Tim. 4:10

3 Jn. 1:9-10


Right speaking is saying what is true in love, with the ultimate object of edifying or building another person up in his character or being; to preserve the purity of right doctrine; or to instruct people in fruitful living and relationships.

Eph. 4:14-15, 25

Eph. 4:29

Prov. 16:21, 24

Prov. 15:26

Prov. 15:23

Prov. 12:25

Col. 4:6

                (“grace” – good taste); (“seasoned … salt” – worthwhile, thought-provoking, attractive); (“respond” – appropriately).

1 Tim. 1:3  (“instruct” – confront).

2 Tim. 2:14

                (“charge” – command with authority); (“words” – wage word battles about endless myths and genealogies, 1 Tim. 1:3-7).

Titus 1:9, 11

                (“refute” – to prove/show wrong through argument).

Acts 18:24, 28


Encourage is to strengthen spiritually by word and/or action.

Acts 18:24, 27

Heb. 3:13

1 Thes. 2:10-12

1 Thes. 5:14 (regarding the “fainthearted”)


Exhort is to strongly urge someone to pursue some course of conduct or action.

Acts 2:40

Titus 2:11-15 (vs. 15)

Rom. 12:6, 8


How to avoid speaking evil and instead speak rightly:

Eph. 5:18-20

Prov. 21:23

Prov. 16:23

Prov. 10:19

Prov. 22:17-21

James 1:19

Col. 3:16-17

Psa. 141:3


Some questions to ask yourself:

Is what I’m saying true?          And how do I know for sure it’s true?

Is what I’m saying glorifying (bringing praise) to Christ?

Is what I’m saying being said for the purpose of evaluating someone who is aspiring to a leadership position, and is it being said to those who have the authority to place such a person in that position?

Is what I’m saying done out of a motivation of love for God, the person or people I’m speaking to, and/or the person I’m speaking about?

Is what I’m saying being done out of a motivation to preserve truth (what’s right biblically) and to warn those who are in error, or to warn people to not get taken in by those teaching error?

Do I think before I speak?

Do I pray about what I need to tell someone, if it’s of a negative tone, but for right reasons?


Summarize what you’ve gained by having done this study.


When is it right or permissible to judge, criticize, or use harsh words?

  1. When as a spiritual leader either you or your disciples/trainees are challenged by religious leaders about not keeping man-made, religious traditions – Matt. 15:1-14. The purpose is to teach your disciples/trainees or people, who are being led astray from what is true or right, about religious, hypocritical leaders and their error.
  2. When your disciple/trainee is used as a mouthpiece for Satan because his mind is not on God’s interests, but on man’s — Matt. 16:23. The purpose is to teach your disciples/trainees how to resist Satan-influenced disciples and their demonic words.
  3. When your disciples/trainees over-react either too hastily or too harshly – Lk. 9:55. The purpose is to teach your disciples/trainees to not react too hastily or untimely.
  4. When exposing religious hypocrites – Matt. 23:1-35. The purpose is to warn and teach your disciples (trainees) and/or spiritually-naïve people about religious hypocrisy, error, and pride.
  5. When your disciple/trainee is committing sin (e.g., jealousy, pride, etc.) – Jn. 21:22. The purpose is to confront sin and not let it go unchecked for the sake of that person.
  6. When evaluating the qualifications of a Christian worker for a responsibility and discussing it among those spiritual leaders in charge of the task – Acts 15:36-38. The purpose is to put only those who are qualified for a responsibility in that position.
  7. When as a spiritual leader you are guiding the church (Christian group) in disciplining a person, who claims to be a Christian, who is living in sin – 1 Cor. 5:1-5. The purpose is to keep the Christian group pure and awaken the sinning Christian by exhorting the Christian group or church to disassociate from the sinning Christian until such time as the sinning Christian repents of his sin.
  8. When warning, instructing, teaching, and/or encouraging your disciple/trainee to keep the faith – 1 Tim. 1:18-20. The purpose is to motivate your disciple/trainee to keep the faith by sharing a negative example.
  9. When informing another spiritual leader about the status of affairs in your ministry and the people you deal with, just in case they too might have to deal with any of these same people – 2 Tim. 1:15; 4:10. The purpose is to warn the other spiritual leader of potential problems that he might encounter should problem-people from your ministry come to this other spiritual leader’s ministry.
  10. When instructing your disciple/trainee, who is a spiritual leader, what to do and what not to do in dealing with apostates – 2 Tim. 2:16-18. The purpose is to warn and instruct your disciple/trainee, who is a spiritual leader, of situations he may have to deal with or problem-people he may have to deal with.
  11. When exposing or talking about a corrupt political leader – Lk. 13:31-32.


Let us know what you think.