By Wayne S. Walker
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers…[will inherit the kingdom of God]” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Please notice that the word here is not “revelers,” as in Galatians 5:19 where one of the works of the flesh listed is “revellings” or “revelries.” That too is a sin, but this is something different. Instead of “revilers,” the New International Version has “slanderers.”
The word in the original language is defined as a railer or an abusive person, and comes from a term meaning to reproach. In the examination of the blind man whom Jesus healed by the Jewish leaders, “Then they reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples’” (John 9:28). Paul, describing his work as an apostle, said, “…Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure” (1 Corinthians 4:12). And of Jesus in His sufferings we are told, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).
Basically, the word “reviler” identifies one who by his abusive speech stirs up hatred, anger, contention, and strife. Notice what the wise man had to say about such people in the Old Testament. “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention” (Proverbs 15:18). “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife: (Proverbs 26:21). There are so many ways to revile—murmuring and complaining (1 Corinthians 10:10); arguing and bickering (Galatians 5:15); gossiping and talebearing (1 Timothy 5:13); or simply speaking evil of others (James 4:14).
The New Testament certainly teaches us to avoid these kinds of things. “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit’” (1 Peter 3:8-10). Also, we need to live so as to give no occasion for others to speak evil of us. “Sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:8). Remember that revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
—in Search for Truth, 7/5/2015 (Vol. VI, No. 48)