In-Depth Edition

II. Being True


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Chapter 32  Part II

Being True

In order to do what is right in our relationships with others, we must be true – both faithful and truthful. It is important to remember that faithfulness and truth – with the trust that they generate – are absolutely essential for our relationships with others to work, for so many aspects of our relationships are dependent on them. Accordingly we must avoid deceitfulness and associated dishonest practices. Bear in mind that deceitfulness is arguably the prime characteristic of Satan and evil.


See also:

Be faithful . . .

Prov 3:3  Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. ▤ 

Prov 12:22  Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. ▤ 

In light of the first clause, the second one seems to primarily have in view keeping one’s word/promises (cf. GNT, NCV, NLT).

Matt 23:23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. ▤ 

Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, … ▤ 

The Holy Spirit engenders faithfulness in believers. As such faithfulness is something that we should strive for. Note that like most of the other “fruit” listed, faithfulness here seems to primarily concern faithfulness to other people.

1Tim 3:11  Their wives likewise musta be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. ▤ 

a Or Wives, likewise, must, or Women, likewise, must

Titus 2:9-10  Slavesb are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. ▤ 

b Or servants; Greek bondservants

Mal 2:10, 13-16  Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? ▤ 13And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?c And what was the one Godd seeking?e Godly offspring. So guard yourselvesf in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,g says the Lord, the God of Israel, coversh his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” ▤ 

c Hebrew in it

d Hebrew the one

e Or And not one has done this who has a portion of the Spirit. And what was that one seeking?

f Or So take care; also verse 16

g Hebrew who hates and divorces

h Probable meaning (compare Septuagint and Deuteronomy 24:1-4); or “The Lord, the God of Israel, says that he hates divorce, and him who covers

Verse 10 speaks generally of the people’s faithless and treacherous dealing with each other, whereas 14-16 speak of breaking faith with one’s wife. (For comment on v. 15, see Mal 2:13-16 – under Avoid divorce – it is contrary to God’s purposes.)

Prov 20:6  Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? ▤ 

Despite many people’s claims to be faithful or “loyal” (GNT, NCV, NLT), truly faithful people are not so common.

Luke 16:10  One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. ▤ 

. . . Examples of faithfulness

Josh 2:14  And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” ▤ 

In Genesis 47:29, similarly Jacob asks Joseph to “deal kindly and truly with me”.

Neh 7:2  I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. ▤ 

Dan 6:4  Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. ▤ 

1Pet 5:12  By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. ▤ 

3Jn 1:5  Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, … ▤ 

The phrase “a faithful thing” may be referring to faithfulness to the “brothers”, but it may well primarily be speaking of faithfulness to the Lord by helping fellow disciples, his people. Alternatively, John may in fact not be differentiating between the two. The same could be said of “faithful” above in 1 Peter 5:12. Regarding faithfulness to God, see Be Faithful to God.

Be trustworthy and reliable

See also:

Ex 18:21  Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. ▤ 

1Cor 4:2  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. ▤ 

1Cor 7:25  Now concerningi the betrothed,j I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. ▤ 

i The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1

j Greek virgins

Paul recognized that his trustworthiness ultimately was due to the Lord. He may have in view Jesus Christ’s intervention in his life on the road to Damascus.

2Tim 2:2  … and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. ▤ 

This indicates that faithful people are worthy of trust – i.e. they are trustworthy.

Prov 11:13  Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. ▤ 

Neh 13:13  And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers. ▤ 

Isa 8:2  And I will get reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me. ▤ 

God is actually the speaker here. This points to the need to be reliable or trustworthy in things such as giving a proper account of something when required, on behalf of God or others.

  • Keep your promises:

Neh 5:12-13  Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. 13I also shook out the foldk of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised. ▤ 

k Hebrew bosom

Stand by others . . .

See also:

Luke 22:28  You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, … ▤ 

1Ki 2:7  But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyaltyl they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. ▤ 

l Or steadfast love

Ruth 1:15-17  And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” ▤ 

Ruth’s promise to stand by her bereaved mother-in-law is a superlative expression of loyalty and commitment – and often referred to as an example of such.

2Sam 15:19-21  Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord showm steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” ▤ 

m Septuagint; Hebrew lacks may the Lord show

2Ki 2:1-6  Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” 4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” 6Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. ▤ 

It is debatable as to exactly what moved Elisha to stay with Elijah till he was taken by God (cf. v. 11), but quite possibly his love of and faithfulness to Elijah – whom he served (cf. 1Ki 19:21) – were at least part of the reason (cf. v. 12).

. . . Do not desert others

Prov 27:10  Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. ▤ 

Do not “desert” (CEV, NIrV) – “abandon” (NLT) – or renounce a friend.

Josh 22:3  You have not forsaken your brothers these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of the Lord your God. ▤ 

2Sam 20:2  So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem. ▤ 

This and the following passages contain examples of people sadly deserting others in need.

Matt 26:31-34, 56  Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” ▤ 56But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. ▤ 

2Tim 1:15  You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. ▤ 

On a number of occasions Paul suffered the discouraging experience of being deserted. As well this and the occurrences referred to below in 4:10, 16, he was deserted by: John Mark (cf. Acts 15:38); and some members of the church in Galatia (cf. Gal 1:6).

2Tim 4:10, 16  For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia,n Titus to Dalmatia. ▤ 16At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! ▤ 

n Some manuscripts Gaul

  • The men of Jabesh-gilead’s loyalty to their dead king:

2Sam 2:4-6  And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. When they told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” 5David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the Lord, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. 6Now may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. ▤ 

Do not betray others

1Chr 12:17  David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in friendship to help me, my heart will be joined to you; but if to betray me to my adversaries, although there is no wrong in my hands, then may the God of our fathers see and rebuke you.” ▤ 

Job 17:5  He who informs against his friends to get a share of their property— the eyes of his children will fail. ▤ 

If one betrays his friend for reward, such will be the consequences that even his children will “suffer for it” (GNT, NIrV).

Isa 24:16b  Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed. ▤ 

Matt 26:24, 47-50  The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” ▤ 47While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”o Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. ▤ 

o Or Friend, why are you here?

Matt 27:3-4  Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesusp was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” ▤ 

p Greek he

Ps 41:9  Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. ▤ 

Ps 55:12-14, 20-21  For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. 13But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. ▤ 20My companionq stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. 21His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. ▤ 

q Hebrew He

Verses 12-14 reflect the heartache and great disappointment one must endure when betrayed by a close friend (cf. Ps 41:9 ; Lam 1:2 ).

Ps 59:5  You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah ▤ 

Lam 1:2  She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies. ▤ 

Matt 10:21  Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, … ▤ 

Believers may face betrayal, even by members of their own families.

Matt 24:10  And then many will fall awayr and betray one another and hate one another. ▤ 

r Or stumble

The period of the end times is in view.

  • Do not betray another person’s confidence:

Prov 25:9-10  Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, 10lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end. ▤ 

Results of faithfulness

Prov 3:3-4  Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4So you will find favor and good successs in the sight of God and man. ▤ 

s Or repute

The coupling of “love” and “faithfulness” is common in the OT, often used in speaking of God’s character. In a person, they form a basis for a proper relationship both with God and with people, as reflected in v. 4.

Prov 28:20  A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. ▤ 

Ps 101:6  I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. ▤ 

Note that David is speaking, as king. This points to the value of faithful people to others, and that being faithful is also beneficial to oneself (cf. Prov 28:20 ).

Prov 13:17  A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing. ▤ 

A faithful envoy brings “healing” in that they are likely to bring peace (cf. GNT) between the two parties involved, healing any rifts.

Prov 25:13  Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters. ▤ 

Consequences of unfaithfulness

Note that unfaithfulness to God, as opposed to people, may be primarily in view in a number of the following references.

Prov 11:3, 6  The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. ▤ 6The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust. ▤ 

Prov 13:15  Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.t ▤ 

t Probable reading (compare Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate); Hebrew is rugged, or is an enduring rut

Prov 21:18  The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the traitor for the upright. ▤ 

This appears to be a somewhat metaphorical generalization of contrasting outcomes of wickedness – as is exhibited by traitors – and righteousness.

Prov 22:12  The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he overthrows the words of the traitor. ▤ 

Rev 21:8  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. ▤ 

The “faithless” may mean the “untrustworthy” (NASB text note), hence the verse’s inclusion here. Alternatively it may be speaking of the “unbelieving” (NASB).

  • The treacherous are detrimental to those who rely upon them:

Prov 25:19  Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips. ▤ 

Note: Insights on friendship . . .

Prov 17:17  A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ▤ 

Here “friend” and “brother” are paralleled. A friend faithfully always shows love, even in testing times.

Prov 18:24  A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ▤ 

Having many companions or so-called “friends” is not necessarily a good thing. If they are of bad character or unreliable they can lead one to ruin. In contrast a real friend will stick closer than a brother, even in difficult times.

Prov 27:6, 9  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. ▤ 9Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.u ▤ 

u Or and so does the sweetness of a friend that comes from his earnest counsel

Verse 6 is saying that reproaches from a friend are faithful as they are intended for one’s own good – in contrast to an enemy’s supposedly friendly advances. The Hebrew in the second part of v. 9 is not clear (cf. CEV text note, GNT text note). Here the ESV rendering commends the sincere advice that a friend gives.

Eccl 4:9-12  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ▤ 

This is readily applicable to friendship, and may even have it primarily in view. Verse 9 appears to be making the point that two can work more effectively than one (cf. GNT, NCV, NLT). The final clause (v. 12b) appears to imply that three friends or companions “are even better” (NLT) than two, forming a grouping of quite some strength.

John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ▤ 

Job 2:11, 13  Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. ▤ 13And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. ▤ 

This illustrates that one should sympathize with and comfort friends (v. 11b), when they are facing adversity. Moreover v. 13 appears to exemplify that we should empathize with them.

Job 6:14  He who withholdsv kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. ▤ 

v Syriac, Vulgate (compare Targum); the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain

This and the following verses from Acts reflect that one ought to address a friend’s needs.

Acts 24:23  Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. ▤ 

Acts 27:3  The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. ▤ 

. . . Jonathan and David’s close friendship

1Sam 18:1, 3-4  As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. ▤ 3Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. ▤ 

Jonathan’s covenant with David was one of loyalty and friendship – as illustrated in the following passages. Jonathan’s actions in v. 4 may have been simply a ratifying of this covenant, but some commentators interpret them to also signify the passing of the royal line from his own family to David’s.

1Sam 20:4  Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” ▤ 

Jonathan made this promise to David in regard to saving his life (cf. vv. 1-3).

1Sam 20:13-17  [Jonathan:] But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. 14If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; 15and do not cut offw your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Mayx the Lord take vengeance on David’s enemies.” 17And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. ▤ 

w Or but if I die, do not cut off

x Septuagint earth, 16let not the name of Jonathan be cut off from the house of David. And may

Jonathan’s statement in v. 16 reaffirmed his commitment to David, even in the face of his own father’s hostility towards David (v. 13).

1Sam 20:41-42  And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heapy and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 42Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.z ▤ 

y Septuagint; Hebrew from beside the south

z This sentence is 21:1 in Hebrew

The two friends wept knowing that they would see little of each other for at least the near future, due to the hostility of King Saul (Jonathan’s father) towards David. In v. 42, “The Lord shall be between me and you …” speaks of God watching as a witness to their covenant, to ensure that it is kept.

1Sam 23:16, 18  And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. ▤ 18And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home. ▤ 

The covenant (v. 18) may have been a renewal of the earlier one (cf. 1Sam 18:3 ) – as appears to be the case in 20:16-17 above – or simply a new one. If it was a new one, presumably it likewise reflected their friendship and commitment to each other.

2Sam 1:26  [David:] I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. ▤ 

2Sam 9:7-8  And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 8And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” ▤ 

Mephibosheth was clearly taken aback (v. 8) at the extent of David’s kindness, resulting from David’s loyalty to Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father.

Pray for persecuted Christians


Be truthful . . .

Ps 51:6  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. ▤ 

Jer 4:1-2  “If you return, O Israel, declares the Lord, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver, 2and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” ▤ 

Jer 5:1-3a  Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. 2Though they say, “As the Lord lives,” yet they swear falsely. 3O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? ▤ 

Zec 8:19  Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace. ▤ 

1Cor 13:6  … it [love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ▤ 

Being truthful is acting in accordance with love.

Eph 5:8b-9  Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), … ▤ 

Living as children of light produces what is “good and right and true”. The term “true” is inclusive of “truth” (GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NKJV; cf. CEV).

Eph 6:14  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, … ▤ 

Truth is a key element in standing firm against evil, without which one will succumb. (Note that “truth” does refer here to truthfulness rather than in particular to God’s word or the gospel.)

. . . Speak the truth

See also:

Rom 9:1  I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— ▤ 

Eph 4:15, 25  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, ▤ 25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. ▤ 

Note that in v. 15, “speaking the truth” may simply mean “speak truthfully”, but “truth” could more specifically be referring to the gospel, in contrast to heretical teaching (cf. v. 14).

Zec 8:16  These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; … ▤ 

Prov 8:7  … for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. ▤ 

Ps 15:1-2  O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; … ▤ 

The last clause appears to be referring to speaking the truth from one’s heart (cf. NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV).

Mark 5:30, 33  And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” ▤ 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. ▤ 

2Cor 7:14b  But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. ▤ 

2Cor 6:11  We have spoken freely to you,a Corinthians; our heart is wide open. ▤ 

a Greek Our mouth is open to you

Paul not only spoke truthfully but also frankly to the Corinthians.

John 1:19-20  And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” ▤ 

Prov 12:19  Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. ▤ 

Verse 19 possibly means that those who speak the truth will endure, in contrast to those who lie. However it is usually interpreted to mean that truth itself will endure forever, but a lie is soon found out (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

  • Speak what is right:

Prov 16:13  Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. ▤ 

Be honest

Note that the other subsections in this section also pertain to this theme of being honest.

Luke 8:15  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. ▤ 

Eph 4:28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. ▤ 

Gen 42:11  We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies. ▤ 

1Sam 29:6  Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign. For I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, the lords do not approve of you. ▤ 

2Ki 12:15  And they did not ask an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly. ▤ 

2Ki 22:7  But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly. ▤ 

Prov 12:17  Whoever speaksb the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. ▤ 

b Hebrew breathes out

Prov 24:26  Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. ▤ 

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips for such reasons as: it is “pleasing” (NCV™); respectful (cf. NLT); and “a sign of true friendship” (CEV, GNT).

Be sincere

See also:

Josh 24:14  Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. ▤ 

Job 33:3  My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely. ▤ 

1Cor 5:8  Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. ▤ 

The “festival” quite possibly is a reference to celebrating the sacrifice of “Christ, our Passover lamb” (v. 7), alluding to the OT festival of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with which the offering of a Passover lamb is linked. Alternatively or additionally it may be a reference to the Christian life being a joyful life or “festival” in the light of Christ’s sacrifice and its implications. One should participate in such things with “sincerity and truth.”

2Cor 1:12  For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicityc and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. ▤ 

c Some manuscripts holiness

2Cor 2:17  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. ▤ 

Paul’s awareness of his need to speak with sincerity was heightened by: the fact that he was commissioned by God; his consciousness of God’s witness (as per his reference to speaking “in the sight of God”); and his being “in Christ”.

2Cor 11:3  But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. ▤ 

Eph 6:5  Slaves,d obey your earthly masterse with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, … ▤ 

d Or servants; Greek bondservants; similarly verse 8

e Or your masters according to the flesh

Phil 1:17  The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. ▤ 

Col 3:22  Slaves,f obey in everything those who are your earthly masters,g not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. ▤ 

f Or Servants; Greek Bondservants

g Or your masters according to the flesh

2Tim 1:5  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. ▤ 

1Pet 1:22  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, ▤ 

2Pet 3:1  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, … ▤ 

James 3:17  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. ▤ 

Have integrity . . .

Integrity involves consistently holding to strong moral principles, including acting honestly and justly.

1Ki 9:4  And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, … ▤ 

Ps 101:2b  I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; … ▤ 

Job 2:3-10  And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” 7So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”h In all this Job did not sin with his lips. ▤ 

h Or disaster; also verse 11

Just as he had done earlier (v. 3b; cf. 1:20-22) Job maintained his integrity by remaining true to God (v. 10), despite the temptation to do otherwise amidst great hardship (vv. 7-9).

Job 31:6  (Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!) ▤ 

Ps 7:8  The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. ▤ 

David appeals to God to judge and deal with him in accordance with his righteousness and integrity (cf. Ps 26:1, 11 ), and so to repay him by delivering him from wicked enemies. Note the association here of integrity with righteousness.

Ps 26:1, 11  Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. ▤ 11But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. ▤ 

Titus 2:7  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, … ▤ 

1Sam 12:3-4  Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against mei and I will restore it to you.” 4They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” ▤ 

i Septuagint; Hebrew lacks Testify against me

Although “integrity” is not specifically mentioned in this and the following two references (2Sam 18:12; 2Ki 5:15-16), they are excellent examples of it.

2Sam 18:12  But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ ▤ 

2Ki 5:15-16  Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. ▤ 

Elisha refused to accept remuneration for performing his work as a prophet of God, administering God’s power. To have done so would not have been dishonest, but to have profited financially from God’s power would have called his integrity into question. Elisha’s action of great integrity would have spoken volumes to a foreigner such as Naaman, who was not familiar with God’s ways.

Matt 22:16  And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.j ▤ 

j Greek for you do not look at people’s faces

Despite their motivation, these men correctly attest to aspects of Jesus’ integrity.

. . . Integrity brings security and other blessings

Ps 25:21  May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. ▤ 

David effectively asks God to protect him through his integrity and uprightness.

Ps 41:12  But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. ▤ 

Prov 2:7  … he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, … ▤ 

Prov 2:21  For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, … ▤ 

Prov 10:9  Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. ▤ 

Prov 11:3  The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. ▤ 

Prov 20:7  The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! ▤ 

Prov 28:18  Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. ▤ 

Job 4:6  Is not your fear of Godk your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? ▤ 

k Hebrew lacks of God

Gen 20:1-7  From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” ▤ 

Abimelech had acted with integrity and so could claim innocence (v. 5). At least in part because he had done so, God kept him from unwittingly doing any wrong (v. 6) – enabling him to avoid God’s judgment (v. 7).

Pray for persecuted Christians


See also:

Do not deceive

1Pet 2:1  So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. ▤ 

Ps 34:13  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. ▤ 

Prov 24:28  Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. ▤ 

Job 27:4  … my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. ▤ 

Ps 5:6  You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. ▤ 

Ps 32:2  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. ▤ 

Ps 101:7  No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. ▤ 

Here David is speaking, as king.

2Cor 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. ▤ 

1Thes 2:5  For we never came with words of flattery,l as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. ▤ 

l Or with a flattering speech

Paul did not deceitfully try to cover up greed.

1Pet 2:21-22  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. ▤ 

Verse 2 appears to be given as part of Christ’s example in suffering, which we are to follow (v. 21).

1Pet 3:10  For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; … ▤ 

Prov 15:4  A gentlem tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. ▤ 

m Or healing

The second clause may well have deceit primarily in view (cf. CEV, NCV, NIV, NLT). The reference to “the spirit” appears to refer to other people’s spirits, primarily those who are victims of such perverseness.

  • Righteous people hate anything that is false:

Prov 13:5  The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shamen and disgrace. ▤ 

n Or stench

Do not lie

See also:

Note that in addition to the verses actually cross-referenced above, lying appears to be primarily in view in a number of the verses in the previous subsection.

Lev 19:11  You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. ▤ 

Col 3:9-10  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old selfo with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. ▤ 

o Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10

Prov 30:8  Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, … ▤ 

The first clause appears to primarily be a request for God to keep him (Agur) from lying and practicing any falsehood (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

Mal 2:6  True instructionp was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. ▤ 

p Or law; also verses 7, 8, 9

Gal 1:20  (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) ▤ 

1Tim 2:7  For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. ▤ 

Prov 26:28  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin. ▤ 

To lie to someone, particularly for an objective that is to the other person’s detriment, reflects an element of hatred or disdain for them.

Prov 12:22  Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. ▤ 

Isa 59:12-15  For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: 13transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. 14Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. 15Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased himq that there was no justice. ▤ 

q Hebrew and it was evil in his eyes

Here Isaiah laments the people’s rebellion against God, in particular the prevalence of lies and the corresponding lack of truth.

1Tim 3:8  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,r not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. ▤ 

r Or devious in speech

Being “double-tongued” or “devious in speech” (text note) is suggestive of lying (cf. CEV, NCV).

Do not give false testimony

See also:

Ex 20:16  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ▤ 

Ex 23:1-2  You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. 2You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, … ▤ 

Prov 24:28  Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. ▤ 

Luke 3:14  Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” ▤ 

Prov 6:16-19  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. ▤ 

Prov 14:5, 25  A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies. ▤ 25A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful. ▤ 

Prov 25:18  A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. ▤ 

  • We should testify when appropriate:

Lev 5:1  If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity; … ▤ 

Do not use flattery

Flattery is deceitful (cf. Ps 12:2-3 ; Rom 16:18 ) and insincere. It is generally used to mislead others for one’s own advantage.

1Thes 2:5  For we never came with words of flattery,s as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. ▤ 

s Or with a flattering speech

Ps 12:2-3  Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. 3May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, … ▤ 

Rom 16:18  For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,t and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. ▤ 

t Greek their own belly

Prov 26:28  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin. ▤ 

The “ruin” could be that of the person doing the flattering (cf. Prov 29:5 ) or of those who are the objects of the flattering. The context suggests that the latter is more likely (cf. CEV, NCV).

Prov 29:5  A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. ▤ 

Prov 28:23  Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. ▤ 

Do not plot evil schemes

Zec 7:10  … do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. ▤ 

Zec 8:17  … do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord. ▤ 

Prov 6:16-18  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, … ▤ 

Mic 2:1  Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. ▤ 

The reference is to plotting evil.

Ps 38:12  Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. ▤ 

Ps 52:2  Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. ▤ 

Plotting evil schemes is characterized by deception (cf. Prov 12:20 ).

Prov 6:12-15  A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, 13winks with his eyes, signalsu with his feet, points with his finger, 14with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; 15therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. ▤ 

u Hebrew scrapes

Note that the actions in v. 13 are deceptive ones, performed in conjunction with plotting evil (v. 14a).

Prov 12:20  Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. ▤ 

Isa 32:7  As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil; he plans wicked schemes to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right. ▤ 

  • Look to God rather than worry when wicked schemes are committed:

Ps 37:7  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! ▤ 

Avoid hypocrisy: Not acting in accordance with what you say; . . .

See also:

When done intentionally, this form of hypocrisy is clearly deceitful. When it is not done intentionally (which is often the case) it is still a kind of falseness and therefore wrong.

Matt 7:3-5  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ▤ 

Self-righteously pointing out a small fault in someone else and proposing to fix it, while overlooking a worse fault in oneself – particularly a similar fault – is rank hypocrisy.

Matt 23:2-3  The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. ▤ 

The phrase “sit on Moses’ seat” (v. 2) refers to the Pharisees’ authority to preach the law.

Matt 23:13, 15  But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.v ▤ 15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hellw as yourselves. ▤ 

v Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation

w Greek Gehenna; also verse 33

The hypocrisy of the teachers of the law and Pharisees in v. 13 is that as religious leaders they professed to show others the way to God’s truth, but their active opposition to Jesus hindered others from entering God’s kingdom. Similarly v. 15 points out that they went to great lengths to supposedly win a person to their Judaism, but in doing so they in fact turned them further from God’s way, presumably largely through their regulations and their opposition to Jesus.

Matt 23:29-30, 34  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ ▤ 34Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, … ▤ 

In v. 34 Jesus prophesies that the Jewish religious leaders would kill and persecute messengers of God’s kingdom (following Jesus’ ascension) – magnifying the hypocrisy of their acts spoken of in vv. 29-30.

Luke 13:13-16  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” ▤ 

Acts 23:3  Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” ▤ 

The term “whitewashed wall” alludes to hypocrisy, spoken of in the subsequent rhetorical question.

Rom 2:19-24  … and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” ▤ 

In v. 24 Paul affirms that many of his fellow Jews did in fact hypocritically act in ways that were inconsistent with what they preached. Regarding the phrase “rob temples” (v. 22), Paul may have in mind Jewish leaders making use for themselves of things that had been consecrated to God (cf. AMP). Some think Paul is speaking of actually robbing pagan temples (cf. CEV, NLT).

Eccl 7:21-22  Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. ▤ 

We should not pay too much attention to or be overly concerned about people speaking against us, for it would be hypocritical to get agitated as we would have done the same thing ourselves.

. . . and false external practices – doing things for show

See also:

Matt 6:2, 5, 16  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. ▤ 5“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. ▤ 16“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. ▤ 

The Greek word translated “hypocrite” was used of a stage actor. Here it is applied to those who falsely portrayed themselves as religious. Doing for show what are otherwise godly things, in order to be honored and gain prestige, is in fact ungodly – the opposite of the impression one has sought to portray. As such, doing so is hypocritical.

Matt 23:5-7  They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbix by others. ▤ 

x Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8

Wide phylacteries (boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on the forehead) and long tassels would have been conspicuous signs of supposed piousness, keeping with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees’ hypocritical aspirations of being recognized as such (vv. 6-7).

Matt 23:23-28  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. ▤ 

In v. 23 Jesus is speaking against the hypocritical practice of supposedly abiding by the law in strictly adhering to external, peripheral regulations of the law, while ignoring the more important matters central to the spirit of the law. In v. 24 Jesus figuratively emphasizes that the religious leaders were missing or ignoring the important points of the law. Note that Jesus was not necessarily saying that they were doing such things for show, but this probably was the case with him subsequently condemning them (vv. 25-28) for hypocritically giving the outward appearance of being pious, while inwardly being full of wickedness.

Mark 12:40  … [The teachers of the law] who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation. ▤ 

In addition to here and the occurrences of “Woe” in Matthew 23 (cf. Matt 23:23-28 ; Matt 23:13, 15 ; Matt 23:29 ), punishment of the hypocrites is also referred to in Matthew 24:51, which says the hypocrites will be where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Luke 12:1-2  In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. ▤ 

In v. 1b, Jesus is warning his disciples to guard against being fooled by and/or following the hypocritical ways of the Pharisees. In this context v. 2 appears to be saying that everything concealed by hypocritical practices will be made known.

2Cor 5:12  We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. ▤ 

The second half of this verse may be implying that Paul’s opponents focused on making themselves appear to be virtuous, rather than actually trying to be so – a hypocritical practice. Alternatively it may be referring to their attitude to their ministry, taking pride in external credentials such as “a spectacular ministry” (NLT). If the latter is correct, then it is debatable as to whether this verse is applicable to this subsection.

Gal 2:12-14  For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ▤ 

Peter hypocritically changed his behavior for the sake of appearances in front of the newly arrived Jews (v. 12). In addition, what he did was not consistent with the gospel that he preached (v. 14) – so he was also guilty of not practicing what he preached and thus acted hypocritically in a second respect (as per the previous subsection). Note that what he did was particularly serious as it implied that living as a Gentile was not good enough for a believer, and so pressured Gentiles to follow Jewish customs (v. 14).

  • Outward signs are useless by themselves:

Rom 2:28-29  For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. ▤ 

What Paul says regarding being a Jew is applicable also to truly being one of God’s people. Outward signs or appearances do not make a person one of God’s people. What is critical is one’s inward condition, having a heart that has been transformed by the Holy Spirit, not by the “letter” (the law) which cannot transform a person inwardly as the Spirit can.

Deceptive practices bring oneself harm

See also:

Ps 36:3  The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. ▤ 

This speaks of the wicked (cf. v. 1). It suggests that, along with wickedness in general, deceit robs one of wisdom.

Prov 14:17, 22  A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated. ▤ 22Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meety steadfast love and faithfulness. ▤ 

y Or show

The “man of evil devices” (v. 17) is one of “wicked plots and plans” (AMP) – a “schemer” (NRSV; cf. NLT). In v. 22, to “go astray” means to either make a “mistake” (CEV, GNT; NRSV) or to be “ruined” (NCV™; cf. NLT).

Prov 17:20  A man of crooked heart does not discover good, and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity. ▤ 

Prov 19:5, 9, 22  A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape. ▤ 9A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish. ▤ 22What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. ▤ 

The final clause is saying that “poor people are better off than liars” (cf. GNT; CEV, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Prov 21:28  A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure. ▤ 

Prov 26:18-19  Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death 19is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” ▤ 

This may be referring to someone acting in jest, rather than to someone wickedly deceiving another and then trying to excuse their actions by falsely claiming to have been joking. In either case, one is playing with fire.

Prov 29:5  A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. ▤ 

Isa 5:18  Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, … ▤ 

The expression “draw iniquity with cords of falsehood” may well be meaning that deceit fosters and supports sin (cf. CEV). “Woe” speaks of ill consequences.

Isa 59:4, 9  No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. ▤ 9Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. ▤ 

Deut 19:18-19  The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evilz from your midst. ▤ 

z Or evil person

Est 9:24-25  For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.a ▤ 

a Or suspended on a stake

This is an example of evil scheming leading to the harm of the one/s doing the plotting (cf. Prov 14:17, 22 ).

Deceptive practices ultimately bring God’s judgment

See also:

Job 32:21-22  I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. 22For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away. ▤ 

Ps 5:6  You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. ▤ 

Ps 119:118  You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. ▤ 

Notably this makes the point that particularly in light of God’s rejection, deceitfully scheming is ultimately futile.

Ps 52:3-5  You [a wicked man] love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah 4You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. 5But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah ▤ 

Deceit is evil (v. 3) and harmful to others (v. 4) – hence God’s judgment (v. 5).

Isa 28:15, 17  Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; ▤ 17And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.” ▤ 

God’s justice will sweep away whatever protection one may have hoped to secure by lying and falsehood.

Isa 29:20-21  For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off, 21who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right. ▤ 

Verse 21 has largely in view false testimony in court.

Jer 9:6-9  Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord. 7Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of my people? 8Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him. 9Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? ▤ 

Mic 6:12-13  Yourb rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow, making you desolate because of your sins. ▤ 

b Hebrew whose

Rev 21:8  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. ▤ 

Rev 21:27  But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ▤ 

People who practice falsehood will not enter the new Jerusalem of the afterlife (cf. Rev 22:15 ). Instead they will face eternal damnation.

Rev 22:15  Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. ▤ 

  • God will judge those who hypocritically judge others:

Rom 2:1-3  Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Dishonest Gain

Note that because much of what can be described as “dishonest gain” involves deceitfulness, a good portion of this section is also relevant to the previous section, Deceitfulness.

Do not pursue dishonest gain

1Tim 3:8  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,c not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. ▤ 

c Or devious in speech

Prov 10:2  Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. ▤ 

Ill-gotten gain will ultimately prove to be of no value.

Prov 16:8  Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. ▤ 

It is better to have a little that has been earned honestly than to have “a large income gained dishonestly” (GNT).

Prov 28:16  A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. ▤ 

1Sam 8:3  Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. ▤ 

Ezek 28:18  By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. ▤ 

This is from a lament concerning the king of Tyre; as such the reference to “sanctuaries” does not include God’s sanctuary. But the verse still reflects that dishonest trade is dishonoring to those who do it and that which is associated with them – and so should not be done.

  • Pay people what you owe them:

Rom 13:7-8  Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 8Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. ▤ 

Do not steal

See also:

Ex 20:15  You shall not steal. ▤ 

Isa 61:8  For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong;d I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. ▤ 

d Or robbery with a burnt offering

Ezek 18:7  … [A righteous man] does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, … ▤ 

Eph 4:28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. ▤ 

Titus 2:9-10  Slavese are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. ▤ 

e Or servants; Greek bondservants

Deut 23:24-25  If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain. ▤ 

The Israelites were allowed to eat food from a neighbor’s property to satisfy their hunger, but taking any away was not permitted, presumably considered stealing. Note that the latter part of v. 25 appears to be speaking of harvesting grain so as to take it away (cf. CEV).

Prov 6:30-31  People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, 31but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. ▤ 

Even stealing out of desperation (as opposed to greed) is wrong and has a price.

Prov 29:24  The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing. ▤ 

This is speaking of a thief’s accomplice either: himself being under oath in court to tell the truth and implicating himself by saying nothing; or not speaking up on hearing a public charge for anyone knowing about an incident to testify, for which he would be held responsible (cf. Lev 5:1).

  • If God’s people were to steal, it would profane God:

Prov 30:8-9  Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. ▤ 

Do not defraud

Lev 19:11  You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. ▤ 

Mark 10:19  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ▤ 

Lev 25:14  And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. ▤ 

The last clause speaks of cheating (cf. CEV, NCV, NRSV).

Lev 19:35-36  You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. 36You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin:f I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. ▤ 

f An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters; a hin was about 4 quarts or 3.5 liters

Deut 25:13-16  You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15A full and fairg weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 16For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God. ▤ 

g Or just, or righteous; twice in this verse

Deut 19:14  You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess. ▤ 

This is speaking of fraudulently increasing the size of one’s land.

Ps 37:21  The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; … ▤ 

To borrow without intending to repay is to attempt to defraud.

Prov 16:11  A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. ▤ 

Honest measures in business transactions reflect God’s righteousness; in a sense they are of him.

Amos 8:5-6  … saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekelh great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” ▤ 

h An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

The last clause refers to the spoiled and worthless parts of the wheat being underhandedly sold as part of the good wheat.

1Cor 6:8-10  But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!i 9Or do you not know that the unrighteousj will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,k 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ▤ 

i Or brothers and sisters

j Or wrongdoers

k The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts

  • Making restitution for dishonestly obtaining property:

Lev 6:2-5  If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor 3or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— 4if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. ▤ 

Do not practice extortion

Regarding the inclusion of this topic in Dishonest Gain, although extortion is not necessarily dishonest in the sense of being deceitful, it is unscrupulous and so can be described as “dishonest” in a general sense.

Ps 62:10  Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. ▤ 

Ezek 18:18  As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. ▤ 

Ezek 22:12, 29-31  In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profitl and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God. ▤ 29The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. 30And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. 31Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God. ▤ 

l That is, profit that comes from charging interest to the poor (compare Leviticus 25:36)

Luke 3:12-14  Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” ▤ 

In v. 13 John the Baptist censures a common practice of tax collectors that was for their own gain – a practice which was effectively extortion.

Luke 18:11  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayedm thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ▤ 

m Or standing, prayed to himself

The fact that the Pharisee – even though self-righteous – lists extortioners first of those he would condemn, underlines its sinfulness.

Isa 33:15-16  He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, 16he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. ▤ 

Do not accept bribes

See also:

Ex 18:21  Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. ▤ 

Ex 23:8  And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. ▤ 

Deut 16:19  You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. ▤ 

Ps 15:5  … who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. ▤ 

Prov 15:27  Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live. ▤ 

Prov 29:4  By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts giftsn tears it down. ▤ 

n Or who taxes heavily

Eccl 7:7  Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart. ▤ 

Isa 1:23-24  Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them. 24Therefore the Lord declares, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes. ▤ 

  • Bribes are accepted in secret by the wicked to pervert justice:

Prov 17:23  The wicked accepts a bribe in secreto to pervert the ways of justice. ▤ 

o Hebrew a bribe from the bosom

Ill-gotten gain does not last

In its wisdom literature (e.g. Job and Proverbs) the Bible contains many statements that are wise insights or observations about life. Such statements are general truths, rather than necessarily always being the case without any exceptions. The following verses contain examples of such statements, as do many other verses in this chapter.

Prov 13:11  Wealth gained hastilyp will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. ▤ 

p Or by fraud

As per the alternative rendering in the text note, ill-gotten gain may be in view (cf. CEV, NASB, NIV, NKJV).

Prov 15:6  In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked. ▤ 

This appears to mean that trouble comes to the income itself, i.e. it will be lost (cf. CEV, GNT). However it could instead mean that the income of the wicked brings them trouble (cf. AMP, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT), as per the theme of the following subsection.

Prov 21:6  The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.q ▤ 

q Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Latin; most Hebrew manuscripts vapor for those who seek death

Prov 22:16  Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. ▤ 

Prov 28:8  Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profitr gathers it for him who is generous to the poor. ▤ 

r That is, profit that comes from charging interest to the poor

Jer 17:11  Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by justice; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool. ▤ 

Job 20:15, 17-21, 26  He swallows down riches and vomits them up again; God casts them out of his belly. ▤ 17He will not look upon the rivers, the streams flowing with honey and curds. 18He will give back the fruit of his toil and will not swallow it down; from the profit of his trading he will get no enjoyment. 19For he has crushed and abandoned the poor; he has seized a house that he did not build. 20“Because he knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him. 21There was nothing left after he had eaten; therefore his prosperity will not endure. ▤ 26Utter darkness is laid up for his treasures; a fire not fanned will devour him; what is left in his tent will be consumed. ▤ 

Job 27:16-17, 19  Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay, 17he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver. ▤ 19He goes to bed rich, but will do so no more; he opens his eyes, and his wealth is gone. ▤ 

Ill-gotten gain has ill consequences

See also:

Note that the earlier subsections in this section on, Dishonest Gain, include other verses which also speak of ill consequences of unjust gain.

Prov 1:18-19  … but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. 19Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. ▤ 

Job 15:34  For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of bribery. ▤ 

Prov 20:17  Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel. ▤ 

Isa 57:17  Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. ▤ 

Jer 8:10  Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. ▤ 

Jer 22:17-19  But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.” 18Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, my brother!’ or ‘Ah, sister!’ They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, lord!’ or ‘Ah, his majesty!’ 19With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” ▤ 

Note that all this is spoken of in regard to Jehoiakim (v. 18).

Ezek 18:10-13  If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things 11(though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself. ▤ 

Ezek 28:18  By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. ▤ 

Mic 2:2-3  They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. 3Therefore thus says the Lord: behold, against this family I am devising disaster,s from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. ▤ 

s The same Hebrew word can mean evil or disaster, depending on the context

Mic 6:10-11, 13  Can I forget any longer the treasurest of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed? 11Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights? ▤ 13Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow, making you desolate because of your sins. ▤ 

t Or Are there still treasures

Hab 2:6-7, 9  Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say, “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own— for how long?— and loads himself with pledges!” 7Will not your debtors suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. ▤ 9“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! ▤ 

In v. 6, while “pledges” could be taken as a guarantee of repayment, this was not to be done calculatingly and unmercifully. In v. 7 “debtors” may be referring to those who had been among the victims of plundering Babylon, in view here.

1Cor 6:10  … nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ▤ 

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Addendum: Oaths

The swearing of an oath has two main usages: to affirm the truthfulness of a statement; and to confirm the sincerity and binding nature of a pledge or agreement. The OT law stipulated that it was to be done in God’s name – as opposed to that of a false god – appealing to or invoking God as a witness to the integrity of what was said. It cannot be done falsely – or lightly (cf. Lev 5:4) – and cannot be broken (cf. Num 30:2; Josh 9:3-21).

The practice of swearing oaths, in God’s name – not to be done falsely

See also:

Deut 6:13  It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. ▤ 

Jer 12:16  And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. ▤ 

Lev 19:12  You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. ▤ 

Zec 5:1-4  Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! 2And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.”u 3Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falselyv shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. 4I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.” ▤ 

u A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

v Hebrew lacks falsely (supplied from verse 4)

A number of commentators consider that the references to stealing and swearing falsely may be symbolic of the whole law. In support of this, the “curse” may allude to the curse or curses for breaking the first covenant (cf. Deut 27:15-26; 28:15-19), which was based on the law. The phrase “cleaned out” (v. 3) refers to being banished from the people of God.

Ps 24:3-4  Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. ▤ 

  • Oaths should be kept even when it is costly to do so:

Ps 15:4-5  … in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. ▤ 

Swearing oaths to assert the truthfulness of a statement

See also:

Ex 22:10-11  If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, 11an oath by the Lord shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. ▤ 

1Ki 8:31-32  If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, 32then hear in heaven and act and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness. ▤ 

“If a man sins against his neighbor” (v. 31) probably has in view the situation where a person is “accused of wronging another” (GNT; cf. CEV). If an accused person claimed to be innocent, they were to swear an oath attesting to their innocence (cf. Ex 2:10-11 ). If they were in fact guilty they would then face God’s judgment (v. 32).

Matt 26:63-64a  But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64Jesus said to him, “You have said so. ▤ 

Here the high priest invokes a legally imposed oath, which by law Jesus had to answer.

Rom 9:1  I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit ▤ 

Paul is asserting his truthfulness by what is in effect an oath. He aligns the integrity of what he says with his relationship with Christ and with the Holy Spirit, associating both of them with the truthfulness of what he says.

2Cor 1:18  As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. ▤ 

By linking the truth of his words with the certainty of God being faithful, Paul to all intents and purposes swears an oath based on God’s faithfulness if not his name.

2Cor 1:23  But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. ▤ 

This and the following four verse extracts are further examples of Paul asserting the truthfulness of what he says by what is effectively an oath. In each of these instances he in a sense invokes or declares God as a witness to the truth of his words.

2Cor 11:31  The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. ▤ 

Gal 1:20  (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) ▤ 

Phil 1:8  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. ▤ 

1Thes 2:5, 10  For we never came with words of flattery,w as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. ▤ 10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. ▤ 

w Or with a flattering speech

Rev 10:5-6  And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven 6and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, … ▤ 

The angel swears either to assert the truthfulness of his statement (as per the theme of this subsection) or to confirm what he says as a promise or pledge (as per the theme of the following subsection).

  • Peter’s dishonest swearing in denying Jesus:

Matt 26:73-74  After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. ▤ 

Swearing an oath to confirm a pledge . . .

Num 30:2-5  If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3“If a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth, 4and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her. ▤ 

Note that the subsequent verses (cf. vv. 6-15) give regulations regarding vows made by a wife.

Lev 5:4  … or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these; … ▤ 

Here Moses indicates that thoughtlessly swearing an oath to do something is wrong (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT). Doing so is dishonoring to God in whose name the oath is made, for it is using his name thoughtlessly and the oath is also more likely to be an oath one is unable to keep.

Gen 24:3, 9  … that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, ▤ 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter. ▤ 

Gen 26:28-31  They said, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.” 30So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. ▤ 

Josh 9:15-21  And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them. 16At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. 17And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. 20This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. ▤ 

2Ki 11:4  But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the Lord. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the Lord, and he showed them the king’s son. ▤ 

The oath was probably to confirm a pledge to keep the aforementioned covenant. Alternatively, possibly it was an oath pledging allegiance to the king’s son who was soon to be crowned, although this appears to be less likely as these men only saw him afterwards.

Jer 38:16  Then King Zedekiah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the Lord lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.” ▤ 

Heb 6:13-18  For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15And thus Abraham,x having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. ▤ 

x Greek he

. . . Such oaths are barred by NT teaching

Note that the following instructions prohibiting the swearing of oaths to confirm a pledge, obviously do not apply to God (cf. Heb 6:13-18 ).

Matt 5:33-37  Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.y ▤ 

y Or the evil one

This and the following references appear to have in view the use of oaths for confirming the binding nature of a pledge (as per the previous subsection) – rather than that of affirming the truth of a statement, which Paul appears to use a number of time as shown earlier in Swearing oaths to assert the truthfulness of a statement. A number of commentators think that the background to this teaching was the dishonorable practice of distinguishing between oaths that could be broken and those that could not, apparently depending on what one swore by in making the oath (cf. Matt 23:16-22 ). As a result oaths were often made with no real commitment or even as a means to deceive. Possibly in response to this abuse of such oaths associated with pledges, Jesus taught that one should not swear them at all (v. 34a), but instead simply state one’s intention (v. 37). In vv. 34-36 Jesus seems to be undermining distinctions between oaths that swear directly by God’s name and those that swear by other things, his point being that such things have a connection with God and so swearing by them indirectly involves him (cf. Matt 23:21-22 ). A further reason not to make such oaths is that unforeseen circumstances can prevent a person from fulfilling them, which would be dishonoring to God.

James 5:12  But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. ▤ 

  • Condemnation of the practice of discounting certain types of oaths:

Matt 23:16-22  Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. ▤ 

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were not only wrong to discount certain types of oaths, but their reasoning as to which were less binding was irrational. For the ones they considered less binding should if in anything have been the more binding.

Note: References to God’s or Jesus Christ’s presence and approval regarding a matter

1Sam 23:18  And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home. ▤ 

Doing something intentionally “before” God (cf. 2Sam 5:3 ) in effect is a claim to have and/or points to God’s endorsement of what is being done.

2Sam 5:3  So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. ▤ 

2Cor 2:10  Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, … ▤ 

In conjunction with Christ’s witness, Paul appears to imply that he had acted “with the approval” (AMP) of Christ, even “with Christ’s authority” (NLT). Similar comment can be made regarding the following verses in this subsection.

1Tim 5:21  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. ▤ 

2Tim 4:1-2  I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. ▤ 

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