Backbiting is a Backstabber and Does Not Show Love; Is That Christ-like?

The act of backbiting is to make unkind comments about someone that is not there. It is not an act of love!

Revised: Friday, June 2, 2017


picture of pismo beach, ca for the backbiting bible study

“Backbiting is saying hurtful, insulting, unkind or evil things about a person or people when they are not there.”

Corrupt/Evil Speaking – Backbiting

Allow me to make you aware and mindful of the things you say about and to others, are you a backbiter? Perhaps backstabber is a more familiar term? Backbiting is saying hurtful, insulting, unkind or evil things about a person or people when they are not there. If you are listening to someone who is talking about another person (behind their back) are you also guilty of backbiting?

Backbiting is unhelpful, harmful and does not please God since it is not Christ-like. A backbiter, AKA a backstabber, is a person who abuses with offensive language by saying mean things behind one’s back. According to Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary – “Backbiting involves an element of deceit and cowardice.

It should be avoided by Christians.” A backstabber is “A traitor or hypocrite, such as a co-worker or friend assumed trustworthy but who figuratively attacks when one’s back is turned 1.”

A problem in the church

2 Corinthians 12:19-21 Again, do you think that we are defending ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. We do all things, beloved, for your edifying. 20 For I fear that when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish. I fear there are debates, envying, wrath, strife, backbiting, whispering, arrogance, and disorder.

21 And I fear that when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall mourn for many who have sinned already, who have not repented of uncleanness, sexual immorality, and lasciviousness which they have committed. (MEV)

2 Corinthians 12:20

In 2 Corinthians 12:20 “backbitings” is used in the (KJV, ASV, BRG, GNV, JUB, KJ21, NKJV and NWB) but is replaced by the following words or phrase in the specified passage(s) of scripture:

  • defamation of character (WENT) || evil talk (ERV, EXB, ICB, NCV) || evil speakings (DAR and YLT) || evil talk about others (BBE) || ill-natured talk (MSNT) || insults (GNT, TEV) || saying wicked things about each other (TLB)
  • slander – (CJB, NIV, WEB, ESV, GWT, NET, HCSB, ISV, RKJNT, RSV, NRSV and NLT) || slanders (DLNT, NASU) || gossip (AMP, CJB) || backstabbing (CEB)
The Greek word for backbitings here is καταλαλία katalalia (kat-al-al-ee’-ah) n. 1. defamation 2. evil-speaking, detraction, backbiting, slandering. Katalalia is also found in 1 Peter 2:1 (KJV translates as ‘evil speaking’).

Backbiting does not show love; is not Christ-like

Your life in Christ is one of genuine love for each other. Always show that love from your heart (1 Peter 1:20). A Christian should not be a backstabber. It is an act of hate.

1 Peter 2:1-3 Now that you have done with all malice, all deceitfulness, insincerity, jealous feelings, and all backbiting [evil speakings], 2 like newly born infants, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may be enabled by it to grow until you attain salvation — 3 since ‘you have found by experience that the Lord is kind.’ (OEB)

1 Peter 2:1-3 Put out of your life hate and lying. Do not pretend to be someone you are not. Do not always want something someone else has. Do not say bad things about other people.

2 As new babies want milk, you should want to drink the pure milk which is God’s Word so you will grow up and be saved from the punishment of sin. 3 If you have tasted of the Lord, you know how good He is. (NLV)

It causes problems

Proverbs 25:23 The north wind brings forth rain: so a backbiting tongue brings an angry face. (WEB)

Comparison: “Just as wind blowing from the north brings rain, telling secrets brings anger.” (ERV) || “As the north wind brings rain, telling gossip [a hidden tongue] brings angry looks. (EXB)

NOTE: The Hebrew word for ‘backbiting’ in Proverbs 25:23 is סֵתֶר סִתרָה cether (say’-ther) (or (feminine) cithrah most often means “secretly”.

Proverbs 16:28 A man of twisted purposes is a cause of fighting everywhere: and he who says evil secretly makes trouble between friends. (BBE)

Related supporting scriptures

Psalms 15:1-3 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in the mountain of thy holiness? 2 He that walks in integrity and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.

3 He that does not backbite with his tongue nor do evil to his neighbour nor take up a reproach against his neighbour. (KJ2000)

Compare verse 3: Psalms 15:3 The one who does not slander with his tongue, who does no evil to his neighbor, and who does not destroy his friend’s reputation. (ISV)

Psalms 101:5 I will silence whoever secretly slanders his neighbor. I won’t tolerate one who is haughty and conceited. (NHEB)

Whether we speak evil of a man to his face or behind his back; the former way, indeed, seems to be the most generous, but yet is a great fault, and that which we call reviling;” the latter is more mean and base, and that which we properly call slander”, or Backbiting.” Tillotson.

Backbiting – conclusion

picture of bengal tiger at san francisco zoo for the backbiting bible study

“Backbiting – Ephesians 4:29 Don’t say anything that will hurt others [let any rotten/unhealthy word come from your mouth], but only say what is helpful [good] to make others stronger [build others up] and meet [according to] their needs. Then what you say will do good [give grace; be a gift] to those who listen to you. (EXB)

Stop backbiting, be kind

Ephesians 4:25-32 So then, get rid of lies. Speak the truth to each other, because we are all members of the same body. 26 Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry.

27 Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work. 28 Thieves must quit stealing and, instead, they must work hard. They should do something good with their hands so that they’ll have something to share with those in need.

29 Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you. 30 Don’t give God’s Holy Spirit any reason to be upset with you. He has put his seal on you for the day you will be set free from the world of sin.

31 Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred. 32 Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ. (NOG)

Interesting fact: Ephesians 4:27 "Neither give place to the devil." (KJV) ♦ "neither give place unto the backbiter." (MSTC) NOTE: the MSTC translators replace ‘devil’ with ‘backbiter’.

Don’t be a backbiter

Backbiting is a destructive and damaging sin, similar to—but different from slander and gossip (which I will cover in other studies). It is the ‘filthy communication’ spoken of in Colossians 3:8, ‘backbiters’ is listed as one of the sins of those with a reprobate/depraved/corrupt mind {read Romans 1:28-32 (key verse:30)}.

Consider this for a final thought, James warns that the tongue “…is the power of evil placed in our bodies, making all the body unclean…” James 3:6 (BBE). “Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!” James 3:10 (GW).

Don’t be a backbiter/backstabber, use self-control to take control of your tongue and the things you say about others. Say things that encourage, use words that help and inspire. Backbiting is not a loving act it is a sinful act of hate.

I love you my dear brothers and sisters; be blessed my friends— Tim.

Scriptures to read/study

2 Corinthians 12:14-21 (20); 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 (1:22 and 2:1). Proverbs 25:23 and 16:27-30 (28). Psalms 15:1-5 (1-3) and 101:5. Ephesians 4:25-32 (29); Romans 1:18-32 (30); Colossians 3:1-11 (8); James 3:1-12 (6 and 10).

Philippians 1:27-30 (1a); 1 Timothy 4:12-16 (12). Colossians 4:2-6 (6); 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 (33-34).  Matthew 12:33-37 (36-37); Jeremiah 9:1-6 (4).

Related Bible studies:

Gossip || Slander || Our Conflict – Spirit vs. Flesh || Christian Life – Changed Life || Self-control – Fruit of the Spirit || Changed Life – Have You Changed?

Question for “Backbiting”: Are you mindful of the things you say about others, either face-to-face or when they are not present?

See what is available on the Sound Truth Ministry website.



Copyright information:


(ERV) Taken from the HOLY BIBLE: EASY-TO-READ VERSION © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center, Inc. and used by permission. || (EXB) The Expanded Bible Scripture taken from The Expanded Bible. Copyright ©2011 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. || (GW) Scripture is taken from GOD’S WORD®, © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group. || (ISV) Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-forever by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.


(KJ2000) The King James 2000 Bible, copyright © Doctor of Theology Robert A. Couric 2000, 2003 Used by permission. All rights reserved. || (MEV) Scripture taken from the Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Used by permission. All rights reserved. || (MSTC) Scriptures quoted from the MODERN SPELLING TYNDALE/COVERDALE BIBLE® copyright © 2008 by Shawn McDonnell, and free for all non-commercial use. Used by Permission. || (NOG) The Names of God Bible (without notes) © 2011 by Baker Publishing Group.

Bishop Pettiford

Welcome to a different type of ministry; we are primarily internet-based, we NEVER ask for MONEY for anything we do. We are faith-based and solely rely on God to give what we need. Your attention and time to check what we freely give is all we ask of you and that you be blessed by this ministry.

One Comment:

  1. Make today a zero negative talk day 😊.
    Start to #improve your #ways. Do not make #unkind #comments about others. God’s children are not #backbiters. Let’s do #better!

    Scriptures for the day:
    Proverbs 16:28 A man of twisted purposes is a cause of fighting everywhere: and he who says evil secretly makes trouble between friends.
    [Bible in Basic English (BBE)]

    1 Peter 2:1 Put out of your life hate and lying. Do not pretend to be someone you are not. Do not always want something someone else has. Do not say bad things about other people.
    [New Life Version (NLV)]

    Message in the picture:
    Backbiting, an act of hate

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