Gossip – Your Words Helpful and Good?

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“Wicked Gossip – spreading rumors – talebearer – busybody – whisperer

Corrupt / Evil Speaking – Gossip or Talebearer

Proverbs 18:8 World English Bible (WEB) The words of a gossip are like dainty morsels: They go down into a person’s innermost parts. (KJV) The words of a talebearer [are] as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

NOTE: the KJV used ‘talebearer’ from the Hewbrew נִרגָּן nirgan (neer-gawn’) 1. a slanderer; the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) add ‘gossip, talebearer’ to the meaning. Perhaps the KJV translators interpretion is questionable; ‘wounds‘ from the Hebrew לָהַם laham (law-ham’) v. 1. (properly) to burn in, i.e. (figuratively) to rankle is also in question; (OJB) mitlachamim (delicious tidbits). Jewish Publication Society (JPS) The words of a whisperer are as dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) A slanderer’s words are tasty morsels; they slide right down into the belly.

Proverbs 20:19 (CJB) A gossip goes around revealing secrets, so don’t get involved with a talkative person. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth. (NIV) A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) He that goeth about as a rakhil (gossip, slanderer, talebearer) revealeth secrets; therefore associate not with the babbler.

NOTE: again the KJV translators use ‘talebearer’ this time from the Hebrew רָכִיל rakiyl (raw-keel’) n-m. 1. slander, carry tales, talebearer; informer. Others including those of the original Hebrew language use or acknowledge using the word ‘gossip’.

The focus of this study, gossip (part of the ‘Corrupt / Evil Speaking’ series), is the negative aspect of the activity; wicked gossip. To gossip or share info about others is not always a sin or negative. A gossip or ‘talebearer’ is one who spreads or repeats a rumor or things heard, usually of a personal, dramatic, or intimate nature about others. Most believe gossip involves three people, the gossip—for this discussion we’ll call the ‘busybody’, the ‘listener’ and the one whom the info is about—the ‘victim’. Sometimes, the ‘busybody’ does not know the identity of the ‘victim’; so the ‘victim’ can often also be the ‘listener’. Has this happened to you, have you been the listener/victim?

Gossip (talebearer) is also the title of a person who regularly tells personal or exciting info about others. Rumor – an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern.

Proverbs 11:12-13 Good News Translation (GNT) It is foolish to speak scornfully of others. If you are smart, you will keep quiet. 13 No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret, but you can put confidence in someone who is trustworthy.

Proverbs 16:27-28 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) A worthless person digs up evil [gossip] — it is like scorching fire on his lips. 28 Today’s English Version (TEV) Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.

Proverbs 17:4 New Living Translation (NLT) Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.

Gossip also gives information about social norms and guidelines for behavior. Gossip usually comments on how appropriate a behavior was, and the mere act of repeating it signifies its importance. In this sense, gossip is effective regardless of whether it is positive or negative[36] Some theorists have proposed that gossip is actually a pro-social behavior intended to allow an individual to correct their socially prohibitive behavior without direct confrontation of the individual. By gossiping about an individual’s acts, other individuals can subtly indicate that said acts are inappropriate and allow the individual to correct their behavior (Schoeman 1994) – Wikipedia – gossip.

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“Wicked Gossip – Don’t eavesdrop on the conversation of others. What if the gossip’s about you and you’d rather not hear it? 22 You’ve done that a few times, haven’t you — said things Behind someone’s back you — wouldn’t say to his face?”
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 (MSG)

Romans 1:27-32 Catholic Public Domain Version (CPDV) And similarly, the males also, abandoning the natural use of females, have burned in their desires for one another: males doing with males what is disgraceful, and receiving within themselves the recompense that necessarily results from their error. 28 And since they did not prove to have God by knowledge, God handed them over to a morally depraved way of thinking, so that they might do those things which are not fitting: 29 having been completely filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness; full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, spite, gossiping; 30 slanderous, hateful toward God, abusive, arrogant, self-exalting, devisers of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, disorderly; without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. 32 And these, though they had known the justice of God, did not understand that those who act in such a manner are deserving of death, and not only those who do these things, but also those who consent to what is done.

NOTE: verse 29 ‘gossiping’ KJV ‘whisperers’ AMP ‘[They were] secret backbiters and gossipers’ – G5588 ψιθυριστής psithuristes (psith-oo-ris-tace’) 1. a secret slanderer. Verse 30 ‘slanderous’ KJV ‘backbiters’ – G2637 κατάλαλος katalalos (kat-al’-al-os) adj. 1. talkative against, i.e. a slanderer. (AMP) ‘Slanderers’

When you listen to gossip, you are just as guilty as the person telling the story, gossip cannot spread if no one listens. Jesus said in Luke 6:31 “And exactly as you would want people to treat you, treat them also the same.” Child of God, do you want others, sharing your secrets, saying things about you that are hurtful? Before you take part in gossip, think first, take the ‘victim’ position. I actually overheard someone whom I respected talking about me in a negative way, it did not feel good. Unlike backbiting, gossip ‘whispering’ is not always done behind your back or when you are not present. Some people are so wicked, careless and mean that they will say hurtful things about you in-your-face.

2 Corinthians 12:19-21 (RKJNT) All this time have you been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your strengthening. 20 For I fear that when I come, I shall not find you as I wish, and you shall not find me to be as you wish; lest perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, rivalries, slander, gossip, conceit, disorder: 21 And I fear that, when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and I shall mourn over many who have sinned and have not repented of the impurity and sexual sin and licentiousness which they have committed.

NOTE: verse 20 ‘slander’, the KJV translators used ‘backbitings’ from the Greek καταλαλία katalalia (kat-al-al-ee’-ah) meaning defamation, evil-speaking, detraction, backbiting, slandering. ‘Gossip’ – the KJV translators used ‘whisperings’ from the Greek G5587 ψιθυρισμός psithurismos (psith-oo-ris-mos’) n. 1. whispering, i.e. secret detraction 2. (by implication) a slander 3. whispering, gossip. Summary: both backbitings [slander] and whisperings [gossip] are listed as sinful behavior requiring repentance. Paul mentions this is the third time (2 Corinthians 12:14, 13:1) that he is coming to them; he warns them “2 Corinthians 13:2 “…and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:” [read 2 Corinthians 13:1-10].

Malicious, evil or wicked conversation about others is never done in love or a loving manner. Galatians 5:14-15 (OEBus) “Indeed, the whole law has been summed up in this one precept — ‘You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ 15 But, if you are continually wounding and preying on one another, take care that you are not destroyed by one another” [Matthew 22:39]. Ephesians 4:29 International Children’s Bible (ICB)When you talk, do not say harmful things. But say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will help those who listen to you.”

1 Timothy 3:8-13 (RKJNT) Deacons, likewise, must be serious, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for gain; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 Let these be tested first; then, if blameless, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women must be serious, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife, ruling his children and his own house well. 13 For those who serve well in the office of deacon acquire for themselves a good standing, and great boldness in their faith in Christ Jesus.

NOTE: verse 11 ‘malicious gossips’, the KJV translators used ‘slanderers’ from the Greek διάβολος diabolos (dee-ab’-ol-os) {Strong’s G1228} 1. a slanderer (used only once in NT) 2. (specially; most used in NT) Satan; the Devil 3. prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer.

In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, mostly a woman, one who delights in idle talk, a newsmonger, a tattler. Now in the early 19th century, the term was extended from the talker to the conversation of such persons. The verb to gossip, meaning “to be a gossip”, first appears in Shakespeare. The term originates from the bedroom at the time of childbirth. Giving birth used to be a social (ladies only) event, in which a pregnant woman’s female relatives and neighbours would gather. As with any social gathering there was chattering and this is where the term gossip came to mean talk of others.

Scriptures to read and study

Isaiah 58:1-14 (focus verses: 6-12; key verse: 9); Ezekiel 22:1-16 (focus verses: 6-12; key verse: 9); Romans 1:18-32 (focus verses: 18-19, 26-32; key verses: 29-30); 2 Corinthians 12:14-21 (focus verses: 14-15, 20-21; key verses: 20-21); 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (focus verses: 8-11; key verse: 11); 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (focus verses: 3-4, 9-13; key verses: 11-13); 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (focus verses: 1-5, 8-9; key verses: 2-5); Titus 2:1-10 (focus verses: 1-5; key verse:3); Proverbs 26:20-22; Galatians 5:7-15 (focus verses: 14-15; key verse: 14)


2 Timothy 3:1-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB) “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

NOTE: verse 3 ‘malicious gossips’, the KJV translators used ‘false accusers’ again from diabolos (see note for 1 Timothy 3:11; ‘slanderers’). 2 Timothy 3:3 The Spoken English New Testament (SENT) They’ll be callous and obstinate. They’ll spread vicious rumors. They’ll be wild and out of control, with no love of what’s good.

Matthew 12:35-36 (OEBus) A good person, from his good stores, produces good things; while an evil person, from his evil stores, produces evil things. 36 I tell you that for every careless thing that people say, they must answer on the ‘day of judgment.’ Gossip in the body of Christ is not new, but I hope you understand, it is a sin when it is not helpful and good. The message in 2 Timothy 3:2 and 5; people will gossip and be ‘false accusers’, but we must avoid them, do not take part in talking about others. I pray that you practice self-control, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 (CEV) “Put everything to the test. Accept what is good and don’t have anything to do with evil. I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” Be blessed my friends avoid wicked gossip and have a wonderful day—Tim.

Related articles

Slander || Backbiting || Gossip Part V: How we can Guard Against Gossip

Question for “Gossip – Your Words Helpful and Good?”: Is your conversation about others helpful and good?

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