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—REVIEW—

According to 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 6:10 the Greek word loidoros points to a disfellowshipping offense. The word does not occur elsewhere in the NT and because any context is lacking we cannot know the semantic range of the word.

The LXX was extensively used by the NT writers and its use of the word-group loidoros, loidoria, loidoresis, and loidoria can throw some light on the meaning of loidoros in 1 Corinthians. The word-group refers to “quarrel, strife, dispute, contention, reviling, and rebellion,” and these meanings must be connected with loidoros in 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6.

These LXX meanings are confirmed because they fall within the semantic range of the word-group in the NT, namely, “revile, abuse or curse.”

The comments on the disfellowshipping offense “revile” in the book “Shepherd the Flock of God” are helpful because they stress that only in extreme situations will a person be disfellowshipped because of reviling. Emphasizing that loidoros is a characteristic of a person who is in line for disfellowshipping, and that the person is permeated by this characteristic would have been even more helpful for the elders.

One of the Greek words that is a scriptural basis for disfellowshipping is loidoros. This word occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 6:10 and is translated as “revilers,” both by NWT13 and NWT84. NRSV and other translations uses “revilers” as well, while NIV and other translations use “slanderers.” Because the Greek word only occurs two times in the NT, there is no context that can help us see the semantic range of the word.

THE USE OF LOIDOROS AND COGNATE WORDS IN THE LXX

The writers of the New Testament used the LXX translation extensively, and the three times loidoros occur in the LXX will help us to differentiate between the meanings “reviler” and “slanderer.”

Proverbs 25:24 (NWT13) Better to dwell on a corner of the roof than in the same house as a quarrelsome (loidoros) wife.

The footnote to “quarrelsome” in NWT13 says: “Or ‘nagging’,” and NWT84 uses the word “contentious,” which refers to one who “causes a lot of disagreement and arguments.”[1] The Hebrew word used is mādōn (“dissention, quarrel, strife, contention”), and the corresponding Greek word in the LXX is loidoros. In the two following scriptures, the Hebrew word is also mādōn and the Greek word is loidoros.

Proverbs 26:21 (NWT13) As charcoal for the embers and wood for the fire. So a contentious (loidoros) man kindles a quarrel.

Proverbs 27:15 (NWT13) A quarrelsome (loidoros) wife is like a constantly leaking roof on a rainy day.

The definition of slander is: “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation; a false and defamatory oral statement about a person.”[2] The definition of “reviling” is “to subject to verbal abuse.”[3] It is clear that loidoros in the LXX does not refer to slander but to verbal abuse that causes strife. The verb loidoreō occurs eight times in the LXX, and the meaning is “quarrel, revile.” This is seen in the account of Meribah:

Numbers 20:13 (NWT13) These are the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled (loidoreō) with Jehovah.

The substantive loidorēsis has the meaning “insulting,” and we read:

Exodus 17:7 (NWT13) So he named the place Massah and Meribah (loidorēsis) because of the quarreling (loidoria) of the Isrealites and because they put Jehovah to the test.

The Hebrew word is rīb (“strife, dispute”), the word massā means “trial, test,” and the word merībā means “quarreling, strife, rebellion.” For merībā the LXX uses loidorēsis and “quarreling” is translated from loidoria. The word loidoria means “insult, cursing, reviling,” and it is used four times in the LXX:

Proverbs 20:3 (NWT13) It is honorable for a man to refrain for a dispute (loidoria). But every fool will become embroiled in it.

The Hebrew word is rīb (“strife dispute”) and the NIV uses “strife” instead of “dispute.”

The common denominator for the word group loidoros, loidoreō, loidoresis, and loidoria in the LXX is “quarrel, strife, dispute, contention, reviling, rebellion,” and there is nothing that relates to “slander.”

[1]. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/contentious.

[2]. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slander.

[3] . https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revile.

“Loidoros and cognate words in the LXX have the meaning “quarrel, strife, dispute, contention, reviling, rebellion” and never the meaning “slander.”

THE USE OF LOIDOROS AND COGNATE WORDS IN THE NT

The verb loidoreō (“revile, abuse”) occurs four times in the NT, and we read:

John 9:28 (NWT13) At this they scornfully (loidoreō) told him: “You are a disciple of that man, but we are disciples of Moses.”

Acts 23:4 (NWT13) Those standing by said: “Are you insulting (loidoreō) the high priest of God?”

1 Corinthians 4:12 (NWT13) When insulted (loidoreō), we bless; when persecuted, we patiently endure.

1 Peter 2:23 (NWT13) When was being insulted (loidoreō), he did not insult in return (antiloidoreō).

The NWT 84 uses the word “revile” where NWT13 has “insult” and “scornfully.” The NIV has “hurled insults” in John 9:28, “insult” in Acts 23:4, “cursed” in 1 Corinthians 4:12, and “hurled insults” in 1 Peter 2:23. The rendering “cursed” in 1 Corinthians 4:12 is particularly appropriate because of the antonym “bless.”

The word loidoria (“insult, cursing, reviling”) occurs three times in the NT, and we read:

1 Timotheus 5:14 (NWT13) Therefore, I desire the younger widows to marry to bear children, to manage a household, to give no opportunity to the opposer to criticize (loidoria).

1 Peter 3:9 (NWT13) Do not pay back injury for injury or insult (loidoria) for insult (loidoria). Instead, repay with a blessing.

The NWT84 has “revile” instead of “criticize” in 1 Timothy 5:14 and “reviling” in 1 Peter 3:9.

The common denominator of the word group loidoros, loidoreō, and loidoria in the NT seems to be “revile,” “abuse” or “curse.” The renderings “insult” and “criticize” in the NWT13 seem to be too weak. This is particularly seen in the light of being a loidoros represents disfellowshipping offenses. A person will not be disfellowshipped for doing or saying something that is rude or offensive, which is the meaning of insulting someone. And a person will not be disfellowshipped for criticizing someone. But a person who continually curses or reviles and is permeated by these negative characteristics should be disfellowshipped. As we have seen in the use of the word group in the LXX, the concept “slander” is nonexistent in connection with this word group.

“Loidoros and cognate words in the NT have the meaning “revile, abuse, or “curse,” and never the meaning “slander.”

THE COMMENTS OF “REVILE” IN “SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD”

The following comments are found in the book for elders:

Reviling: (1 Cor. 6:10; it-2 pp. 801-802; lvs p. 164) Reviling involves subjecting a person to insulting speech, heaping abuse upon him. The body of elders should weigh the circumstances and extent of wrongdoing so as to determine whether a judicial committee should be formed. Elders should not be quick to take judicial action; a judicial committee would be formed only if the reviling is extreme, disrupts the peace of the congregation, and persists despite repeated counsel.

These comments are helpful because they stress that being disfellowshipped for reviling should only occur in extreme situations, when the reviling has occurred over a long time and the person refuses to stop. But it would have been more helpful for the elders if it was pointed out that the word loidoros (“reviler”) is a nomen agentis, which shows the personality of the person—he or she is permeated by reviling or cursing.

CONCLUSION

From the discussion above we conclude that a person who is permeated by reviling or cursing must be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation (1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10). But slander, that the book for elders list as a disfellowshipping offense, is not a disfellowshipping offense—a word with the meaning “slander” does not occur in the New Testament.

Rolf Furuli

Author Rolf Furuli

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