Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
1:26-32 In the horrid depravity of the heathen, the truth of our Lord's words was shown: Light was come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; for he that doeth evil hateth the light. The truth was not to their taste. And we all know how soon a man will contrive, against the strongest evidence, to reason himself out of the belief of what he dislikes. But a man cannot be brought to greater slavery than to be given up to his own lusts. As the Gentiles did not like to keep God in their knowledge, they committed crimes wholly against reason and their own welfare. The nature of man, whether pagan or Christian, is still the same; and the charges of the apostle apply more or less to the state and character of men at all times, till they are brought to full submission to the faith of Christ, and renewed by Divine power. There never yet was a man, who had not reason to lament his strong corruptions, and his secret dislike to the will of God. Therefore this chapter is a call to self-examination, the end of which should be, a deep conviction of sin, and of the necessity of deliverance from a state of condemnation.
Backbiters - Those Who calumniate, slander, or speak ill of those who are absent. Whisperers declare secretly, and with great reserve, the supposed faults of others. Backbiters proclaim them publicly and avowedly.
Haters of God - There is no charge which can be brought against people more severe than this. It is the highest possible crime; yet it is a charge which the conduct of people will abundantly justify, and the truth of which all those experience who are brought to see their true character. To an awakened sinner there is often nothing more plain and painful than that he is a hater of God. His heart rises up against Him, and his Law, and his plan of saving people; and he deeply feels that nothing can subdue this but the mighty power of the Holy One. This is a charge which is not unfrequently brought against people in the Bible; see John 7:7; John 15:18, John 15:24-25; John 3:19-20. Surely, if this be the native character of man, then it is "far gone from original righteousness." No more striking proof of depravity could be given; and in no creed or confession of faith is there a more painful and humiliating representation given of human wickedness, than in this declaration of an inspired apostle, that people are by nature haters of God.
Despiteful - This word denotes those who abuse, or treat with unkindness or disdain, those who are present. Whisperers and backbiters are those who calumniate those who are absent.
Proud - Pride is well understood. It is an inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, etc. (Webster). Of the existence of this everywhere, there is abundant proof. And it was particularly striking among the ancients. The sect of the Stoics was distinguished for it, and this was the general character of their philosophers. People will be proud where they suppose none are superior; and it is only the religion that reveals a great and infinite God, and that teaches that all blessings are his gift, and that he has given us the station which we occupy, that will produce true humility. We may add, that the system of paganism did not disclose the wickedness of the heart, and that rids was a main reason why they were elevated in self-esteem.
Boasters - Those who arrogate to themselves what they do not possess, and glory on it. This is closely connected with pride. A man who has an inordinate self-conceit, will not be slow to proclaim his own merits to those around him.
Inventors of evil things - This doubtless refers to their seeking to find out new arts or plans to practice evil; new devices to gratify their lusts and passions; new forms of luxury, and vice, etc. So intent were they on practicing evil, so resolved to gratify their passions, that the mind was excited to discover new modes of gratification. In cities of luxury and vice, this has always been done. Vices change their form, people become satiated, and they are obliged to resort to some new form. The passions cease to be gratified with old forms of indulgence, and consequently people are obliged to resort to new devices to pamper their appetites, and to rekindle their dying passions to a flame. This was eminently true of ancient Rome; a place where all the arts of luxury, all the devices of passion, all the designs of splendid gratification, were called forth to excite and pamper the evil passions of people. Their splendid entertainments, their games, their theaters, their sports - cruel and bloody - were little else than new and ever-varying inventions of evil things to gratify the desires of lust and of pride.
Disobedient to parents - This expresses the idea that they did not show to parents that honor, respect, and attention which was due. This has been a crime of paganism in every age; and though among the Romans the duty of honoring parents was enjoined by the laws, yet it is not improbable that the duty was often violated, and that parents were treated with great neglect and even contempt. "Disobedience to parents was punished by the Jewish Law with death, and with the Hindus it is attended with the loss of the child's inheritance. The ancient Greeks considered the neglect of it to be extremely impious, and attended with the most certain effects of divine vengeance. Solon ordered all persons who refused to make due provision for their parents to be punished with infamy, and the same penalty was incurred for personal violence toward them." Kent's Commentaries on American Law, vol. ii. p. 207; compare Virg. AEniad, ix. 283. The feelings of pride and haughtiness would lead to disregard of parents. It might also be felt that to provide for them when aged and infirm was a burden; and hence, there would arise disregard for their wants, and probably open opposition to their wishes, as being the demands of petulance and age. It has been one characteristic of paganism every where, that it leaves children to treat their parents with neglect. Among the Sandwich islanders it was customary, when a parent was old, infirm, and sick beyond the hope of recovery, for his own children to bury him alive; and it has been the common custom in India for children to leave their aged parents to perish on the banks of the Ganges.
Backbiters,.... Who more publicly defamed the characters of their neighbours, and hurt their good name, credit and reputation, though behind their backs:
haters of God; some read it, "hated of God"; as all workers of iniquity are; but rather this expresses their sin, that they were deniers of the being and providence of God, and showed themselves to be enemies to him by their evil works:
despiteful; both by opprobrious words, and injurious actions:
proud; of their natural knowledge, learning, eloquence and vain philosophy:
boasters: of their parts, abilities, wisdom and works; all which they attributed to themselves, and to the sharpness of their wit, their sagacity and industry:
inventors of evil things; of evil schemes of morality and philosophy, and of evil practices, as well as principles:
disobedient to parents; which was acting contrary to the light of nature. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Haters of God (θεοστυγεῖς)
Rev., hateful to God. All classical usage is in favor of the passive sense, but all the other items of the list are active. Meyer defends the passive on the ground that the term is a summary of what precedes. The weight of authority is on this side. The simple verb στυγέω to hate, does not occur in the New Testament. Στυγητός hateful, is found Titus 3:3. The verb is stronger than, μισέω I hate, since it means to show as well as to feel hatred.
Rev., haughty. See on pride, Mark 7:22.
Boasters (ἀλαζόνας). Swaggerers
Not necessarily implying contempt or insult.
30. haters of God—The word usually signifies "God-hated," which some here prefer, in the sense of "abhorred of the Lord"; expressing the detestableness of their character in His sight (compare Pr 22:14; Ps 73:20). But the active sense of the word, adopted in our version and by the majority of expositors, though rarer, agrees perhaps better with the context.
Backbiters - Καταλαλους, from κατα, against, and λαλεω, I speak; those who speak against others; false accusers, slanderers.
Haters of God - Θεοστυγεις, atheists, contemners of sacred things, maligners of providence, scorners, etc. All profligate deists are of this class; and it seems to be the finishing part of a diabolic character.
Despiteful - Ὑβριστας, from ὑβριζω, to treat with injurious insolence; stormy, boisterous; abusing both the characters and persons of those over whom they can have any power.
Proud - Ὑπερηφανους, from ὑπερ, above or over, and φαινω, I show or shine. They who are continually exalting themselves and depressing others; magnifying themselves at the expense of their neighbors; and wishing all men to receive their sayings as oracles.
Boasters - Αλαζονας, from λαζομαι, to assume; self-assuming, vain-glorious, and arrogant men.
Inventors of evil things - Εφευρετας κακων. Those who have invented destructive customs, rites, fashions, etc.; such as the different religious ceremonies among the Greeks and Romans - the orgies of Bacchus, the mysteries of Ceres, the lupercalia, feasts of the Bona Dea, etc., etc. Multitudes of which evil things, destructive and abominable ceremonies, are to be found in every part of the heathen worship.
Disobedient to parents - Though filial affection was certainly more recommended and cultivated than many other virtues, yet there are many instances on record of the grossest violation of this great branch of the law of nature.
1:30 Whisperers - Such as secretly defame others. Backbiters - Such as speak against others behind their back. Haters of God - That is, rebels against him, deniers of his providence, or accusers of his justice in their adversities; yea, having an inward heart - enmity to his justice and holiness. Inventors of evil things - Of new pleasures, new ways of gain, new arts of hurting, particularly in war.
1:30 Haters of God.
Hateful to God, in the Revised Version. Hateful, because so polluted with sin.