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title: Eph 4:28-30 The only thing that should come out of your mouth is that which is for building up need

The one who steals must steal no longer, but instead must labor, working with his own hands what is good, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need. No rotten word must proceed from your mouth, but only something good for the building up of the need, in order that it may give grace to those who hear, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:28 - 30 (LEB)

28 ὁ κλέπτων μηκέτι κλεπτέτω, μᾶλλον δὲ κοπιάτω ἐργαζόμενος ⸂ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν⸃, ἵνα ἔχῃ μεταδιδόναι τῷ χρείαν ἔχοντι. 29 πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω, ἀλλὰ εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας, ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσιν. 30 καὶ μὴ λυπεῖτε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως.

Ephesians 4:28–30 (LGNTI:SBL)


This passages sets rotten words against good words for building up the need. Let’s compare the two:

  1. (all) Rotten words (πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς) are forbidden from the mouth. The word for “rotten” is used 8 times in 6 verses, and does not occur in the LXX. Every other use of the word other than this passage is by Yeshua. Four of the uses by Yeshua are comparing a good tree/good fruit AND a bad (read rotten) tree/bad (read rotten) fruit in agricultural/consumptive terms. One is comparing good fish and bad fish in consumptive terms.
  2. rather if the good towards building up the need (ἀλλὰ εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας). the word for building up (οἰκοδομὴν) is a building/architectural term mostly applied to the Temple in general, and the spiritual temple, the church in the New Testament. The word is upbuilding, building, or edification: it is a construction job currently in progress, with much undone. This picture should inform us about what the word “need” (χρείας) is pointing to. Each person, a spiritual stone being built into a spiritual temple, is BEING BUILT UP; each person is lacking, and requires needed tasks, and necessary work to complete them. The standard of completion is the fullness of the maturity of the son of God. The means to reach completion is LOVE alone. (see exegesis here)