Romans 1.30

Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

We are today continuing to examine Paul’s list of the features of a society or individual that is reprobrate and has reached the bottom of the death spiral: people or nations that have ignored God and rejected God totally and completely.

katalalos – kata means to move from the higher to the lower, and lalos means to talk.

Translated “backbiters” in the KJV, “backstabbers” in the NLT, “gossips” in the NIV, “slanderers” in the AMP and “boastful” in the NASB, it is clear that this word katalalos cannot easily be translated into one English word.

It means to move from the higher to the lower in your talking. It is to assume that whoever you are talking about or talking to is lower than you and talk appropriately. You may therefore just talk to them as if they are worthless or talk about them as if they have no dignity. That is why this includes backstabbing, backbiting, boasting, slandering and gossiping. All these practices can only occur if you think that you are better than someone.

You will never gossip about someone who you esteem more highly than yourself (cf. Romans 12.3). You will never backbite someone you think is worth as much as or more than you. You will never slander someone if you realize that they are a precious child of the Lord.

One of the most powerful and thought provoking Scriptures is this:

Only by pride cometh contention (Proverbs 13.10, KJV)

If you are in an argument with someone and the argument has become contentious, there is pride somewhere. There is NO OTHER SOURCE of contention other than pride. There was no war in heaven until pride came into the devil. There would be no war on earth if there was no pride!

Someone thinks they are better than someone else. If I am arguing with my wife, I am being arrogant or she is. If I am involved in a church split, there is pride involved somewhere. And if you think that it is all the other person, that is generally a great indicator that it is probably you!

All talking down to people, including gossip and backbiting, backstabbing and slander, comes from a root of pride: thinking that you have the high ground. Realize that there is no high ground (or more accurately all the ground is high ground, we are all precious!) and that every single person you ever talk about is as precious to God as you and your language will change.

Lots of people struggle with gossip and slander, and repent and sin and repent and sin and repent some more, over and over. They cannot understand why the thing will not go away. The reason is simple: the root of thinking that they are better than other people has not been addressed. As long as you think you are the best and are selfish and proud, you will always talk down to people and talk down about people.

Be humble and your language will flow with love and wisdom.

theostygēs – This word come from the two Greek words Theo and styges. Literally God-hater. It is remarkable that the same people who deny there is even a God hate Him and hate people who love Him. This hatred is expressed in many ways. Listen to the disdain in which some secular humanists dismiss religion and God. Listen to the names people call God. Listen to people use his name instead of swear words, blame Him for everything wrong in their life.

At this stage the death spiral is complete: people start down this spiral of immorality, malice and rejection of God when they fail to thank God for the good in their life. At the bottom of the spiral, they simply hate God for anything less than perfect in their life.

We live in a generation that has completely failed to take responsibility for itself, to clothe itself, to find work for itself, to achieve and learn for itself. We look to the governments of the day to provide all our needs and are moving into socialism at a rapid rate. This always leads to God hating because it is easier to blame and hate God for our life than make the necessary changes to our thinking, our speaking and our behaviour to change our life and change our destination in life.

hybristēs – I cannot improve on Strong’s definition of this word: “one who, uplifted with pride, either heaps insulting language upon others or does them some shameful act of wrong”.

hyperēphanos – This is another compound word. Hyper means above, and ephanos means to shine. Someone who is hyperephanos is someone who is always trying to outshine other people. Make themselves the best, cover their backside, put other people down, catch other people doing something wrong, making up things that the other people do wrong.

People like this can never be trusted, they will always tell tales about you to put you down. They cannot form friendships.

This really is the worst place to be in the death spiral: someone who has no idea they are created by God and adored by God and redeemed by God has only one place to find self-worth: in putting down and pulling apart other people.

Notice that in Romans 1.30 so much of the nature of people without God is just pride to the worst degree. They cannot speak without putting people down, they cannot act without putting other people down, they cannot think of God as someone to worship or even say thank you to, but they can only hate Him for their life being so bad because they could never be at fault.

This is a terrible place for a person or society to be because it makes everything a battle. It means that work is the rat race, and even if you win it is only because you are biggest rat. It means that your marriage becomes a point scoring game. It means that church is about politics and about being seen. It means that you will – unless you change – never know the goodness and gentleness and majesty of our God and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

alazōn – In the KJV this word is translated “boaster” which is a great translation. It means someone that makes claims that are not true. Someone trying to make everything think they are better than what they are. Again, this makes society unbearable – always remembering what you have told people, always having to top other people’s achievements, always concerned about what people think; never being free to be honest about yourself and your achievements.

epheuretēs kakos – This is best translated an inventor of things that ought not to be. You need to realize that some things should not exist in this planet. They simply should not be. Horror movies should not exist. Pornographic magazines should not exist. Soap operas should not exist. Many, many films simply should never have been created: all they have done is increase the evil and darkness in the world. All they have done is cause fear and exalt the devil.

There are whole clothing ranges that should not ever have been invented. There are sex “toys” that ought not to exist. There are techniques for abortion that should never have been invented. There are “sex-change” procedures within medicine that should not have been invented.

There are people in this world that invent jokes, invent ideas, invent gadgets, invent stories, invent medicines, invent surgeries that should not be.

This is the sign of a society that should not be! A society far from God, far from His goodness and glory. But praise Him, they are not far from His grace. His mercy is still with us, His grace is still here and we can still repent and change.

apeithēs goneus – disobedient to parents. One of the signs of a society that has rejected God is that the youth of that society are out of control. Then the government or charities try and impose control (in the UK we have ASBOs, youth prevention schemes, youth community schemes and a whole lot more) because there is no control. But no-one seems to want to admit the truth: for a young person to be out of control, they have disobeyed their parents. They have disrespected their parents. They have assumed they know more than their parents.

Parents in a society in the death spiral do not discipline or train their children. Why? They are too selfish to. It takes too much effort, too much time and costs too much. So they ship their children off to the state to nanny them and school them and they never once obey the Biblical instruction to train a child in the way he should go.

If “disobedient to parents” does not sum up this generation in the UK, I cannot think of a better phrase.

As the church we need to ask the Lord for ministries and preachers to rise up to train parents and train children. We need to restore the heart of fathers to children and the heart of children to their parents. We need to ensure the little children can come to Jesus. We need to show the world that it is possible to live as a harmonious family in this day and in this generation.

Churches should not be hiving off and forming youth churches. Youth church is an oxymoron, just like black church is. A church is for all races and for all ages. Church should show young people that they are not better or different than old people or children or families, and that they can worship with them, hear the Word with them, serve with them, pray with them and fellowship in love with them. Then we have an opportunity to reverse the death spiral and raise up a generation that thanks God, glorifies God, is filled with faith and power and does exploits across the world.

Glory and freedom,

Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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