Do not let any unwholesome talk come
out of your mouths, but only what is
helpful for building others up according
to their needs, that it may benefit
those who listen. Ephesians 4:29


The action of gossip

To gossip is to speak in a way which raises questions or doubts about another or their character. Gossip is conversation behind someone's back, which puts them in bad light.

(Such discussion is only appropriate when engaged in by individuals involved in church discipline.)


The motivation for gossip

Compassion or sincere concern is no excuse for gossip.

No matter how pure or innocent the motive, raising questions about another still damages their reputation, ie:

"I'm concerned for `So and So' because "

"I'd like to pray for `So and So', because they've "

"What did you think about what So and So said? I had trouble with it myself."

"I am having a problem with `So and So,' because of such and such. Could you pray for me?"

"I heard such and such about `So and So.' Do you know if that's true?"

"Have you heard that `So and So' was being investigated for such and such? They need our prayer."

"But I know what I say to be TRUE -- so it's not gossip." (Where does the idea come from that words are only gossip if they are not true?)

Gossip destroys another's reputation, whether intentionally or accidentally.

The most famous excuse for gossip: "I only mentioned it because I was concerned."

  • If personal concern excused gossip, 90% of all gossip could be justified.

  • If the one speaking the gossip was genuinely concerned, they would have come to the one they gossiped about, and not raised doubts about them to someone else.

Even one who repeats hurtful gossip back to the slandered one, rather than confronting the slanderer, participates in gossip. The one originally speaking the gossip should be corrected and sent back to reconcile with the one they are gossiping about.


God's solution for those who have concerns for another is for them to go to the one they say they are concerned about. That way they don't accidentally gossip.


Distinctions of Gossip:

A gossip is one who tells truth to others -- not just lies.

A gossip is one who reveals matters which should have been kept private.

A gossip is one who isn't worthy of trust.

Prov 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

halak, haw-lak'; to walk and carry; ie: a tale-bearer

A gossip is one who shares with others that which is entrusted to him in secret.

A gossip is one who says more than he ought, so should be avoided.

Prov 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

rakiyl, raw-keel'; one who travels and carries tales, a talebearer, scandal-monger, a slanderer

A gossip is one who stirs up dissension.

A gossip is one who speaks things which cause hurt feelings, thereby dividing friends.

Prov 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

nirgan, neer-gawn'; one who causes division; a slanderer:--talebearer, whisperer


Prov 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

A gossip is one who contributes to a quarrel by speaking of it to others.

Prov 26:20 Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.

A gossip is one who damages his friends with his lips.

Prov 11:9 With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.

A gossip is one whose words will not be without consequence -- on himself or others.

Psalms 101:5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.

Leviticus 19:16 "'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. "'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.

One who speaks negatively of others is so full of himself that he speaks without restraint

Prov 10:18 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool [keciyl].

keciyl, kes-eel'; to be fat; ie: to be bloated with self (A fool is one who lacks self-restraint.)


A gossip is anyone who sees a brother in sin, and does not follow Matthew 18, but tells others of his offense instead. As we are directed in Romans 16:17-18, such a divisive person should be avoided.

Mat 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Rom 16:17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.


Effectively, we gossip when we speak in a negative way about another when they are not present to defend themselves. The facts spoken may be true and the speaker may be motivated out of concern, but if the one spoken about would not appreciate the conversation, it is gossip.




Gossip:  (Greek)

blasphemeo, blas-fay-meh'-o; to vilify;  talk against; to speak irreverently: speak evil of; blaspheme


blasphemia krisis, kree'-sis; railing accusation or judgment


katalaleo, kat-al-al-eh'-o;  to put down; to be a maligner, i.e. to slander:--speak against (evil of).


katalalia, kat-al-al-ee'-ah;  defamation:--backbiting, evil speaking.


psithurismos, psith-oo-ris-mos';  secret, vicious whispering


psithuristes, psith-oo-ris-tace'; a secret, vicious whisperer


diabolos, dee-ab'-ol-os; a traducer, a slanderer, a false-accuser; literally - one who throws about


phluaros, floo'-ar-os; bubbling over with words; one who says too much; excessively talkative


loidoros, loy'-dor-os; one who spreads trouble with their mouth; abusive; a railer, a reviler


epereazo, ep-ay-reh-ad'-zo; to make inflammatory threats towards or statements about; to insult, falsely accuse




(Hebrew)  rakiyl, raw-keel'; as traveling about; carry tales, a scandal-monger


Lev 19:16  "'Do not go about spreading slander [rakiyl] among your people. "'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.


'aliylah, al-ee-law'; in the sense of effecting; an exploit (of God), or a performance (of man, often in a bad sense); an act, a deed

dabar, daw-bawr'; a word; something spoken


Deut 22:17  Now he has slandered {'aliylah dabar] her and said, 'I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18  and the elders shall take the man and punish him.


Effectively, slander is inaccurate information which presents a damaging view of someone, whether presented maliciously or innocently.


- The best way to avoid slander is to hear both sides of a story and ask lots of questions before making charges.


Prov 18:17  The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.


Prov 18:13  He who answers before listening-- that is his folly and his shame.


We prove ourselves to be a fool if we judge a matter and formulate an answer before we have finished listening to determine the truth


Checking out the facts with the accused also fulfills the law of Christ "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."


When someone passes on accusations without first checking them out with the accused to verify the truth of the reports, he inadvertently slanders when he passes on half truths or inaccuracies.




Eph 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

Col 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Titus 3:2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

1 Pet 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.



Rom 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,

psithuristes, psith-oo-ris-tace'; a secret, vicious whisperer

2 Cor 12:20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip [psithuristes], arrogance and disorder.

1 Tim 5:13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.

3 John 1:10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping [phluaros] maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.


Mat 7:12  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Mat 22:39b    'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

     Our greatest motivation for not putting others in bad light is our obedience to the Law of Christ we must love others as we want to be loved. If we do not want people to talk about us when we are not there, then we must treat them with the same consideration.

     As children of God, we must be alert to one of Satan's chief goals to bring division to God's family. Offenses will happen in all relationships, so we must guard ourselves against harboring resentment, and sitting in judgment of one another. We must be especially careful to not fall victim to the devil's scheme and speak negatively of one another -- Christ's prescription in Matthew 18 must be followed. Before mentioning our concern to anyone else, we must speak first to the one who concerns us. We must "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave" us. (Eph 4:32)