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What Does Revile Mean In The Bible?

If you are wondering what the word ‘revile’ means in the Bible context, you’ve come to the right place. In short, to revile someone means to criticize or insult them harshly.

In this comprehensive guide, we will examine the definition of revile, analyze biblical verses that use this word, and explain the significance of reviling in biblical texts.

Definition and Meaning of Revile

The word “revile” comes from the Latin word “reviliare” which means “to cheapen, depreciate, or despise”. In the Bible, to revile someone means to criticize, insult, or verbally abuse them in an angry, hateful, or contemptuous way.

Literal and Figurative Usages

Revile is used both literally and figuratively in the Bible. When used literally, it refers to direct insults, mockery, and slander aimed at shaming or disgracing someone. For example, when Jesus was crucified, the crowd reviled him saying “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!”

(Matthew 27:42). They hurled insults directly at Jesus to mock and shame him.

Figuratively, revile refers to overall attitudes of hatred, disrespect, and contempt toward others. Romans 1:30 lists “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful” as those who figuratively “revile” God by their ungodly attitudes and actions.

Connection to Reproach and Rail

Revile is related to words like “reproach” and “rail.” To reproach someone is to express disapproval or disappointment in them. Railing often implies angry outbursts of insults or condemnation. So reviling contains elements of shaming, disapproving, and verbally attacking someone in an insulting, abusive way.

Examples of Reviling Behavior

Here are some biblical examples of reviling behavior:

  • The Pharisees reviled Jesus saying he was demon-possessed and a false prophet (Matthew 9:34, John 8:48).
  • Mockers at the crucifixion reviled Jesus, challenging him to come down from the cross (Matthew 27:39-44).
  • Paul was reviled – people falsely accused him, insulted him, and treated him like garbage (1 Corinthians 4:12-13).
  • Jesus said his followers would be reviled and persecuted for his sake, because of their faith (Matthew 5:11).

So reviling involves all kinds of abusive, insulting speech and behavior aimed at shaming, disrespecting, dishonoring, and tearing someone down.

Revile in Biblical Verses and Stories

Jesus Reviled and Reproached

During his trial, Jesus was reviled and offended by both the Jewish authorities and Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:39-44). They mocked him, spat on him, struck him, and taunted him while he was hanging on the cross.

Yet Jesus responded without retaliation or threats, entrusting himself “to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). His example of returning good for evil showed amazing grace under immense suffering.

Do Not Revile Others

The Bible strictly warns believers not to revile, insult or mistreat others. Leviticus 19:18 says “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Paul advised the Romans (12:14), “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” He reminded the Ephesians (4:29) to avoid unwholesome talk and only speak what is helpful for building others up.

Consequences of Reviling

According to 1 Corinthians 6:10, those who revile others “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Revilers face judgement because their words reveal the evil in their hearts (Luke 6:45). James warned that the tongue is a fire that can “set the whole course of one’s life on fire” and lead to hell (James 3:6).

So believers must control their speech, even when provoked, to avoid future regrets.

Significance of Reviling in the Bible

Sinfulness of Reviling

Reviling or cursing others is viewed as a serious sin in the Bible. Several verses prohibit believers from insulting, ridiculing, or speaking evil of others (Exodus 22:28, Romans 12:14, 1 Peter 3:9). Engaging in reviling shows a lack of love and grace toward others, which goes against God’s commands (Mark 12:31, 1 John 4:7-8).

The book of James calls the tongue a powerful tool that can cause great damage through cursing and insults (James 3:1-12). Overall, the Bible makes it clear that reviling others has no place among God’s people.

Instruction Against Reviling

There are many direct instructions in the Bible telling believers not to revile others. For example, Leviticus 19:14 says “You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind.” 1 Corinthians 5:11 instructs believers not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet habitually reviles others.

Ephesians 4:29 tells us to avoid unwholesome talk and only speak words that build others up. The apostle Paul states that revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10). Believers are called to speak with grace, uplifting others with their words (Colossians 4:6).

Overall, the Bible consistently condemns reviling and teaches believers to control their speech.

Reviling as Persecution

When Jesus sent out his disciples, he warned them they would be reviled and persecuted for their faith (Matthew 5:11). This prophecy came true, as the apostles were often mocked, insulted, and accused falsely because of their dedication to Christ (Acts 13:45, 1 Corinthians 4:12).

Even Jesus himself was reviled by those who rejected his message (1 Peter 2:23). Reviling has been used as a weapon against believers from biblical times until today. But the Bible encourages those who are reviled to rejoice, because they suffer for the sake of righteousness (Matthew 5:12, 1 Peter 4:14).

The godly responses of many biblical figures to reviling serve as inspirational models of faith under fire.


In conclusion, to revile someone in the biblical context means to harshly criticize, reproach, or insult them verbally. Several verses, especially in the New Testament, show Jesus being reviled and instruct followers not to revile others.

The Bible makes clear that reviling others is sinful behavior that can lead to further persecution. The word holds significance as an example of mistreatment Jesus endured and an admonishment to believers to build others up with their speech.

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