30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
1901 ASV Translation:
30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful:
In chapter 1 verse 31, there is a characterization (implacable) in the Textus Receptus that is not in the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. After the six-fold description beginning with "whisperers" and ending with "boasters", Paul inserts two phrases: "inventors of evil" and "disobedient to parents".
A. As phrases, these two stand out from the single word characterizations that both precede and follow.
B. The significance of the two...
1. "Inventors of Evil".
a. The word translated "inventors" is used only here in the New Testament.
1) It is a strengthened form of a verb that means "to find" or "to discover".
2) As a strengthened form, the implication is that there is more effort expended in the search than would be typical or expected.
3) Paul is not content to give the impression that man is a "finder" of ways to do evil; rather, he is a "pursuer" of the search to discover new ways to do evil.
b. The word translated "evil" is a variation of the word found at the ends of both the first set of things man has been filled with and the second set of things man is full of.
1) The significance of this is to be understood by recognizing that both of the end-words in those sets of descriptors were designed to be "climax" words to highlight man's enormously antagonistic attitude toward God's conception of "Life" and its fundamental mechanisms.
2) By repeating himself three times over, Paul is attempting to "fix" this reality in mind: man is so absolutely opposed to God's "Life" and its mechanisms that he actively seeks more and new methods to oppose it.
2. "Disobedient to Parents".
a. The word translated "disobedient" is a word that contains both the reality and the reason within its form: they aredisobedient because they are unpersuaded that obedience is important.
1) This word is a picture of the original sin: because unbelief was effectively inserted into the process, disobedience could, then, easily be effected.
2) That pattern remains the same through all of man's history...first man's thoughts are corrupted so that he cannot tell what is true, then his actions become corrupt so that they destroy "Life".
b. The connection of this disobedience to "parents" is also significant: parents are the first line of Offense/Defense in the war on the nature of Truth.
1) God has little tolerance for disobedient children: they are corrupters of "Life" both for themselves and for all who surround them.
2) God has little tolerance for parents who discourage obedience by their own disobedience: parents are supposed to be child-trainers and when they rebel against their role in God's plan, both they and their children suffer the consequences.
a) There is no mixing of the responsibility here.
i. Children who disobey are personally responsible for that.
ii. Parents who allow disobedience without consequence are personally responsible for that.
iii. Neither is responsible for the other's "obedience", but both suffer the consequences for the other's "failure".
b) There is no indication in Paul's words that he holds parents accountable for those who are "disobedient to parents".
C. The connection between the two...
1. How are the concepts of "inventors of evil" and "disobedient to parents" connected so that Paul thought of them together?
2. The most fundamental problem that men have is their "hatred of God" (the core of the chiastic arrangement of the last set of six descriptors) and the parallel desire to "take His place".
3. Inventions of ways to oppose "Life" almost has to address the most fundamental "first line of Offense/Defense" -- the parents.
a. Because the only thing that stands between children and the chaos of total self-determination is the actions of the parents, it stands to reason that any animosity toward final authority is going to begin as animosity toward parental authority.
b. Thus, the linkage between "inventions of evil" and "disobedience to parents" is obvious: parents are the primary blockage between the child and his "inventions".
II. Following the phrases, he concludes his "list" with four final descriptions: "without understanding ... unmerciful."
A. All of these final four are positive characteristics with a negative particle prefix so that they become negatives in the sense of an "absence" of some good quality.
1. Without understanding.
2. Without loyalty to agreements.
3. Without natural affection.
4. Without mercy.
B. These final four emphasize the four major "absences"...
1. There is no ability to reasonably apply knowledge to the situations of life. When man rejected God, his heart and mind lost their ability to use knowledge well.
2. There is no commitment to principle. Without the ability to use knowledge well, the vacillation of the waves of the sea become the standard method of operation because there are no "anchors" of principle.
3. There is no basic positive attraction to others. This is "automatic" to the pure self-centeredness of mankind.
4. There is no practice of mercy. This is the final state of a totally self-centered life: no willingness to exercise mercy toward anyone.
C. How do these characteristics "fit" with one another?
1. They move from the first two "impersonal" characteristics to the last two "relationship rejection" realities.
2. They move in a step-by-step way from a complete lack of "understanding" of how life works to a complete breakdown in the most fundamental arena of life -- personal relationships.
a. We have three "pillars of Life" in the background of this entire "grocery list".
1) There is the practice of "righteousness".
2) There is the principle of being "other-focused".
3) There is the active pursuit of a "servant-mindset".
b. If we arrange these in "order", we take a hint from Mark who claimed that his picture of Jesus was the "beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ"...i.e., the most crucial description. His "picture" was of Jesus, the Servant.
c. Thus, the subjection of the spirit of man to the needs of others with the recognition that only righteousness really meets those needs, is basic.
1) This makes "servanthood" crucial on the face of it.
2) This makes "a focus upon others" automatic (no servant serves himself).
3) This makes "righteousness" the critical mechanism of the service.