Wicked - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


kakos (G2556) Wicked
poneros (G4190) Evil
phaulos (G5337) Bad
Because that which is morally evil may be seen from several viewpoints, various terms, such as kakos, poneros, and phaulos, are used to express different aspects of this concept.
Kakos and poneros are used in Revelation 16:2 and kakia (G2549) and poneria (G4189) in 1 Corinthians 5:8. The dialogismoi(G1261) kakoi of Mark 7:21 are referred to as dialogismoi poneroi in the parallel passage in Matthew (15:19). The distinction between kakos and poneros is best understood by studying poneros.Kakos is constantly used in antithesis to agathos and less frequently as the antithesis of kalos. Kakos describes something that lacks the qualities and conditions that would make it worthy of its name. Kakos was first used in a physical sense. Thus the kaka heimata are "mean or tattered garments"; kakos iatros is a "physician lacking the skill which physicians should possess"; and kakos krites is an "unskillful judge." Kakos is used in Scripture without ethical connotations and sometimes with one. The kakos doulos is a "servant lacking that fidelity and diligence which are properly due from servants."
As Ammonius called him, the poneros is ho drastikos kakou (the active worker out of evil). Beza made this distinction: "Poneros signifies something more than kakos and beyond question it refers to a person who has been trained in every crime and completely prepared for inflicting injury to anyone." According to its derivation, the poneros is "one who furnishes trouble to others." Poneria is the cupiditas nocendi (desire of harming). Jeremy Taylor defined poneros as an "aptness to do shrewd turns, to delight in mischief and tragedies; a loving to trouble our neighbor and to do him ill offices; crossness, perverseness, and peevishness of action in our intercourse." The positive activity of evil is emphasized more by poneros than by kakos. Thus poneros constantly is contrasted with chrestos (G5543), the good contemplated as the useful. If kakos is the French mauvais (bad) or méchant (wicked), then poneros is the French nuisible (injurious), the Latin noxious (hurtful), and the English noisome in the older sense of this word. The kakos may be content to perish in his own corruption, but the poneros is not content unless he is corrupting others and drawing them into his own destruction. "For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall" (Prov. 4:16). Thus opson poneron is an "unwholesome dish"; asmata ponera are "wicked songs" that by their wantonness corrupt the minds of the young; gyne (G1135) ponera is a "wicked wife"; ophthalmos (G3788) poneros (Mark 7:22) is a "mischief-working eye." Satan is emphatically ho poneros as the first author of all the mischief in the world. "Ravening beasts" are always θηρια (G2342) ponera in the Septuagint. Kaka theria (evil beasts) occurs once in the New Testament (Titus 1:12), but the meaning is not precisely the same, as the context sufficiently shows. Euripides testifies that the Greeks thought there was a more inborn and radical evil in the man who is poneros than in the man who is kakos:"The evil person [poneros] is in no way different from the bad [kakos]."In the context, Euripides meant that a man with an evil nature (poneros) will always show himself so in his actions (kakos).
In most languages there are words like phaulos that portray the good-for-nothing aspect of evil, that show it as something that cannot produce any true gain. Thus we have the Latin nequam (worthless) and nequitia (worthlessness), the French vaurien (good-for-nothing), the English naughty and naughtiness, and the German taugenichts (good-for-nothing), schlecht (bad), and schlechtigkeit (badness, baseness).
The central notion of phaulos is worthlessness. Phaulos successively has the following meaningslight, unstable, blown about by every wind, small, slight, mediocre, of no account, worthless, and bad. Phaulos predominantly meant "bad" in the sense of worthless. Thus phaule auletris is a bad flute-player, and phaulos zographos is a bad painter.
Phaulos and spoudaios (G4705) are antithetical terms. The Stoics divided all people into two classes, the spoudaioi and the phauloi. Phaulos is contrasted with chrestos, kalos epieikes, and asteios. Phaulos commonly is used with achrestos euteles mochtheros asthenes atopos, elaphros, blaberos, koinos, akrates, anoetos, akairos, agennes and agoraios. In the New Testament, phaulos reached the last stage of its meaning. "Those who have done evil [phaula]" are directly contrasted with "those who have done good [agathas]. "The former are condemned to "the resurrection of condemnation." The same antithesis of phaulos and agathos occurs elsewhere.

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