“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.”
Explanation and Commentary of Ephesians 4:29
James said that “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (Ja 3:8). How much evil is committed because we cannot just keep our mouth closed? But God cares about what we say. Jesus, when he was accused of being unclean because of eating with unwashed hands, claimed that it was not what went into a person that made them unclean, but rather what came out (Mk 7:15). In other words, when a person speaks evil, they are tainted by their own words. On the one hand, you might say that the mouth speaks what is already in the heart, but it is true that when there is a sinful impulse, going ahead and saying it will actually solidify the sin in the heart.
It is also true that if one can bridle the tongue, the sheer act of self-control that it requires will lend itself to the transformation of the person. Perhaps a sinful impulse to gossip about someone, once squashed, will make a person less likely to think to gossip in the future. Additionally, words can be a powerful source of strength and encouragement when used positively to build others up. Be a blessing to other people by determining to encourage others whenever you possibly can. Seek to point out what is good, and call attention to what is commendable.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Ephesians 4:29
#1 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,”
Even the purest and holiest men and women of God can sometimes be blindsided by a thought from the evil one that, if said, would be to go from temptation to sin. Just because a thought enters your mind, does not mean that you have to say it. If you are a Christian, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you in this. You will grow when you commit to this.
#2 “but only what is helpful…”
This is a good rule. If you don’t regularly think about what might be helpful and a benefit to others, spend some time thinking about how you could use words to bless the people around you, and then do it.
#3 “…for building others up according to their needs,”
It is interesting that he says we should build up others “according to their needs.” To do this requires getting to know people so that we will know what could be uniquely beneficial to them.
#4 “…that it may benefit those who listen.”
Your words can bless or curse, hurt, or benefit. Seek to bless and benefit those who listen.
Bible Study on Ephesians 4:29
Expert Overview of Ephesians
Biblical Translations of Ephesians 4:29
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.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.