Evil Has a Broader Meaning Than Sin

Evil Has a Broader Meaning Than Sin

Romans 12:9

Evil (Heb. ra’; Gk. kakos, ponēros, phaulos). Evil has a broader meaning than sin. The Heb. word comes from a root meaning ‘to spoil’, ‘to break in pieces’: being broken and so made worthless. It is essentially what is unpleasant, disagreeable, offensive. The word binds together the evil deed and its consequences. In the NT kakos and ponēros mean respectively the quality of evil in its essential character, and its hurtful effects or influence. It is used in both physical and moral senses. While these aspects are different, there is frequently a close relationship between them. Much physical evil is due to moral evil: suffering and sin are not necessarily connected in individual cases, but human selfishness and sin explain much of the world’s ills. Though all evil must be punished, not all physical ill is a punishment of wrongdoing (Lk. 13:2, 4; Jn. 9:3; cf. Job).

Howley, G. C. D. (1996). Evil. In (D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman, Eds.)New Bible dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.