EXAMINING THE WORD JESTING
(Found in the KJV and ASV)
TEXT: Eph. 5:4 – “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which is not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (KJV)
Ephesians 5:4 – “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”
[Neither filthiness] Aischrotees. Anything base or vile in words or acts.
[Foolish talking] Moorologia. Scurrility, buffoonery, ridicule, or what tends to expose another to contempt.
[Nor jesting] Eutrapelia. Artfully turned discourses or words, from eu, well or easily, and tropee, I turn; words that can be easily turned to other meanings; double entendres; chaste words which, from their connection, and the manner in which they are used, convey an obscene or offensive meaning. It also means jests, puns, witty sayings, and mountebank repartees of all kinds.
[Which are not convenient] Ouk aneeken. They do not come up to the proper standard; they are utterly improper in themselves, and highly unbecoming in those who profess Christianity.
[But rather giving of thanks.] Eucharistia. Decent and edifying discourse or thanksgiving to God. Prayer or praise is the most suitable language for man; and he who is of a trifling, light disposition, and is ill fitted for either. How can a man, who has been talking foolishly or jestingly in company, go in private to magnify God for the use of his tongue which he has abused, or his rational faculties which he has degraded?
(From Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Eph. 5:4 – [Nor jesting] eutrapelia. This word occurs also nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, that which is “well-turned” eu – well, and prepoo – to turn); and then that which is sportive, refined, courteous; and then “urbanity, humor, wit; and then jesting, levity” – which is evidently the meaning here. The apostle would not forbid courteousness, or refinement of manners (compare 1 Peter 3:8), and the reference, therefore, must be to that which is light and trifling in conversation; to that which is known among us as jesting. It may be observed:
(1) That “courteousness” is not forbidden in the Scriptures, but is positively required; 1 Peter 3:8.
(2) “Cheerfulness” is not forbidden-for if anything can make cheerful, it is the hope of heaven.
(3) “Pleasantry” cannot be forbidden. I mean that quiet and gentle humor that arises from good-nature, and that makes one good-natured in spite of himself.
Such are many of the poems of Cowper, and many of the essays of Addison in the “Spectator” – a benevolent humor which disposes us to smile, but not to be malignant; to be good-natured, but not to inspire levity. But levity and jesting, though often manifested by ministers and other Christians, are as inconsistent with true dignity as with the gospel. Where were they seen in the conversation of the Redeemer? Where in the writings of Paul?
(From Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
The apostle not only cautions against the gross acts of sin, but against what some may be apt to make light of, and think to be excusable. Neither filthiness (v. 4), by which may be understood all wanton and unseemly gestures and behavior; nor foolish talking, obscene and lewd discourse, or, more generally, such vain discourse as betrays much folly and indiscretion, and is far from edifying the hearers; nor jesting. The Greek word eutrapelia is the same which Aristotle, in his Ethics, makes a virtue: pleasantness of conversation. And there is no doubt an innocent and inoffensive jesting, which we cannot suppose the apostle here forbids. Some understand him of such scurrilous and abusive reflections as tend to expose others and to make them appear ridiculous. This is bad enough: but the context seems to restrain it to such pleasantry of discourse as is filthy and obscene, which he may also design by that corrupt, or putrid and rotten, communication that he speaks of, Eph 4:29.
(From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
NOTE BY Garreth L. Clair: The notes listed above give one a good understanding of the word jesting. The word coarse is found in the NKJV; an addition – This addition adds nothing to the concept of jesting as described in the context of verses 3-5 of this text. The three above references give one a good idea why the framers of the NKJV inserted the word “coarse” – course being rough or abrasive in basic meaning.
Inflected Form(s): coars·er; coars·est
Etymology: Middle English cors, perhaps from course, noun
1 : of ordinary or inferior quality or value : COMMON
2 a (1) : composed of relatively large parts or particles <coarse sand> (2) : loose or rough in texture <coarse cloth> b : adjusted or designed for heavy, fast, or less delicate work <a coarse saw with large teeth> c : not precise or detailed with respect to adjustment or discrimination
3 : crude or unrefined in taste, manners, or language
4 : harsh, raucous, or rough in tone
5 chiefly British : of or relating to coarse fish <coarse fishing>