July 18, 2014

Chatterboxes & Windbags: Blah, Blah, Blah...

There is something really annoying about incessant talkers or people who never seem to exhaust their supply of words. Please note I did not say people with a lot of good ideas. That's different. I am talking about those that talk for the sake of talking. The ones that can speak forever but end up saying nothing. The people that are aggressively articulate but have nothing intelligent to say. Even the Bible hints at the irksome nature of these types of people.

Proverbs 17:28 ~ “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

Proverbs 18:2 ~ “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."

Proverbs 29:20 ~ “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

The Bible also tells us that these types of people are foolish and it tells us many other things too if we look closely enough at some of the words about people that vomit out too many words.

Acts 17:18 ~ “Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
1 Timothy 6:20 “Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge…”

2 Timothy 2:16 “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness…”

Okay people, time for a Greek lesson. All three of these verses use the word babble. The word in Greek for babble was either σπερμολόγος/spermologos as in the case of Acts 17:18 or κενοφωνίας/kenophonias in the case of 1 & 2 Timothy. The word spermologos was a compound Greek noun that is made up of the word “sperma” meaning “seed” and “logos” meaning “word”. Together it translates to “seed word”. It was often used to describe birds like crows or other scavengers that would scrounge individual scraps or seeds dropped by passersby. It was a word often given to people who hanged out on the streets (vagrants and troublemakers) that would pick up the scraps that fell from loads like a parasite that lived at the expense of others.

It ended up morphing into a description for people that would pick and choose secondhand information (gossip) and plagiarized that information making it their own. That information was then usually misappropriated when these spermalogos would inappropriately use the “cherry picked” information to come off as experts in the Greek rhetorical culture. This is the reason Paul was looked at with contempt by the Epicureans and Stoics in Acts 17. They legitimately thought he was a spermologos. These spermologos sounded like they were experts but in reality were merely regurgitating things they have heard or parroting isolated thoughts. They were all talk and no substance. Isn't this exactly what we see in many churches today? 

Babblers. All gossip, no Gospel. All scuttlebutt, no Scripture.

The word kenophonias was also a compound Greek noun that is made up of the word “kenos” meaning “empty” and “phonia” meaning sound. In other words people that made “empty sound”.

So when Luke and Paul use these words in Scripture they are used to refer to people making empty sounds or using misappropriated secondhand gossip. What is further interesting is that when the word babble is used in English it is onomatopoetic. In other words, by saying the word, it sounds like the exact thing it describes. In other words babbling essentially sounds like “Blah, blah, blah, blah.” 

Like I said, empty words.

Paul (therefore the Bible) is warning us that people who speak meaningless gibberish (another onomatopoetic) and gossip are deadly to the faith. Why? Because as Paul tells us, they spread false knowledge. Falsity and deceit is demonic. Truth is of God. We too should avoid empty yammering and grumbling. 
Proverbs 16:28 ~ “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”
Proverbs 17:4 ~ “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.”
Proverbs 20:19 ~ “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.”

Instead of becoming perpetrators, we are to stand vigilant to these things and recognize them when we are confronted with them. In this way we avoid having our faith and knowledge corrupted by senseless “seed pickers”. Just like squawking crows or cackling hens when you throw seed or corn to them. All kinds of racket but no substance. A bunch of noise that just causes chaos and disunity.

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