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Exploring the Bible Definition of Evil: A Closer Look

When it comes to understanding the concept of evil, the Bible provides us with valuable insights. Through various passages and theological viewpoints, we can delve deeper into its definition and significance. Let’s take a closer look at what the Bible has to say about evil.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that the terms and ideas surrounding evil have evolved over time. The English definition of evil traces its roots back to Old English, where it referred to anything morally wrong or harmful.

In Hebrew, the closest term to evil is “ra.” In the biblical context, ra denotes not only moral evil but also adversity, distress, or calamity. It embodies the idea of something being contrary to God’s will or intentions.

In Greek, the primary word used for evil is “kakos.” It encompasses various meanings such as wickedness , depravity, or malicious intent. Additionally, the Greek term “poneros” is often associated with evil, representing an active force or agent of harm.

The Bible contains numerous verses that shed light on the nature of evil. These passages highlight the consequences of evil actions, the need for redemption, and the battles between good and evil that permeate biblical stories.

Throughout history, scholars and theologians have offered different interpretations of evil based on cultural contexts and theological frameworks. From the Early Church Fathers to contemporary thinkers, various perspectives have emerged, each contributing to our understanding of this complex concept.

Biblical stories richly depict the interplay between good and evil, illustrating the consequences of human choices. Whether it’s the fall of Adam and Eve, the trials faced by biblical heroes, or the ultimate triumph of good over evil, these stories provide valuable lessons and insights.

Right and wrong, virtue and vice, have been intricately woven into the biblical narrative. The Bible presents a moral framework that distinguishes between good and evil, emphasizing the importance of righteousness and the dire consequences of succumbing to evil’s allure.

In today’s world, the issue of evil remains a subject of ongoing debate and discussion. People hold different opinions and perspectives, grappling with the complexities and challenges posed by the existence of evil in our lives.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bible provides insight into the definition and significance of evil.
  • Evil can be understood through the lens of Hebrew and Greek terms.
  • Biblical stories offer lessons on the consequences of human choices.
  • Good and evil are distinct moral concepts in the biblical narrative.
  • Different opinions exist regarding the nature and purpose of evil in today’s world.

The Origin of Evil: A Fallen World

According to the Bible, the concept of evil can be traced back to the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, leading to their expulsion from the garden and the introduction of sin into the world. This act of rebellion marked the beginning of a fallen world, where evil exists alongside good.

The biblical account of the fall highlights the devastating consequences of human disobedience. As a result of Adam and Eve’s actions, the world became subject to sin, suffering, and moral corruption. Evil entered the human experience, affecting every aspect of life and relationships.

Throughout the Bible, this understanding of the origin of evil underpins the narrative and provides context for the struggles humanity faces. It serves as a foundation for exploring the nature and significance of evil in the biblical worldview. By acknowledging the fallen state of the world, the Bible sets the stage for examining the role and implications of evil in human history.

Hebrew and Greek Concepts

Understanding the biblical view of evil requires delving into the original Hebrew and Greek texts. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “ra” is often used to describe evil. It encompasses a broad range of meanings, including moral evil, calamity, and adversity. In the New Testament, the Greek word “ponēros” is used to convey the idea of evil, referring to that which is morally diseased or wicked.

These linguistic nuances provide insight into the multifaceted nature of evil as depicted in the Bible. The Hebrew and Greek concepts capture the moral, spiritual, and destructive dimensions of evil, revealing its pervasive influence throughout creation.

Old Testament New Testament
Hebrew word: “ra” Greek word: “ponēros”
Meaning: Moral evil, calamity, adversity Meaning: Morally diseased, wicked

The Hebrew and Greek concepts of evil deepen our understanding of its complexities in the biblical narrative. They remind us that evil is not limited to mere wrongdoing but encompasses the broader scope of brokenness and rebellion against God’s intended order.

Evil and God’s Permission

evil according to the bible

In exploring the concept of evil according to the Bible, it is essential to understand that the existence of evil is permitted by God. While this may be a challenging concept to grasp, numerous scripture passages acknowledge God’s allowance of evil in the world. It is through these verses that we gain insight into the divine sovereignty over the presence of evil in our lives.

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” – Isaiah 45:7

Isaiah’s words remind us that God is in control of all things, including evil. Although the reasons behind God’s permission of evil may remain mysterious, we can find solace in the assurance that His divine plan is ultimately working for the greater good.

Furthermore, the Bible teaches us that God uses evil for His purposes. In Romans 8:28, it is written, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse emphasizes the transformative power of evil, as even in the midst of darkness, God is able to bring about redemption and restoration.

By acknowledging God’s permission of evil, we are reminded to trust in His wisdom and sovereignty. Although evil may be present in our lives, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God is ultimately working out His plan for our good, even in the face of adversity.

Scripture on Evil and God’s Permission

Below are some biblical verses that highlight the concept of evil being permitted by God:

  • Genesis 50:20 – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
  • Job 1:21 – “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”
  • Amos 3:6 – “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?”
  • 1 Peter 3:17 – “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

These verses serve as a reminder of God’s sovereignty over evil and the assurance that He can use even the darkest of circumstances for His divine purposes.

Verse Meaning
Genesis 50:20 Evil intended by humans can be turned into good by God.
Job 1:21 God has the authority to give and take away.
Amos 3:6 Disasters do not occur without God’s involvement.
1 Peter 3:17 Suffering for doing good is part of God’s will.

Reflecting on these biblical insights, we can begin to comprehend the complex relationship between evil and God’s permission. While evil may exist in our world, we can trust that God’s ultimate purposes and plans are at work, even in the midst of darkness.

The Purpose of Evil: A Training Ground

Within the biblical understanding of evil, it is seen as serving a purpose beyond mere malevolence. Evil is viewed as a training ground for God’s children, a means through which believers can develop their character and deepen their faith. The presence of evil in the world allows individuals to navigate adversity, grow in resilience, and seek a reliance on God’s strength.

The concept of evil as a training ground is rooted in the belief that challenges and suffering can lead to spiritual growth. The Bible teaches that through the trials brought about by evil, believers have the opportunity to become more compassionate, patient, and empathetic. It is through facing the darkness that individuals can discover the strength and grace of God, allowing their faith to mature and be a source of hope for others.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

This perspective on evil emphasizes the transformative power of faith and the potential for redemption. It encourages believers to view evil not as a random occurrence, but rather as a means to deepen their relationship with God and fulfill their purpose in His divine plan.

Hebrew Greek
The Hebrew word for evil is “ra”. It can refer to physical harm, moral wickedness, or calamity. The Greek word for evil is “ponēros”. It encompasses the concepts of depravity, malice, and the influence of Satan.

Evil as a Test of Faith

In Christian scriptures, the concept of evil is often portrayed as a test of faith. It is through the presence of evil that individuals are challenged to evaluate the genuineness of their beliefs and strengthen their relationship with God. Difficulties and trials serve as opportunities for believers to demonstrate their unwavering trust in Him.

One of the prominent examples in the Bible is the story of Job . Job, a righteous man, faced unimaginable suffering and loss, yet he remained faithful to God. Despite the trials he endured, Job never wavered in his faith and ultimately was rewarded for his steadfastness. This narrative emphasizes the idea that evil can be used as a means to refine and purify one’s faith.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance ” – James 1:2-3 (NIV)

This scripture reveals that evil and trials should be embraced as an opportunity for growth and spiritual development. It encourages believers to find joy in the midst of challenges, knowing that their faith will be strengthened through the testing process.

Table: Biblical Teachings on Evil as a Test of Faith

Scripture Teaching
James 1:2-3 Trials test faith and produce perseverance
1 Peter 1:6-7 Trials refine faith like gold
Romans 5:3-5 Trials produce character and hope

These teachings emphasize the transformative power of evil when approached with faith and trust in God. Trials become an opportunity to deepen one’s relationship with God and cultivate a stronger, more resilient faith.

The Role of Evil in Drawing Near to God

Evil, despite its negative connotations, can play a transformative role in an individual’s spiritual journey. Throughout the Bible, there are numerous stories and passages that illustrate how the presence of evil has led people to seek solace and guidance from God. In times of suffering and hardship, individuals often turn to their faith, finding comfort and strength in their relationship with the divine.

One notable example of evil drawing individuals closer to God can be found in the book of Job. Job, a righteous and prosperous man, faced unimaginable suffering when he lost his wealth, his family, and his health. In the midst of his afflictions, he questioned God’s presence and purpose, seeking answers and understanding. Through his struggles, Job’s faith was tested and ultimately strengthened as he found solace in God’s response and experienced a renewed connection with his Creator.

Similarly, the Psalms, a collection of ancient Hebrew hymns and prayers, reflect the anguish and longing of individuals undergoing trials and tribulations. These poetic expressions of pain and suffering often culminate in a recognition of God’s power and presence. The psalmists, in their desperate cries for help, discover a profound dependency on God and a deepened connection to their faith.

Hebrew and Greek Perspectives

In exploring the role of evil in drawing near to God, it is essential to consider the Hebrew and Greek perspectives. In the Hebrew Bible, the concept of evil is deeply rooted in the idea of moral wrongdoing and disobedience to God’s commands. The Hebrew word for evil, “ra,” encompasses both moral and natural evils, highlighting the interconnectedness of sin and suffering.

In Greek, the term for evil is “kakos,” which refers to that which is morally corrupt or harmful. The New Testament, written in Greek, further emphasizes the transformative power of evil in drawing individuals closer to God. The apostle Paul, for example, writes in his letter to the Romans that suffering produces endurance, character, and hope.

The Transformative Power of Evil

While the presence of evil may raise difficult questions and challenge one’s faith, it can also serve as a catalyst for spiritual growth and transformation. Suffering and hardships can strip away the distractions and self-reliance that often hinder a deep connection with God. In the face of evil, individuals are invited to surrender their own understanding and draw near to the divine, finding strength, comfort, and renewal in their relationship with God.

As the Bible attests, evil is not the end of the story; rather, it is a pathway to deeper communion with the divine. Through adversity, individuals can experience a profound transformation, rooted in a genuine reliance on God’s grace and a deepened understanding of His power and love.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis

Evil and the Greater Glory of God

While the presence of evil in the world may seem paradoxical, the Bible suggests that even in the face of darkness, God’s glory can shine through. The concept of evil serves as a backdrop against which God’s power and redemptive nature can be magnified.

Throughout the Bible, numerous stories and passages illustrate how God triumphs over evil, showcasing His authority and sovereignty. One such example is the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Despite facing betrayal, slavery, and imprisonment, Joseph’s faithfulness led to his rise to power and the eventual salvation of his family during a time of famine. This narrative highlights God’s ability to bring good out of evil, ultimately glorifying Himself through Joseph’s journey.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20

Furthermore, the Bible emphasizes that God’s glory is most fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus conquered evil and offered redemption to all who believe in Him. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes that the sufferings endured by believers are working towards an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs the temporary afflictions of this world.

The Greater Purpose of Evil

While it may be difficult to comprehend the existence of evil, the Bible teaches that it can serve a greater purpose in the grand narrative of God’s plan. The presence of evil allows for the manifestation of God’s attributes such as mercy, justice, and grace. Without evil, these qualities would remain mere concepts rather than demonstrated realities.

Additionally, the contrast between good and evil serves to highlight mankind’s need for a Savior. As humans, we are confronted with the reality of right and wrong, and our inability to consistently choose what is right. This recognition leads us to acknowledge our dependency on God’s forgiveness and salvation.

In conclusion, the Bible presents a perspective on evil that acknowledges its existence but also points towards the greater glory of God. Despite the challenges and hardships that evil brings, God’s power, redemptive nature, and sovereignty prevail. Through stories, biblical teachings, and the person of Jesus Christ, we can find hope and assurance that evil does not have the final say. Instead, it serves a purpose in magnifying God’s glory and leading us to rely on Him for ultimate redemption.

The Problem of Evil in Today’s World

The concept of evil is a topic that continues to perplex and challenge individuals in today’s world. As we delve into the Bible’s understanding of evil, we encounter different opinions and interpretations that reflect the ongoing dialogue surrounding this complex issue.

From the perspective of the Bible, evil is not simply a black-and-white concept. It encompasses a wide range of moral, ethical, and spiritual dimensions that can vary depending on one’s cultural, philosophical, and religious background. This diversity of perspectives gives rise to diverse opinions on the nature and significance of evil in contemporary society.

Some may argue that evil is an inherent and tangible force that manifests itself through acts of violence, injustice, and suffering. Others may adopt a more relativistic view, seeing evil as a subjective concept influenced by societal norms, personal values, and individual perspectives. These differing opinions reflect the ongoing quest to understand and address the presence of evil in our world.

Opinion Key Points Supporting Bible Verses
Objective Existence of Evil – Evil is a tangible force
– It is universally recognized
– It necessitates a response
– Ephesians 6:12
– Psalm 37:1-2
– Isaiah 5:20
Subjective Nature of Evil – Evil is influenced by personal values and perspectives
– It varies across cultures and societies
– It requires empathy and understanding
– Romans 14:14
– Matthew 7:12
– 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

“Evil is not something superhuman, it’s something less than human.” – Agatha Christie

Despite these different opinions, one thing remains clear – the presence of evil poses challenges and prompts individuals to grapple with questions of morality, justice, and the human condition. Exploring these varied perspectives and engaging in meaningful dialogue can lead to a deeper understanding of the complexities of evil in our world.

Ultimately, the problem of evil is a multifaceted issue that calls for compassion, empathy, and a willingness to confront the difficult questions it raises. While we may not arrive at a definitive answer or consensus, the pursuit of understanding and the search for solutions can lead us towards a more compassionate and just society.


Exploring the bible definition of evil unveils a complex and multifaceted understanding of this concept. Throughout history, scholars and theologians have grappled with the origins and nature of evil, seeking to understand its role in the biblical narrative and its impact on individuals and society.

The concept of evil has its roots in ancient languages, with the Hebrew word “ra” and the Greek word “kakos” both conveying the idea of moral wrongness and harm. The Bible provides numerous verses that shed light on the nature of evil, its consequences, and the various perspectives surrounding it.

Biblical stories and passages reveal the presence of evil in the form of temptation, suffering, and wrongdoing. From the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to the trials faced by biblical figures such as Job and Joseph, these accounts highlight the reality and effects of evil in human experience.

While the nature and purpose of evil may remain a subject of debate, the Bible emphasizes the existence of a divine purpose and a greater glory at work. Through the challenges posed by evil, individuals are called to discern right from wrong, grow in faith, and draw closer to God. Today, the ongoing dialogue surrounding the concept of evil reflects the diverse perspectives and differing opinions in our modern society.


What is the biblical definition of evil?

The Bible defines evil as the result of humanity’s fall into sin, which brought about a fallen world where evil exists.

Did God permit the existence of evil?

Yes, the Bible affirms that evil exists by God’s permission, although the reasons for His allowance may not always be clear.

What is the purpose of evil according to the Bible?

Evil serves as a training ground for believers, offering opportunities for spiritual growth and reliance on God’s strength.

Does evil test one’s faith?

Yes, according to the Bible, evil can be permitted to test the genuineness of one’s faith and strengthen their relationship with God.

How can evil draw individuals closer to God?

The presence of evil can create a sense of dependency, leading individuals to seek God’s guidance and find solace in His presence.

Can evil bring glory to God?

Yes, showcasing God’s power over darkness and demonstrating His redemptive nature can magnify His glory in the face of evil.

What is the problem of evil in today’s world?

The problem of evil remains a complex topic with different interpretations and opinions regarding its nature and significance in contemporary society.

Is there a conclusion about the biblical definition of evil?

While questions and differing opinions persist, exploring the Bible’s understanding of evil can deepen our understanding and faith.

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  • Greg Gaines

    Father / Grandfather / Minister / Missionary / Deacon / Elder / Author / Digital Missionary / Foster Parents / Welcome to our Family

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