“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (NKJV).
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift” (MSG).
In Eph 4:29, Paul exhorts his readers not to let an evil word proceed from their mouths, but only to speak grace-filled words which edify the hearer. The primary word in the first phrase is corrupt (NKJV)—which is also translated as foul or dirty (MSG). According to Kenneth S. Wuest, “Corrupt” is sapros (σαπρος), ‘rotten, worn out, unfit for use, worthless, bad.’” In all honesty, when I would read this verse, I always applied it to people who spoke cuss words. Perhaps my interpretation went back to the days of hearing how soap was used to clean a “dirty” mouth which expelled “dirty” words. However, after digging into the verse I must admit I’m guilty of using “corrupt” words because I don’t always say grace-filled words which build up the person I am speaking to or about.
It is necessary to speak graced-filled words which will edify because our words either build up or tear down. Our words are like arrows, and our mouths are like bows. Once we release our arrows from our bows, we will hit targets. And the intended targets will either be blessed or hurt.
Paul concludes the reason why our words should edify: they will give grace to those who hear. Once again, Wuest says, “Grace” is charis (χαρις), the N.T. word for God’s grace in salvation. Here it refers to the spiritual blessings and benefits that will accrue to the hearers from the gracious words of the speaker.”
May God empower us, through his Holy Spirit, to speak grace-filled words to whomever we encounter inside or outside the body of Christ.