Did Paul or Peter ever cuss???

Can you support that cussing/cursing is ok biblically? Well these major Bible figures make defining strong language a whole lot more ambiguous than a lot of people would have us believe.


Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)

In this verse Paul uses the word rubbish which is a translation of the Greek word skubalon. This word is defined as scraps from a plate, trash, or dung. Yep. Manure. Fertilizer. Cowpies. So what did he mean? Eugene Peterson’s Message version goes with dog dung.

Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. (Philippians 3:7 MSG)

What is even more troubling is Paul’s description of the Judaizers as dogs and those who mutilate the flesh.

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. (Philippians 3:2 ESV)

In Jewish culture, a man who was of impure mind was called a dog. An example of a man of impure mind: a male prostitute (Revelation 22:15, Deuteronomy 23:19)

Is calling someone a male prostitute cussing??? Hmmmm. Definitely not politically correct.


When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!” Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.” (Acts 8:18, 20 MSG)

Peter cracks me up!!! Lol. He actually told this guy that him and his money can go to hell!

That is definitely strong language but is that equivalent to cussing in the modern day sense of the term?

Also Jesus called the Pharisees “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). He called them something less than human. How is this ok and we can’t just say because he is Jesus and they deserved it. Can we???

Stay tuned for the last post in this series on “Why this conversation is important?”

6 thoughts on “Did Paul or Peter ever cuss???

  1. For the record, I don’t think those are examples of ‘cussing.’

    The F-word isn’t a cuss word because of what it means. “Intercourse” isn’t a cuss word, neither is “feces,” “poop,” or “penis,” rather, cuss words are inappropriate because they are impolite ways of saying something that you could say another way.

    So to point out that Peter talks about ‘hell’ or that Paul talks about ‘poop’ isn’t to point out that they were using foul language, but rather to point out that they (like Jesus and other prophets) had no problem making things explicit and compelling with the use of extremely serious, grotesque, or otherwise caustic language.

    I know that not all languages have ‘taboo’ words in them. Ours does. As Christians we shouldn’t be engaged in using them frivolously.

    Thats my 2 cents…

    1. So Steven I have a question for you: who determines what is “polite” or “impolite”? Those terms seem culturally arbitrary. The examples of Paul, Peter, and Jesus do not steer me towards politeness. In what way is being polite or impolite objective or are you only speaking of a certain context?

      1. They are indeed culturally arbitrary. I am not speaking objectively, but rather contextually. In this case, the context is America and the use of the English language here.

        I don’t think saying something is culturally inappropriate gives us a pass. We are still expected to obey the dictates of our cultural mores, unless they contradict the higher ethics of the kingdom. That would be akin to saying, “they go topless in some countries, so I’m gonna go topless to church this morning.”

        The ‘f-word’ is unacceptable here, even people who use it are aware of it and feel guilty for their use of it. I have had lots of people apologize for their use of language. Even in the neighborhood we live in (a sub-context where that kind of language is prevalent) people apologize for their language. In my experience the only people who defend their use of these words are ‘cool Christians.’

        Again, I haven’t ever given this any air time in our community, and I don’t think it is a big deal. I just don’t understand why a Christian would choose to use words that are so repugnant to so many. Even those who use the words use them precisely because they are repugnant. That seems immature, at least to me.

      2. Steve,

        You are correct in saying we don’t always go with the culture. Although I have been in contexts where new believers had no idea this was a bad thing and actually said the f-word at a Christian rally over the microphone! So I don’t know if it is an across the board American cultural norm or one that is dying out.

        Sounds like you were in a pomo emergent hipster context. Very different from mine. It’s a shame that people were trying to test your coolness. It’s funny though because I caught flack in a different context where my “holiness” was tested. I think any way that we exclude others sucks!

  2. You have a good point…

    I had a new christian in our worship gathering this past sunday who used the f-word and didn’t flinch, but I have also had the hardest drug-dealer in our neighborhood apologize for swearing in front of me.

    Interestingly enough, the ‘pomo emergent hipster context’ that you refer to is the Vineyard. I never get tested in this way around our neighborhood, only when I go to Vineyard events and hang out with younger, cooler, Vineyard pastors…

    1. Wow I didn’t know vineyard folks got down like that. I know of a few who use strong language when relaying a point but again it is contextual and based on their background, ministry context, convictions (never as a test of belonging). We must fight against this spirit of exclusivity in whatever form!!!

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