What Does Reproach Mean In The Bible

Background Information

In the Bible, the word “reproach” has numerous meanings and connotations. This word appears in many passages in the Old and New Testaments, and it can have a variety of interpretations. To understand what reproof means in the Bible, it is important to consider its etymology, definition, and context in biblical writing.
The English verb reproach comes from the Latin word “reprobare,” which means, “to blame or find fault,” and that meaning is carried in the Bible. Reproach can also take the form of speaking ill of someone, acting as though one is uninformed or unimportant, or censuring an individual for their choices. Biblical scholars generally agree that, in the Bible, reproof is a form of verbal discipline, in which a individual reprimands someone for their misdeeds, in an attempt to persuade them to change their behavior.

Biblical Context

Reproach is woven into the narrative of the biblical stories and is used in multiple scriptures. Noah is reprehended for not completing the ark, Moses is reprimanded for disobeying God’s command, and Kings David and Saul are both rebuked for their sins. Reproach appears in multiple contexts, including instances in which the Lord admonishes Israel for not following his commandments and for worshiping false gods, as well as stories in which those in authority are shown rebuking their peers. Moreover, the apostles Peter and Paul admonish the early church on a regular basis.
Reproach appears in multiple Psalms, including Psalm 55:12-13, which reads, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide myself from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance.” This scripture reveals how one can feel consumed by reproach from a close friend, which can be a difficult feeling to bear.

Restorative Reproach

In addition to the traditional interpretation of reproach as admonishment and blame, scripture also suggests a more restorative view of reproof. For example, the Book of Proverbs states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” This proverb indicates that words of truth, regardless of how painful, can help someone on the path to righteousness.
The New Testament provides another example of restorative reproach, when Paul chastises the Corinthians for their immoral behavior and man-made traditions. Paul’s reproach is done in love and with a desire to guide them to the right path.

Remedial Reproach

Another type of reproach which appears in scripture is remedial reproof. This occurs when a person reproves another not as punishment, but as an opportunity to remediate and grow. For example, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father rebukes his son when he comes home, yet he also offers him mercy and forgiveness, despite the mistakes he has made. In this way, the father tries to teach his son the importance of repentance and the power of redemption.

Relational Reproach

Relational reproof is another form of reproach seen in scripture. Rather than punishing someone for their misdeeds, reproach in this context is used to express a sense of disappointment when a relationship has been hurt. This can be seen in the story of the prodigal son, when the father grieves over the lost relationship with his loved one.

Significance of Reproach

Overall, the concept of reproach plays a key role in the Bible, as it is used in various contexts to teach lessons, to express a sense of disappointment, to provide instruction, and to offer redemption. Consequently, understanding the various interpretations of reproach in scripture can help believers to recognize how to use reprimand as a tool for growth, rather than as a means of punishment.

Differing Perspectives

Biblical scholars have different opinions on the importance of reproof in the Bible. Some argue that it is essential to admonish those who have gone astray in order to provide them with guidance. Others suggest that there is not sufficient emphasis on the restorative elements of reproach in the scriptures. In contrast, some believe that remedial reproach is necessary in order to teach people how to repent and forgive.

Oil of Repentance

Although reproach is discouraged in many cultures, God uses it throughout the Bible as a means to bring restoration and revival. People who have gone astray have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and find forgiveness. Ultimately, the “Oil of Repentance”, as it is sometimes called in the Bible, can help to reconcile relationships and bring people closer to God.

Catalyst for Change

By remixing our traditional understanding of reproach, we can better understand how it can be used as a catalyst for growth and change. Reproaching someone is not just about punishment but is also about providing understanding and grace. When used appropriately and in the right context, reproof can lead to tremendous transformation in a person’s life.


For many individuals, it is difficult to receive reproof, since it can make them feel ashamed, unloved, and unworthy. However, it is important to understand that reproach is also a part of God’s character, and it can bring clarity and direction to our lives. Those who receive reproof are accountable to God and to their peers, and they can use this opportunity to receive grace and understanding.

Accompanying Discipline

When it comes to reproach, it is important to remember that it is closely tied to discipline. The Bible makes it clear that there will be consequences for our choices and that our actions have consequences. In scripture, it is seen that God uses discipline and reproach to bring about repentance and change.


The most important aspect of reproach is to receive it with an open heart. If a person receives it with humility, they can gain insight into how their actions may have hurt or offended someone else and can enter into the process of repentance, restoration, and forgiveness. Moreover, those who reprove should also do so in a way that does not shame or embarrass the individual, but instead provides them with grace and understanding.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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