Good and Evil

And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

Genesis 1:31


Good – Would it surprised you to know that the word good is not based on morality? When God saw everything that he had made, he wasn’t saying that everything was righteous or morally good. He wasn’t stating that it was pleasant to look upon and enticing to the eye. So what was His meaning?

The Hebrew word tov is best translated as “functional.” Everything God had made was functional. It all worked according to His desire. This is what made it good.

Whenever you encounter the word “good” in your Bible, try replacing it with the word “functional” instead. You will be surprised about how much it enhances your understanding.


He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.

Leviticus 27:10

Bad – This is the antonym of tov. Most of the time this word is translated as “evil” or “bad,” but would be best translated as “dysfunctional.”

Our Western thinking would have us believe that good is something to be pursued while bad is something to be avoided. It is a moral dichotomy.

However, in the Hebrew mind of the Biblical authors, tov and ra are not moral issues but a balance, like the positive and negative ends of a magnet.

Jeff Benner, The Living Words Volume 1

So the next time we read about evil spirits, or evil men and evil thoughts, realize that these things are simply dysfunctional. That’s it. They are not providing the proper function for which they were intended. And when we read about good trees and fruits, or good works, remember that these are simply functional. A good tree produces functional fruit; fruit that can be eaten and that benefits the body. Good works are those deeds that are functional in a community and provide help to the people.

Now go forth and do good. Go forth and be a functional human ready to enact God’s will in the world. But before you can be functional, have you read the instructions first?


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