Y O U N G P E O P L E ' S D I C T I O N A R Y O F S C R I P T U R A L • & • R E L I G I O U S T E R M S
This word does not occur in the KJV or the JND translation of the Bible. However
its meaning is often referred to throughout the Bible. Calumny means that someone
purposely lies about the character or the actions of another. It’s a really terrible
form of lying and false accusation and could be termed ‘railing’.
In the story of Joseph we see how the awful calumnies of Potiphar’s wife about
Joseph (Gen. 39) caused him to be cast into prison. But God overuled her wicked
lies and Joseph was blessed. Those with him in prison, were blessed by his presence.
Calumny is like verbal persecution—saying something bad about another person just
to hurt them. Christians who seek to live faithfully for the Lord Jesus often have
calumnies spoken about them by those who hate the name of Jesus.
The early Christians were special targets of such calumnies. The Apostle Paul had
calumnies spoken against him. In Acts 16, Paul cast a demon out of a poor damsel
who, as a slave, was used to make money for her masters by fortune telling. Once
the demon was gone out of her, she was unable to be a ‘fortune teller’. When her
wicked masters couldn’t make money from her any longer they became very angry.
They dragged Paul and Silas to the judges of the city crying: “. . . These men, being
Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us
to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” These calumnies caused Paul and Silas
to be severely beaten and cast into prison, kept there chained in stocks.
The most perfect example is our Lord Jesus who “when he was reviled, reviled not
again (‘reviling’ is similar to ‘calumnies’); when he suffered, he threatened not; but
committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:” (1 Pet. 2:23)