WICKED, WICKEDNESS (Heb. ra, rasha, Gr. ponēros, ponēria). The KJV often uses these words, but later translations prefer “evil,” especially in the NT. The idea is that of a person or thing that is bad, worthless, depraved, and corrupt, and especially of a person or thing that opposes God, his will, his Messiah, and his gospel. It can describe a whole people or an individual or the state in which they are (as seen by God). Ps.37.1-Ps.37.40 has many references to wicked or evil people as they are contrasted with the godly or righteous. This Psalm begins, “Do not fret because of evil men...for like the grass they will soon wither.” Wickedness had been in the world since the entrance of sin, and because of it the Lord sent the great Flood (Gen.6.5), saving only the righteous Noah and his family.

The certainty of punishment for the wicked is often declared (e.g., Matt.13.49). God permits wickedness in this age but does not condone it, and he will judge those responsible for it.

See also [[Malice]]; [[Evil]].——PT

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


1. In the [[Old Testament]]:

The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality. See [[Sin]]. Many words are rendered "wickedness." There are many synonyms for wickedness in English and also in the Hebrew. Pride and vanity lead to it: "All the proud, and all that work wickedness (rish`ah) shall be stubble" (Mal 4:1). Akin to this is the word `awen, "iniquity," "vanity": "She eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness" (Pr 30:20). Then we have the word hawwah, meaning "mischief," "calamity," coming from inward intent upon evil: "Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness" (Ps 52:7); zimmah, "wickedness" in thought, carnality or lust harbored: "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness" (Le 20:14); `awlah, "perverseness," "Neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as at the first" (2Sa 7:10). The word for evil ra`) is many times employed to represent wickedness: "Remember all their wickedness" (Ho 7:2). Wickedness like all forms and thoughts of wrong, kept warm in mind, seems to be a thing of growth; it begins with a thought, then a deed, then a character, and finally a destiny. Even in this life men increase in wickedness till they have lost all desire for that which is good in the sight of God and good men; the men in the vision of Isaiah seem to be in a condition beyond which the human heart cannot go: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness" (Isa 5:20). Shades of thought are added by such words as roa`, "evil," "badness": "Give them according to their work, and according to the wickedness of their doings" (Ps 28:4). And resha` or rish`ah, also gives the common thought of wrong, wickedness. The prophets were strong in denunciations of all iniquity, perverseness, and in announcing the curse of God which would certainly follow.

2. In the [[New Testament]]:

Wickedness, malignity, evil in thought and purpose is presented by the word poneria: "But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why make ye trial of me, ye hypocrites?" (Mt 22:18). Jesus points out the origin of all wrong: "For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed .... wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness .... all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man" (Mr 7:21-23). See Imitation of Christ, xiii, 5.