What is a reprobate mind?

reprobate mind, romans 1:28

by Matt Slick
1/10/2018

A reprobate mind is a mind that is given over to the sinful passions and ungodly desires. It is another way of describing a person who is set on satisfying the flesh and not on the Spirit of God. It is a person who rejects God and does what is self-serving instead of what God desires. Therefore, someone who is reprobate is under the condemnation of God. Such a person does not attend church, does not care about the things of God, does not read the word, and does not pray. They are judged by God and are under condemnation, so they have no conviction of their sin or desire for God.

The term "reprobate mind" is found in the King James Version in Romans 1:28 and is rendered differently in different translations.

  • "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient," (Romans 1:28, KJV).
  • "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper," (Romans 1:28, NASB).
  • "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done," (Romans 1:28, ESV).

The Greek word for reprobate, depraved, debased is ἀδόκιμος adókimos.  It means...

  • "Unapproved, unworthy, spurious, worthless. In a pass. sense meaning disapproved, rejected, cast away."1
  • "ἀδόκιμοςa, ον; ἄτοποςa, ον: pertaining to not being in accordance with what is right, appropriate, or fitting—‘not fitting, what should not be done, bad."2

The Greek word for reprobate occurs 8 times in the New Testament but is translated into the English using various words.

  1. Romans 1:28, "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:27, "but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."
  3. 2 Corinthians 13:5, Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?"
  4. 2 Corinthians 13:6, But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test."
  5. 2 Corinthians 13:7, Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved."
  6. 2 Timothy 3:8, Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith."
  7. Titus 1:16, "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."
  8. Hebrews 6:8, "but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned."

As you can see, there is a variety of meanings in the English for what reprobation is. But generally, the word means to test and find lacking.

  • "In Rom. 1:28, at the end of a passage documenting human ungodliness (vv 18–27), Paul uses a wordplay to sum up his indictment. Since humanity tested and rejected (ou dokimázō, lit “not accept as proved” the knowledge of God, God gave them over to an adókimos mind, i.e., a way of thinking that, having been tested and found wanting, is rejected as base and worthless."3
  • REPROBATE—that which is rejected on account of its own worthlessness (Jer. 6:30; Heb. 6:8; Gr. adokimos, “rejected”). This word is also used with reference to persons cast away or rejected because they have failed to make use of opportunities offered them (1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 13:5–7)."4

Can Christians be of reprobate mind?

No, Christians cannot be of reprobate mind because they are indwelt by God (John 14:23), and are born again (John 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17).  Because they are changed, Christians will seek the will of God.  But, this does not mean perfection. It means that Christian struggle against their sin, but they are not judged by God as to have a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28).

 

 

 

  • 1. Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000.
  • 2. Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.
  • 3. Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988.
  • 4. Easton, M. G. Easton’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.