Please define the references to "A Good Man" relative to the six instances in the NIV, especially Proverbs 13:22: "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous."


"Good" is a very general term, and it can mean a number of things. In Proverbs 12:2; 13:22; and 14:14, the "good man" (or just "the good"; cf. NASB) is opposed to a wicked man of some sort. Proverbs 12:2 is quite helpful in understanding the term as it says that a good man obtains the Lord's favor. Proverbs 14:14 is similarly helpful in that it indicates that a good man is faithful (or more literally, his heart does not turn back). Just an in the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 5:7), those without faith in God are not "good," while those who have faith in God are accounted as righteous and good (e.g. Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3-5).

In Proverbs 13:22, as in Proverbs 12:2 and 14:14, the "good man" is exemplary. These verses do not intend to describe what it takes to be or to become good, or even how to identify those who are good, but rather what is the good thing to do. That which is characteristic of the "good man" should be imitated.

I'm not sure which other uses of the phrase "good man" you are interested in -- the NIV actually uses the phrase 10 times (2 Sam. 18:27; Prov. 12:2; 13:22; 14:14; Eccl. 9:2; Matt. 12:35; Luke 6:45; John 7:12; Acts 11:24; Rom. 5:7). In each case, the precise meaning of "good" must be determined by the context.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.