Lalia (λαλιά) describes how a person speaks. The manner in which Peter spoke exposed him as one who follows the Messiah, Matthew 26:73. The Samaritan’s who came out to investigate the words of a woman claiming the Messiah was at the well of Jacob did not believe because of her speech, but because they heard for themselves, John 4:42. The leaders of Israel could not understand Jesus’ speech because they were not able to listen to His words, John 8:43, for they were out from their father the devil and could not handle the truth.

The addition of the preposition “kata” (κατα) expresses a speech that is speaking down or against another person. This type of speech comes from one who judges others, while not doing the very things they claim the others should be doing, James 4:11. Unbelievers will speak this way about those who refuse to follow in their corrupt ways, 1 Peter 3:16. In this case, our conduct is to be honorable so that when they speak down concerning us as though we are the ones doing wrong, our good works will glorify God in the day we are examined by others and they will be put to shame, 1 Peter 2:12.

As for the Christian, this type of speech is to be set aside, 1 Peter 2:1. It comes from a carnal frame of mind, 2 Corinthians 12:20, and is found alongside selfish ambition, inner burning anger, whisperings, and deceit, which are all works of the flesh. Although this type of speech is not a sin, it is unrighteousness, Romans 1:30, and therefore should not come out of our mouths. How we speak is important, for words can have a great impact on others. Therefore, our words should also be with grace, seasoned with salt, that we may know how to properly answer, not returning wrong for wrong, but overcoming what is wrong with doing things properly, Romans 12:17. Rather than returning a person’s rancid or disrespectful speech in kind, we should respond with good speech, 1 Peter 3:9, while speaking the truth.

Therefore, it is important to be slow to speak, James 1:19, because we are listening to what is being said for the purpose of giving a response that is appropriate for the situation, not just waiting to say something. And we are to speak with an element of grace in our words, which is not speaking in a manner that relates to the merit of the individual, but in a way that meets the need of the situation so that through our words we build up, not tear down. Nor are we to use persuasive speech from human wisdom to deceive others, 1 Corinthians 2:4; Colossians 2:4. Rather we are to speak the truth in love and love always seeks the best for the one loved, Ephesians 4:15, for love will never accept a lie.