The idea of sharply expressing disapproval or of checking by words or actions is commonly conveyed by the Hebrew verb ga·ʽarʹ. (Ge 37:10) Another Hebrew verb rendered “rebuke” literally means “humiliate” (Job 11:3); one Hebrew noun rendered “rebuke” literally means “a reproving.” (2Ki 19:3) In Greek, the sense of “rebuke” is conveyed by e·pi·ti·maʹo, which may also mean “strictly charge,” “sternly tell,” “reprimand.”—Mt 12:16; Lu 18:39; 2Ti 4:2.
One sense of rebuke not limited to persons is “to check,” “to put a stop to something.” Jehovah’s rebuking sown seed denotes his preventing a good harvest. (Mal 2:3) His rebuking devouring insects means his putting an end to their causing serious harm to crops. (Mal 3:11) The psalmist, speaking of the enemies of God’s people under the figure of animals, appealed to the Most High to check their power to do injury: “Rebuke the wild beast of the reeds, the assembly of bulls.” (Ps 68:30) Jesus Christ rebuked the wind and a fever.—Mr 4:39; Lu 4:39.
At times “rebuke” conveys the thought of “threat.” Thus, the words “rebuke of your face” may indicate that the countenance has taken on a threatening demeanor.—Ps 80:16.
The effect of a rebuke may call attention to Jehovah’s great power. A notable example was the parting of the Red Sea.—Ps 106:9.
Valid or Unjustified. A rebuke may be either valid or unjustified. Because a dream related by Joseph contained thoughts that seemed to violate the natural sense of fitness as regards the parent-child relationship, his father Jacob rebuked him. (Ge 37:10) When Jesus Christ told his disciples that suffering and an executional death awaited him, Peter rebuked him with the words: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.” (Mt 16:22) Since Peter was wrong, Jesus rightly rebuked him in very strong terms: “Get behind me, Satan, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”—Mr 8:33.
Beneficial. Though a rebuke from a wise person may hurt, the inspired counsel is: “Better is it to hear the rebuke of someone wise than to be the man hearing the song of the stupid ones.” (Ec 7:5) The rebuke from a wise man, when accepted in the right spirit and acted on, can bring about improvement in a person’s conduct. The sensible person is more deeply affected by a simple rebuke than is a senseless person who receives 100 strokes for a misdeed. (Pr 17:10) Congregational rebuke in the form of disfellowshipping may bring a wrongdoer to his senses, as it appears to have done in the case of an incestuous man at Corinth.—2Co 2:6, 7; 1Co 5:1-5.