The word χρηστός or chrestos is contrasted by ancient authorities with the term πονηρός or poneros, which means "full of labours, annoyances, hardships," as well as "bad, of a bad nature or condition" and "in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad." This contrast is made even in the New Testament, which uses the word πονηρός/poneros some 76 times (Strong's 4190) in describing "evil," "wicked," "wicked ones" and "evil things." By comparison, the word chrestos, meaning "good," "useful" and "easy," is used seven times in the New Testament.

Concerning the discussion of chrestos versus poneros in the writings of "The Old Oligarch" (fl. 446-424 BCE) and Greek playwright Aristophanes, James F. McGlew (71) relates:

For those in democratic Athens who were invested in making such distinctions, chrestoi were citizens of high status with claims to special responsibilities and privileges; the poneroi (the wretched) provided the amorphous human backdrop against which the chrestoi stand out.

It was thus reputed that the chrestoi and others were "citizens of high status," while the gods, heroes, saints and others were likewise honored with this title.