ABC:Leviticus 19

From BibleStrength

Verse 13, Should We Steal?

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

FFRF omits the context of both Exodus 3:22 and Exodus 12:35-36, quoting only a small part of the verses, the phrases about spoiling the Egyptians. If reading the entire verses (as quoted here), it is apparent that the spoiling was done through the Israelites asking the Egyptians to give them things, rather than any form of theft. Indeed, Exodus 3:21 shows that the Egyptians did so willingly because God "will give these people favour in the sight of the Egyptians."

The Egyptians gave willingly to the Israelites whom they had enslaved for centuries, eager to get rid of the plagues God was sending. (Exodus 12:33) The Egyptians willingly loaned to the Israelites. (Exodus 12:36). There was no theft involved.

As for Luke 19:29-34, the owners of the colt were clearly followers of Jesus; or they would not have accepted an explanation that "the Lord hath need of him." Jesus knew they would ask, and thus told the disciples what to say. It may be that Jesus had already arranged with the colt's owners ahead of time that he would one day have need of the colt. Whatever the reason, the owners accepted the explanation and allowed the disciples to take the colt for the Lord's use. (cp. Mark 11:3,6) More than that we are not told, but the owners willingly relinquished the colt; there was no theft involved.

Verse 15

See also Judge Not? claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[2]

Jesus reiterates the Old Testament commandment to use righteous judgment. (John 7:24) As seen from James 2, the principle is simply not to give preference to the rich over the poor in evaluating people differently by societal status.

Matthew 7 on the other hand is a caution against suing others at court of law, seeking to punish others rather than showing mercy, since we are all guilty before God, and cannot expect mercy if we do not show it. 'Judge not' does not mean the modern perversion claimed in recent years of not criticizing anyone or anything, but Biblically means not punishing others for debts unpaid, as in a legal system.

Forgive to be Forgiven

It should be pointed out that the critics are only quoting half of what Jesus said when they say "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1) That's only half the saying, the other half is in the next verse, which never seems to be quoted, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:2) The reason we are urged not to judge is that God will judge us at the end of time with the same judgment we judged others with, and we will be condemned with the same condemnation we condemned others with. (Luke 6:37)

Jesus urged us not to judge others ourselves whenever possible, and instead of condemning others with the Law or any laws, to forgive them, knowing that otherwise God will not forgive us. Therefore, when we are told in the Lord's prayer "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" it is quite literal, we will be forgiven only by the standard we forgive others with. (Luke 11:4) Ultimately, we cannot "cast the first stone" unless sinless ourselves (John 8:7), and God will not forgive those who condemn others to death, but judge them by the same standard for their guilt, for we are all guilty before God of similar things. (Romans 2:1)

Meaning of Judge

There's generally a lot of confusion about what the New Testament means by "Do not judge" just because people don't realize the Bible was not written in modern English. The New Testament was written in ancient Greek that got translated into 16th century English, the KJV. A lot of this confusion is caused because our modern usage of the word "judge" is so vague as to include many possible meanings.

As will be shown, the Greek word translated "judge", krino, actually means condemnation including at court of law the way a Judge or prosecutor would "judge" someone. It certainly does not mean the non-specific, vague term used today of simply criticizing someone, a distortion of what Jesus actually said that would contradict other parts of the Bible if it meant that.

The following is the interlinear/original text of the Hebrew for Leviticus 19:15 and the Greek for Leviticus 19:15. In Leviticus 19:15, the Hebrew word shaphat is translated judge, whereas in the New Testament the Greek word krino is translated judge.

Meaning of Krino

The following are some definitions for the word krino, although we'll look at how it's used elsewhere in other passages to decide as well.

New Testament Usage

However, why not see how the word krino is used throughout the New Testament to see if it really does carry a legal meaning of condemnation as in court of law, rather than simply criticizing? The following are passages throughout the New Testament where krino is used, as quoted from PowerBible CD:

Legal Usage

As should be apparent, the word frequently is used in reference to courts and law, and is actually translated 5 times as "condemn" and 2 times as "go to law."[4] It's translated "sue" in Matthew 5:40. It's the same word used to refer to Pilate judging Jesus in court in John 18:31, Acts 3:13, and 13:27. It's the same word used to refer to the Pharisees judging Paul in court according to Jewish Law in Acts 23:3 and 24:6, and the word used to refer to Paul's trial before Festus in Acts 25:9-10. In 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 Paul uses it to refer to Christians going to court and suing one another before unbelievers. It's the same word used to refer to Jesus' final judgment of the world in John 3:17-18, 12:48, Romans 14:10, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 4:5, and Revelation 20:12-13.

Meaning of Shaphat

However, the word shaphat in the Old Testament also has a similar meaning to krino in the New Testament, of legal judgment as in a court of law.

Old Testament Usage

Like its New Testament counterpart, shaphat also appears to carry a connotation of legal justice. As in the New Testament, it sometimes refers to God Himself as Judge. Usage is bolded for ease of reading.

A difference between the New Testament word krino may be that the word shaphat was sometimes used in reference to ruling a nation as well, for example kings and leaders were said to be judges. In some cases such as 1 Samuel 8:5, it referred specifically to ruling and not judging in court of law. Perhaps this was because the Israel concept of a judge was somewhat different than what we think of today. It began with Moses ruling the people and deciding their disputes (Exodus 18:13-20), and was linked with leadership and rule over the people, as seen in 2 Samuel 15:4.

New Testament Compared to Old Testament

Don't Treat Poor and Rich Differently

The principle of Leviticus 19:15 is actually repeated also in the New Testament as well. Put simply it means not treating the poor differently from the rich.

Judgment Necessary at Times

In some cases, justice and judgment was necessary, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. Moses was the first judge, deciding the disputes and problems between Israelites (Exodus 18:13-20), judges and officers were appointed as key positions in Israel (Deuteronomy 16:18), and later judges were appointed by God to rule Israel, delivering them from their enemies. (Judges 2:18) Samson, Deborah, Gideon, and others were said to be such judges, governing Israel and sometimes playing the part of warriors and generals in leading Israel against enemy armies.

In the New Testament, Paul urged churches to appoint some of the wisest members as judges, since Christians were going to court against one another before unbelievers. Paul reminded them that Christians will judge angels and the entire world at the end of time, and are hardly unworthy to judge minor matters. Paul's teaching was that while God judges those outside the church, it is necessary for the church to judge those inside, removing evil people who would destroy the reputation of Christianity if allowed to stay, by their evil lifestyles and actions. (1 Corinthians 5:9-6:6) Paul also said that rulers are necessary in the Earth and should be respected as "ordained by God." (Romans 13:1-6)


Law Just, But Cannot Justify

While the Old Testament Law, including Leviticus 19:5, was a just Law (1 Timothy 1:8, Romans 7:7), it cannot justify any human (Romans 3:20), but by it all are guilty of death before God. (Romans 6:23) As Paul says, the Law is just (Romans 7:7, 1 Timothy 1:8), but was just a schoolmaster to show us our faults (Galatians 3:24-25) that we might repent and turn from them (Romans 6:1-2, Galatians 6:7-8, Philippians 3:18-19), forgiving others as God wants so He can forgive us. (Next section)

Urged Not to Judge

Thus, Jesus was correct in urging people not to seek out positions of judgment, since it means greater responsibility before God in the end. We will receive greater condemnation with such greater responsibility. Judges and rulers are necessary in the Earth for governance. (Romans 13:1-6)

Rather than a commandment that judging as a judge in court of law is wrong, it is a warning that we should not seek to be such judges since we will be condemned by God with the same condemnations we use towards others, and the same standards of judgment we use on others will be used on us. We are told not to respect the status of people, rich or poor, something that God despises as partiality in justice. (James 2:1-8) We are commanded to forgive others as Jesus forgave us, for a servant who does not forgive his fellow servants cannot expect his master to forgive him. (Luke 19:22)

Ultimately, God alone is the ultimate Judge of all the Earth, and will be the one who decides disputes in the end. We should let Him determine vengeance, and not even seek to avenge ourselves, since enemies will be punished even more greatly if we do not respond with evil. (Romans 12:19-22) We shouldn't even rejoice if our enemies fall lest God see it in displeasure and turn His wrath from them. (Proverbs 24:17-18) The reason for not judging others whenever possible is to minimize our level of condemnation and judgment by God at the end of time, forgiving that our Lord may forgive us.


In summary, judgment is necessary for rulers to keep the world from falling into chaos, and is Biblically allowed. Ultimately, the Old Testament Law including Leviticus 19:5 was a just Law for punishing evil, but by that Law will none be justified. Therefore, Jesus ushered in a new way (Galatians 3:23), showing that we must show mercy to others since we are all guilty of death before God, and cannot expect His mercy if we do not show the same mercy to others. The Law was not wrong, but only by showing mercy can we expect God to forgive our own faults according to the Law. It was designed to show us our faults and need for salvation (Romans 7:1) but was just a schoolmaster to bring us to trust in Jesus. (Galatians 3:24)

Thus, Jesus and other apostles repeatedly urge us not to judge/condemn others to death, since we cannot cast the first stone unless sinless ourselves. (John 8:7) Jesus told the example of a servant who, forgiven a huge debt by his lord, then turned around and threw his fellow servant into prison for a minor debt. The angry ruler then threw the wicked servant into prison to pay the debt he had owed. Jesus concluded with "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matthew 18:35) The Law, including Leviticus, was just, but could not justify, and was given to show us our faults and sinfulness.


  1. Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
  2. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from
  3. Strong, James (2009). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible. Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Krino. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon. Retrieved from
  5. Strong, James (2009). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible. Retrieved from