Judge Not?

From BibleStrength

Being "judgmental" has attained a negative connotation, but realistically, what is wrong with judging? Everyone makes judgments constantly. Moral judgments are not wrong. It is not wrong to consider murder, theft, or false witness immoral. Indeed, if someone were to say that judging is wrong, that would itself be a value judgment, and thus those accusing others of being "judgmental" would themselves be guilty of judging in the sense of calling what others are doing wrong. The reality is that those accusing others of being "judgmental" have no problem with judging, and are likely to criticize others themselves. Rather, they dislike others criticizing their personal lifestyles, and dislike the moral beliefs of those who disagree with them, and judge their lifestyles to be inappropriate.

Although the Bible gets brought up to justify criticism of "judging" such a criticism is typically false and out of context. Logically, such a commandment to not judge others, to be Biblically consistent, would have to involve more than just judging between right and wrong, since the Bible repeatedly states certain actions are right and certain actions are wrong. The confusion is caused by the English language having multiple meanings of the word "judge" and when the KJV chose the term centuries ago, it was translating a Greek word that means to take legal action in court of law whether suing somene with a lawsuit, or pronouncing a sentence as a judge. It did NOT mean simply criticizing people or actions as wrong, which is perfectly Biblical.


Tolerance comes from the root word tolerate, and you cannot tolerate someone that you already agree with. As pointed out by Michael Horner, tolerance means allowing someone the free speech to state their beliefs even though you disagree with them. It does not mean pretending that all views are equally alright which as Horner elsewhere points out is a logical impossibility given their mutually exclusive natures.

Examples of Judging

The Bible displays numerous prophets criticizing the actions of others, often on behalf of God. Simply criticizing others is thus obviously not the intended meaning of "judge not" according to the Bible. John the Baptist for example criticized Herod for committing incest and Paul critized a chief Pharisee for breaking the Mosaic Law. Paul even publicly blamed Peter at one point for not walking uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel.

Jesus in particular lambasted the Pharisees as lazy pretentious hypocrites (23:3-5,13-14), tools of Satan enslaving others to Hell (23:13-15), blind fools (23:16-19,24-26), whited graves that outwardly appear beautiful but are full of death within (23:27-28), murderers of the prophets on whom lies the blood of all the Earth's righteous (23:31-32), and a generation of vipers damned to Hell. (23:33)

This lends new meaning to "What would Jesus do?" The Biblical concept of a meek, unassuming pacifist that does not criticize anyone or anything is a complete myth and entirely at odds with the Gospels and entirety of the Bible, wherein Jesus and the prophets speak strongly against evil wherever they see it.

Krino, Legal Term

The New Testament Greek word translated "judge" is krino. It should also be pointed out that we are told not to judge others so we won't be judged. It is ironic that those criticizing Christians for judging have no problem with judging others, they only quote the verse when they are judged in return. Yet Biblically, those who judge others are judged.

The word krino is a legal term meaning to go to law against as with a lawsuit, or a judge's sentence of punishment upon another person.

This same word krino is elsewhere used in contexts clearly referring to cases in court of law, showing that it has a legal meaning, not simply one of deciding opinions for oneself.

Christians Told to Judge Between Right and Wrong

Christians are actually told if there is such legal judgment they should "judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (Acts 7:24) and to judge in ourselves what is right. Christians are actually called to judge in matters of morality to determine for themselves what is right (Luke 12:57) and to judge what others say to determine its value (Acts 4:19, 1 Corinthians 10:15).

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)

Using Righteous Judgment

Jesus reiterates the Old Testament commandment (Leviticus 19:15) 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.

The Real Commandment, No Lawsuits

The real issue in the early Christian church involved Christians suing one another in court of law. This led Paul to point out that if lawsuits must necessarily occur, the least esteemed Christian in the church is worthy to judge, since Christians will ultimately judge angels and the world itself at the end of time, acting as legal judges. They thus have the right to make such legal judgments. However, as Paul points out, their mindset should instead be to take wrong rather than risk defrauding their Christian brethren.



  1. Horner, Michael. Do All Religions Lead to God? Thoughts About God.
  2. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Krino. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon.