When the bible says do not judge


Doesn’t it mean do not condemn, do not say what someone is doing is worthy of hell? I get tired of atheists frequently using the “do not judge” response, in an attempt to silence Christians, when we try to remind others that their actions are sinful.

Because we are asked by God/Christ to remind our friends, family and acquaintances of sinful behavior in an attempt to wake them up.


My moral theology professor always used the formal versus material argument to explain what “do not judge” means. A formal judgment is claiming to know what intention is in a person’s heart. A material judgment is saying that an action is wrong, without a judgment on the action. So we judge actions, not people. It has been a while since my college days so I may not have been perfectly clear, it helps if you’ve studied philosophy. Atheists tend to go for the philosophical arguments anyway.


if an action is intrinsically evil/objectively wrong when you condemn it you aren’t judging. you are making an objectively true statement in an attempt to help a person see his/her error. however, in today’s atmosphere of relativism, we aren’t allowed to say anything without being called bigots.

when you see someone doing something intrinsically evil, it is not wrong to attempt to correct them. rather, it is our Christian duty. don’t be discouraged by modernity’s cry of “bigotry”. everything in relativism is “bigotry” unless you agree with the person who is calling you a bigot!


The commonly quoted “do not judge” phrase by unbelievers is actually an uneducated argument that belies their claim to knowing what they are talking about. It is a polemical technique meant to stumble Christians, and it is part of a formula or “canned” argument that is meant to do nothing more but get you in a frustrating debate.

First of all, the word “judge” is used to mean different things in Sacred Scripture. At 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 we read St. Paul saying:

For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. “Purge the evil person from your midst."

This is the type of “judging” you were speaking about. It’s not about condemning but its not about letting others off the hook who refuse loving correction, either.

Anyone who attempts to use a blanket definition of “judging” from the Bible is showing you they’ve never read all of Scripture. Because we are told:

*]To not judge others.–Matthew 7:15.
*]That judging others is not wrong, only judging by appearances.–John 7:24.
*]Judging others is tantamount to slander and mocking God’s law.–James 4:11-12.
*]We will judge the world and angels, so we can rightfully act as judges now.–1 Corinthians 6:2-3.

And this is but a sample of the differing usages of the term in the New Testament.

Which one is correct? They all are, because they are all speaking of judging in different contexts. Kindly reminding others that they may be guilty of a sin is one type of judging, and so is unjustly jumping to a wrong conclusion about a person. One is helpful, the other is not.

Sometimes when the Bible mentions not judging others, such as at Matthew 7:15, it is part of an illustration, speaking in extremes about being unnecessarily critical and judgmental. Other times, like at James chapter 4, it is referring to expressing hateful views of others–another type of judgment, usually in the form of calumny. And then there is another type of judging–teaching others what God demands of them, but forgetting to apply it to ourselves or do so with humility spoken of at Romans chapter 2. This is another form of “judging” to be avoided.

But as demonstrated in the texts from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, sometimes it is important and necessary to pass judgment. And since it is the future vocation of Christians to judge the world to come, clearly it is not against God’s law to do so now when necessary.

While you might have a chance to share this with others, the “canned” argument is so old and ingrained in some that it is best to use discernment regarding whether you should attempt to share this corrected view or not.

One might say you need to exercise good judgment when it comes to speaking about judging.


Great answer. Very insightful :thumbsup:



Hello, that is an excellent question! IMO it is the difference between judging someone’s internal state vs. their actions. E.g.- It is perfectly right to say to someone who committed murder “It is a terrible thing that you did, committing murder.” This is judging someone’s actions. On the other hand if you say to the murderer “You are a bad person, and are going to hell”, you are judging the person’s internal state, or the person themselves, and this is wrong. More examples: if someone fails a test- the difference is between saying “Man, I can’t believe you did so poorly on that exam” vs. “You are stupid”. Whenever we judge an action, People like to say “You shouldn’t judge”, but Jesus himself said that “you shall know them by their fruits”, or “If your brother offends you, go and tell him his fault.” In both instances, our Blessed Lord is telling people that we can and should judge people’s actions and words- but in terms of judging someone’s internal state and future, we should not judge, because “There is only one lawgiver and judge (James 4;12)”. Hope that helps!


It does not mean that you can not judge another person’s action as being objectively sinful or objectively evil; it means that you can not condemn that person as evil or as one condemned to hell. We may not judge who is or who is not going to hell – such a judgment would be rash for we can not know such things unless they are revealed to us by God; however, we may judge that objectively a person who persists in grave sin is *on their way *to hell. God bless you.


Thank you for the great answers everyone. :slight_smile:


Judge Not… Especially if It’s Me

Phrases that have become very popular retorts in our culture are, “Don’t be judgmental,” “Who are you to judge me?” “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” These retorts are usually made by someone who just had their own sinful behavior pointed out. The person pointing out the sin is in turn vilified for being “judgmental.” Does this sound familiar? Have you been on the judging side or the judged side? Who is right in these situations?

This situation has its root in bad theology. Specifically, most believe that when Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged,” (Matthew 7:1) that He was teaching that we are not to judge, that He meant that you can’t tell someone that they are sinning (even if they are). This could not be further from the truth. Jesus is not telling us never to judge, but to judge fairly.

Listen to the rest of what Jesus said in context (verses 2-5): “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged.” Jesus means that if you judge out of vengeance or with evil intent, God will judge you for this, but if you judge honestly and with good intentions, God’s judgment of you will reflect this too.

**“The measure you give will be the measure you get” **(Luke 6:38). Here, Jesus is telling us that God’s judgment on us will depend on whether we use exaggerations and other dishonest means when we judge. If we judge with fairness and compassion, we will be judged the same way.

***“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” *** (Luke 6:41) Jesus wants to know why we point out the small sin of another, but pretend not to see our own greater sin.



I have heard a theologian priest teach that “do not judge” means “do not judge rashly.” God bless you.


If someone asks you not to judge, then ask them “where do you get that moral teaching”? If they say it is in the bible, then you can say “so you believe the bible has truthful moral teachings”? Now you can explain what judging from a biblical standpoint really means.

Tell them about this bible verse, John 7:24: “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.”

Jesus commands us to judge between good and evil actions, but not peoples intentions. We should not judge the eternal state of someone’s soul but we must judge (or discern) between right and wrong.

God bless.


There are different Biblical Greek meanings to the word “judge” used throughout the bible. One is ‘krite rion’, which is to condemn or sentence, like sentencing one to Hell. You are not allowed to judge in this Greek context; we leave that up to God. But there are other forms of judging. So, if someone asks you the bible tells you not to judge, ask him or her ‘in which context?’ Mostly likely the offended one is attacking you and not the bible, so a definition discussion is to distract the real discussion. The good news is you can keep on judging! Well, lovingly. Of course, the apostles are “judging” all the time too, but not in a sentencing way, right? This source might be a helpful breakdown of the Greek words used for judging. One form of judging doesn’t mean every context. Hope this all helps!


We may not judge motives, intentions, and guilt before God but we are commanded by Christ Himself to judge actions, speech, writing against truth and in this way we can help others by offering truth.

**The rule from Christ is: **
“Judge not that you be not judged.” (Mt 7:1)

“Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” (Jn 7:24).

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:15, 16).

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Mt 7:19-20).

St Paul adds:
“Test everything: retain what is good.” (1Thess 5:21).

“The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone.” (1 Cor 2:15).

“I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed…” (1 Cor 5:3; read 1-13).

“I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying.” (1 Cor 10:15).

“Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn 4:1).

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16).

We may not judge motives, intentions, and guilt before God but are commanded to judge actions, speech, writing against truth and in this way we can help others by offering truth.


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