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One of the worst forms of sin, regarded, indeed, by many as the basis of all sin. Augustine of Hippo|Augustine, Thomas Aquinas|Aquinas, and others make pride (as against selfishness, for example, or sensuality) the very essence of sin.


Old Testament Hebrew roots uniformly mean “to lift up,” “to be high.” New Testament words reflecting a wide range of synonyms and equivalents allow such translations as “empty display” or “swagger” (ἀλαζονεία, G224), “glorying” or “boasting” (καύχημα, G3017), “haughtiness” or “arrogance” (ὐπερήφανος).

The various Hebrew words reflect the deep-seated and far-reaching nature of pride, for they are associated with terms such as presumption, vanity, vain boasting, haughtiness, and arrogance.

The Greek words used also convey the idea of empty display, glorying, and arrogance.


James quotes Prov.3.34 in pointing out God’s opposition to the proud (Jas.4.6). Paul made it clear that no one has any grounds for boasting in God’s sight, but he does also speak of “pride” as a legitimate attribute (e.g., 2Cor.5.12; 2Cor.7.4).

As Thayer suggestsGreek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 25, the pride condemned in the Bible is “an insolent and empty assurance which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human laws.” When pride was approved, as for example in Paul (1 Cor 1:29-31; Gal 6:14; Phil 3:3, etc.), it rested on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ|Christ and not of Paul.


Pride is more easily recognized than defined and is more easily detected in others than in self. The concept embraces many synonyms that reflect attitudes as well as acts—such as arrogance, presumption, conceit, and especially vanity and self-satisfaction. Pride is incessantly selfish, and a proud person thus loses any balance that might grow out of a recognition of his true position as over against God or over against the ability and worth of others.

Since man’s true nature is understood primarily in his dependence and contingence Godward and finds further fulfillment and enrichment man-ward, it follows that pride is a self-isolating and independent attitude that cuts a man off from his necessary relationships and perverts his true humanity; thus pride is sin. Although pride usually is thought of as a character trait by which an individual is constantly contrasting himself to others to his own satisfaction, it is not really understood unless it is seen that its very scorn of all others allows for no comparison or competition; it is a perversity of nature that is profoundly indifferent to the opinions and favors as well as the virtues of others. In this cold and hateful indifference it is most deadly.

All satisfaction from pride is self-satisfaction, and it is endless: pride of evil, pride of goodness, pride of birth and position, even pride of humility. No moral suasion or guidance can break in because self-satisfaction always feels complete in itself.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • J. A. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889)

  • A. Richardson, A Theological Word Book of the New Testament (1951), 176

  • J. A. Wharton, IDB, III, 876; R. Martin Pope, HERE, X, 275-278.
  • References