Pride in Bible

Holman Bible Dictionary: Pride

Undue confidence in and attention to one's own skills, accomplishments, state, possessions, or position. Pride is easier to recognize than to define, easier to recognize in others than in oneself. Many biblical words describe this concept, each with its own emphasis. Some of the synonyms for pride include arrogance, presumption, conceit, self-satisfaction, boasting, and high-mindedness. It is the opposite of humility, the proper attitude one should have in relation to God. Pride is rebellion against God because it attributes to self the honor and glory due to God alone. Proud persons do not think it necessary to ask forgiveness because they do not admit their sinful condition. This attitude toward God finds expression in one's attitude toward others, often causing people to have a low estimate of the ability and worth of others and therefore to treat them with either contempt or cruelty. Some have considered pride to be the root and essence of sin. Others consider it to be sin in its final form. In either case, it is a grievous sin.

“Boasting” can be committed only in the presence of other persons (1 John 2:16; James 4:16). “Haughtiness” or “arrogance” measures self as above others (Mark 7:23; Luke 1:51; Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). This word refers primarily to the attitude of one's heart. 1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:4; and 2 Timothy 3:4 use a word literally meaning “to wrap in smoke.” It emphasizes the plight of the one who has been blinded by personal pride.

Pride may appear in many forms. Some of the more common are pride of race, spiritual pride, and pride of riches. Jesus denounced pride of race (Luke 3:8). The parable of the Pharisee and the publican was directed at those guilty of spiritual pride, the ones who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). James 1:10 warns the rich against the temptation to be lifted up with pride because of their wealth.

KJV Dictionary Definition: Pride.


1. Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.

Martial pride looks down on industry.

Pride goeth before destruction. Prov.16.

Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt.

All pride is abject and mean.

Those that walk in pride he is able to abase. Dan.4.

2. Insolence; rude treatment of others; insolent exultation.

That hardly we escap'd the pride of France.

3. Generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth.

The honest pride of conscious virtue.

4. Elevation; loftiness.

A falcon tow'ring in her pride of place.

5. Decoration; ornament; beauty displayed.

Whose lofty trees, clad with summer's pride.

Be his this sword

Whose ivory sheath, inwrought with curious pride,

Adds graceful terror to the wearer's side.

6. Splendid show; ostentation.

Is this array, the war of either side

Through Athens pass'd with military pride.

7. That of which men are proud; that which excites boasting.

I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. Zech.9. Zeph.3.

8. Excitement of the sexual appetite in a female beast.

9. Proud persons. Ps.36.

PRIDE, v.t. With the reciprocal pronoun, to pride one's self, to indulge pride; to take pride; to value one's self; to gratify self-esteem. They pride themselves in their wealth, dress or equipage. He prides himself in his achievements.

PRI'DEFUL, a. Full of pride; insolent; scornful.

PRI'DING, ppr. Indulging pride or self-esteem; taking pride; valuing one's self.

PRI'DINGLY, adv. With pride; in pride of heart.

Definitions from Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Pride

The Old Testament. While pride is sometimes used in the Old Testament in a positive sense (i.e., the "pride" of the land of Israel [ Psalm 47:4 ; Ezek 24:21 ] or, God's "pride/majesty/excellency" [ Exod 15:7 ; Job 37:4 ; Isa 2:10 ]), its negative sense predominates, occurring in sixty-one texts. "Pride" is found mainly in the prophets and the books of poetry.

The main Hebrew root is gh; the most common term is gaon, which occurs a total of twenty-three times. Included are the ideas of arrogance, cynical insensitivity to the needs of others, and presumption. Pride is both a disposition/attitude and a type of conduct.

A synonym gaba means "to be high." While used in a variety of senses, the normal meaning is pride or arrogance, in particular "an inner attitude of pride," often linked with parts of the human body ( Isaiah 2:11 Isaiah 2:17 ). There is pride of the eyes ( Psalm 101:5 ; Isa 5:15 ); of the heart ( Ezekiel 28:2 Ezekiel 28:5 Ezekiel 28:17 ); of the spirit ( Prov 16:18 ; Eccl 7:8 ); and of one's mouth/speech ( 1 Sam 2:3 ). A classic text includes the words "pride," "conceit," "arrogance," and "haughtiness" ( Jer 48:29 ).

Fifteen Old Testament texts (NIV) contain the word "arrogance", nearly half of them (7) in the prophets ( Isa 2:17 ; 9:9 ; 13:11 ; Jer 13:15 ; 48:29 ; Ezek 7:10 ; Hosea 5:5 ; 7:10 ). Five references are in poetical texts ( Job 35:12 ; Psalm 10:2 ; 17:10 ; 73:8 ; Prov 8:13 ), and three others are found in Deuteronomy 1:43; 1 Samuel 2:3; 15:23.

What constitutes a "proud" person? The negative sense points to a sinful individual who shifts ultimate confidence from God to self. In the Wisdom literature, "the proud" are distinct from "the righteous" and "the humble." Here the term is applied to non-Israelites, rather than to Israel. The Septuagint uses hyperephanos, meaning one who is insolent, presumptuous, or arrogant, a scoffer or a mocker ( Psalms 119:21 Psalms 119:51 ; Prov 3:34 ). When the prophets accuse Israel of pride ( Jer 13:9 ; Ezekiel 7:10 Ezekiel 7:20 ; 16:56 ; Hosea 5:5 ; 7:10 ; Amos 6:8 ; 8:7 ; Zeph 2:10 ), the word hybristes connotes a wanton, insolent person. Thus, in the Old Testament books, the prideful are generally associated with the wicked, the arrogant, the presumptuous, and those who are insolent toward God.

Most of the adjectives joined with "pride" in the Old Testament are negative in connotation, including words such as "stubborn" ( Lev 26:19 ), "overweening" ( Isa 16:6 ), "willful" ( Isa 10:12 ), and "great" ( Jer 13:9 ). In one instance the positive phrase "everlasting pride" describes the status of a restored Zion ( Isa 60:15 ). Most of the synonyms give a negative sense: contempt ( Psalm 31:18 ); wrongdoing ( Job 33:17 ); trust ( Psalm 62:10 ); arrogance ( Prov 8:13 ; Isaiah 2:11 Isaiah 2:17 ; 9:9 ); insolence ( Isa 16:6 ); and conceit ( Jer 48:29 ). An exception is "glory" ( Isa 4:2 ).

Finally, in the Old Testament, what are some of the results of pride? It led to Uzziah's downfall ( 2 Chron 26:16 ); it hardened the heart of Nebuchadnezzar ( Dan 5:20 ); it goes before destruction ( Prov 16:18 ); it does not seek God ( Psalm 10:4 ); it brings disgrace ( Prov 11:2 ); it breeds quarrels ( Prov 13:10 ); it deceives ( Jer 49:16 ; Obad 1:3 ); it brings low ( Prov 29:23 ; Isa 2:11 ; 23:9 ); it humbles ( Isa 2:17 ; Dan 4:37 ).

The New Testament. In the New Testament, the abstract use of hybris (pride) is completely absent. Rather, it refers to ill-treatment, hardship, disaster, or a violent or insolent person ( Acts 27:10 Acts 27:21 ; 2 Cor 12:10 ; 1 Tim 1:13 ). The word hyperephanos and its derivatives occur six times; twice in the Gospels ( Mark 7:22 ; Luke 1:51 ) and four times in the Epistles ( Rom 1:30 ; 2 Tim 3:2 ; James 4:6 ; 1 Peter 5:5 ). In its Greek background, the word meant overweening, arrogant, haughty.

Mk 7:22 includes arrogance in a list of vices, the only such example in the Gospel texts. (Two other lists are found in Paul's letters [ 1:29-31 ; Gal 5:19-23 ]).

God opposes the proud ( Prov 3:34 ). Both James ( 4:6 ) and Peter ( 1 Peter 5:5 ) cite this Old Testament text, including the word hyperephanos [uJperhvfano"], the "proud/arrogant" person. It stands in contrast to the word "humble, " a quality that God honors. Paul's list ( Rom 1:30 ) includes hybristes, one who behaves arrogantly toward those who are too weak to retaliate.

Finally, a remarkable example of hyperephanos occurs in the Magnificat ( Luke 1:51 ). Using language largely from the Old Testament, Mary tells how God will scatter the proudpossibly a reference to a specific group in society and political life. They are characterized by suppressing the masses, the poor and humble in Israel. God will overthrow them and exalt the lowly. While his wrath is upon the proud, he will visit the humble in grace.