I hear so much about "Do not judge others, lest you be judged." I know that there's more scripture out there that gives us a better insight into our responsibilities.

Can you please answer this question. Are we allowed to judge others? Are we called to Judge others? Are there certain groups of people that we can and cannot judge? Are there prerequisites to judging others?

Please start off with a simple Yes or No to the title question and then follow up by explaining the ins and outs of this confusing topic.

  • 1
    I wonder if this question could be clarified to ask "what does the verse 'judge not lest ye be judged' mean?" As it is, it seems to be asking for theological opinion...
    – Flimzy
    Feb 25, 2014 at 16:59

9 Answers 9


Yes, you can judge others... once you're perfect. There's more to that passage than just that.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. -- Matthew 7:1-2

The idea here is that we're going to be held accountable to keep the same standard as we measure others against. When you think about being judged by the standard you hold for others, it makes you want to put that standard very, very low, just in case you mess up for a while.

The rest of the passage goes on:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. -- Matthew 7:3-5

Meaning that before you even begin to look at someone else's life, you need to make sure you're ALREADY measuring up to the standard you're holding for others. Since we can never attain perfection here on earth, I think it's pretty safe to say that we won't ever be able to say, "I've taken care of everything in my life now, and so I'm ready to start pointing out the flaws in yours."

  • 2
    But doesn't that mean that we shouldn't judge people since we may never be perfect? (ie, shouldn't this answer start with "no"?)
    – Richard
    Sep 14, 2011 at 17:19

Yes, we are expected to judge the actions of those inside the church:

1 Corinthians 6:1

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?


Matthew 18:16-17

But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

No, we are not expected to judge the actions of those outside the church:

1 Corinthians 5:12-13a

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.

No, we are not expected to judge the character of those inside or outside the church, only the actions:

Matthew 7:1-2

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

In other words, we can accuse a Christian of (e.g.) lying if we have evidence, but we can't say, "You lied, therefore you're a bad person". This is what Paul implies when he writes (in Romans 14:4a): "Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?" The context (the weak and strong) clearly implies he is talking about character.

And we should always first look at our own conduct. Perhaps the reason we so easily spot a particular sin in other people is that it also exists in ourselves:

Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  • So yes AND no. I love the bible.
    – Rob
    Sep 22, 2011 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Rob: it is saying you need to treat different people differently. That's not unique to the Bible. I doubt you treat your spouse, parents and colleagues all the same. Sep 22, 2011 at 17:34

Yes, we can judge others. Christ said so.

John 7:24

24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

The phrase "righteous judgement" is usually used in the Bible to describe God (See here and here). God's judgments are righteous. So if we are to judge righteously, perhaps we should judge as God would. That's a big responsibility. I think Nathan Wheeler's answer sheds a lot of light in this area.

Another thought, if you are looking for a babysitter for your kids, certainly you're going to judge who's a good babysitter. You're not going to let a bum man off the street take care of them.


Absolutely Yes! We have to fight the injustice around us and for that we need to judge others cause unless you do that you cannot have justice around you.

This question has its source in verses at Mathew 7:2-5, where it says that we are not supposed to judge others. These verses however are not to be viewed through a narrow perspective. As is always in all the other verses of Gospels, there is much deeper wisdom and understanding in these words from Jesus. Gospels or the teachings of Jesus which are recorded in these Gospel are not superficial commands just to be read literally, understood and implemented as is the case with so many other Books. Here each sentence in Gospels are like a goldmines under an ordinary soil. As you go deeper you find more wisdom hidden in them. This I am sure has been realized by everyone who have read Gospels in pious manner. Certainly they are goldmines, because it is not from an ordinary human being but God Himself proclaiming His heavenly secrets to us.

Matthew 7:2–5 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 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? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others, not the actual judgement as such.

Note that Jesus said: first take out the log from your own eye, meaning first make amend to your life, feel sorry for what you have done, confess your sins, ask pardon from God and make good for any loss that you have done for others and then go and speak to your neighbour for pointing out his mistakes (show speck in his eye). That is the time you can judge others not before that lest that would be a perfect hypocrisy.

Say you have pocketed something that was not yours some time back and you just saw a robber coming out after a burglary in a house. The moment you see that robber and realise that he is doing something wrong, and have an urge to expose him, at that moment you also need to realise in your conscious that you have done something similar yourself. What you have done is also wrong and accepts the guilt. If do not accept your fault deep inside and pass judgement on that robber, that is the hypocrisy and that is what Jesus meant in Matt.7:2-5.


The "Do not judge" I believe is for someone's motivations. We should not judge one's actions based on his past, as only God knows the real conditions of ones heart.


Yes. It is important that you assess the character of others, lest you be taken advantage of by scammers, dangerous cults and charming personalities that have your interest at the bottom of their priority list.

  • Can you expand on this? I agree fully, but this answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding (which it is), and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Dec 7, 2013 at 13:31
  • That's a good point. Do we have any Christian James Randi-like street-skills reference, or is there an empty slot that I can write a book for and profit on? :) Dec 7, 2013 at 13:35

Yes, we are called upon to judge, but not to condemn.

(1 Corinthians 2:15 NJKV) He who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

(1 Corinthians 14:29) Let two or three prophets speak, and let others judge

Spiritual discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We are called to judge the testimonies, actions and even discern the motivations of others according to the word, and determine for ourselves what is good.

Matthew 7:2–5 "Judge not, that you be not judged" is a warning against hypocrisy. But we that walk in the light will not receive a lighter judgement in the last day just because we held others in light esteem. Rather, we are told to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and watch over our brothers (Genesis 4:9). And if that brother is overtaken by trespass, rebuke and restore them in love (Galatians 6:1). Of the rebuke that is love, of the blow that wounds to heal, of the warning that speaks to hope, we have much to learn.

A nuance to the above, however, is that we do not always walk in spirit. So while our personal judgments are private, we must be extra prayerful before approaching another, especially if the judgement of his words/actions calls into question his motivation. If we act recklessly, we are in danger of working directly against God.

Finally, do not condemn. James 4:11-12 speaks of the type of judgement that is condemnation. That type of judgement is reserved only for God.


Do not Judge others, or do we Judge others?


John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Judge = krino

Vines definition

Properly to distinguish, that is, decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish: - avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

The word "judge" has a wide usage in both the English and the Greek. It can range from discernment to condemnation. For example, in the context of the Matthew chapter seven usage, the prohibition of judgment is regarding the criticism of others while leaving ourselves unexamined.

To draw out of the Matthew passage a doctrine that everything should be embraced even that which is debased, debauched, and corruptive is to imply that the Christian should use no discernment whatsoever.

To understand how "judgment" is to be used requires us to examine the context each time where the word is used.


Absolutely no.

Whatever it means to 'judge', this we are fully and absolutely forbidden from doing in Mat 7:1. The reason given is not there to qualify the judging but to support the prohibition.

A careful look at the entire sermon on the mount shows the meaning of the term and what is being prohibited: it is a) to sue in the state courts b) to judicially judge in such courts, and c) to enforce judgement debts by way of debtor's prison, debt-slavery, seizure of property, flogging, death penalty or the like. This can be seen from:

Mat 5:21-26 compares and contrasts two cases: the capital case of murder and the civil damages case of insult. Unlike the law of Moses, as the time Jesus taught capital punishment was de facto abolished: the judgement for murder was not carried out, by the Jewish authorities at least, the Romans had no objection and used it against trouble makers. Unlike the law of Moses, at the time Jesus taught, civil litigation for money damages compensating insult was recognised. Jesus is mocking the civil litigation system in this passage, portraying a man whose only injury is to his pride, filing suit, obtaining judgement, and enforcing the judgement debt to financially ruin the judgement debtor, putting him in debtor's prison until he has paid the last penny of the judgement debt. He also warns that if you insult the powerful people, you are in danger of capital punishment imposed by the Romans, putting your body in danger of dishonourable disposal in gehenna, the rubbish dump outside the city, where our Lord's body also nearly ended up, as a result of him insulting the powerful people.

Jesus also prohibited swearing oaths (Mat 5:33-37), thereby prohibiting both filing of suit and rendering of judgement, for no suit can be filed except supported by sworn testimony, and no one can be found liable or guilty except on the sworn testimony of two or three witnesses. Prohibiting the swearing of oaths also means we cannot do business or contract obligations with the implicit recourse to the coercion of the state courts.

The fundamental legal principle of civil litigation is seeking financial compensation for the damage caused by the fault or wrong of someone else. This principle Jesus repudiates by abolishing the 'eye for eye' administration of justice (Mat 5:38-42). In its place Jesus prohibits resistance to evil. Filing suit and awarding damages is a form of resistance to evil, but Jesus prohibits it.

The alternatives to filing suit are: a) rely on or appeal to honour and b) forgive the debt. Jesus counsels both in the sermon on the mount, indicating what he has prohibited.

In place of civil litigation in state courts Jesus provided an alternative procedure that amounts to appeal to honour in Mat 18:15-17. Note that the alternative procedure does not include sworn testimony, compulsory jurisdiction (dragging to court), debtor's prison, debt-slavery, seizure of property, capital punishment or flogging.

This alternative procedure and set of remedies can be called judging / suing and it is in this sense that we are not prohibited from doing it (1 Cor 5-6). The same word judge can also be used in the sense of discernment or discrimination, and this we are not prohibited from doing, either. Judgement of the person himself, from his own heart, is exactly what is called for in the absence of appeal to state court remedies. If we follow our conscience and seek honour before God rather than before men we shall not wrong our fellow man and shall willingly repent of our wrongs and pay our debts and compensation to those we have injured without even being asked. In fact we are called to use this discernment to judge the nature and effect of filing lawsuits and rendering judgement and enforcing judgements, as it is the sign of the evil times: He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .