The closest in tone to sarcasm, though somewhat different, that I am aware of is John 1:45-46

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

And Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

But that is not really sarcasm. Are there any examples?

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    Related question at christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/16830/… because I can't post here; apparently 101 < 10 in rep arithmetic. – user4798 Jun 18 '13 at 8:40
  • Im really dissapointed that there will be no more informative answers to this question. – Neil Meyer Nov 14 '18 at 14:17
  • @NeilMeyer Well, they say it's too broad. Maybe if you can think of a way to edit it to make it narrower they'd reopen it. I couldn't think of a way, though. – Owen Nov 14 '18 at 22:49

12 Answers 12


The first instance of sarcasm that jumps into my mind is 1 Kings 18:27, where Elijah is taunting the prophets of Baal because their sacrifice is not burning up (they were having a sort of contest). The NET renders the verse:

"At noon Elijah mocked them, 'Yell louder! After all, he is a god; he may be deep in thought, or perhaps he stepped out for a moment or has taken a trip. Perhaps he is sleeping and needs to be awakened.'"

Some have even speculated that the Hebrew term here translated "deep in thought" may mean "relieving himself," or that the term translated "stepped out for a moment" implies stepping out in order to relieve oneself. I have not found any scholarly support for this other than a former Hebrew professor of mine mentioning it, but either way, Elijah is being sarcastic about Baal.

Almost the entire book of Amos is satirical, dealing with the social injustices committed by God's people in the northern kingdom of Israel. Job can also be fairly sarcastic in the midst of his suffering, often crossing into cynicism.

Those are a few examples that come to mind.

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    All the answers here are good, but this is the most intensely sarcastic. Beautiful. – Owen Feb 21 '12 at 18:19

In my opinion, Paul provides the best example. Here he is, in Galatians, having just given his opinion on circumcision (not necessary for Christians), then giving his opinion on those who insist on it for salvation:

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Galatians 5:12

In other words, don't stop at the foreskin, get rid of it completely to prove how holy you really are. Genius.

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    I forgot about this one. Excellent! – Dan Feb 22 '12 at 2:18
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    Hahahaha... I never knew Paul had sense of humor. – Phonics The Hedgehog Apr 25 '12 at 1:42

In 1st Kings 22, Kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat were being counseled by false prophets to go to war against Syria. Jehoshaphat asked that Ahab send for a prophet of the Lord, and he sent for Micaiah. The man who brought him told him of the other prophecies, and suggested that he should say the same. When Micaiah did answer the same way, Ahab admonished Micaiah to tell the truth, and then did not like the answer he got. I believe Micaiah answered in an obviously sarcastic way, or how else would Ahab know he was not giving the true prophecy? Again, just my opinion, but I have long held this view.

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    I agree with you. I have always loved this passage. I can almost hear Micaiah, mimicking the false prophets and going into a sing-songy voice. – Nathan DeWitt Feb 24 '12 at 16:10
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    1 Kings 22:15 in particular: "And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”" (ESV) – Jon Ericson Mar 1 '12 at 18:42

I have heard the following two examples of Jesus being sarcastic:

  1. The Syrophoenician Woman

    [A] woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about [Jesus], and came and fell down at his feet. The woman was a Greek, by race a Phoenician from Syria. And she started asking him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He responded to her like this: "Let the children first be fed, since it isn't good to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to the dogs! [kynaria]" But as a rejoinder she says to him: "Sir, even the dogs under the table get to eat scraps dropped by children!" Then he said to her: "For that retort, be on your way, the demon has come out of your daughter." She returned home and found the child lying on the bed and the demon gone (Mk. 7:25-30).

    In this instance, Jesus is calling her a dog, which seems out of character for someone who taught love for all. It has been suggested that Jesus was being sarcastic, melodramatically acting as a Pharisee would. If that hypothesis is correct, then Jesus is sarcastically calling out the Pharisees on their attitude. Jesus is clearly amused by the woman's response, also witty in character, and chooses to heal her daughter as a result.

  2. The Pharisees straining out the gnats and eating the camel

    You Blind guides! You strain your water so you won't accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

In Matthew 23:24, Jesus is being absurdist and humorous in his remark, but is still making a fairly cutting remark. May not be sarcasm, but its close.

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    I also think John 4:17 was meant as humor and/or sarcasm. (This is the dialog with the woman at the well where Jesus remarks on the guys she's been shacking up with.) – Scott C Wilson Sep 8 '12 at 15:38

One case could be in 2 Corinthians 12:13. Paul is writing to the Corinthians and mentions that he hasn't been a burden to them, presumably financially, but has labored among them nonetheless.

For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong! 2 Corinthians 12:13 ESV

The "Forgive me this wrong" definitely seems a bit sarcastic. "Forgive me for not being a burden to you."

Another one isn't really sarcasm, but it does strike me as a bit humorous. It's from the gospel of John, which is held to have been written by John, and He seems to refer to Himself as "the other disciple".

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. John 20:3-8 NIV

John seems to make sure we understand that he won the race to the tomb! :)

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    These are particularly interesting because it is the narrator who is being sarcastic, and not a quote of dialogue. – Owen Feb 21 '12 at 18:19
  • I don't think forgive me this wrong is sarcastic but I'm not downvoting – user4060 Jun 10 '13 at 2:47

Michal despised David for dancing at the return of the ark. She sarcastically refers to his behavior as "glorious" in 2 Samuel 6:20 (KJV):

Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

  • Good one, Jeremy! Don Larter – rhetorician Sep 11 '17 at 17:20
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    It's 2 Samuel 6:20, not 16:20 – Andrew Oct 3 '18 at 15:21

A bit of sarcasm from our Lord:

"And he said to them: 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!'" (Mark 7:9 NIV).

This is perhaps more ironic than sarcastic, but it contains at least a tinge of sarcasm. Put differently,

"Hey, nice going, guys. You've just set aside God's word and replaced it with your own traditions. Well done!"

That sort of thing.


If you close your eyes and think of images of Egypt, what do you see? I think most people will think of pyramids at or near the top of the list. The point is, Egypt is know for these, world wide. Everyone thinks of Egypt as a place with really outstanding tombs. So when Moses led the people out of captivity, there they are out in the desert. And they ask Moses ... are there not enough tombs in Egypt? You had to bring us out here to die? Too funny!!

  • That Egypt is well known for its tombs NOw doesn't necessarily imply that it was known for them THEN. But given the emphasis on funeral rite in ancient Egypt, this remark might be close to truth. Anyway, welcome here! – Pavel Dec 2 '12 at 21:10

Gen 4:9

"And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?" And he said, "I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"

The comedian David Steinberg pointed this out once on a TV show about Jewish comedy.

In modern vernacular it might sound more like "What am I, his keeper?"


Matthew 11:7-8 Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings.


The verse you cited immediately leads to an example. When Nathaniel, having just said "nothing good can come out of Nazareth," meets Jesus:

John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Behold, here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit."

This is the first thing Jesus says to Nathaniel- "Look everyone, an honest Isrealite!" Jesus is facetiously mocking Nathaniel's comment about him while pointing out that all of Israel is lacking in its ability to produce worthy and honest leaders, not just Nazareth.

  • Hahaha.. I didn't see this one – Faith Mendel Jan 9 '20 at 16:27

Mathew 16:18 Jesus tells Peter (Greek--Petros--rock) that he's the "rock" (Gr: Petra---pebble) upon which he will build his church....

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    Welcome to the site! As with all new visitors, when you get a chance, I'd recommend reading the About and Help pages (and possibly this one:What Christianity.StackExchange is (and more importantly, what it isn't) ). Learning your way around here, especially the rules is sometimes confusing for new visitors. But this is pretty good for a first answer! Again, welcome to the site! – David Stratton Jun 9 '13 at 23:56
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    This answer is flat out wrong - πέτρα (petra) did not mean pebble in Kione Greek, and in fact usually meant bedrock or a large rock. See this post for more information. – ThaddeusB Sep 1 '15 at 3:51
  • Since when did πέτρα (petra) did not mean pebble in Kione Greek – Faith Mendel Jan 9 '20 at 16:28

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