Thou Shalt Not Judge

Thou Shalt Not Judge

Thou Shalt Not Judge thy brother is the most commonly quoted verse in the church today.

The idea is that since we are not God and do not have all the facts we are not to make judgments about anybody!

Most people who quote this verse probably can’t tell you where it’s found in the Bible but they know it’s there. Well, context is king when it comes to understanding what is meant by what is said.

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Is the above “interpretation” really is what Jesus meant? Let’s take a closer look…

Matt 7:1-5 “Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

3 “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

5 “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 is condemned in this portion of scripture is judging hypocritically. The verse ends with, “…then you will see clearly (i.e., be able to judge righteously) in order to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

We can make a judgment that our brother has “a speck in his eye” which was a Hebrew idiom meaning a fault, a shortcoming, or a sin. Once we are sure that we free from self-righteousness and that our motives are pure toward our brother, we can “point out the speck.” That is the point in this text.

Do you know why you sometimes see words in italics in your Bible? The reason for that is because that word does not appear in the original language and the translators put it there in an attempt to give clarity to a text.

Matt. 7:1 would have been a good place to insert the word “Hypocritically” in between “judge” and “lest”. Then it would read, “Do not judge hypocritically, lest you be judged the same way.” If you read the entire passage that is what Jesus was referring to. If this is not true, then none of the verses that follow would make any sense whatsoever. But before we look at them, what is forbidden in this context?

What we cannot judge is the motive of a man’s heart and/or his or her eternal destiny.

1 Cor 4:5, Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.

The fact is the Bible tells us that we must make judgments. Here are some verses that speak directly to this issue:

Matt 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Here, I must “judge” between a grape and a thorn bush, and, a fig from a thistle. Here Jesus is speaking about men and their doctrine. If a man comes into the church and teaches false doctrine, are we not to speak the truth in love in order to protect the flock?

Wolf in sheeps clothing

In John 7:24, Jesus said,

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

As in James when we see the man who has a ring and fine apparel, and the poor man. We are not to judge with false motives, or by what appears to be, but by what is true and right. We are to make righteous judgments!

The book of Judges can be summed up in the verse that closes the book, Judges  21:25,

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Men failed to make righteous judgments. Eli refused to correct (judge) his sons and God judged him for it. King David made the same mistake with his sons.

In 1 Cor 6:1-4, the Apostle Paul says,

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?

When is the church to judge?

#1 When someone sins against you,

Matt 18:15-18 “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16  “But if he does not listen {to you,} take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17  “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.

Does this not require everyone in the church to judge a brother?

#2 When interpersonal conflicts affect the church—we are to judge. 

1 Cor. 6:1-11 says,If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!

I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another– and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

#3 When there is immoral behavior,

Gal. 6:1  Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; {each one} looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Restore =  katartizo- to render, that is, to fit, sound, complete a) to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair, to complete b) to fit out, to equip, to put in order, to arrange, to adjust to fit or frame for oneself, to prepare c) ethically, to strengthen, to perfect, to complete, to make one what he ought to be.

1 Cor 5:1-3 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.  And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.

Were not Ananias and Sapphira judged by the Apostles for lying?

Acts 5:1-11, But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”

She said, “Yes, for so much.”

9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

#4 Spiritual leaders are commanded to judge and assess doctrine 2 Tim. 3-4,

2 Tim 4:3,  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.


Matt 7:15-20, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn {bushes,} nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Jesus warned of false prophets, false teachers, false brethren, tares among the wheat, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Does this not necessitate our making a judgment on the doctrine we hear by the word of God? Are we not to discern between true and false doctrine?

#5 When church unity is threatened 1 Tim. 5:20,

1 Tim 5:19-21  Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful {of sinning.} 21  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of {His} chosen angels, to maintain these {principles} without bias, doing nothing in a {spirit of} partiality.

Gal 2:12-14 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he {began} to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how {is it that} you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

How could any of these verses from Solomon make sense if we did not “Judge” our brother? Here is what the wisest man who ever lived had to say about correction, rebuke, instruction, and wisdom. These verses clearly show that we are to hold our brothers accountable, that requires making judgments. 


Prov 1:7,  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prov 1:22-33, ‘How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. 23 Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I have called and you refused,I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, 25 Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, 27 When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,When distress and anguish come upon you.

28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, 30 They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. 31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. 32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

  Prov 10:21, The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of wisdom.

Prov 13:20,  He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Eccl. 7:5,  It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Lev 19:17-18, ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Job 11:3-6,  Should your empty talk make men hold their peace? And when you mock, should no one rebuke you? 4 For you have said, ‘My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in your eyes.’ 5 But oh, that God would peak, And open His lips against you, 6 That He would show you the secrets of wisdom!

Prov 9:8-9,  Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;  Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;  Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Prv 13:8,  A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Prov 13:18,  Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, But he who regards a rebuke will be honored.

Prov 15:10, Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.

Prov 15:32-33,  He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.

Prov 17:10,  Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool.

Prov 19:25,  Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary; Rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge.

Prov 24:25, But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, And a good blessing will come upon them.

Prov 25:11-12  A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

Prov 27:5-6,  Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Prov 28:23, He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward Than he who flatters with the tongue.

King David,

Ps 141:5, Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it.

The Prophet Ezek, 

Ezek 3:20-21, “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”

The Apostle Paul,

Eph. 5:11-12, And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Paul named names,

2 Tim 4:14-15,  Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.

Solomon was blessed by God because he asked for wisdom and discernment to judge the people with righteous judgment,

1 Kings 3:7-14,  Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your day

Those who discern (judge) between good and evil are mature in the faith according to Heb 5:12-14,

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

When God established the nation of Israel He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and Moses gave them to the people.

moses-and-the-ten-commandments-by-doreMoses was established as the first judge to make decisions when there were disputes between God’s people or sin in the camp.  

Deut 1:12-17  ‘How can I alon

e bear the load and burden of you and your strife? 13 ‘Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.’ 14 “And you answered me and said, ‘The thing which you have said to do is good.’ 15 “So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands, and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes. 16 “Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear {the cases} between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. 17  ‘You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’

When founding fathers built this nation there was to be a balance of power.

So the government was set up with three branches the executive, legislative, and the judicial. The highest court in the land is the United States Supreme Court.

The 9 justices on the U.S. Supreme Court adjudicate “cases and controversies” in matters pertaining to the Federal Government, disputes between States, and interpretation of the United States Constitution.

There are three levels of federal courts with general jurisdiction, meaning that these courts handle criminal cases and civil lawsuits between individuals.

Without this system of justice, there would be nothing but anarchy.