What does it mean “Judge not, that you be not judged”?


By BibleAsk Team

Judge not, that you be not judged” is one of the most well-known and often quoted teachings of Jesus Christ. Found in the Gospel of Matthew, this verse has sparked much discussion and debate regarding its interpretation and application in the lives of believers. In this exploration, we will delve into the meaning of this statement, examining its context, biblical references, and implications for Christian living, with a focus on passages from the Bible.

Understanding the Context

Before delving into the meaning of “Judge not, that you be not judged,” it is crucial to consider its context within the broader teachings of Jesus. This statement is part of the Sermon on the Mount, a collection of teachings delivered by Jesus to His disciples and the multitudes gathered around Him.

Scriptural Basis:

  • Matthew 7:1-2 (NKJV):Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

In these verses, Jesus addresses the issue of judgmentalism among His followers, cautioning against a critical and condemning attitude towards others. The subsequent verses elaborate on this theme, highlighting the importance of self-examination and humility before God.

The Meaning of “Judge Not”

At its core, the command “Judge not” admonishes believers to refrain from passing judgment or condemnation on others. This goes beyond merely making assessments or discerning right from wrong; it pertains to adopting a self-righteous and condemnatory attitude towards others.

Scriptural Basis:

  • Romans 14:10 (NKJV): “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

This verse from the epistle to the Romans underscores the universal accountability of believers before God’s judgment seat, emphasizing the futility of passing judgment on others.

The Principle of Reciprocity

In Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus introduces the principle of reciprocity, stating that the measure by which one judges others will be applied to them in return. This underscores the importance of exercising grace, mercy, and compassion in our interactions with others, recognizing our own need for forgiveness and understanding.

Scriptural Basis:

  • Luke 6:37-38 (NKJV): “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

In these verses from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus elaborates on the principle of reciprocity, emphasizing the importance of forgiveness and generosity in our relationships with others.

The Need for Self-Examination

While cautioning against judgmentalism, Jesus also encourages believers to engage in self-examination and introspection, acknowledging their own flaws and shortcomings before God.

Scriptural Basis:

  • Matthew 7:3-5 (NKJV): “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In these verses, Jesus uses the metaphor of a speck and a plank to illustrate the hypocrisy of judging others while neglecting one’s own faults. He calls believers to first address their own shortcomings before attempting to help others.

Discernment vs. Condemnation

While Jesus warns against a judgmental attitude, He also encourages believers to exercise discernment and wisdom in their interactions with others. This involves distinguishing between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, without resorting to condemnation.

Scriptural Basis:

  • John 7:24 (NKJV): “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

In this verse, Jesus instructs His followers to exercise discernment based on righteous judgment, rather than superficial appearances or prejudices.

The Practice of Restorative Correction

While refraining from judgmentalism, believers are called to engage in restorative correction, seeking to reconcile and restore those who have fallen into sin.

Scriptural Basis:

  • Galatians 6:1 (NKJV): “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

This verse highlights the importance of gentleness and humility in the process of restoring those who have strayed from the path of righteousness, recognizing one’s own vulnerability to temptation.

The Role of Love and Compassion

At the heart of Jesus’ teachings on judgment is the principle of love and compassion towards others. Believers are called to emulate the love and mercy of God in their interactions with those around them.

Scriptural Basis:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV): “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

These verses from the epistle to the Corinthians describe the attributes of love, highlighting its patient, kind, and selfless nature.


In conclusion, the command “Judge not, that you be not judged” serves as a profound reminder of the importance of humility, grace, and compassion in the lives of believers. While cautioning against a critical and condemning attitude towards others, Jesus encourages His followers to engage in self-examination, exercise discernment, and practice love and compassion in their interactions with those around them. By embracing these principles, believers can cultivate a spirit of unity, reconciliation, and grace, reflecting the character of Christ in their lives and relationships.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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