As a whole, the Bible has hundreds, if not thousands, of verses that speak directly to narcissism, narcissists, their behavior, and how to respond to them. But the words narcissism and narcissist never once appear in Scripture. So, then, what words does the Bible use for narcissists and narcissism?
The Bible calls narcissists liars, fools, slanderers, lovers of themselves, boasters, proud, insolent, brutal, traitors, lovers of pleasure, whitewashed tombs, lovers of self rather than others, selfish, angry, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious, haters of good, treacherous, conceited, detestable, and so much more.
The words of narcissism in the Bible are ignoring instruction, having the appearance of godliness yet denying its power, creep into homes and take women captive with their smooth tongue and slick actions, always learning but never able to come to the truth, creating divisions against the truth of the Bible, making others stumble, deny God by their works, unfit for any good work, no fear of God, lacking in self control, flatters himself in his own eyes, works of evil, and many others.
By now, you can see that the Bible is far from silent on the issue of narcissism and those who use narcissistic tactics to abuse others. Let’s take a look at various Scriptures that deal with identifying the narcissist and his behavior, how to handle narcissists, and how to keep yourself from getting weighed down by the abuse of a narcissist.
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Words the Bible Uses for Narcissists
I ran through several words the Bible uses for narcissists above. Let’s expound on those a little bit and see where they are in Scripture.
The Bible Calls Narcissists Liars
There are so many verses that talk about liars and the harm they do to others and ultimately themselves. I will just show you a few here. Note that there is a difference between liars in general and narcissistic liars. While the act of lying is the same, the difference lies in the fact that narcissists have to lie constantly in order to gaslight, blameshift, smear their victims’ names, and all of their other narcissistic behaviors. While everyone lies occasionally, their life is not defined by constant and habitual lies to defend all of their evil behavior, as you will see in these verses about those whose lives are defined by their lies.
1 John 2:4 “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,”
1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
Proverbs 26:23-28 “Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Proverbs 6:12-19 “A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.”
Proverbs 26:28 “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Psalm 101:7 “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.”
There are literally hundreds more verses that speak about the person who uses lies, gaslighting and deception with nearly everyone they interact with. But these will give you a great head start. I picked the verses above to show you that there is always more to the lie than the lie itself when dealing with narcissism.
The Bible Calls Narcissists Fools
Just as there were so many verses talking about narcissists being liars, there are nearly as many verses that speak about the narcissist being a fool. You can check out some of them here:
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The narcissist will always say they don’t need to be told how to do something. My ex detested self help books and refused to ever read them.
Proverbs 18:2 “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Nobody else’s opinion is allowed except the narcissist’s.
Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” This perfectly describes the sudden bursts of anger that come out of the blue.
Proverbs 28:26 “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”
This verse is an extension of the narcissist’s view that nobody is going to tell them what to think, say, or do.
Proverbs 26:18-19 “Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!'” This was my ex’s main excuse every time he realized he was backed into a corner on his lies.
Proverbs 23:9 “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.”
This is a perfect conclusion to how the Bible refers to narcissists as fools. No matter how perfectly you respond to the foolishness of a narcissist, he will never come to see the truth, or if he does, he will never admit it because it would mean that you were right.
The Bible Calls Narcissists Proud
God does not tolerate people that are so proud that they don’t see the world around them in reality. They think they are better or more important than everyone around them.
Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”
Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
Proverbs 26:12 “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Galatians 6:3 “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
James 4:6 “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”
1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant”
It is not possible for the narcissist to truly love others when they can’t see beyond themselves.
Psalm 101:5 “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.”
1 Corinthians 13:3 “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
This verse speaks to the covert narcissist who tries to convince everyone of how humble, giving, and self-sacrificial he is while spewing his narcissism around in the shadows.
For even more verses that talk about the consequences of pride, check out OpenBible.info.
The Bible Calls Narcissists Traitors
The Bible has plenty to say about traitors and the deception they carry on to everyone else they meet. Check those out here:
1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”
James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
Ezekiel 21:11: “But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
Isaiah 33:1 “Woe to you, O destroyer, while you were not destroyed; and he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him. As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed; as soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you.”
Proverbs 21:18 “The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous is in the place of the upright.”
Proverbs 14:25 “A truthful witness saves lives,
But he who utters lies is treacherous.”
Psalm 119:158 “I behold the treacherous and loathe them,
Because they do not keep Your word.”
Luke 22:21 “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.”
This is an especially poignant Scripture regarding narcissists being traitors because it is Jesus talking about Judas, who was about to betray Him and send Him to His death. But yet, Judas was sitting right there with Jesus and the other disciples, acting as though he was a kindred spirit with them. All the while, his heart was crafting the evil he was going to do imminently soon. He killed himself soon after this because he realized the absolute evil he had done to someone that he knew was good and beautiful.
The Bible Calls Narcissists Whitewashed Tombs
There are not as many verses that use the term whitewashed tombs. And in fact, Jesus used this term to describe Pharisees, who made themselves look amazing and holy on the outside while being absolutely corrupt on the inside.
This is just like narcissists, especially religious narcissists, who say and do things to make people think they are so godly and amazing. But then, behind closed doors, they are mean, evil, ugly on the inside. Just dead people wearing a beautiful skin.
As it turns out, this is the only name for narcissists that I am showing you that occurs only one time in Scripture. I did this because it is such a perfect picture of a narcissist. Except that it isn’t just one person. It is a whole group of people. And it happens to be the most prominent religious leaders of Jesus’ day.
The Scribes and Pharisees were the movers and shakers of the religious world. They put oppressive standards on those who sincerely wanted to please and serve God. but they rarely lived up to any of their own standards. They were too busy holding people responsible for things that weren’t even mandated by God. They were just empty rules given to make the people feel bad about themselves while elevating the positions of Scribes and Pharisees.
They were literally rotten on the inside, although they tried to make everyone believe they were perfect. This is the exact definition of a covert narcissist.
Check the verse out here:
Matthew 23:27-28 ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
The Bible Calls Narcissists Conceited
Conceit is one of the hallmarks of narcissism. It encompasses so many of the narcissists deep-seated characteristics. The narcissist’s conceit is wrapped up in the fact that he thinks he is better than everyone else, he thinks he is too important to hang out with the “little guys,” and he thinks he is the only one that is right. If those characteristics don’t describe conceit, nothing does.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says regarding the conceit of narcissists:
Galatians 6:3 “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
1 Timothy 6:2b-10, 20-21 “These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”
1 Timothy 3:5-6 “5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.”
This is speaking of the qualifications of deacons and elders in the church.
Matthew 23:27 ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
1 Corinthians 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Proverbs 26:12 “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (This is probably the only time you will ever see a fool represented in a positive light!)
Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Romans 1:22 “Claiming to be wise, they became fools,”
Luke 18:12 “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’” (The words of a Pharisee who wanted to be seen as better than the less-cultured person beside him.)
This is all I am going to go through for the various names the Bible uses for narcissists. Even though there are a few other names, the gist of the verses are the same or similar to what you have already read in this article so far.
By now, you realize the Bible is full of names and descriptions for these people that have wreaked havoc on society literally since the beginning of time.
There is an excellent book that talks about how narcissism and narcissistic behavior works in the church. It talks about narcissism in the membership, committees, leadership, and in pastors, priests, and more. It shows how narcissism is in every level of the church and how to keep your church and/or Christian family from being destroyed by it. The name of the book is aptly named Narcissism in the Church: A Heart of Stone in Christian Relationships by Dave Orrison. It is a super easy read but will change your whole view of the functionality of the church and how narcissists use that to infiltrate and destroy the church. It should be required reading for everyone in the church because it would transform the spiritual and emotional health of the church!
Words the Bible Uses for Narcissism
Because the Bible doesn’t really separate out the different characteristics of narcissism like it does the names it uses for narcissists, we are not going to section off the different descriptive words. Most of the verses actually combine several of the sorts of narcissistic behavior together. So in that vein, I am just going to show you Scriptures that talk about the complexities of narcissism as a whole.
I am going to start with the most famous passage of Scripture that describes narcissism amazingly well. Here you go:
2 Timothy 3:1-10, 12-13 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Romans 16:17-18 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[a] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
Proverbs 4:16 “For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.”
Titus 1:16 “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”
Psalm 36:1-3 “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.”
3 John 1:9-10 “I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”
Philippians 1:15-18 “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (This passage confirms that although narcissists mean evil, God can still make things turn out well.)
Matthew 23:1-7, 11-36 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
I know that last one was huge, but it really shows exactly what Jesus thought of narcissists and the damage they do in the church and society at large. And here is the proof that narcissists and narcissistic behavior are indeed a huge topic in the Bible. Just note, this was only scratching the surface of what the Bible says in whole about narcissistic issues. Maybe someday I will go systematically through the Bible and write a book about ALL of the Scriptures that talk about narcissism.
How the Bible Says we Should Respond to Narcissists
So I can finish this article out in a positive light, I want to focus on Scriptures that tell us what we should do about the narcissist that heaps his abuse on us. I hope that you find some encouragement in these and realize that God does not want you to suffer under a narcissist. He wants you to be safe and well, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, and otherwise.
Proverbs 22:24-25 “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
Matthew 15:10-15 “Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
2 Timothy 3:5 “…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
Romans 16:17 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”
Philippians 2:4-5 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”
Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'”
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
Responding to and dealing with narcissists and their abuse is difficult to do, even when we can see in Scripture how we should handle it and that we can trust God to see what is going on and help us through it. One of my counselors gave me a really good book that helped me to stay sane during the day to day crap I was dealing with at then end when my ex was in full narcissist mode with our family. It was called Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life–Including Yourself by Chuck DeGroat. It won’t cure the narcissist. And it likely won’t even save your relationship. But it may very well save you and your sanity. And that alone is worth more than the price of the book! Check it out here:
I also have several articles that can give you a more complete picture of how the Bible deals with narcissism.
I have an article that you can read more in depth about how to biblically deal with narcissists.
You can also check out my article about 36+ things you can say to a narcissist to disarm him/her.
Here are a few more that are along the same vein as this article:
Understanding the Mind of a Covert Narcissist
While the Bible never uses the word narcissism, it actually has plenty to say regarding narcissists and the abusive tactics they use. In fact, one of the most prominent Scriptures about abusive, evil people describes narcissism to a tee: 2 Timothy 3:1-10. Once we realize that God knows exactly how the narcissist operates, we can then see what protections He has put in place for us to get out from under that abuse and get ourselves to an emotionally and physically healthy place. Recognizing what the Bible says about narcissists and narcissism is the best start to begin the path to healing.
How has your discovery of what the Bible says regarding narcissism changed your day to day life? How has it changed your relationships? How have you been able to grow through this difficult time in your life? I would love to hear about your experience and how you are growing through the process. Leave a comment below!
Hugs and love,
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