Once again, looking to my own foibles, I recognise that vanity is a deadly sin that affects us all, often without our fully realising it. It can affect us in almost all of our endeavours and our interactions with our fellow beings. But what exactly is vanity? A general definition that seems consensual among several different English dictionaries would be as follows:

‘Excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities or achievements’.

This seems a good start place to me but then what is ‘pride’? Again a generally accepted definition for this would seem to be:

‘A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority’.

I think we all suffer from these ills from time to time, so I think we must look to the Good Book to help us avoid the common pitfalls of the two deadly sins of pride and vanity as we proceed along life’s pathway. From a personal point of view these may be internal thoughts about ourselves as well as the outward manifestations of such thinking. Also we may be unduly impressed by another person’s or celebrity’s physical qualities which, arguably, is a form of vanity or idol worship, vanity by proxy. I think those qualities would likely include one’s possessions such as a large house, expensive car, riches, designer clothes, expensive bling etc.

In many cases, throughout this paper, I have found instances where different translations deliver significantly different messages. In each case I have attempted to tease out what I believe to be the true meaning by either focusing on what I consider to be the best translation, or have provided two or more translations to confirm the (presumably intended) subtlety or ambiguity of the scripture’s meaning.

A health warning for this paper is that it is rather long with many oft-repeated messages within it. I originally thought that I would reduce the number of scriptural quotations and, thereby, the overall length of this piece. However, in re-reading my final draught, I came to the conclusion that this was a far more important subject than I had thought at the outset. The repeated messages are there for the purpose of impressing upon all of us the importance of, and dangers associated with, this topic. I, therefore, implore you to read the whole paper. However, if time truly does not allow this, then please go to the bottom of this web-page to review the synopsis.


So let us start out by looking at vanity first. The first couple of scriptures that I happened upon seemed to support the above definition but with the addition of God’s opinion on the subject:

30 Grace [may be] deceitful, and beauty vain, [but] a woman who fears Jehovah, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31 GLT)

6 And it happened as they came in, that he saw Eliab, and said, Surely His anointed [is] before Jehovah.
7 And Jehovah said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance, nor to the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For man does not see what He sees. For man looks for the eyes, but Jehovah looks for the heart. (1 Samuel 16 GLT)

In choosing a God-fearing woman over a beautiful one and selecting Samuel over Eliab as His anointed, Jehovah makes it crystal clear that the outward appearance of mankind is of no consequence to Him. It is mankind’s spiritual heart condition that is God’s sole criterion to judge men (and women!). How very different are the two perspectives! However, we are in no position to judge our fellow beings since we do not possess the ability to search out each other’s hearts. We can only make assessments based on how others appear and behave to us.

The Book of Ecclesiastes

In searching the scriptures, I found that the Book of Ecclesiastes waxed lyrical on the topic of vanity so I shall continue with a review of the relevant verses from that book. The book starts out from the off as it means to continue with the wise words of King Solomon:

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All [is] vanity!
3 What [is] the profit to a man in all his labor which he labors under the sun?
4 A generation passes away, and [another] generation comes; but the earth stands forever.
5 The sun also arises, and the sun goes even panting to its place; it arises there [again]. (Ecclesiastes 1 GLT)

Now here, as we find elsewhere in the scriptures, the word ‘vanity’ appears to have a subtly different meaning from that which we set out when embarking on this research as described at the top of this paper. Here King Solomon appears to be referring to the mortality of man and the consequent passing away of the fruits of his physical labours. I cannot imagine that any spiritual labours would be viewed in the same light. So the vanity being described here is that of being ‘in vain’. The Hebrew word used in verse 2 above is '
הבל'  (hebel) with the meaning of vapour, breath, emptiness or vanity; something transitory and unsatisfactory. The same word is the same as the name of the younger son of Adam, Abel. All these meanings support the short-lived nature of Adamic man. This notion is confirmed later on in Chapter 1:

11 [There is] no memory of former [things]; yea, nor [is there] any memory for them of [things] which will be afterward, with those who will be at the last. (Ecclesiastes 1 GLT)

14 I have seen all the works which are done under the sun; and, behold, all [is] vanity and striving [after] wind! (Ecclesiastes 1 GLT)

Chapter 2 carries on in similar ‘vein’ to the extent that I have reproduced pretty much all bar a verse or two. This is clearly a major biblical theme. Solomon starts in this chapter by questioning the value of laughter. I would have to say that I find this point somewhat harsh; I find a little good humour during the course of the day to be good for people’s relationships with others and beneficial by causing a little light relief during the course of our days in this troubled system of things

1 I said in my heart, 'Pray, come, I try thee with mirth, and look thou on gladness;' and lo, even it {is} vanity.
2 Of laughter I said, 'Foolish!' and of mirth, 'What {is} this it is doing?' (Ecclesiastes 2 YLT)

The following verses continue but with more of the theme with which I originally expected this paper to address; Solomon recounts all his physical accomplishments with apparent pride in his achievements and his possessions. The message that he carried out all these works for his own pleasure seems to be a theme running through them all and further emphasizing the futility of them all. In verse 9, however, he does mention that he kept his wisdom through all these acts of self-aggrandisement:

4 I made my works great; I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself;
5 I made gardens and parks for myself; and I planted trees in them, of every fruit;
6 I made pools of water for myself; to water from them the forest shooting forth trees;
7 I bought slaves and slave girls, and the sons of the house were mine. Also livestock, a herd and a great flock were mine, above all that were before me in Jerusalem.
8 I also gathered to me silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of provinces. I made ready male singers and female singers for myself; and the delights of the sons of men, a concubine, and concubines.
9 And I became great and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom stayed with me.
10 And all that my eyes desired, I did not set aside from them; I withheld not my heart from all joy; for my heart rejoiced from all my labor; and this was my part from all my labor.
11 Then I faced on all my works that my hands had done, and on the labor that I had labored to do. And, lo, all [is] vanity and striving [after] wind, and [there is] no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2 GLT)

But Solomon even begins to question the value of his God-given wisdom (check out my earlier paper on the subject:
Wisdom) given man’s mortality. This, I have to say, I find deeply worrying in that he seems to be questioning the very essence of life itself (at least as we know it) in saying that a mortal life can have no value:

12 And I turned to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly. For what [can] a man [do] who comes after the king, when they have already done it?
13 Then I saw that there is advantage to wisdom above folly, even as light has advantage over darkness.
14 The wise man's eyes [are] in his head; but the fool walks in darkness; and I also know that one event happens with all of them.
15 And I said in my heart, As the event of the stupid one, even [so] it will happen to me; and why then was I more wise? Then I said in my heart that this also [is] vanity.
16 For there [is] not a memory of the wise [more than] with the fool forever, in that already the days to come will be forgotten. And how does the wise die above the fool?
17 So then I hated life; because the work that is done under the sun [is] evil to me; for all [is] vanity and striving [after] wind.
18 Yes, I, a laborer, hated all my labor under the sun, that I must leave it to the man who will be after me.
19 And who knows [if] he will be wise or a fool? Yet he shall rule among all my labor in which I labored, and acted wisely under the sun. This [is] also vanity.
20 And I turned to make my heart despair over all the labor which I labored under the sun.
21 When there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with advantage; yet he shall give it to a man who has not labored with it, [for] his share; this also [is] vanity and a great evil.
22 For what is there for man in all his labor, and in striving of his heart, [which] he did [as] a laborer under the sun?
23 For all his days [are] pains, and his task [is] grief; his heart does not even take rest in the night. Even this also [is] vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2 GLT)

Ah well, I need not have worried. Solomon ends this chapter by acknowledging God’s view of his wisdom which clearly puts the wise man’s works into a different light compared with those of the sinner. The wise works are not in vain whereas those of the sinner are those that are, since the truly Godly-wise will live beyond their current mortality:

24 Is it not good that he should eat and drink and make his soul see good in his labor? This I also saw, that it [was] from the hand of God.
25 For who can eat, or who can enjoy, apart from me?
26 For [God] gives wisdom, and knowledge and joy to a man who [is] good in His sight. But to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and to heap up, to give to [him who is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and striving [after] wind. (Ecclesiastes 2 GLT)

Continuing on the same general theme, Solomon even goes so far as to suggest that man has no advantage over the animals in that all are mortal:

19 For that which happens [to] the sons of men, and that which happens to beasts, even one event [is] to them. As this [one] dies, so that [one] dies; yea, one breath [is] to all; so that there is to the man no advantage over the beast; for all [is] vanity. (Ecclesiastes 3 GLT)

Chapter 4 returns to my original view of vanity by equating it to another deadly sin of envy:

4 And I considered every labor, and every advantage of the work, that it is the envy of a man against his neighbor; this [is] also vanity and striving [after] wind. (Ecclesiastes 4 GLT)

Solomon states that rest is better than a striving after physical works. This certainly matches my own view that a quiet time considering one’s relationship with God is far more rewarding (and therefore not in vain) compared with any amount of worldly activity:

6 Better [is] a palm filled [with] rest, than two fists [with] labor and striving [after] wind.
7 Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 4 GLT)

Solomon then considers a man, without an heir, questioning for whom he is carrying out his labours and, once again, considering those works, therefore, to be in vain. Interestingly he makes an ambiguous statement about a man not being satisfied with his riches. The Hebrew word for ‘satisfied’ is '
שבע' and can take the meaning of satisfaction in both a positive and a negative sense. In this regard riches can, in themselves, have no importance to a man and are therefore achieved in vain. Alternatively, the man is never satisfied that he has enough riches and therefore is suffering from a real sense of worldly vanity. From what we know of the bible code (ref. Ambiguity Principle) both meanings will have relevance to this verse:

8 There is one [alone], and [there is] not a second; yea, he has neither son nor brother; and there is no end to all his labor; even his eyes are not satisfied with riches; and [he says] , For whom do I labor, and take good from my soul? This [is] also vanity. Yes, it [is] an evil task. (Ecclesiastes 4 GLT)

And just to finish off chapter 4, Solomon returns to the mortality theme in a very pointed way:

16 [There is] no end to all the people, to all who have been before them; they also who come after shall not rejoice with him. Surely this [is] also vanity and striving [after] wind. (Ecclesiastes 4 GLT)

Moving on apace to chapter 6 we find verse 2 which proves a little tricky to interpret:

2 A man to whom God has given riches, and wealth, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he desires; yet God does not give him the power to eat of it, but a stranger eats it; this [is] vanity, and it [is] an evil disease. (Ecclesiastes 6 GLT)

I cannot state unequivocally that I have the correct meaning of it but Solomon was one such man who had much physical wealth. However, given his spiritual nature, it probably means that the true pleasure that Solomon gained from that wealth paled into insignificance compared with his true wealth in his love of God. A stranger (to God) would be happy with his physical well-being without having a spiritual side to his existence. This latter would truly represent the disease called vanity.

Let us now consider verse 8 onward which presents us with further conundrums:

8 For what [is] the advantage to the wise more than the fool? What [advantage is] to the poor who knows [how] to walk before the living?
9 Better [is] the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the soul. This [is] also vanity and striving [after] wind.
10 That which has been [is] named already, and it is known that he [is] man; and he is not able to contend with Him who is stronger than he.
11 For there are many things that increase vanity, [and] what [is] the advantage to man?
12 For who knows what [is] good for man in this life, the number of the days of his life of vanity? Even he makes them like the shadow. For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 6 GLT)

I think these verses are intended to be thought provoking to the reader rather than just having a single meaning. So, in verse 8, what is the advantage to the wise over the fool? Well spiritual wisdom should certainly set a man on the right path to righteousness, but worldly (or foolish) wisdom will have no benefit beyond this mortal and physical life. The poor, who know how to behave with regard to the living (or heavenly powers), will benefit well beyond their lowly status in this life. Verse 9 seems to be saying that one should trust one’s own spiritual senses rather than chasing after fanciful worldly desires which latter would be considered to be vanity. I think the final three verses of Chapter 6 are, once again, referring to Man’s mortality and that his life on earth is limited in both time and capability. There are many aspects of this physical existence that test us to withstand the many vanities that assault us constantly. We must accept God’s will and promises if we are to live the good life in this world.

And then on to chapter 7 with what seems to me to be a rather less encrypted set of meanings:

5 [It is] better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so [is] the laughter of the stupid one. And this also [is] vanity. (Ecclesiastes 7 GLT)

One’s personal vanity should be shelved in order to hear the truth wherever that might lead. The easy and amusing thoughts and words of the worldly are short-lived and of no long-term value. I suspect that this is the reasoning behind Solomon’s earlier comments on laughter that I previously questioned.

And then, moving on apace to Chapter 8 we find:

9 All this I have seen. I gave my heart to every work that is done under the sun. [There is] a time in which a man rules over a man for his evil.
10 And so I saw the wicked buried; and they came and went from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city, [these] things that they had done. This [is] also vanity. (Ecclesiastes 8 GLT)

I think the above is referring to those that had some authority in the nation of Israel be it that of judges or priests. The lot of those that had demonstrated wicked behaviour, even given their privileged positions, still followed those of all mortal mankind. They were buried upon their first death, even though their offices were sanctioned within the temple, and their evil works would be forgotten by mankind. These would be in vain since God would not forget them in judgement for the second death. This theme continues from Verse 11 where the thesis broadens to cover all men, not just those in authority:

11 Where sentence [on] an evil work is not executed speedily, on account of this the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred [times], and his [days] are prolonged to him, yet surely I know that it shall be well to those who fear God, who fear before Him.
13 But it shall not be well for the wicked; and he shall not lengthen [his] days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
14 There is a vanity which is done on the earth: There are just ones to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; and there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also [is] vanity. (Ecclesiastes 8 GLT)

Evil continues on this earth since God’s retribution against the wicked is not evident in this life. Good and bad happens both to the righteous and the wicked alike. Their treatment by the elements seems not to differ. The vanity here would appear to be that of the wicked thinking that they are impervious to God’s judgement. However, the day of the righteous will come in that final judgement.

Chapter 11 continues with the familiar theme, but this time concentrating on the age of man, this notion being confirmed in the first Verse of Chapter 12:

8 But if the man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all, and remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that may come [is] vanity.
9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth. And make your heart glad in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these [things] God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then remove vexation from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh. For childhood and prime of life [are] vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11 GLT)

1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days do not come, or the years strike when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them; (Ecclesiastes 12 GLT)

Here Solomon is saying that a man can enjoy a long life but, even then, there will be many days that are not truly enjoyable, especially those towards the end of his years with failing health and vitality. All of these will be lived in vain without paying due attention to one’s spiritual life. This passage includes a special warning for the young who face particular danger through their enjoyment of the physical attributes of life.

Chapter 12 rounds this section off nicely without requiring any further analysis. In fact, if I had only reproduced the next two verses at the beginning, we probably need not have bothered interpreting the rest since it might have been considered to have been ‘in vain’. Hopefully God will think otherwise, Amen:

7 then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, all [is] vanity. (Ecclesiastes 12 GLT)


Not to be outdone by his son, King David also has much to say on the subject of vanity in the book of Psalms:

1 Why have the nations raged and the peoples are meditating on vanity? (GLT)
למה רגשו גוים ולאמים יהגו-ריק (WLC)
2 The kings of the earth set themselves; yea, the rulers have plotted together against Jehovah and His Anointed, [saying], (Psalms 2 GLT)
יתיצבו מלכי-ארץ ורוזנים נוסדו-יחד על-יהוה ועל-משיחו (Psalms 2 WLC)

In these first two verses we see that the peoples of the gentile nations have their minds set in vain as a direct result of their being set against Jehovah. This providing a slightly different slant on the use of the English word ‘vanity’ with the use of a different Hebrew word from that which we saw in Ecclesiastes. The Hebrew word ‘
ריק‘ carries the meaning of ‘empty’ or ‘in vain’. Interesting that the sense of vanity is broad enough that Hebrew requires two subtly different words to convey its meaning.

Chapter 4 also uses this Hebrew word for vanity drawing a stark comparison between God’s glory and mankind’s chasing after empty things. I provide two different translations to demonstrate that this subtlety in meaning also has the translators foxed:

2 you sons of men, how long must my glory be for insult, [While] you keep loving empty things, [While] you keep seeking to find a lie? Selah. (Psalms 4 NWT)
2 O sons of men, until when shall My glory [be] for a reproach? Will you love vanity? Will you run after a lie? Selah. (Psalms 4 GLT)
בני איש עד-מה כבודי לכלמה תאהבון ריק תבקשו כזב סלה (Psalms 4 WLC)

In the next verse we find a third Hebrew word ‘
ואון’ for vanity again meaning ‘empty’ or ‘trouble’:

7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and injury; under his tongue [are] mischief and vanity. (Psalms 10 GLT)
אלה פיהו מלא ומרמות ותך תחת לשונו עמל ואון (Psalms 10 WLC)

The next two verses add further breadth to the word for ‘vanity’ and to this end I have additionally provided the translation from the Jewish Publication Society (JPS):

2 (12-3) They speak falsehood every one with his neighbour; with flattering lip, and with a double heart, do they speak. (JPS)
2 They speak vanity, each man with his neighbor; [with] flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (GLT)
שוא ידברו איש את-רעהו שפת חלקות בלב ולב ידברו (WLC)
3 (12-4) May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaketh proud things! (Psalms 12 JPS)
3 Jehovah shall cut off all with flattering lips and the tongue that speaks great things; (Psalms 12 GLT)
יכרת יהוה כל-שפתי חלקות לשון מדברת גדלות
(Psalms 12 WLC)

Here the Hebrew word ‘
שוא‘ equates the meaning of falsehood with that of vanity. So we now have a fourth Hebrew word which provides yet another slant on the meaning of vanity. Furthermore, for the first time in the scriptures, we now also see a linkage between vanity and pride by considering the two translations of both the above verses. Again, the two translations provided give a different slant on the Hebrew word ‘גדלות’ which can take the meaning of ‘great’ or ‘proud thing’, which meanings are not necessarily having a negative connotation.

The same Hebrew word for vanity and falsehood is again used in Chapter 24 together with its familiar condemnation:

4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalms 24 KJV)

And, once again, in a very clear intimation of its true meaning as teased out in the following two verses of Chapter 26 where one Hebrew word is used twice in one verse with the different meanings:

4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. (Psalms 26 KJV)
4 I have not sat with lying men; and I will not go in with hypocrites; (Psalms 26 GLT)
לא-ישבתי עם-מתי-שוא ועם נעלמים לא אבוא (Psalms 26 WLC)

Interestingly we now have two of the Hebrew words for vanity ‘
הבלי-שוא’ conjugated together for emphasis with the meaning of empty lies:

6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD. (Psalms 31 KJV)
שנאתי השמרים הבלי-שוא ואני אל-יהוה בטחתי (Psalms 31 WLC)

David reconfirms his son’s verses on the vanity associated with mankind’s short-lived life on earth:

5 Behold, thou hast made my days [as] an handbreadth; and mine age [is] as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state [is] altogether vanity. Selah. (KJV)
5 Behold, thou hast made my days old; and my existence [is] as nothing before thee: nay, every man living [is] altogether vanity. Pause. (LXXb)
הנה טפחות נתתה ימי וחלדי כאין נגדך אך כל-הבל כל-אדם נצב סלה (WLC)
6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up [riches], and knoweth not who shall gather them. (Psalms 39 KJV)
6 Surely man walks in a shadow; nay, he is disquieted in vain: he lays up treasures, and knows not for whom he shall gather them. (Psalms 39 LXXb)
אך-בצלם יתהלך-איש אך-הבל יהמיון יצבר ולא-ידע מי-אספם
(Psalms 39 WLC)

However, as well as using the well-established Hebrew word for vanity in this sense in Ecclesiastes of  ‘
הבל’, in verse 6 we also the word ‘צלם’ meaning ‘shadow’ or ‘vain’. I have used the KJV and the Septuagint Translation by Sir Lancelot Brenton to tease out these two meanings. So we now have a fifth Hebrew word for ‘vanity’, providing even more subtlety on the topic majoring on the mortality of man. I am beginning to think that ‘vanity’ is an even more important, as well as a broader, topic than I originally gave it credit for! It seems to me that the emptiness and shortness of man’s life has several aspects to it, all of which require examination and correction on our behalf. Our inability to see the complete picture and merely focus on the short-term is in our very nature as a direct result of our mortality and living on this physical plain.

A little further on in Chapter 39, David confirms that God seems to be the only protection against a man’s vanity by removing his earthly desires. I am not quite sure why the comparison of those desires is compared with a moth except by drawing them close to His fire of destruction perhaps:

11 You correct a man with rebukes over iniquity; and as a moth You melt away what he desires. Surely every man [is] vanity. Selah. (Psalms 39 GLT)

Once again we see the Hebrew word ‘
שוא’ used as the lying aspect of vanity in Chapter 41:

6 (41-7) And if one come to see me, he speaketh falsehood; his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he speaketh of it. (Psalms 41 JPS)
6 And when he comes to see [me] he speaks vanity; his heart gathers iniquity to itself; he goes outside and speaks. (Psalms 41 GLT)
ואם-בא לראות שוא ידבר לבו יקבץ-און לו יצא לחוץ ידבר (Psalms 41 WLC)

David asks for the help against Satan that we can expect from God compared to the empty and false promises we can expect from mankind:

11 Give us help against [our] oppressor, for vain [is] the deliverance of man. (Psalms 60 GLT)

Psalm 62 returns to the theme of mankind’s mortality. Mankind generally are like a breath, short-lived and temporary in nature. Men of stature are additionally living a lie in that their status is equally short-lived. Again, I provide two different translations to tease out the full meaning of verse 9:

9 Surely men of low degree [are] vanity, [and] men of high degree [are] a lie: to be laid in the balance, they [are] altogether [lighter] than vanity. (Psalms 62 KJV)
9 Indeed the sons of earthling man are an exhalation, The sons of mankind are a lie. When laid upon the scales they are all together lighter than an exhalation. (Psalms 62 NWT)
9  אך הבל בני-אדם כזב בני איש במאזנים לעלות המה מהבל יחד (Psalms 62 WLC)

Verse 10 then carries a clear warning against committing crimes against one’s fellow man with the intention to amass wealth which, once again, will prove to be a short-lived gain.

10 Trust not in oppression, and do not be vain in robbery; if riches increase to you, do not set your heart [on] them. (Psalms 62 GLT)

David recounts God’s punishment of the wicked ones of Israel in that their vain lives were ended as if they were a mere breath:

33 Therefore He ended their days as a breath, and their years in terror. (Psalms 78 JPS)
33 and He ended their days in vanity, and their years in sudden terror. (Psalms 78 GLT)

Chapter 94 confirms that our very thoughts are short-lived:

11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they [are] vanity. (Psalms 94 KJV)
11 Jehovah is knowing the thoughts of men, that they are as an exhalation. (Psalms 94 NWT)

In Chapter 119, David asks God to prevent his seeing vanity in the sense of falsehood, as we have seen previously, and confirms that God’s way is the only path to true life:

37 Turn my eyes from seeing vanity; in Your way give me life. (Psalms 119 GLT)

David reminds us that all of man’s efforts are in vain if we do not have faith in God’s love for us:

1 [A Song of Ascents, for Solomon.] If Jehovah does not build the house, they who build it labor in vain; if Jehovah does not keep the city, the one keeping it stays awake in vain. (GLT)
2 [It is] in vain for you to rise early, sit up late, to eat the bread of toils; [for] so He gives His beloved sleep. (Psalms 127 GLT)

And, fittingly, we end this section on the Psalms with the final word on man’s mortality:

4 Man [is] like to vanity; his days [are] like a shadow that passes. (Psalms 144 GLT)

Miscellaneous Old Testament Scriptures

In the Second Book of Kings, Jeremiah accuses Israel of following after vain things and becoming themselves vain as a direct result of their following false gods. This is arguably one of the worst sins possible under God’s purview, so we clearly must treat vanity, the chasing after empty things instead of choosing to follow God’s way, with all due seriousness. Actually, in thinking about the English definition of vanity with which I started this work, is it not exactly that; the following after of false worldly artefacts? Is that not idol worship?

15 And [they] rejected His statutes and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies that He testified against them, and went after the vain thing, and became vain, and after the nations that [were] around them, of whom Jehovah had commanded them not to do like them. (2 Kings 17 GLT)

Unsurprisingly the writings of Solomon also contain several more references to the topic of vanity in his Book of Proverbs. Chapter 12 states that the man who does honest physical work will get his physical reward; a symbolic interpretation would likely also mean that spiritual work will lead to spiritual reward from God. The man chasing empty things, be they physical or spiritual, has no heart and is a condition that will not meet with God’s approval:

11 He who tills his land shall be satisfied [with] bread, but he chasing vanities lacks heart. (Proverbs 12 GLT)

Chapter 13 targets physical gain from empty things as having no real worth and again stating that honest physical (or spiritual) works will gain real physical (or spiritual) worth:

11 Wealth from vanity shall be diminished, but he who gathers by labor shall increase. (Proverbs 13 GLT)

In Chapter 21, this theme is further emphasised in the case of gain from falsehood:

6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue [is] a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. (Proverbs 21 KJV)

Chapter 22 also reminds us that the reward for evil works will be empty and the evil ones’ strength in this life will become their weakness in the life to come:

8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. (Proverbs 22 KJV)

Chapter 28 has the identical message to the earlier Chapters. Clearly this message is of some considerable importance to God and man:

19 He who cultivates his ground shall have plenty of bread, but one pursuing vanities shall have much poverty. (Proverbs 28 GLT)

In this final quotation from the Book of Proverbs, Solomon is asking God to remove from him the human weakness of vanity and falsehood for short-term empty gain. Instead he is asking that God only gives him what he needs to live the good life. This is not too much as to cause excess, but also not too little so as to compromise his very existence. This is something that I personally identify with very strongly. If Solomon needed to ask for God’s help in this matter of vanity then I guess we also should not feel too wayward in our need to control this very human urge:

8 Vanity and a lying word put far from me, Poverty or wealth give not to me, Cause me to eat the bread of my portion,
9 Lest I become satiated, and have denied, And have said, 'Who {is} Jehovah?' And lest I be poor, and have stolen, And have laid hold of the name of my God. (Proverbs 30 YLT)

In Chapter 7 of the Book of Job, he is questioning God about all his suffering at the hand of Satan. He considers that his time of suffering is empty and in vain:

3 So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. (Job 7 KJV)
3 so I am caused to inherit months of emptiness; and weary nights are appointed to me. (Job 7 GLT)

In verse 16, Job continues with his diatribe to God expounding his hatred of his very life of suffering. He makes it very clear that his life is short-lived and asks God to stop testing him, presumably so that he might enjoy the few years that he has remaining on this earth:

16 I have rejected [it]; to time indefinite I would not live. Cease from me, for my days are an exhalation. (Job 7 NWT)
16 I despise [them]; I will not live always. Let me alone, for my days [are] vanity. (Job 7 GLT)

The following verses from Job proved interesting from several different perspectives. We have two different Hebrew words in adjacent verses translated as ‘vain’. ‘
שוא’ meaning ‘empty’ or ‘false’ and ‘נבוב’ meaning ‘hollow’ or ‘foolish’. In ‘נבוב’ we also now have a sixth Hebrew word to throw yet a further nuance onto the English word for ‘vanity’. On top of all that I could find few translations that could make any sense to me of verse 12. I think the JPS version has its essence, however, in that a foolish or vain man will gain wisdom when a wild ass can give birth to a man, i.e. never:

11 For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider [it]? (KJV)
11 For He knoweth base men; and when He seeth iniquity, will He not then consider it? (JPS)
1כי-הוא ידע מתי-שוא וירא-און ולא יתבונן (WLC)
12 For vain man would be wise, though man be born [like] a wild ass's colt. (Job 11 KJV)
12 But an empty man will get understanding, when a wild ass's colt is born a man. (Job 11 JPS)
12 ואיש נבוב ילבב ועיר פרא אדם יולד
(Job 11 WLC)

The final verse in Job containing a meaning for vanity is, I think, self-explanatory particularly with the nuance of falsehood from the Hebrew:

31 Let not [he] being deceived trust in vanity; for his reward shall be vanity. (Job 15 GLT)

Isaiah starts out, interestingly, by describing Israel’s methods of worship of God through sacrifice as vain. While sacrifice was a requirement, it would seem that Israel was merely going through the motions and probably carrying out their own notion of worship rather than studying God’s requirements. This is a common fault with today’s false churches also, I think, who follow their own service book rather than study the scriptures:

13 Do not add to bringing vain sacrifice; [its] incense is an abomination to Me. I cannot endure the new moon and sabbath, the going to meeting, and the evil assembly. (Isaiah 1 GLT)

He then goes on to describe the vain attempts of the alien nations to summon up their false gods through idol worship:

29 Behold, they [are] all vanity; their works [are] nothing: their molten images [are] wind and confusion. (Isaiah 41 KJV)
29 Behold, they [are] all evil; their works [are] nothing; their images [are] wind and vanity. (Isaiah 41 GLT)
הן כלם און אפס מעשיהם רוח ותהו נסכיהם (Isaiah 41 WLC)

In the above verse 29 I have, again, reproduced two separate translations together with the original Hebrew text. Firstly, we can see the disparity that there seems to be between translators of the words that can represent the English word ‘vanity’. Secondly, we now have a seventh Hebrew word ‘
ותהו’ that could mean ‘vanity’ with the nuance of ‘confusion’. Again, vanity seems to loom large in God’s view of mankind’s ability to commit serious sinful acts

This is then followed by the decrying of those that actually create the idols to be worshipped. They are blind to the worthlessness of their creations, this being much in keeping with today’s ideas of personal vanity:

9 Those who form a carved image [are] all of them vanity. And their delights do not profit; and they [are] their own witnesses. They do not see, nor know, that they may be ashamed. (Isaiah 44 GLT)

Isaiah’s final comment on vanity probably sums it all up perfectly. Without faith and trust in God, all else is in vain:

13 When you cry, let your assembly deliver you; but the wind shall bear away all of them; vanity takes them. But he who takes refuge in Me shall inherit the land and possess My holy mountain. (Isaiah 57 GLT)

The Book of Jeremiah continues the theme with God accusing the House of Israel of going away from Him and chasing worthless things thereby acting out their very own lives in vain:

5 So says Jehovah, What iniquity have your fathers found in Me, that they went far from Me and have walked after vanity, and have become vain? (Jeremiah 2 GLT)

God compares Israel to a prostitute beautifying herself to no avail since her customers know her for what she is and have no love of her:

30 And you, O stripped one, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, though you make large your eyes with paint, you beautify yourself in vain. Lovers despise you; they will seek your life. (Jeremiah 4 GLT)

Jeremiah prophesies the time when the gentiles will accept God’s protection in the dark days to come, recognising the inheritance from their forefathers was false and empty:

19 O Jehovah, my strength and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the nations shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, Our fathers have inherited only lies, vanity, and there is no profit in them. (Jeremiah 16 GLT)

The critique of Israel continues with the further accusations of Israel’s worship of false idols in vain:

15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways [from] the ancient paths, to walk in paths, [in] a way not cast up; (Jeremiah 18 KJV)

The last verse in the Old Testament in which I can find the word ‘vanity’ comes in the Book of Lamentations where Jeremiah continues his accusations against the nation of Israel. The faithful ones in Israel hoped in vain that their nation would also be their salvation vehicle but, like all of mankind’s endeavours, it could not stay God’s course:

17 While [here] we are, our eyes fail for our vain help. In our watching, we have watched for a nation; it does not save. (Lamentations 4 GLT)

New Testament Scriptures

The first place in the New testament that I found the word ‘vain’ appeared in Matthew’s Gospel where Christ is advising the faithful against a vain show of public praying. Given that we found seven Hebrew words representing various forms of vanity, I reproduce the Greek here to monitor if we might find a similar number in the Greek. Given that the Greek word here ‘
βατταλογήσητε’ means something like ‘babbling vain words’ I think this highly likely. Interestingly this seems to be the only verse in the four gospels that I found that contains a Greek word for ‘vain’:

7 But when you pray, do not be babbling vain words, as the nations; for they think that they shall be heard in their much speaking. (Matthew 6 GLT)
7Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί, δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται (Matthew 6 WHO)

James’ epistle contains a verse of similar meaning although it uses a different Greek word for ’vain’, which is expanded upon in the verse following from Romans:

26 If anyone thinks to be religious among you, [yet] not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, this one's religion [is] vain. (James 1 GLT)

In his epistle to the Roman congregation Paul describes, as vain in their thinking, the unrighteous who have rejected God. As expected a second Greek word word ‘
ἐματαιώθησαν’ is translated as ‘vain’:

21 Because knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful. But [they] became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened. (Romans 1 GLT)
21διότι γνόντες τὸν θεὸν οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξασαν ἢ ηὐχαρίστησαν, ἀλλ' ἐματαιώθησαν ἐν τοῖς διαλογισμοῖς αὐτῶν καὶ ἐσκοτίσθη ἡ ἀσύνετος αὐτῶν καρδία (Romans 1 WHO)

Later on in this epistle, Paul makes a very interesting statement about vanity in that creation was made subject to it as a test on the faithful to reject worldly things based on faith in God. Needless to say, we now find a third Greek word ‘
ματαιότητι’ for vanity. This is starting to look like a replica of the Hebrew approach to describing vanity in numerous different ways. According to Thayer’s concordance, this Greek word ‘is comparable to the Septuagint Hebrew word ‘הבל’, often used in Ecclesiastes, and also for ‘שוא’ with the nuance of falsehood.

If we think about this, the first sinful act described in scripture is of Lucifer’s lie to Eve. It is from this that all vanity stems. Indefinite life can only come as a gift from God. Without that all else is vanity. I think this carries the meaning of this verse from Romans in that Eve did not start out expecting the lie and Adam, whilst he did understand the nature of the lie, clearly did not want or understand the full significance of his compliant reaction to the lie:

20 For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but through Him subjecting [it], on hope; (Romans 8 GLT)
20τῇ γὰρ ματαιότητι ἡ κτίσις ὑπετάγη, οὐχ ἑκοῦσα ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα, ἐφ' ἑλπίδι (Romans 8 WHO)

Well here is a turn up for the books. The word ‘vainglorious’ makes its appearance for the first time in the scriptures identified in this paper. Needless to say it comes with its own Greek word ‘
κενόδοξοι’ bringing the count up to four. The meaning of this verse from Galatians is clear enough and it is pretty much the meaning that I started out this paper with the expectation of finding in the scriptures:

26 Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5 GLT)
26μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι, ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι, ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες (Galatians 5 WHO)

Paul’s letter to the congregation at Ephesus compares those faithful ones with their previously unbelieving compatriots, requiring them to continue their new lives without the emptiness of their previous existence:

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (Ephesians 4 KJV)

Peter’s first letter talks of its recipients receiving their redemption from Christ’s blood, not from the emptiness of worldly riches as their forefathers would have it:

18 knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers;
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, [even the blood] of Christ: (1 Peter 1 ASV)

In his second letter Peter again uses the word ‘vanity’ in the context of empty lies being told to try to hold the faithful ones to their previous lives:

18 For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. (2 Peter 2 KJV)

The seriousness of vanity is again brought out by Paul on at least two occasions in his first letter to Timothy in which he blames vain empty talking for causing some faithful ones to fall by the wayside. It could not really get much more serious than that for a prospective First New Covenant Saint! Again I have presented two different translations to tease out the best overall meaning here:

6 from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; (1 Timothy 1 ASV)
6 from which having missed the mark, some turned aside to empty talking, (1 Timothy 1 GLT)

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: (1 Timothy 6 KJV)
20 O Timothy, guard the Deposit, having turned away from the profane empty babblings and opposing theories of the falsely named knowledge, (1 Timothy 6 GLT)

Paul repeats this mantra again in his second letter to Timothy, so he obviously believed vain talking to be a continual offense that required constant vigilance as it must still do in today’s Christian circles:

16 But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2 Timothy 2 KJV)
16 But shun profane, empty babblings, for they will go on to more ungodliness, (2 Timothy 2 GLT)

To further emphasise that this was not just an issue for Timothy, Paul also wrote a similar message to Titus:

9 But keep back from foolish questionings and genealogies and arguments and quarrels of law, for they are unprofitable and vain. (Titus 3 GLT)

In Pauls’ first letter to the Corinthian congregation, he condemns the wisdom of this world as vanity. The GLT translation here references a verse in Psalms with a similar message that I covered previously in this paper. The Psalms verse, however, differed in that it was aimed at mankind’s mortality generally rather than those whose wisdom is based on worldly matters. The latter sounds like intelligence without true wisdom which is a theme that I cover elsewhere on this website (ref.

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. (1 Corinthians 3 KJV)
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it has been written, "He takes the wise in their own craftiness." [Job 5:13] (1 Corinthians 3 GLT)
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. (1 Corinthians 3 KJV)
20 And again, "[The] Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are worthless." [LXX-Psa. 93:11; MT-Psa. 94:11] (1 Corinthians 3 GLT)

And what better way to end this section from the New Testament than with a direct quote from Luke out of the Book of Psalms 2:1 as identified previously on the thinking of earthly vanities:

25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? (Acts 4 KJV)


Well, it would seem that there are as many scriptures scattered throughout the Good Book about pride as there is on vanity. This deadly sin would seem therefore to be as deadly a trap as one could possibly imagine.

The Book of Proverbs

This time the Book of Proverbs provides a plethora of scriptural examples. The first such example demonstrates to us just how badly God views the sin of pride. God ‘hates’ pride and Solomon lists pride alongside murder. Well it cannot get much more serious than that I think. Oh yes and just in case it proves to be the case that there are several Hebrew words for pride I confirm that for these verses that word is ‘

16 These six [things] Jehovah hates; yea, seven [are] hateful to his soul; (GLT)
16 שש-הנה שנא יהוה ושבע תועבות נפשו (WLC)
17 a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (Proverbs 6 GLT)
17 עינים רמות לשון שקר וידים שפכות דם-נקי
(Proverbs 6 WLC)

God clearly does not like pride or arrogance:

13 The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. (Proverbs 8 KJV)

Then we have a verse similar to the familiar line of ‘Pride comes before a fall’; the actual verse is shown further down this page. Unsurprisingly we already have our second Hebrew word for pride: ‘
זדון’, although it is not clear to me if there is a difference in nuance between these two Hebrew words:

2 Pride comes, then shame comes, but with the lowly [is] wisdom. (Proverbs 11 GLT)
2  בא-זדון ויבא קלון ואת-צנועים חכמה (Proverbs 11 WLC)

In Chapter 13 of the Book of Proverbs we find that pride is the very opposite of true wisdom. Those that ride roughshod over their colleagues will only encounter disagreement, whereas those that seek counsel from their colleagues are likely to gain consensus. Here pride is not painted as sinful so much as an unhelpful attribute:

10 Argument only comes by pride, but wisdom [is] with those who take advice. (Proverbs 13 GLT)

We now, already, have our third Hebrew word for pride in the form of ‘
גאוה’. Again I am uncertain as to the difference in nuance of its meaning in this instance of this word. Speaking proud words would appear to be foolish in God’s purview:

3 A rod of pride [is] in the mouth of a fool, but the lips of the wise shall keep them. (Proverbs 14 GLT)
בפי-אויל חטר גאוה ושפתי חכמים תשמורם (Proverbs 14 WLC)

As we find elsewhere, the proud will get their comeuppance compared with the needy:

25 Jehovah will destroy the house of the proud, but He will set up the widow's border. (Proverbs 15 GLT)

And now, dear reader, we come to the most famous of all Proverbs on the subject of pride:

18 Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (KJV)
18 לפני-שבר גאון ולפני כשלון גבה רוח (WLC)
19 Better [it is to be] of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Proverbs 16 KJV)
19 טוב שפל-רוח את-עניים מחלק שלל את-גאים
(Proverbs 16 WLC)

In the above two verses we have three Hebrew words meaning pride. Included in these we also have our fourth Hebrew word for pride in the form of ‘
גבה’. The preferred English translation in this case is ‘haughty’ which also carries the meaning of ‘high self-opinion’. The third Hebrew word for ‘the proud’ in the above verses is ‘גאים’. This represents the fifth Hebrew word of similar meaning, once again with an uncertain nuance to this Hebrew-illiterate writer.

We have a similar verse below:

12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour [is] humility. (Proverbs 18 KJV)
12 לפני-שבר יגבה לב-איש ולפני כבוד ענוה (Proverbs 18 WLC)

We now have a verse that contains two new and different words for pride (our sixth and seventh!) as sinful attributes of the wicked as applied to two different human organs. Firstly, we have ‘
רום’ which means ‘lifted up’ or ‘haughty’ as applied to the eyes in this context. Secondly we have ‘רחב’ which means ‘enlarged’ or ‘proud’ of heart in this context:

4 A haughty look, and a proud heart - the tillage of the wicked is sin. (Proverbs 21 JPS)
רום-עינים ורחב-לב נר רשעים חטאת (Proverbs 21 WLC)

Not to be outdone, Verse 24 of the same Chapter contains three words (not all different this time) meaning ‘haughty’ or ‘proud’ with one who mocks others as the target of God’s wrath this time. How disappointing, only one of these is a new (eighth) Hebrew word for ‘proud’: ‘
יהיר’ again with a subtle nuance that is beyond the linguistic understanding of this author:

24 Proud, haughty scorner [is] his name, he who deals in proud wrath. (Proverbs 21 GLT)
24 זד יהיר לץ שמו עושה בעברת זדון (Proverbs 21 WLC)

What, no new Hebrew word for ‘proud’? This verse tells us that trusting in Jehovah without pride will give us everything we could need:

25 The proud in soul stirs up strife, but he who is trusting on Jehovah shall be abundantly satisfied. (Proverbs 28 GLT)
25 רחב-נפש יגרה מדון ובוטח על-יהוה ידשן
(Proverbs 28 WLC)

And then we come across a very similar verse in meaning to the previous in Chapter 18, albeit with a different (but not new) Hebrew word for pride. As is often the case, I am uncertain as to the difference in nuance in this instance particularly since the overall meaning conveyed appears to be identical in the English:

23 The pride of man brings him low, but the humble of spirit takes hold of honor. (Proverbs 29 GLT)
23 גאות אדם תשפילנו ושפל-רוח יתמך כבוד (Proverbs 29 WLC)


Once again, not to be outdone by his wise son, King David has a few things to say about the proud ones. Well no new Hebrew words for pride in this first quotation from the Book of Psalms. Here the proud wicked ones stand accused of doing what they will at the expense of those less fortunate than themselves. They will be undone by their own evil and Godless deeds:

2 The wicked in [his] pride will pursue the poor; they will be caught in the schemes which they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of his soul's desire, and he has blessed the covetous; he has despised Jehovah.
4 Through pride of his face, the wicked will not seek; there is no God in all of his schemes. (Psalms 10 GLT)

God repays in kind the Saints and the proud:

23 O love the LORD, all ye His godly ones; the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully repayeth him that acteth haughtily. (Psalms 31 JPS)

David requests that the proud ones be punished by God for their lies and blasphemies:

12 [For] the sin of their mouth [is] the word of their lips, even let them be captured in their pride, and for cursing and the lying [which] they utter. (Psalms 59 GLT)

Well, at long last in the Book of Psalms, we now have a new (ninth) Hebrew word for ‘proud’: ‘
בהוללים’. Other translations would suggest that ‘foolish’ might be an alternative meaning. King David seemed to be jealous of the proud and wicked ones. To him they did not seem to be afraid of death whilst enjoying their rich physical existence without any of the anguish in life that should be part of man’s spiritual being. Pride and violence seemed to be the start and end of their existence:

3 For I was jealous of the proud; I looked upon the peace of the wicked. (GLT)
כי-קנאתי בהוללים שלום רשעים אראה (WLC)
4 For [there are] no pangs to their death; but their body [is] fat. (GLT)
4  כי אין חרצבות למותם ובריא אולם (WLC)
5 They [are] not in the misery of mortal man; and with men they are not touched. (GLT)
בעמל אנוש אינמו ועם-אדם לא ינגעו (WLC)
6 So pride enchains them; violence covers them [like] a robe. (Psalms 73 GLT)
לכן ענקתמו גאוה יעטף-שית חמס למו
(Psalms 73 WLC)

David vows to sanction the private slanderers who he considered to be arrogant in look and heart, a view his son maintained:

5 [Whoever] secretly slanders his neighbor, I will cut him off; I will not endure him who has high eyes and a proud heart. (Psalms 101 GLT)

In support of the above verse, David tells God that his own predilections expressly exclude pride and an interest in lofty matters:

1 {A Song of degrees of David.} LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. (Psalms 131 KJV)

These quotations from the Book of Psalms rightly end with the positive regard that God has for the lowly of heart, and that He also recognises the proud ones for what they are and for being far away from His ideals:

6 Though the LORD [be] high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. (Psalms 138 KJV)


Well it seems that Isaiah also had a lot to say about the proud and it did not take him too long to find a new (tenth) Hebrew word for ‘proud’: ‘
נשא’. This word is translated as ‘lifted up’ and, interestingly, can be used in both a positive and a negative sense as it would appear. The message again is a familiar one in that God will bring down the proud ones:

11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. (KJV)
11 עיני גבהות אדם שפל ושח רום אנשים ונשגב יהוה לבדו ביום ההוא (WLC)
12 For the day of the LORD of hosts [shall be] upon every [one that is] proud and lofty, and upon every [one that is] lifted up; and he shall be brought low: (Isaiah 2 KJV)
12  כי יום ליהוה צבאות על כל-גאה ורם ועל כל-נשא ושפל
(Isaiah 2 WLC)

And again, God shows His displeasure of the proud; this really is a massive issue for Him that we must all take due note of:

16 And Jehovah says, Because the daughters of Zion are proud, and walk with stretched out necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing [as] they go, and make a tinkling with their feet; (GLT)
17 So Jehovah will make the crown of the daughter of Zion scabby; and Jehovah will lay their secret parts bare. (Isaiah 3 GLT)

Now the following scripture is interesting in that it shows a positive sense of the word ‘pride’. Previously we saw the Hebrew word ‘
גאון’ used in a negative sense but in the following verse it takes on a very different sense albeit with the same literal meaning. So, as we might imagine, worldly pride is clearly a very bad trait for mankind but the faithful ones of God will be made proud in a spiritual sense, a very different and selfless sense of pride:

2 In that day the Branch of Jehovah will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth for pride and for glory for the survivors of Israel. (Isaiah 4 GLT)
2  ביום ההוא יהיה צמח יהוה לצבי ולכבוד ופרי הארץ לגאון ולתפארת לפליטת ישראל (Isaiah 4 WLC)

God does not distinguish between His own faithless people and the proud ruler of another nation; He will bring them all down. Oh yes, just in case you were getting bored, we have a new (eleventh) Hebrew word for ‘proud’: ‘
גדל’. This word can be translated as ‘great’ or ‘stout’:

11 For as I did to Samaria and her idols, so will I do also to Jerusalem and her idols. (LXXb)
11 הלא כאשר עשיתי לשמרון ולאליליה כן אעשה לירושלם ולעצביה (WLC)
12 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have finished doing all things on Mount Sion and Jerusalem, [that] I will visit upon the proud heart, [even] upon the ruler of the Assyrians, and upon the boastful haughtiness of his eyes. (Isaiah 10 LXXb)
12 והיה כי-יבצע אדני את-כל-מעשהו בהר ציון ובירושלם אפקד על-פרי-גדל לבב מלך-אשור ועל-תפארת רום עיניו
(Isaiah 10 WLC)

Well, with each scripture, we seem to find no end to God’s hatred of the worldly proud. This next verse has three words representing pride or arrogance (two Hebrew words are used) and I have to believe that unwarranted pride represents a level of sin that seems to be only second to a capital offence in God’s justice:

11 And I will visit evil on the world, and their iniquity on the wicked. And I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease; and I will humble the pride of tyrants. (Isaiah 13 GLT)
11 ופקדתי על-תבל רעה ועל-רשעים עונם והשבתי גאון זדים וגאות עריצים אשפיל (Isaiah 13 WLC)

And God’s anger on worldly pride is not only reserved for individuals but is also aimed at whole Godless nations:

19 And Babylon, the glory of the kingdoms, the beauty of the pride of the Chaldeans, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. (Isaiah 13 GLT)

Well the following is the first example of a scripture in this paper that does not include any word for ‘vanity’ or ‘pride’. Nonetheless it describes the archetype for those deadly sins and, without any further discussion, I think we can see why God treats these mis-demeanours with such excessive hatred. They are clearly at the heart of all that is wrong with the earth and the heavens. Satan corrupted the heavens, due to his excessive personal pride and vanity, and then proceeded to do likewise to the earth and mankind

12 Oh shining star, son of the morning, how you have fallen from the heavens! You weakening the nations, you are cut down to the ground.
13 For you have said In your heart, I will go up [to] the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit in the mount of meeting, in the sides of the north.
14 I will rise over the heights of the clouds; I will be compared to the Most High.
15 Yet you shall go down to Sheol, to the sides of the Pit. (Isaiah 14 GLT)

Isaiah continues the tirade on the proud ones with a verse that contains no less than four uses of Hebrew words for ‘pride’ all aimed at the then King of Moab: 

6 We have heard of the pride of Moab; [he is] very proud: [even] of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: [but] his lies [shall] not [be] so. (Isaiah 16 KJV)

And not just Moab but all those falsely honoured in this system of things:

9 Jehovah of Hosts has counseled it, to stain the pride of all glory, to bring all the honored of the earth into contempt. (Isaiah 23 GLT)

And how fitting to end this section on Isaiah’s thoughts on pride with a second scripture that does not contain a specific word for ‘pride’. Here God is declaring His favours on the humble in spirit, thereby excluding the proud ones:

2 And all these My hand hath made, And all these things are, An affirmation of Jehovah! And unto this one I look attentively, Unto the humble and bruised in spirit, And who is trembling at My word. (Isaiah 66 YLT)

Miscellaneous Old Testament Scriptures

In the first of this set of scriptures we have God’s warnings to the Israelites should they break His statutes. Again ‘pride’ is one of the sins mentioned with the added bonus that all their deeds will be ‘in vain’ as recompense:

19 and I will break the pride of your strength, and will make your heavens as iron, and your earth as bronze;
20 and your strength shall be consumed in vain, and your land shall not give her produce, and the tree of the land shall not give its fruit. (Leviticus 26 GLT)

In similar ‘vein’ God warns against the Israelites’ forgetting that their physical well-being was from God and from their becoming ‘lifted up’ or ‘haughty’ as if they had provided for their own sufficiency:

14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; (Deuteronomy 8 KJV)

God makes it very clear to Samuel that He does not judge a man as others will see him as great or proud. He does not view them from a physical perspective but only looks at the inward heart condition of a man:

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16 KJV)

God has spoken previously, as described in this paper, regarding His anger at the pride of kings and nations. This is His specific outrage with Sennacherib, the King of Assyria:

22 Whom have you reproached and reviled? Against whom have you lifted up a voice? Yea, you have lifted up your eyes on high, even against the Holy One of Israel! (2 Kings 19 GLT)

Kings of Israel were also not immune to unwarranted pride as was the case for Uzziah:

16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to [his] destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. (2 Chronicles 26 KJV)

The same was true also for King Hezekiah. However, through Hezekiah’s own contrition, God decided not to punish the King or his nation:

25 But according to the benefit rendered him Hezekiah made no return, for his heart became haughty and there came to be indignation against him and against Judah and Jerusalem.
26 However, Hezekiah humbled himself for the haughtiness of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and Jehovah's indignation did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32 NWT)

The Book of Nehemiah decries the pride of the then current and previous generations of the Hebrew nation in thinking they could flourish without adhering to God’s requirements of them:

16 But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, (Nehemiah 9 KJV)

And I have completely forgotten about the wise words of Solomon on the matter of pride. He rightly considers that to complete any undertaking with due care is somewhat better than to set out on a grandiose project with no realistic hope for its completion:

8 Better [is] the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit [is] better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7 GLT)

Previously we have seen that there is good and bad pride. The only good form of pride is that in knowing God:

23 Thus said Jehovah: Let not the wise boast himself in his wisdom, Nor let the mighty boast himself in his might, Let not the rich boast himself in his riches,
24 But -- in this let the boaster boast himself, In understanding and knowing Me, For I {am} Jehovah, doing kindness, Judgment, and righteousness, in the earth, For in these I have delighted, An affirmation of Jehovah. (Jeremiah 9 YLT)

Returning to God’s warning to alien nations’ worldly pride, the Edomites were not left out of the list:

16 Your dreadfulness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill. Though you should make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there, declares Jehovah. (Jeremiah 49 GLT)

Now the whole of Ezekiel Chapter 28 is devoted to a tirade from God on a proud one (or ones!). I do not propose to reproduce the whole chapter except for those verses that demonstrate a conundrum that has bible commentators somewhat perplexed, myself included.

The following verses arguably refer to three different personages who seem to be treated as one. Firstly, we have the ‘prince of Tyrus’. Certainly the city of Tyre, in Ezekiel’s time, was a worldly rich, proud and idolatrous place. Secondly we have the ‘king of Tyrus’ to whom Ezekiel is instructed to lament about the king’s (presumably worldly) wisdom and beauty. Is this a different person or the same? If it were the same then I am certain that the scriptures would have given him the exact same title. Or is it the city of Tyre in its entirety that is being addressed regardless of its royal leadership? Then, thirdly, we have a reference to another individual identified as the ‘anointed cherub’ who can be no other than Satan.

So is God drawing a parallel between earthly and heavenly pride? Are we being told that Satan possessed the Prince of Tyre or that he has a similar character? I think the answer to all of these questions is probably in the affirmative as per the
Ambiguity Principle of the True Bible Code. Anyway, once again we are being told that pride is the root cause of all evil acts and is therefore to be condemned. Why don’t you, the reader, make your own assessment of this account?

2 Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart [is] lifted up, and thou hast said, I [am] a God, I sit [in] the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou [art] a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: (Ezekiel 28 KJV)

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone [was] thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou [art] the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezekiel 28 KJV)

And then we come to a refreshing statement, from no less a personage than King Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledging God’s just treatment of the proud ones:

37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and honor the King of Heaven, for all His works are truth, and His ways are justice. And He is able to humble those who walk in pride. (Daniel 4 GLT)

The next verse is directed at Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son. Nebuchadnezzar was humbled in his pride but Belshazzar is not and was about to suffer the consequences:

20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was put down from the throne of his kingdom, and they took his glory from him.
21 And he was driven from the sons of men. And his heart was made like the animals, and his home [was] with the wild asses. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the heavens, until he knew that the Most High God [is] Ruler in the kingdom of men, and that He appoints over it whomever He desires.
22 And you, his son, O Belshazzar, have not bowed your heart, though you knew all this.
23 But you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of Heaven. And they have brought the vessels of His house before you. And you, and your nobles, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine with them. And you have praised the gods of silver, and gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see, nor hear, and do not know. And you have not glorified the God in whose hand your life, breath, and all your ways [is]. (Daniel 5 GLT)

Obadiah returns to the theme of God’s judgement and treatment of Edom that we saw in Jeremiah previously. The wording is very similar so why repeat this message on Edom’s pride? Clearly both the nature of that nation and the subject of national pride rankle badly with our God:

3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, dwelling in the clefts of the rock; his dwelling [is] lofty, saying in his heart, Who shall bring me down [to] the ground?
4 Though you rise high as the eagle, and though [you] set your nest between the stars, I will bring you down from there, declares Jehovah. (Obadiah 1 GLT)

Zephaniah continues this theme of God’s tirade against all the proud nations. Clearly this is not just a message for the times but also for all those worldly nations that will come and go from that time to the present, amen:

11 In that day you shall not be ashamed from all your doings [in] which you have transgressed against Me. For then I will take away those who rejoice in your pride out of your midst, and you shall not again be proud any more in My holy mountain. (Zephaniah 3 GLT)

New Testament

1 Corinthians

Let us start our New Testament search for scriptures about pride with Paul’s first letter to the congregation at Corinth. In the first scriptures we come across here, Paul is attempting to protect the Corinthians against boasting amongst themselves as to their individual levels of knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. So even in the studying of the Scriptures we can still find vanity if we do not carry out our research with due humility, relying on the Holy Spirit to lead us in our studies as our teacher. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that we already find two different Greek words covering aspects of pride in ‘
φυσιοῦσθε’ meaning ‘puffed up’ and ‘καυχᾶσαι’ meaning ‘boast’:

6 And, brothers, I transferred these things to myself and Apollos because of you, that in us you may learn not to think above what has been written, that you not [be] puffed up one over the other. (GLT)
6Ταῦτα δέ, ἀδελφοί, μετεσχημάτισα εἰς ἐμαυτὸν καὶ Ἀπολλῶν δι' ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἐν ἡμῖν μάθητε τὸ Μὴ ὑπὲρ ἃ γέγραπται, ἵνα μὴ εἷς ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἑνὸς φυσιοῦσθε κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου (WHO)
7 For who makes you to differ? And what do you have that you did not receive? And if you received [it], why do you boast as [if you] did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4 GLT)
7τίς γάρ σε διακρίνει; τί δὲ ἔχεις ὃ οὐκ ἔλαβες; εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔλαβες, τί καυχᾶσαι ὡς μὴ λαβών
(1 Corinthians 4 WHO)

Having seen fornication in their ranks, Paul accuses the Corinthian congregation of pride by not taking appropriate action to remove sinful ways from their ranks. I have to say that, in looking at the charge of incest levelled against these prospective 1NC Saints, I find myself wondering ‘why am I worrying about my salvation?’. Disappointingly we have no new Greek words for ‘pride’ in these verses:

1 Everywhere [it is] heard that fornication [is] among you, and such fornication which is not named among the heathen, so as [for] one to have [his] father's wife. (GLT)
2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that did this deed might be taken from your midst. (1 Corinthians 5 GLT)

6 Your boast [is] not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens all the lump? (1 Corinthians 5 GLT)

I particularly like this next scripture which states that our knowledge can be an engine upon which pride can fester. This especially if our knowledge is not based on God’s Word. I have much to say on this particular subject in my paper on
Wisdom (ref):

1 But concerning the sacrifices to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
2 But if anyone thinks to know anything, he still has known nothing as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8 GLT)

In this final scripture in this section we see from Paul, that love cannot be vain or proud. We also find a third Greek word for pride in ‘
περπερεύεται’ meaning ‘to boast’. I am uncertain as to the subtlety between this word and that previously attributed to the same meaning:

4 The love is long-suffering, it is kind, the love doth not envy, the love doth not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, (1 Corinthians 13 YLT)
4Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ, χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ ζηλοῖ, [ἡ ἀγάπη] οὐ περπερεύεται, οὐ φυσιοῦται (1 Corinthians 13 WHO)

Miscellaneous New Testament Scriptures

Whilst there is no specific Greek word for ‘pride’ in the following verse, the meaning is clear and another example of the ‘first will be last and the last will be first’ bible theme where pride is concerned:

12 And whoever will exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever will humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23 GLT)

Again we see pride drawn up alongside a list of man’s worst traits in the next few verses. Oh yes, and in verse 22 we find our fourth Greek word for ‘pride’ in ‘
ὑπερηφανία’. Whilst this word is similar in structure to one of the previous Greek words for ‘pride’, the concordances do seem to recognise it as being based on a different root and, once again, I am uncertain as to the subtlety between this word and those previously attributed to the same meaning:

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, pass out the evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, (GLT)
22 thefts, greedy desires, iniquities, deceit, lustful desires, a wicked eye, blasphemy, pride, recklessness. (GLT)
22μοιχεῖαι, πλεονεξίαι, πονηρίαι, δόλος, ἀσέλγεια, ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός, βλασφημία, ὑπερηφανία, ἀφροσύνη (WHO)
23 All these evil things pass out from within and defile the man. (Mark 7 GLT)

Luke has a parallel verse to Mark 23 above, demonstrating further emphasis on the matter of pride:

11 For everyone exalting himself will be humbled, and the one humbling himself will be exalted. (Luke 14 GLT)

This is emphasised even further, by Christ’s own words on the subject, in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector:

14 I say to you, This one went down to his house having been justified, [rather] than that one. For everyone exalting himself will be humbled. And the [one] humbling himself will be exalted. (Luke 18 GLT)

Paul warns the Roman congregation against proud thoughts:

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12 KJV)

16 [Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (Romans 12 KJV)

Paul provides a clear distinction for the Corinthians between the pride in the physical compared with that in the spiritual:

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to [answer] them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. (2 Corinthians 5 KJV)

Paul also warns that even in preaching the gospel it is possible to over-state one’s own contribution whilst forgetting that it is God that makes all things possible:

12 For we dare not rank or compare ourselves with some of those commending themselves, but they measuring themselves among themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, [are] not perceptive.
13 But we will not boast beyond measure, but according to measure of the rule which the God of measure distributed to us, to reach even to you.
14 For we do not overstretch ourselves as [if] not reaching to you, for we also came to you in the gospel of Christ,
15 not boasting beyond measure in the labors of others, but having hope that the growing faith among you will be made larger according to our rule, to overflowing,
16 in order to preach the gospel [to] that beyond you, not to boast in another's [rule] in things [made] ready.
17 "But the [one] glorying, let him glory in" [the] "Lord." [Jer. 9:24]
18 For not the [one] commending himself is the one approved, but [the one] whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10 GLT)

Following on from the above verses, Paul then goes on to describe his own tendencies towards unwarranted pride. He starts out by comparing himself to another who has been raptured; he would boast of the other’s rapture since that would glorify God’s power but would only boast of his own weaknesses, knowing that it is these which God will reward. Again if Paul is beset by the potential sin of pride then I think I should not be too surprised that I too suffer from this evil and very human trait.

One verse which caused me a lot of consideration was verse 7. Here, pretty much all the translations mention a messenger from Satan being sent to help reduce his tendency to boastfulness. This makes no sense to me which is why I have chosen Young’s Literal Translation of ‘Adversary’. Even this I am uncomfortable with. When I come to look at the various concordances, all the translators seem to have used a common use translation rather than a literal one, which could more appropriately mean ‘an angel from God’. I think God is more likely to help us fight against the sin of pride than Satan although it may well have been Satan being allowed to attack Paul albeit under strict instruction from God. I do wonder sometimes if the main established bible translators have just processed the words rather than the underlying meaning, said he iconoclastically (and hopefully without boastfulness!):

5 Of such an one I will boast, and of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities,
6 for if I may wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for truth I will say; but I forebear, lest any one in regard to me may think anything above what he doth see me, or doth hear anything of me;
7 and that by the exceeding greatness of the revelations I might not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of the Adversary, that he might buffet me, that I might not be exalted overmuch.
8 Concerning this thing thrice the Lord did I call upon, that it might depart from me,
9 and He said to me, 'Sufficient for thee is My grace, for My power in infirmity is perfected;' most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of the Christ may rest on me:
10 wherefore I am well pleased in infirmities, in damages, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses -- for Christ; for whenever I am infirm, then I am powerful;
11 I have become a fool -- boasting; ye -- ye did compel me; for I ought by you to have been commended, for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles -- even if I am nothing. (2 Corinthians 12 YLT)

Paul continues similarly in his letter to the congregation at Galatia, warning that personal pride should be based on proven works and should be directed inwardly, rather than seeking admiration from others:

3 For if anyone thinks to be something, he deceives himself, being nothing.
4 But let each one prove his work, and then he alone will have a boast in himself and not as to another. (Galatians 6 GLT)

Ditto to the congregation in Ephesus:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2 KJV)

And again in his letter to the congregation in Philippi; this is clearly a serious matter for Paul and the 1NC Saints:

3 nothing in rivalry or vain-glory, but in humility of mind one another counting more excellent than yourselves -- (Philippians 2 YLT)

Well after some considerable time we find our fifth Greek word for pride in ‘
τυφωθεὶς’ meaning ‘lifted up with pride’. This part of Paul’s first letter to Timothy contains advice as to the qualities pertaining to the making of a bishop in the early church:

6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (1 Timothy 3 KJV)
6μὴ νεόφυτον, ἵνα μὴ τυφωθεὶς εἰς κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου (1 Timothy 3 WHO)

Paul gives advice to Timothy as to warn his rich charges that they not be proud but trust in God rather than their worldly riches. In doing so Paul uncovers our sixth Greek word for pride in ‘
ὑψηλοφρονεῖν’ meaning ‘high minded’. Interestingly there is no condemnation of being rich in itself but more a warning about the placement of worldly riches in our spiritual lives:

17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; (1 Timothy 6 KJV)
17Τοῖς πλουσίοις ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι παράγγελλε μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν μηδὲ ἠλπικέναι ἐπὶ πλούτου ἀδηλότητι, ἀλλ' ἐπὶ θεῷ τῷ παρέχοντι ἡμῖν πάντα πλουσίως εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν (1 Timothy 6 WHO)

Paul tells Timothy of mankind in the end times. We also find a seventh Greek word for pride in ‘
ἀλαζόνες’ meaning ‘boaster’. Once again pride finds itself in a list of unrighteous behaviours:

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (2 Timothy 3 KJV)
2ἔσονται γὰρ οἱ ἄνθρωποι φίλαυτοι, φιλάργυροι, ἀλαζόνες, ὑπερήφανοι, βλάσφημοι, γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς, ἀχάριστοι, ἀνόσιοι (2 Timothy 3 WHO)

In James epistle we again find God’s divergent view of the proud and the humble:

6 But He gives greater grace. Because of this it says, "God sets [Himself] against proud [ones], but He gives grace to humble [ones]." [Prov. 3:34]
10 Be humbled before the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4 GLT)

And just in case you missed the last verses, Peter tells his various parishioners:

5 Likewise, younger ones be subject to older ones; and all being subject to one another. Put on humility, because God sets [Himself] "against proud ones, but He gives grace to humble ones." [Prov. 3:34] (1 Peter 5 GLT)

John the apostle confirms that pride of life is of the world and not of God. A fitting final scripture to this paper:

16 because all that which [is] in the world: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2 GLT)


This paper started out with the intention of studying what the bible had to say about the deadly sin of vanity. It rapidly expanded with consideration of the comparison between ‘acting in vain’ and the quality of ‘vanity’. They have the same Hebrew and Greek roots and therefore stem from the same concept which is not clear from the English dictionary definitions. The bible thereby confers a much greater sense of the futility of vanity by bringing in the sense of man’s mortality. Man’s mortality would seem to make much of what we do on this earth to be ‘in vain’ if it is not done with a righteous heart.

The second expansion of this paper stemmed from the English dictionary definition of the word ‘vanity’. Since ‘pride’ paid a large part in its definition this too became a matter of some study of the bible which has much to say on this word also.

Many different Hebrew and Greek words can mean ‘vain’ and ‘proud’. In attempting to analyse their differences in meaning, the subtlety sometimes is beyond the JLW’s linguistic understanding; this seems to be an issue for the bible translators also. Consequently, in many cases, I have included Hebrew/Greek text as well as several translations where they differ and/or need further discussion. I have needed to use various different translations throughout this paper; this demonstrates the varying views of the translators of the precise meanings of the Hebrew and Greek texts of these numerous similar words.

In addition to having many different words there are also many scriptural references to both ‘vanity’ and ‘pride’. This, taken into account with the fact that it was pride that caused Satan’s fall from grace and Jehovah’s harsh and oft repeated attitude towards these behaviours, demonstrates the seriousness with which we must all treat these two sins.

​Date of Publication: 5th March 2019

The Proud and Vain Peacock

Vanity and Pride

Jewish Lords' Witness