Pride, proud, arrogant, puffed up

by Mike Ratliff

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Proverbs 16:18 NASB)

At the root of hypocrisy is, of course, pride. Pride is the antithesis of humility, which is exemplified for us by Paul’s attitude to the Ephesian church in the following passage.

8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. (Ephesians 3:8-13 NASB)


On the other hand, pride is absolutely never portrayed in the Bible in a positive way. Never is pride tolerated. Never is it praised as it is today. However, in the visible church in our time don’t we hear sermons and read teachings about “positive pride” and the building up of self or the searching inside to find that real “you” that God is deeply in love with and only wants you to find it so He can show you what a fantastic you you really are? Well, I have a Greek word for that, σκύβαλον. In any case, let’s look at the Greek words in the New Testament translated as “pride,” “proud,” and “puffed up.” 

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16 NASB)

The word translated above as “pride” is ἀλαζονεία or alazoneia, which is from the word ἀλαζον or alazon who was a wandering charlatan and was a favorite comedy character in Greek plays. An ἀλαζον was one full of empty, braggart talk or display; swagger; and hence an insolent and vain assurance in one’s own resources, or in the stability of earthy things, which issues in a contempt of divine laws. A good Old English word for this would be “vainglory.” The vainglory of life is the vainglory which belongs to the present life.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32 NASB)

The word in Romans 1:30 translated above as “arrogant” is the Greek word υπερηφανους the accusative, plural form of ὑπερήφανος or huperēphanos. This word pictures prideful arrogance and haughtiness. Paul’s use in Romans 1:30 (above) characterizes man’s fall and resultant depravity. At the the very root of man’s fallen condition is pride. The rebellion that has decimated the visible church in our time is fueled by this pride.

As I stated earlier, the Bible nowhere portrays pride in a positive light. I put Proverbs 16:18 at the top of this post for that very reason. However, if you look at these “empire builders” out there with their “mega churches” who “minister” with a “look at me” attitude in everything they do then well, ya know, that doesn’t look very much like humility. In fact, we find out what is truly underneath all of that when we question them. When we ask and criticize using the Bible as our guide the truly godly minister will react in a truly godly way, that is, in repentance. But what do these fellows do? Since they can’t refute what the Bible says and we insist on exegesis only not eisegesis thank you very much, they resort to philosophy and all sorts of tactics that are most decidedly non-Christian. That is what the Bible calls being “puffed up.”

6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6 NASB)

The word Paul used here in v6 that is translated as “arrogant” is φυσιοῦσθε the present tense, subjective mood, active voice, plural form of φυσιόω or phusioō, which is derived from a word that means “a bellows.” Just as a bellows swells up as it fills with air, the Corinthians were swollen with pride. In the verse above (v6), they were prideful against Paul, that he would not return to Corinth and confront them with their attitudes. Paul told them they were “puffed up” in v18, v19; 5:2; and 13:4. In 13:4, their arrogance destroyed any possibility of love for another. Worst of all, in 5:2 they were even prideful of a case of incest that was going on in the church, no doubt thinking they were being open-minded and practicing “Christian liberty.”

We must all take special care to avoid these things for they are evil. The trap of confusing law and gospel is deadly. Those who do that either fall into license and arrogance or some form of perfectionism based on watered-down self-righteousness. In either case, this opens the door to all sorts of deception that easily take over the prideful heart. Don’t we see this running rampant all over the visible church in our time? The fact that our so-called Christian leaders are not calling men such as Rick Warren to repent of his false teaching is very disconcerting, however, we must not allow this to deter us. Our eyes must be fixed on Christ and the prize that awaits. This life is simply what prepares us for that. Come soon Lord Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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