What Is Pride?
Pride is not always expressed as a negative quality in the Bible. It can carry a positive connotation of self-worth, self-respect, and self-confidence. The apostle Paul communicated a positive sense of pride when speaking to the believers in Corinth:
“I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 7:4, NLT).
Pride becomes sinful when it is excessively self-focused and self-elevating. This kind of pride is what most often appears in the Bible. The biblical sin of pride refers to a high or exalted attitude—the opposite of the virtue of humility, which is the appropriate posture people ought to have with God.
Charles H. Spurgeon described pride as “an all-pervading sin.” He said, “Pride is so natural to fallen man that it springs up in his heart like weeds in a well-watered garden … its every touch is evil. You may hunt down this fox, and think you have destroyed it, and lo! Your very exultation is pride. None have more pride than those who dream that they have none. Pride is a sin with a thousand lives; it seems impossible to kill it.”
Synonyms for pride in the Bible are “insolence,” “presumptuousness,” “arrogance,” “conceit,” “high-mindedness,” “haughtiness,” and “egotism.”
In Hebrew, the concept of pride is often expressed figuratively with words that suggest height. An interesting expression in Greek refers to a person being “puffed up” or inflated with pride. Rather than having substance, the prideful person is filled only with air:
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6, ESV; see also 1 Corinthians 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; Colossians 2:18).