what the bible says about narcissism

What Does The Bible Say About Narcissistic Behavior? Part One

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** This article was written by The Roadshow for Therapists:  Working with Narcissistic Victim Abuse

People Will Be Lovers of Themselves

Narcissism is addressed in the Bible in Paul’s second pastoral epistle to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-7) in the fall of A.D.67.  Paul seems to be concerned about the character and behavior of leaders within the church, so he warns Timothy to beware of those who act out of a “self-love attitude”.  He says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away.” 

Here Paul names many of the attributes associated (in psychology) today with the narcissistic personality we are all becoming so familiar with.

Contrasting the Bible with Psychology:

Let us take a few moments to contrast and compare what St. Paul says to Timothy two thousand years ago with today’s psychological understanding of what narcissism is:-

St. Paul says: Slanderers

Psychology says:  Narcissists build an inner shrine to themselves where they self-aggrandize to an extraordinary degree so that they can feel intrinsically superior to all others.  Of course, their highly inflated view of themselves is an illusory false-self (a pathological ego) that becomes the basis for all future misinterpretations of their reality.  Their feelings of being superior in every way to everybody, becomes the source of much pain and envy for them whenever they feel outshined by anyone.

Pathological envy and jealousy is an integral part of narcissism (envy is a desire for what another person has, while jealousy is the fear that what something can be taken away).  Narcissists are envious of anything in others that they lack in themselves (i.e. beauty, possessions, knowledge, personal qualities, power, skills, achievements, qualifications, relationships, money etc.  Their envy consumes them, and the list of their covetousness (“I want, I want”) is endless. 

Envy is a normal human feeling which can range from mild to severe, from healthy to unhealthy, from positive to negative.  For example, “healthy envy” has positive qualities.  Healthy envy acts as a valuable guide for your heart, leading you in the direction of what your soul requires, so in effect, the thing you desire acts as a mirror for personal growth. For example, if you envy the knowledge of your tutor in college, perhaps there is a part of your soul that yearns to become a teacher, or to be in a position where you can impart knowledge.  Healthy envy is empowering because it brings you nearer to your life’s goal.  Whereas, unhealthy envy is disempowering because it keeps you bound to a fantasy, making you blind to your own true nature.  Because the narcissist acts out of a False Self, they suffer from a twisted heart, leaving them at the mercy of their “unhealthy envy”, and envy that can trigger their feelings of vulnerability, shame and self-loathing at any moment.  Any of these feelings can result in narcissistic injury, to which the narcissist invariably reacts to with rage.  In order to rid themselves of such emotional turmoil and recover their equilibrium, the narcissist projects those intolerable feelings outward onto the person of their envy.   

Once you become the object of the narcissists envy you are in serious trouble.  In order to improve their own self-image they are likely to do a character assassination on you.  This is not innocent gossip, rather it is an intentional and premeditated smear campaign of “projection and smearing” that is aimed at maligning you in order to tarnish your reputation and make them feel better about themselves.  Be warned, they are cold, ruthless, and self-serving, and by the way, they take no prisoners.

Look for the next article where we’ll contrast The Bible with Psychology on Narcissists being disobedient to their parents.

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Kate Burden says May 25, 2017

My feedback is I found the article quite brilliant.

pro311031 says January 7, 2016

Just read about Jezebel in 1 and 2 Kings of the bible she was the perfect Narcissistic Personality Disorder Person. There are 14 characteristics that perfectly match her to a tee. Also there is the Jezebel Spirit which has nonthing to do solely with women both men and women have them, and since most narcissistic persons are men they should be also called Jezebel Men.

Joshua says November 28, 2015

it is sad. My father made me his enemy and blamed me for everything. He also started up lies about me beating him when this never happened. He ran into my room one day and i closed the door to keep him out.

Instead of leaving me alone he rushed into the room by knocking open the door while I was holding it from the other side. He then fell and blamed me for it. Word then got around that I punched him in the face over and over.

Now blames me for his theft – Adultery – lies and so on. Basically he is using his own son to justify his sin filled life.

    Elisha says December 5, 2022

    wow That takes the cake. sometimes they will make you feel like you’re the Narc for being angry or fed up with their narcissistic BS and torment.

paula cook says April 11, 2014

Im sick in my spirit to believe every word this man has ever spoke to.me..to find out hes a lyer .. Playing with my emotion…as if its nothing

    Kim Saeed says April 13, 2014


    It’s natural to grieve the relationship we had with the Narcissist. It’s very similar to when someone passes away, because it’s literally the death of the relationship as we knew it.

    I hope you find some articles on my site that are of help. Feel free to reach out if needed…

navigator1965 says October 6, 2013


I’ve been doing some preliminary thinking along the lines in this post:

– Pharisees are probably the best biblical example of narcissists. Their false selves were as holy and righteous men, and the conduct and words of Jesus would have constituted a walking, talking narcissistic injury to them.

– The direction, when giving to charity, that the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing (probably got the quote wrong, working from memory) is to avoid narcissistic behaviour.

– I understand that shame is a powerful unconscious component to the narcissistic pathology. The envy would not arise, I argue, without the underlying shame of the true self.

    Kim Raya says October 6, 2013

    This really has me wondering if faulty parenting is truly to blame, as is stated in most psychological literature. If it was prophesied in the Bible, then what other factors might be at play here?

    I know shame is supposed to be a big part of the Narcissistic personality…but it’s often hard to comprehend that. In my experience with my Ex, it was as if he felt entitled and truly felt that everyone else was beneath him, even his parents. It’s almost as if he was born that way…

      navigator1965 says October 6, 2013

      I believe the shame comes from either non-existent parental love or conditional parental love early in life.

        Elisha says December 5, 2022

        My NArc has mommy issues abandonment and no love I want to believe the change deeply but too many chances have been given based of my heavy heart of how he didnt get love as a child. However I gave him a beautiful family and loved him on his worst days and only received betrayal as a result time and time again. this sucks

      Chris says May 7, 2015

      We need to see this “disorder” for what it is, which is reprobation; a person so consumed with love of their sin and total rejection of God that they’ve been cast away by God. As difficult as it can be in these modern times, let’s not get what “psychology” says mixed up with the real truth of the matter.

      For example, they’re lovers of themselves – they’re not “insecure.”

      They don’t have “false selves;” they’re liars and they’re demon-possessed.

      They “never change” because they’re deemed irredeemable by God.

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