The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector Meaning


Lord’s Library editors assembled this short resource which offers a Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector meaning and summary, with key Scriptures.

In the parable, Jesus begins by describing two men who went up to the temple to pray. The first man is a Pharisee, a religious leader known for his piety and adherence to the law. He stands and prays, thanking God for his own righteousness and listing his righteous deeds, including fasting and tithing. He looks down on others, specifically mentioning the tax collector in his prayer.

The second man is a tax collector, a despised figure in Jewish society who was often seen as a traitor and a sinner. He stands at a distance and beats his breast, unable to even lift his eyes to heaven. He cries out a simple and humble prayer, asking for God’s mercy and acknowledging his own sinful state.

Jesus concludes the parable by stating that it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home justified before God. He emphasizes that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.

The Gospel

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector Meaning

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector meaning can be found in Luke 18:9-14:

Luke 18:9-14

“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

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Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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