Luke 18:9

ESV He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
NIV To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:
NASB Now He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
CSB He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else:
NLT Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:
KJV And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

What does Luke 18:9 mean?

The parable of the persistent widow precedes the parable that begins in verse 9. A judge neither fears God nor respects people. The man's identity, life, and morals are entirely self-fulfilled. A widow goes before him, demanding justice against her adversary. He refuses because to act would be inconvenient. She persists until his comfort is disturbed; only then does he act for her benefit. Jesus compares the judge to God who will surely give His elect the justice they deserve (Luke 18:1–8).

Here, Jesus turns to those who believe their righteous standing before God is entirely self-fulfilled. Still, like the judge, they dismiss others as beneath their attention. Jesus has dealt with these people throughout His ministry. Among the more crucial are the Pharisees who tithe diligently but steal widows' houses (Luke 11:42; Mark 12:40) and their scribes who load the people with extra-biblical rules but do not teach what the prophets say about the Messiah (Luke 11:46–48).

Jesus' quarrel with the Pharisees isn't about their righteousness. In fact, He holds their obedience as an example for others to follow (Matthew 5:20). What distresses Him is that the works they do publicly are motivated by a dark heart filled with pride. They don't obey God because they love Him; they obey to prove themselves better than anyone else around them. Then they add extra rules to make the divide between themselves and the populace even wider.

It works, however. That is, their actions earn them attention and adoration from the people (Mark 12:38–39)—to the extent that even many of the religious rulers both fear them and crave their approval (John 12:42–43). But they do not win justification from the One who matters (Luke 18:14). In fact, "They will receive the greater condemnation" (Mark 12:40).
What is the Gospel?
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