The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:9-14 – Inductive Bible Study
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12’I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- What title do you give to this parable?
Self-Trust is Misplaced
You Can’t be Good Enough
Repentance Precedes Justification
Pride and Humility
How Not to Pray
God’s Road to Exaltation
Measuring by the Wrong Standard
- What other parables have similar characteristics or theme?
The Wheat and the Tares
The Two Sons
The Ten Virgins
The Creditor and Two Debtors
The Good Samaritan
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Persistent Widow
- Who was Jesus speaking to when He gave this parable?
He was speaking to His disciples and to those who trust in their own righteousness and viewed others with contempt. Luke 18:9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
- What was the context for this parable?
Jesus is teaching His disciples about prayer.
- What are the main elements of the parable and what does each represent? Though this is a parable, it is unusual in that there are no similitudes in it. Each element simply depicts itself.
- temple –
- pray –
- Pharisee –
- tax collector –
- stood –
- praying this to himself –
- thank You –
- not like other people –
- swindlers –
- unjust –
- adulterers –
- this tax collector –
- fast twice a week –
- pay tithes of all that I get –
- standing some distance away –
- unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven –
- beating his breast –
- be merciful to me –
- the sinner –
- What spiritual principle(s) does this parable teach?
- MH – God brings forth good out of evil.
- MH – Satan brings forth evil out of good.
- The most common thing people trust in is themselves.
- To trust in God requires faith.
- Trusting in ourself only requires pride.
- Humility is prerequisite to repentance.
- Repentance is prerequisite to justification.
- The self-righteous cannot truly pray to God, but only to themselves.
- Prayer to impress others only further alienates us from God.
- Cross references to this parable?
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
12 There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
5 “Who say, ‘ Keep to yourself, do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day.
29 “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
34 They answered him, ” You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out.
3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
47 The Pharisees then answered them, ” You have not also been led astray, have you? 48 ” No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he? 49 “But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.”
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
1 Peter 1:15-16
15 but like the Holy One who called you,be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY , FOR I AM HOLY.”
2 Cor 10:12
12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
1 O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 ” Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
22 ” Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name , and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
18 “O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19 “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
2 Chron 33:12-13
12 When he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
1 Tim 1:15
15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
1 Peter 5:5-6
5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
- Questions or problems with the interpretation of this parable.
- List and discuss the problems with the Pharisee’s prayer.
- Were the attributes that the Pharisee sighted viewed favorably by God?
- Of what benefit are righteous deeds?
- Why did the Pharisee go to the temple to pray?
- What was the purpose of the Pharisee?
- Why did the tax collector go to the temple to pray?
- What was the purpose of the tax collector?
- Why is confession so important to God?
- Why do we sometimes view others with contempt?
- How does Satan try to use our good works against us?
- How is this parable different from the other parables? No similitudes are used.
- What righteousness is acceptable to God?
- What does it mean to be justified?
- How is one justified?
- Based on this parable, what changes in my life does Jesus want me to make?
Devote more prayer time to confession.
Absent Master of the House
Barren Fig Tree
Cost of Discipleship
Creditor and Two Debtors
The Growing Seed
Pharisee and Tax Collector
Rich Man and Lazarus
The Lost Coin
Wicked Vine Growers
We want to help you study the Bible, obey the Bible, and teach the Bible to others. We have therefore created a library of almost one thousand (and growing) inductive Bible studies, which are available for free. This takes a lot of time and hard work as well as the growing expense of running the website.
Help us continue to create Bible study resources by supporting Study and Obey for as little as $1.