31 Bible Verses About Empathy (with Explanation)

Empathy, a profound connection with the feelings and experiences of others, is a virtue that resonates deeply with the teachings of the Bible.

While the term “empathy” may not be explicitly found in the scriptures, the principles of understanding, compassion, and shared concern for one another are woven throughout the biblical narrative.

In this exploration, we delve into key passages and themes that illuminate the concept of empathy within the Christian faith. As we reflect on these scriptural insights, may we be inspired to cultivate empathy in our lives, fostering a community marked by love, compassion, and a genuine understanding of the human experience.

Also Read: Bible Verses About Being Thankful for the Little Things (with Explanation)

Bible Verses About Empathy

Romans 12:15 (NIV)

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

In Romans 12:15, the apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of empathy in the Christian life. This verse encourages believers to actively engage with the emotions of others, both in times of joy and sorrow.

The command to “rejoice with those who rejoice” reminds us to share in the happiness of our brothers and sisters, celebrating their successes and joys as if they were our own. Similarly, the directive to “mourn with those who mourn” calls for a compassionate response to the pain and suffering of others.

This verse teaches that true empathy involves entering into the emotional experiences of those around us, fostering a deeper sense of community and interconnectedness within the body of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.

In Galatians 6:2, the apostle Paul exhorts believers to bear one another’s burdens. This verse highlights the concept of empathy as a practical expression of love and fulfillment of the law of Christ.

By willingly shouldering the challenges and difficulties faced by our fellow believers, we demonstrate a Christ-like compassion that strengthens the bonds of Christian fellowship. Empathy, as described in this verse, goes beyond mere understanding; it involves actively participating in the struggles of others, offering support, and embodying the selfless love exemplified by Jesus.

 Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4 encourages believers to adopt a mindset of selflessness and empathy. The apostle Paul challenges Christians to transcend self-centered perspectives, urging them to consider the needs and concerns of others.

This verse underscores the importance of empathy in building harmonious relationships within the body of believers. By prioritizing the interests of others alongside our own, we embody the humility and love exemplified by Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

In 1 Peter 3:8, the apostle Peter provides a comprehensive guide to empathetic living within the Christian community. This verse encourages believers to cultivate a shared mindset, marked by sympathy, love, compassion, and humility. By emphasizing these qualities, Peter outlines the essence of empathy in our interactions with fellow believers.

The call to be “sympathetic” underscores the importance of understanding and sharing in the feelings of others, while the exhortation to “be compassionate and humble” reinforces the idea that true empathy involves a posture of humility and a willingness to respond with kindness and understanding.

Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12 provides a holistic perspective on empathy by presenting it as a virtue that should characterize the lives of God’s chosen people.

This verse invites believers to “clothe” themselves with qualities such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. The imagery of clothing suggests that these virtues are not optional but essential for Christian living.

Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Hebrews 4:15 presents a powerful depiction of Jesus Christ as a High Priest who empathizes with human weaknesses. This verse highlights the divinity of Christ coupled with a deep understanding of the human experience.

Jesus, having experienced the full range of human temptations and challenges, provides believers with a source of empathy that is both profound and relatable.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV)

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

In Matthew 9:36, the Gospel writer portrays Jesus as a compassionate shepherd who feels deep empathy for the crowds. This verse captures a moment when Jesus is moved by the plight of the people, recognizing their vulnerability and need for guidance. The word “compassion” here reflects not just a surface-level understanding but a visceral, emotional response to the suffering of others.

Christians are called to emulate this empathy, viewing the world with a compassionate gaze and responding to the needs of those around them. Matthew 9:36 challenges believers to go beyond mere observation, urging them to actively engage with the brokenness of the world and extend the same compassionate care that Jesus demonstrated.

1 Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1 Corinthians 12:26 uses the analogy of the body to illustrate the interconnectedness of believers. This verse emphasizes the communal aspect of empathy, stating that when one member of the body suffers, the entire body shares in that suffering. Likewise, when one is honored, the whole body rejoices.

1 Corinthians 12:26 challenges believers to foster a sense of shared identity, where the joys and sorrows of one member are felt by all. In this way, the practice of empathy becomes a unifying force that strengthens the bonds of fellowship and mutual care among believers.

Luke 10:33-34 (NIV)

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.

The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:33-34 provides a vivid illustration of empathy in action. In this story, a Samaritan demonstrates compassion toward a wounded stranger, going above and beyond to care for his needs. This parable challenges believers to break down societal and cultural barriers in order to extend empathy and assistance to those who may be considered outsiders.

The Samaritan’s actions serve as a model for selfless, sacrificial love, emphasizing that true empathy involves tangible expressions of care and support. Luke 10:33-34 encourages Christians to actively seek out opportunities to meet the practical needs of others, regardless of their background or circumstances.

 James 2:15-16 (NIV)

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:15-16 addresses the importance of practical empathy in the Christian walk. This passage challenges believers to move beyond mere words of comfort and actively engage in meeting the tangible needs of those around them.

The scenario presented by James underscores the inadequacy of expressing empathy solely through verbal assurances without corresponding actions.

True empathy involves a willingness to address the practical concerns of others, recognizing that meeting physical needs is an integral part of demonstrating God’s love. James 2:15-16 serves as a reminder that faith without works, including empathetic actions, is incomplete and falls short of the holistic love exemplified by Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 encapsulates the essence of empathy within the context of forgiveness. The apostle Paul urges believers to cultivate kindness and compassion, emphasizing the transformative power of forgiveness. In the practice of empathy, extending forgiveness becomes a crucial aspect.

The verse reminds Christians of the divine model of forgiveness demonstrated through Christ, encouraging them to mirror this compassion in their interactions with others. Empathy, in the light of Ephesians 4:32, involves understanding the human condition and responding with grace and forgiveness, fostering a community marked by reconciliation and love.

Luke 6:31 (NIV)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Known as the Golden Rule, Luke 6:31 provides a foundational principle for empathy. This concise statement challenges believers to consider the perspective of others and treat them with the same kindness and consideration they desire for themselves.

The Golden Rule serves as a practical guide for empathetic living, urging Christians to engage in self-reflection and imagine the impact of their words and actions on others.

By internalizing this principle, believers cultivate a mindset that actively seeks the well-being of others, fostering a culture of empathy within the Christian community and beyond.

Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)

Whoever despises their neighbor sins, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

Proverbs 14:21 underscores the moral significance of kindness and empathy. The verse contrasts a negative attitude toward neighbors with the blessing that accompanies kindness to the needy. This proverb emphasizes the ethical dimension of empathy, portraying it as a virtue that aligns with God’s principles.

By showing kindness to those in need, believers not only demonstrate empathy but also participate in the divine work of blessing others. Proverbs 14:21 challenges Christians to evaluate their attitudes toward their neighbors and motivates them to actively seek opportunities for compassionate and empathetic actions.

Proverbs 21:13 (NIV)

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 21:13 draws attention to the consequences of ignoring the needs and cries of the poor. This verse serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of listening and responding to the suffering of others.

Empathy, in this context, involves a willingness to hear the voices of the marginalized and to take action in addressing their plight.

The reciprocal nature of the verse suggests that those who practice empathy by attending to the needs of the poor can expect a responsive and compassionate hearing when they cry out. Proverbs 21:13 encourages believers to be attentive to the cries of the vulnerable, recognizing that empathetic engagement is both a moral imperative and a pathway to divine favor.

Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounces a blessing on the merciful in Matthew 5:7. This beatitude highlights the reciprocal nature of empathy, indicating that those who show mercy to others will themselves receive mercy.

The verse connects the practice of empathy, specifically in the form of mercy, with the divine favor and grace extended to those who embody such qualities.

Matthew 5:7 challenges believers to actively engage in acts of mercy, fostering a lifestyle characterized by understanding, compassion, and a willingness to alleviate the suffering of others. The beatitude implies that empathy is not only a virtue that benefits others but also a pathway to experiencing the mercy and blessings of God in one’s own life.

Luke 19:41 (NIV)

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.

In Luke 19:41, Jesus exhibits profound empathy as he weeps over Jerusalem. This verse encapsulates the compassionate heart of Christ, who grieves for the spiritual condition and future destruction of the city. Jesus’ tears exemplify a deep emotional connection and understanding of the human condition.

This moment serves as a poignant reminder that empathy involves not only rejoicing with those who rejoice but also mourning with those who mourn. Luke 19:41 challenges believers to cultivate a compassionate heart that engages with the brokenness of the world, reflecting the empathy demonstrated by Jesus in his earthly ministry.

1 John 3:17-18 (NIV)

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

In 1 John 3:17-18, the apostle John underscores the inseparable connection between love, empathy, and action. This passage challenges believers to move beyond verbal expressions of love and actively engage in meeting the needs of others. True empathy, according to John, involves tangible demonstrations of compassion and care.

The call to “love with actions and in truth” emphasizes the authenticity and sincerity required in empathetic living. 1 John 3:17-18 prompts Christians to assess the alignment between their professed love for God and their practical expressions of empathy toward those in need.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 provides a comforting assurance of God’s empathy towards the brokenhearted. This verse reveals the compassionate nature of God, who draws near to those experiencing pain and distress.

In contemplating this verse, believers are reminded that their empathy for others echoes the heart of God. Psalm 34:18 encourages Christians to approach empathy not only as a human virtue but also as a reflection of the divine empathy that seeks to bring healing and restoration to the hurting.

Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)

…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10 challenges believers to invest themselves in the well-being of others, particularly the hungry and oppressed. This verse envisions empathy as an active, sacrificial commitment to meeting the needs of those in difficult circumstances.

The promise of light rising in the darkness and noonday replacing the night underscores the transformative impact of empathetic actions. Isaiah 58:10 inspires Christians to go beyond surface-level empathy and engage in acts of service that bring tangible relief and hope to those facing adversity.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the apostle Paul acknowledges God as the source of compassion and comfort. This passage underscores the idea that God’s comfort is not merely for personal benefit but equips believers to extend comfort to others. True empathy, according to Paul, involves a dynamic process of receiving divine comfort and then becoming conduits of that comfort to those in need.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 emphasizes the interconnectedness of empathy, portraying it as a channel through which God’s compassion flows from one person to another, creating a network of support and encouragement within the body of Christ.

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17 highlights the spiritual significance of kindness and empathy, especially towards the poor. The verse frames acts of compassion as loans to the Lord, indicating that God takes note of our interactions with those in need.

This perspective elevates empathy to a sacred act, emphasizing the connection between our treatment of others, especially the less fortunate, and our relationship with God. Proverbs 19:17 encourages believers to view acts of kindness as investments in God’s economy, with the promise of divine reward for those who extend empathy to the marginalized.

Matthew 14:14 (NIV)

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:14 illustrates Jesus’ compassionate response to the physical needs of a large crowd. This verse portrays empathy in action, as Jesus not only sees the multitude but is moved with compassion to address their ailments.

The healing ministry of Jesus demonstrates that empathy is not passive but prompts active engagement with the suffering of others. Matthew 14:14 serves as a model for believers, urging them to emulate the compassionate response of Jesus by actively seeking opportunities to alleviate the physical and emotional burdens of those around them.

Luke 7:13 (NIV)

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

In Luke 7:13, Jesus encounters a grieving widow, and the response is a poignant expression of empathy. The phrase “his heart went out to her” captures the emotional depth of Jesus’ response to her sorrow.

This verse communicates the tender and compassionate nature of Christ, who not only acknowledges the woman’s pain but actively seeks to bring comfort.

Luke 7:13 challenges believers to go beyond superficial expressions of sympathy and engage in empathy that reaches into the depths of human emotions, offering genuine solace and understanding to those who are hurting.

Romans 15:1 (NIV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1 underscores the responsibility of those who are strong in faith to bear with the weaknesses of others. This verse emphasizes empathy as a willingness to patiently support and understand those who may be struggling in their faith or facing challenges.

The call to “not please ourselves” challenges believers to prioritize the well-being of others over personal comfort or preferences. Romans 15:1 encourages Christians to cultivate a community where empathy is a guiding principle, fostering an environment of mutual support and encouragement.

Zechariah 7:9 (NIV)

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’

Zechariah 7:9 presents a divine directive to administer justice and show mercy and compassion to one another. This verse emphasizes that empathy is not merely a human virtue but aligns with God’s expectations for His people.

The combination of justice, mercy, and compassion highlights the holistic nature of empathy, encompassing both understanding and action.

Zechariah 7:9 challenges believers to embody God’s values in their interactions with others, actively seeking justice and extending mercy and compassion as expressions of empathy. The verse frames empathy as an integral part of righteous living and a reflection of the character of the Lord Almighty.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 outlines the fruit of the Spirit, and kindness and gentleness are integral components of this divine harvest. These qualities are intrinsic to a Spirit-filled life, and when believers exhibit kindness and gentleness, they reflect the empathy that flows from the character of God.

This passage challenges Christians to continually cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, recognizing that empathy is not merely a human effort but a supernatural expression of the Holy Spirit working within them.

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 succinctly encapsulates the divine expectations for human conduct. In the context of empathy, the call to “love mercy” emphasizes the importance of cultivating a heart that is inclined toward understanding and compassion.

The verse invites believers to view empathy as a fundamental aspect of living justly and humbly before God. Micah 6:8 challenges Christians to integrate mercy into their daily interactions, fostering an empathetic disposition that aligns with God’s righteous expectations.

Psalm 103:13-14 (NIV)

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:13-14 draws a parallel between a father’s compassion for his children and God’s compassion for those who fear Him. This passage underscores the intimate understanding that God possesses regarding the human condition.

The recognition that God remembers our frailty serves as a foundation for empathy. Psalm 103:13-14 encourages believers to approach empathy with a deep awareness of human vulnerability, mirroring the divine compassion that recognizes and responds to the limitations of humanity.

Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

In Matthew 25:35-36, Jesus provides a vivid illustration of empathy through acts of compassion. This passage emphasizes practical expressions of empathy, such as providing food, drink, clothing, and care for those in need.

Jesus identifies Himself with the marginalized, teaching that when believers extend empathy to others, they are, in essence, ministering to Him. Matthew 25:35-36 challenges Christians to see beyond surface-level needs and engage in empathetic actions that address the holistic well-being of those around them.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the apostle Paul exhorts believers to encourage and build each other up. This verse emphasizes the role of empathy in creating a supportive and uplifting community. The act of encouragement involves understanding the challenges others face and offering words and actions that bring comfort and strength.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 encourages Christians to be intentional about fostering an environment where empathy is actively practiced, and individuals are mutually invested in each other’s spiritual and emotional well-being.

Also Read: Bible Verses About Adoption (with Explanation)

What Does the Bible Say About Empathy

The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, NIV)

The Golden Rule, reiterated by Jesus in both Matthew and Luke, encapsulates the essence of empathy. It encourages believers to consider the feelings and needs of others in the same way they would want their own feelings and needs to be considered.

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) The parable of the Good Samaritan is a powerful illustration of empathy. The Samaritan sees a wounded stranger, feels compassion, and takes practical steps to help, showcasing a deep understanding of the man’s suffering.

Romans 12:15 (NIV) “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

This verse from Romans underscores the call for believers to actively engage with the emotions of others. It encourages not only sharing in the joys of others but also empathizing with their sorrows.

A Prayer for Empathy

Gracious Heavenly Father,

We come before you with humble hearts, seeking the grace to embody the spirit of empathy in our daily lives. Your Word teaches us to love one another, to rejoice in joy, and to mourn in sorrow alongside our brothers and sisters.

Lord, grant us the strength to see beyond ourselves, to look upon others with the same compassion and understanding that You show us. Teach us to be like the Good Samaritan, recognizing the needs of those around us and responding with kindness and genuine care.

May Your Spirit guide us in imitating the empathy of Jesus, who walked among us, understanding our weaknesses and temptations. Help us to bear one another’s burdens, sharing in both the joys and sorrows of our fellow believers.

Clothe us with compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness, that our actions may reflect the love You have poured into our hearts. Enable us to be instruments of Your mercy and comfort, especially to the brokenhearted and those in need.

Lord, create in us a community marked by empathy, where we actively listen, understand, and support one another. May our lives be a testimony to the transformative power of Your love, and may our empathy be a reflection of Your divine nature.

In Jesus’ name, we pray.