What Does the Bible Says About Compassion?

Compassion alludes to kindness and sympathy, but there is something deeper, something even more profoundly powerful, in its meaning.

The origin of the word helps us grasp the true breadth and significance of compassion. In Latin, ‘compati’ means “suffer with.” Compassion means someone else’s heartbreak becomes your heartbreak. Another’s suffering becomes your suffering. True compassion changes the way we live.

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Bible is saturated with compassion. It seeps through the pages of the Old Testament, pours out of the Gospels, and presents itself as a challenge to followers of Jesus. The Bible talks of a God who has compassion for Israel. It tells of a Savior who suffers for the world, and it asks us to live and act compassionately.

To help you embrace compassion in your life, we have compiled this list of Bible verses that point to a compassionate God, Savior and people. May your compassion be encouraged and empowered by the truth of these scriptures.

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All of the Bible references are from the New International Version.

A Compassionate God

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

— Isaiah 30:18

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

— Exodus 33:19

They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.

— Isaiah 49:10

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

— Isaiah 49:13

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

— Isaiah 54:10

I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us — yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindness.

— Isaiah 63:7

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But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.

— Nehemiah 9:16-18

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

— Psalm 51:1

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

— Psalm 86:15

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

— Psalm 103:13

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

— Psalm 116:5

Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

— Psalm 119:77

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

— Psalm 145:8-9

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

— James 5:11

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.

— Deuteronomy 30:1-4

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A Compassionate Savior

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

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

— Matthew 14:13-14

Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

— Matthew 20:30-34

As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

— Luke 7:12-15

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

— Mark 6:34

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Three boys standing in a field showing compassion

A Compassionate People

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

— Psalm 112:3-5

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

— Colossians 3:12

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

— Galatians 6:2

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 all in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

— 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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

— Ephesians 4:32

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

— Romans 12:15

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

— 1 Peter 3:8

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

— 1 Peter 4:10

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

— Zechariah 7:9-10

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

— Philippians 2:1-2

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