Jesus asking the young rich ruler why do you call me good?

What dose Jesus mean in Mark 10:18 ESV

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

I know Jesus is God and God is the standard of Good , is Jesus referring to the Young Rich Rulers standard of good? I’m confused on this one

Thank you for your help!



Hi @Suren_Petrosian. Good question. I think Jesus is doing a couple of things when He asks, “Why do you call me good?”

First, this is another way of putting the question that Jesus asked elsewhere, “Who do you say that I am?” as though Jesus is saying, "God alone is good and if you call me good, are you ready to confess me as God?’’ We see the young man’s answer in verse 20, where he addresses Jesus only as “Teacher.” He drops the word “good”. As with so many, he is willing to accept Jesus as a teacher, but nothing more.

I think you touched on the second thing Jesus is doing here, that He is getting the young ruler to examine his own goodness. Remember that Moses said The Law establishes our righteousness if we keep it (Deuteronomy 6:25). Notice how Jesus answers the young man by pointing him back to The Law, which he claims “all these things I have kept from my youth.” So, professing his own righteousness in The Law, he acknowledges that even his best has not earned him eternal life.

In this exchange, Jesus holds to His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The young man claimed he was as blameless in The Law as the Pharisees and Jesus, by His answer, said, “Not good enough!”

All of this leads us to the gospel that Paul preached, “the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). You can see why Paul, who had the same boast as the rich young ruler, cast it aside “that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:8-9)

Praying this helps.



Hi Suren… great question. I love this passage and I think @dennis.gladden made some really good points. If I may, I’ll chuck some thoughts of my own down and hopefully they are helpful.

The way I have seen it as I look at this passage is that I notice that when Jesus comes back to the rich young man, there are a few key things to notice:

  1. Just like Ravi is always pushing (from the example of our Lord Jesus)… behind every question there is a questioner and this is very important in this case.
  2. The question itself has a problem with it… the rich young man has called Jesus good (which is correct, but how would the young man know?)… but also, he is looking for something to do to inherit eternal life. Inheritance doesn’t require action, merely that one is due to inherit.

So Jesus comes back and asks “why do you call me good?” and then emphasizes the last 6 commandments. Only the commandments, you’ll notice, that can be ticked off (at least outwardly) more easily and have to do with our dealings with other human beings. No mention of the first four commandments having to do with one’s inward attitude towards God. Mostly, one might think, having to do with only having one God and not bowing down towards idols. What might this man’s idol be? I would say that you could infer that his great wealth is his great idol… one he is not willing to give up (or so we surmise from the text, we’re not actually told that he didn’t do it, just that he was sad to hear it).

I think this is one of those amazing examples where Jesus see’s directly into our hearts and sees what is actually stopping us from turning to him in faith. It’s not necessarily about ticking of boxes of what we can do right or wrong… but our attitude towards our Lord and Saviour and whether he comes before all things in our lives.

Thanks for the question, Suren. Would love to hear what other people have to add.


Hi Suren,
A curious topic on - “What is good?”.
Every individual till today has their own concept of ‘good’.
Jesus cuts to the chase by asking the rich man to reflect on what he defines as ‘good’.

Is the rich man’s goodness achieved by obeying the law only to the point of keeping himself pure? (It seems that there were six commands to be obeyed that lead to “good” in the eyes of this rich man).
This individualistic safe approach to faith that exists till today is that as long as I keep myself pure - I have a seat in heaven and I have eternity. (I don’t bother you so you don’t bother me and my faith is private).
This is like the Pharisees, who kept themselves pure, however, they criticized the others. (They were self-appointed law enforcers).
Yeshua indicates that we should aspire for more than this.

Yeshua now directs the rich man to think of the second greatest command - to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Yeshua asks the rich man to give his first love of money to the poor. This is what is ‘good’ as per God.
Yeshua points to the Only God indicating the Father is goodness personified. God gave____. God gave______ and God gave____. You can fill in the blanks here but always gave to and for others.
No one is good except God. This is not to say that Yeshua is not good. Yeshua points back to God, and doesn’t steal God’s glory.
Yeshua is the living word/breath of God personified who reveals the goodness of God to humanity. Yeshua can not steal but can only give the glory back to the Father- The ONE true God.
This is the true ‘goodness’ as practiced in the two new commandments given by Yeshua.


Hello Dennis!

Thank you for taking the time to answer , this has really helped and you explained it so well


Thank you ! I appreciate you taking the time to answer this has helped! :grin:

Thank you Philip !