Original Publication Date
May 17, 2023
May 18, 2023 2:41 AM
Literary Devices
Bible References
Genesis 3; Genesis 11; Genesis 37-50; Amos 4; Isaiah 47; Daniel 6; Esther; John 11
Table of Contents


Irony is when reality is revealed to be the opposite of what we expect. There are three major types of irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic. Verbal irony is when someone says something that differs from what they actually mean. Situational irony occurs when a person’s action result in the opposite of what they desired. Dramatic irony is when a person is deprived of a critical piece of information the governs their storyline.[1][2]

Pop Culture Examples

Common Phrases that Exemplify Irony

  • “Don’t everybody speak at once” (in a quiet room)
  • “Nice weather we’re having” (during a storm, heat wave, etc.)

Irony in Movies

  • In Finding Nemo, Marlon is a clownfish that isn’t funny. Also, Marlon sounds like marlin, which is a type of fish that Marlon is not.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora believes she’s in love with the stranger she meets in the wood and is then depressed because she is told that she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, because she does not know the stranger she met is Prince Phillip.

Biblical Examples

Verbal Irony

In Genesis 3 the serpent tells Eve if she eats the fruit she will become like God; however Eve is already made in the image of God. He also tells her she will not die; the death Eve experiences that day is a spiritual death instead of a literal death, but Eve is removed from access to the Tree of Life which leads to an eventual death. With God’s grace, however, a second chance is given to all and the possibility of eternal life with Him exists. Eve perceived Satan to mean that she would not experience death as a consequence of disobeying God; however, what Satan actually meant when he said it is unclear.

📖 Passage
💬 Example
Genesis 3
The serpent’s speech: “You will not surely die” and “You will be like God.”
Amos 4:4-5
God condemns Israel’s behavior; this condemnation is followed by the verbal irony of God telling them to continue in sin while they present sacrifices which is the opposite of what He actually wants
Isaiah 47:12-13
The Israelites are “encouraged” to practice sorcery—which is condemned elsewhere in the Bible. This is followed by a strong reproach for the people doing this, showing that what is desired is the opposite (not partaking in sorcery).

Situational Irony

In Daniel 6, people try to get Daniel in trouble by convincing Darius to pass a law making it illegal to pray or worship any god other than the king. Their desire stems from jealously that Daniel was performing better than them. Getting Daniel in trouble does not cause Darius to look down on Daniel—in fact he is extremely distraught at having to punish one of his favorite people. In the end, not only does YHWH save Daniel but Darius puts the men who set Daniel up in the lion’s den and passes a decree acknowledging the sovereignty of Daniel’s God.

📖 Passage
💬 Example
Daniel 6
The men try to harm Daniel by creating a decree to get him in trouble because of their jealousy; Daniel comes out unscathed with even more respect and they end up dying in the fate they attempted to have for Daniel
Genesis 11
At the Tower of Babel, people joined together to “outsmart” God (their exact goal being that He could not scatter them). However, God divides them by confusing their language, and then scatters them. They ended up in the exact position they were trying to avoid
Genesis 37-50
Joseph’s brother’s sell him in to slavery because he was the favored son. One of the things that bothered them was his dream that they bowed to him. Yet, by selling him, they put him on the path to become the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt (and thus the world), which fulfilled the vision he had received.

Dramatic Irony

In Esther, Haman is asked to describe how the king should acknowledge or so appreciation for a man. Haman thinks he is the one who will be rewarded to he describes things he wants. It turns out the king is actually preparing to honor Mordecai, a man Haman despises, and Haman is tasked with carrying out the request.

📖 Passage
💬 Example
The reader and the king know that Mordecai is being celebrated but Haman does not; thus Haman sets himself up to pamper his sworn enemy
John 11:46-53
The Jewish leaders plot to kill Yeshua because they believe killing Him will save the nation. We know that He had to die for the sin of the world and this is actually His mission, but we also know that by killing Him they have sealed the destruction of Israel (the opposite of what they want). This is both dramatic irony (because we know things they do not) and situational irony (because the opposite of what they want occurs).


  1. Raymond Malewitz. “What is Irony? | Definitions and Examples”. Oregon State University; visited May 2023
  2. Irony”. Literary Devices; visited May 2023

Other Relevant Posts

Bible Studies


Literary Devices



Literary Devices


Bible Studies

Genesis 3; Exodus 12-20; Esther
Poetic Justice
Genesis 19; 25; 27; 29; Exodus 1; 11; Esther