We all encounter situations that might trigger a surge of emotions, causing us to clench our fists and tighten our jaws. These moments can challenge us, but the key lies in how we navigate through them with God. As we explore anger in the Bible together, remember it’s not about never having or experiencing anger. It’s about what we do with our anger.
Therefore, it’s not about suppressing our anger. Instead, we have the opportunity to channel that energy towards God—shifting our focus from ourselves or those who may have wronged us. Redirecting our anger to the One who understands the depth of our emotions allows us to find healing and grace in those challenging moments.
By the way, what if I told you your feelings aren’t inherently bad or sinful? You don’t need to fear or suppress them. They can be a guide. If you’re interested, I have a free 3-day study on living by faith while processing emotions. Check it out here!
What is the Biblical Root of Anger
Anger is an emotion that develops in response to threats or stressors. It begins with us feeling a certain way because we see, hear, or think about something in particular that we do not like.
The definition of “anger” is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
In the New Testament, which was written in Greek, there are a few words used to convey the concept of anger. The primary Greek word for anger is “ὀργή” (orgē). This term is often used to describe the emotional state of anger or wrath. Anger in the Bible appears in various contexts throughout the New Testament, including passages that address human anger and the wrath of God.
For example, in Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV), the word “ὀργή” is used:
“‘In your anger (ὀργή) do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
It’s worth noting that the Bible also uses other related words to describe anger or wrath, such as “θυμός” (thumos) and “ὀργίζω” (orgizō), each with slightly different nuances. However, “ὀργή” is the most commonly used term for anger in the New Testament.
Where is Anger Discussed in the Bible
You can find anger in the Bible in many different passages and verses.
Below are a few examples.
“Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV): 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.”
In this passage, the apostle Paul acknowledges that anger is a natural emotion but emphasizes the importance of handling it in a way that does not lead to sin. The instruction not to let the sun go down on your anger suggests a call for timely resolution and reconciliation, preventing unresolved anger from festering.
Another relevant passage is James 1:19-20 (ESV):
“James 1:19-20 (ESV): 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Here, James encourages believers to be slow to anger, recognizing that human anger does not align with the righteousness of God. The emphasis is on patience and self-control when faced with situations that might provoke anger.
These passages, among others in the Bible, provide guidance on how to approach and manage anger in a way that is consistent with Christian principles.
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What Does the Bible Say About Anger
We all feel anger, and it’s okay not to hide it or push it away, as our emotions don’t just disappear – they stay with us. Anger in the Bible is always addressed and never hidden. But we have a choice – instead of letting anger turn into revenge or cutting off connections, we can hand it over to God, like swapping something heavy for something peaceful.
It can look like this: “God, I give You my need for revenge and the hate in my heart. In return, I want peace that’s even better than O can understand. I’m letting go of that is weighing me down and giving it to You.”
Choosing to let go of anger and turn to God is a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel good. James 1:19-20 says we should listen more, talk less, and not get angry quickly because our human anger doesn’t do the good things God wants.
Verse 21 says we should get rid of the bad stuff and accept God’s words that can save us. It’s like trading the bad for the good.
Knowing the difference between good anger and bad anger is important. Both types of anger are in the bible. Bad anger is about our own hurt, but good anger is about standing against bad things without being selfish. We should make sure our actions are guided by God’s love.
Think about anger that comes from seeing something wrong about God or His Word – that’s okay. Ephesians 4:26-27 says feeling angry is normal, but we shouldn’t let it be what controls us. We’re told not to let anger last too long and not to give the devil a chance by holding onto it.
I know this isn’t always easy, but our strength comes from obeying. Let’s deal with our anger by turning to God. Exchange the heavy feelings for peace, righteousness, and love. It’s a better way to live.
Example of Sinful Anger in the Bible
Fleshly anger keeps us in bondage and thinking that our way of doing things is the best way. We want to take matters into our own hands and correct what was wrong. It’s destructive, aggressive, and often carries a lot of unforgiveness. Fleshly anger gives birth to resentment, which can give birth to bitterness.
For reference, let’s look at Matthew 5:21-23, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Through this passage, we can see there is a fine line between anger and sin. Jesus is not saying never to get angry; He doesn’t command us not to get angry. It would be impossible not ever to be angry. Instead, we have to be able to differentiate between anger as an emotion versus the behavioral response to anger. Aggression describes the behavioral reaction of anger (rage).
Example of Righteous Anger in the Bible
“Righteous anger” in the Bible refers to a type of justified and moral anger. This type is often associated with God’s anger, provoked by injustice, sin, and disobedience. In this context, God’s wrath is righteous because of its aim: correcting wrongs and restoring justice and righteousness. This anger is neither petty nor selfish but instead is purposeful, always aimed at reinforcing moral order and good.
The Bible acknowledges righteous anger but also cautions that it’s challenging for human anger to be genuinely righteous because of our inherent fallibility and sinfulness. The expectation is to strive to respond with patience, understanding, and love, even when confronting injustice or wrongdoing, which James encourages us of in James 1:19-20, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
One example people often refer to with righteous anger is when Jesus flipped the tables. We read about this in Matthew 21:12-13, “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
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3 Ways to Walk Through Anger with God
Three practical ways we can work through our anger are by walking, talking with someone, and moving our bodies.
Know that when we feel anger, it’s a real, physical thing within us—a feeling the Bible talks about. It comes with a rush of adrenaline, and it’s important to find a good way to let that energy out. Instead of letting it out through quick words, think about putting it into something healthy, like moving around, following the Bible’s advice on handling anger.
Doing exercise is a kind way to deal with anger with God, just like the Bible teaches. Moving, breathing, and focusing on your breath helps distract you from the stuff that makes you upset. Taking breaks from thinking about things that make you mad, along with some physical activity, can really help, following the Bible’s wisdom about not letting anger control your actions.
Deal with anger by talking to someone you trust, as the Bible suggests. Share your feelings with friends, counselors, or mentors so you don’t have to do this alone, and reflect on what the Bible says about helping each other. Also, taking time for yourself is okay. It’s not about being alone for a long time, but sometimes being by yourself, like Jesus did, helps you find comfort in God.
Remember, when dealing with anger, Jesus is with you. Take action to steer your anger in a positive direction, following the Bible’s teachings to keep it from taking over your actions and feelings.
Scriptures of Anger in the Bible
These verses provide additional insights into the biblical teachings on anger, highlighting the importance of patience, self-control, and forgiveness in managing and overcoming anger. Anger in the Bible is spread throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Proverbs 14:29 (ESV): “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
Proverbs 15:1 (ESV): “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Colossians 3:8 (ESV): “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Proverbs 19:11 (ESV): “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
James 4:1-2 (ESV): “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV): “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”