Anger: According to the Bible – John Boruff

Elymas Struck Blind by Paul

Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness! Will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord (Acts 13:8-12, NASB).

I have examined three articles on “Anger” from various Bible dictionaries: Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, and the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915 edition). The reason why I have done this is because sometimes I express what I believe to be righteous anger against sin, and am misunderstood as sinning in this. There are some Christian teachers out there who teach, by quoting various Bible verses, that all forms of anger are a sin, or that only God is allowed to express anger, because only He is without sin. Philo (d. 50 A.D.) seems to have been the first to blend Old Testament teaching on anger with Greek Stoicism, maintaining that a perfect being cannot express any anger. Without quoting a profuse amount of Bible verses to you, I refer you to click on the Bible dictionaries for references. But below, I will summarize the teaching of the Bible on anger, as clearly as I can…

(1) God’s Anger is always righteous–and is a patient, but fierce response to sin.

(2) Man’s Anger comes in two categories–unrighteous anger and righteous anger.

(a) Unrighteous Anger is without reason, excessive, or drawn out; it is the usual way that humans express anger; it is thoughtless, impatient, and unrestrained; it causes conflicts, gets people into trouble, and should be avoided. Jesus warns that hateful expressions of anger, through insults, put men in danger of God’s judgment (Matthew 5:22); it is a selfish, vindictive, self-justifying anger, driven by personal revenge.

(b) Righteous Anger is rare, and often misunderstood, because it is only experienced by godly Christians…it is an emotion of displeasure on account of something evil that presents itself to our view…it is not sinful. So long as it is couched in careful thought, patience, and restraint–and is only directed at sin–it may be called righteous. It becomes necessary when speaking out truthfully against sin, but the anger should be quickly expressed, quickly ended, and short-lived. Godly people may react to expressions of sin in the same way that God does–in a desire to see repentance–but not a desire of personal vengeance, revenge, or a childish “getting back” at someone. Jesus gives us the best example of how to express righteous anger (Matthew 23:1-36; Mark 3:5; 11:15-17; John 2:13-17).


About John Boruff

John Boruff is a husband, father, blogger, and insurance agent.
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