Jealousy: doubtless the root idea of both the Greek and the Hebrew ‘jealousy’ is ‘warmth, ‘heat.’ Both are used in a good and a bad sense – to represent right and wrong passion.

When jealousy is attributed to God, the word is used in a good sense. The language is, of course, anthropomorphic(attributing a human characteristic to divinity); and it is based upon the feeling in a husband or wife for exclusive loyalty of ones partner. God is conceived as having wedded Israel to Himself, and as claiming, therefore, primary devotion. Disloyalty on the part of Israel is represented as adultery, and as provoking God to Jealousy. See, e.g., Deut 32:16,21; 1 King 14:22; Ps 78:58; Ezek 8:3; 16: 38, 42; 23:25; 36:5; 38:19.

When jealousy is attributed to people, the sense is sometimes good, and sometimes bad. In the good sense, it refers to an ardent concern for God’s honour. See, e.g., Nu 25:11 (cf. 1 Kings 19:10; 2 K 10:6); 2 Cor 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.(NKJ) (cf. Ro 10:2). In the bad sense, it is found in Acts 7:9; Ro 13:13; 1 Cor 3:3; 2 Cor 12:20; Jas 3:14, 16. [1]


The desire for exclusive devotion. This is one aspect related to God “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:” (Exod 34:14). When we have given our exclusive loyalty to another we desire to have that loyalty returned ; the greater the depth of love the more intense we crave its exclusivity. Now God loves even the wicked, so the issue is not feeling only love for one person but one person’s ultimate loyalty above all others – “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). Ultimate loyalty extended craves ultimate loyalty in return. In this, jealousy is not sin.

The demand for exclusive devotion. This demand is only reserved for God for he is perfect and only He can perfectly apply this rule as an expectation of His children. But even here you do not see God as demanding as one would think – (see the beseeching attitude toward us His children Ro 12:1; 15:30; 1 Cor 1;10; 2 Cor 5:20; 6:1; Eph 4:1; 1 Thess 4:1; Heb 13:19; 1 Pet 2:11). Human jealousy that demands exclusivity (retaliates when one’s loyalty is in question) is sinful. The emotional desire for exclusivity should not govern one to control another for personal gratification. Where then is the life of sacrifice on behalf of another’s

good if we react only from our own fear of loosing that exclusivity?

Phil 2:3-7

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.


The element of fear in jealousy. First, fear is not of the LORD, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (I Jn 4:18). Perfect in love means I am perfect in setting my mind to love not allowing my emotions to demand I be loved with the same intensity. [2] However there is three reasons why one should have jealousy fear :

-because I distrust my ability to love exclusively, I suspect the same is for the one whom I love.

-the one I love does not show appreciation of the importance of loyalty; the person reacts against exclusivity, not wanting to be owned, therefore showing more independence than mutuality.

-the one jealous in an unhealthy way fears other peoples ability to better his love and thus be robbed because of personally perceived inadequacies ; someone is more romantic than I am, more attractive, richer, and therefore may be more appealing to my love.

These aspects can only be dealt with be prayer and commitment. Communicating how you feel about this jealously to your loved one is good, however the expectation is often high that the loved one will understand and accommodate one’s jealously. A prison is being built once one person feels obliged to minimise the other’s jealous feelings, this approach more often increases the level of jealously and distrust ; every little thing becomes major.

The first step is to acknowledge that only God, in Christ Jesus, can give you the level of security in a loving relationship. No human being can grow to love one who demands exclusiveness. No human can give trusting love to one who is so insecure as to distrust motives. Yes, one may be abandoned by a loved one, yet if this is the case that loved one’s loyalty was not there to start with, and it is better to discover dead love than live with artificial love. The one with unhealthy jealousy must confess to God for exercising the right that is exclusively God’s, for God is the only perfect one to perfectly expect exclusive love. Then one should make confession to his love about the sinfulness in retaliating unlovingly because of weakness and insecurity. Reaffirm your love and personal loyalty to your loved one – faithfulness. Tell God you choose to be like Christ in loving without demanding reciprocation. It is here that God begins to work divine love into the jealous persons heart and free the other party to the freedom of love.


[1] E.J. Forrester, submission to The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, reprint 1983; page 1572

[2] Also when we know the perfectness of God’s love for us we loose fear, especially in the affairs of life where God is sovereign, knowing God’s love is ultimate passion (Ro 8:31-39).

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