What Does The Bible Teach About Rage? A Christian Study

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What does the Bible say about rage? How can we help to avoid it?

What is Rage?

Before I even turned to a dictionary I would say that rage is an uncontrollable anger that results in someone temporarily losing control, risking great harm to themselves, to others, and to personal property. Rage can lead to fury or violent anger that is displayed publically or privately. When someone is said to “go off into a rage,” that’s not the best time to ask them a favor.  It’s best to avoid a person who’s in a fit of rage because it’s like trying to break up a dog fight; they could turn on you!  Rage is described as the behavior of the ungodly and it’s a fruit of the flesh from which nothing good ever comes.  Someone who displays fruits of the flesh like “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Gal 5:20-21a) but Paul warns, “as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21b). Someone that is easily provoked into a fit of rage had better examine themselves to see if they are actually in the faith because they should be showing fruits such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23a).  Rage is nearly the opposite of self-control, wouldn’t you say?

What Does The Bible Teach About Rage

Righteous Indignation

When people criticize the Bible, they might say that Jesus lost His temper and made a whip, whipping both man and animal, but that’s not the truth.  Jesus had righteous indignation because they were making the holy temple of God into a den of thieves (Luke 19:46).  Jesus had every right as Lord to cleanse the temple.  That’s the same righteous indignation that we can have if we see a child being abused or an elderly person being robbed.  There’s nothing wrong with anger if it’s something that God is angry with but that doesn’t mean we go into a rage.  That’s contrary to biblical doctrine because we must leave vengeance to God (Rom 12:19).  God gives us permission to “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph 4:26-27). That doesn’t mean you have to get over it by sundown but just don’t let it linger because it can fester and grow.  Do all you can possibly do about whatever it is you’re angry about and then leave it alone because God will hold everyone accountable for what they do in their life.  Trust Him.  They are not accountable to us on the Day of Judgment (Heb 9:27; Rev 20:12-15).

Help Control Rage

The Bible is brim full of practical advice for the Christian to abstain from anger and rage.  In James 1:19-20 it says, “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.”  That’s it!  Slow down.  Speak little. Listen much.  For sure, our anger is not like God’s righteous anger.   The psalmist understood this and so wrote, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (Psalm 37:8).  If you listen to Paul’s advice, he is putting it into the perspective of a sovereign God that we can trust and so we are to “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom 12:17) and “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18) and by all means, “never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19).  Paul even turns our anger issues on its head and writes “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:20-21).

Being a Peacemaker

Can you see, in this ever increasing short fuse, how a peacemaker is needed?  Unknown to me at the time, someone showed me that I was being a peacemaker by trying to calm down both parties and make them see the issue as the problem and not the two people who had the differences.  Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9) but one way to be a peacemaker and dampen the anger issues is that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1). Have you ever heard an argument before?  Did you notice how each person kept turning up the volume?  In one I witnessed, their increasing volumes only added fuel to the fire and things quickly escalated to the point of pushing and shoving.  At that moment I was thinking, “That’s how people get shot!”  Thankfully, it didn’t come to that as a couple of their friends interceded on their behalf and they spoke in softer tones, trying to calm everyone down.  It worked!  A soft answer did turn away the wrath because the harsh words were stirring up anger rather quickly.


One way to turn away from wrath or anger is to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44) and when we do, we are more like our Father in heaven (Matt 5:45) because Jesus died for us while we were still wicked and ungodly people (Rom 5:6, 10), being enemies of God (Rom 5:8), but God turned His wrath away from us and placed it on His own Son instead, so “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph 4:31).  Think of it the way Solomon thought of it; “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov 16:32).

Related reading for you: Can A Christian be Angry and Not Sin?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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