Why Does the Bible Say God is Jealous?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God, but isn’t jealousy bad? Then why is it okay for God to be jealous?


The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God, but isn’t jealousy bad? Then why is it okay for God to be jealous? What exactly is jealousy? To be jealous is to have a feeling of resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages and being resentful because of another’s success, advantage. A better definition is to feel deprived of your rightful place when someone less receives what you think you deserve. If I placed my greatest affections on someone other than my wife, then I could see her being jealous. Why would she be jealous? Because that’s her place! She deserves to have top billing in my life…right here during my earthly existence (and she does, by the way). If she were hanging out with some single man, I’d be jealous too, because we are married. Of course, we have both been faithful, but I am only making the point that if we let anyone else be placed as a highly priority than God, then He will be jealous. And by the way, we will suffer for it.

Toxic Jealousy

Jealousy can also refer to thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and can include such emotions as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness or disgust. Humanly speaking, jealously doesn’t really do us much good. In fact, God says that it is sin to us, but it has its good side too. Your date might love thinking your jealous over them because they realize that you show you care about them. If someone has no jealousy at all when someone is dating or showing affection to their spouse, then something is seriously wrong! But then we must also think of the harm done to so many because of jealousy, like when Joseph’s “brothers were jealous of him” and that jealousy led to their selling him into slavery (Gen 37:11). Jealously didn’t help the Apostle Paul much because “when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him” (Acts 13:45). He would suffer beatings more than once because of the Jews jealousy.

Jealousy and strife just seem to go together 1 Cor 3:3), as do “jealousy and selfish ambition” (James 3:16). Jealousy is listed among the carnal sins of the flesh and of those who will perish (Gal 5:20). Look at how jealousy ranks in the sins of the flesh…and what is second on this list? It is “quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (2 Cor 12:20). That’s one bad group to be associated with.


Christian Tips and Advice for Newlyweds

If my wife and if I were never jealous of other men or women we came into contact with before we were married, I think the strength of our love for one another would not have been sufficient for us to remain married for life. Of course I trust my wife and she trusts me, but if you are dating someone steady and they start to show greater affection for someone else, and you’re not jealous of that attention, then it shows you really don’t care that much. Jealousy, in the right place, time or situation shows your love for the other person. Of course, it can become a problem, but the absence of ever being jealous of someone you love is a sign that the relationship probably won’t work.

When It’s Okay to Be Jealous

Not only is it good that God is jealous over us and where our priorities are , the Apostle Paul says that even He can “feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2). Why was Paul jealous?  They were not placing God above all, but others, spiritual gifts, and so on. Anything or anyone else that is placed above God is not only idolatry, but it puts that something or someone on a pedestal when only God deserves to be there. One of the commandments is “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Ex 20:5). It is later expanded with, “you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)” (Ex 34:14). Here part of God’s name is a proper noun, Jealous! So this kind of jealousy is not sin, but anyone or anything we put above God will result in our chastisement.

The Word says, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut 4:24). This is why, even today, we should “not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Deut 5:9), whether we bow the knee to our spouse, our children, our job, money, sports, shopping or anything or anyone else.  There is none greater than God and no person or no thing can ever be greater and more worthy of our praise, adoration and worship.


If you have ever thought of jealousy as bad, well, it is bad for the most part, but jealousy shows a care and concern and an affection for someone, but miss-placed jealousy can ruin relationships, destroy marriages and cause mistrust all the way around. Beyond all this, my highest priority in all my writings is to ensure that you will escape the wrath of God (Rom 2). That is why I pray that you put your trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ, right here and now. If you have not done so yet, then Jesus Christ will not be your Savior…He will be your Judge. Please do not turn away from Him today. That will prevent you from entering into the Kingdom of God for all time (Matt 7:21-23). My dear friend, I plead with you at the moment you read this, repent today and put your trust in Jesus Christ. If you refuse, God’s judgment will surely come after death (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whatever occurs first.

Here is some related reading for you: Bible Verses About Jealousy: 20 Important Quotes

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How to turn your sermon into clips

Share the truth

Previous post:

Next post: