There are two aspects of jealousy in the Bible, one bad, the other good. Jealousy in the bad sense is envy – the feeling of resentment or hate that people have towards those who have more influence, power, ability, status, fame or possessions than they (Gen 30:1; 37:11; 1 Sam 18:8-9; Job 5:2; Ps 106:16; Matt 27:18; Acts 5:17; 1 John 3:12). Such jealousy is a characteristic of sinful human nature, but the Spirit of Christ and the power of love in a person’s life can overcome it (Prov 27:4; Rom 13:13-14; 1 Cor 13:4; Gal 5:21; James 3:14-16).

Jealousy in the good sense is the desire a person has for the well-being of someone he or she loves. It is a desire so strong that it demands faithfulness and opposes all that would tempt to unfaithfulness (Num 5:12-15; Prov 6:32-35). This is what the Bible means when it speaks of God being jealous for his people. He desires their faithfulness and has a deep concern for their well-being (Exod 20:4-5; Deut 6:15; Josh 24:19; Ps 78:58; Zech 1:14; 1 Cor 10:21-22; James 4:5). Likewise the godly leader who is concerned for the spiritual progress of God’s people may speak of himself as being jealous for them (2 Cor 11:2). In the same way the person who is concerned to uphold the honour of God’s name is jealous for God (1 Kings 19:10; Ezek 39:25). Jealousy may therefore include the idea of zeal for all that is right and opposition to all that is wrong (Num 25:11-13; Deut 4:24; Nahum 1:2; John 2:17; 2 Cor 7:11).

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