What Does the Bible Say About Jealousy?

Here's what the Bible has to say about jealousy, and how we can all deal with emotions like envy and jealousy better using our faith in the Lord.


Jealousy can wear many jackets.

There can be jealousy in a relationship, but there can also be also jealousy in a friendship. Envy and jealousy can be applied to inanimate objects, wealth or money too.

At its root, jealousy is the desire for something (or someone) that we don’t have.

But is it wrong to feel jealousy, and is jealousy considered a sin in the eyes of the Lord?

The Bible has a lot to say about jealousy as an emotion that most of us think about in a lifetime. Many Biblical figures would feel jealous or envious in their time, as they were human just like everyone else.

Bible passages about insecurity, jealousy and envy are placed throughout the Old and New Testament.

Proverbs says that jealousy makes a man furious and vengeful, while Job says that giving in to jealousy can be our downfall.

The Lord Himself is called a jealous God in Exodus. Most Bible experts agree that this passage does not refer to the same type of jealousy we experience as humans, but instead is considered proof of His perfection above all else.

When there is jealousy, most of the Bible tells us that it’s okay to feel this human emotion – but it is whether we get stuck on this emotion that makes a difference.

What Does the Bible Say About Jealousy and Insecurity?

“If you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting or lying.”James 3:14

Jealousy and insecurity are normal human emotions, and references to both lie throughout Bible passages in the New and Old Testaments. We all feel jealousy and envy, but the Bible is clear about how living into these emotions can take away from our faith in God.

Proverbs tells us that jealousy can be the root of our fury, and make us act without mercy. Act out of anger or jealousy, and one cannot possibly live a fulfilled and happy life – or do unto others, as Jesus said we should all do.

“For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.”Proverbs 14:30

It is revenge and jealousy that inspires us to do things outside our nature, and outside what God might have had planned for our lives. The urge to take revenge isn’t always some grand gesture, but can be as small as making an angry status on social media, rather than turn to prayer or faith.

James tells us that bitter jealousy and selfish ambition has no place for a glorified life. He is clear when he says that those who feel jealousy and selfishness should not “cover up the truth with boasting or lying.” 

What Does the Bible Say About Jealousy in Relationships?

Just like Greek language translations of the Bible would define three different types of love between people, the Bible is clear about the different types of jealousy we might feel.

Corinthians speaks about love, and what relationships are meant to be in the eyes of the Lord.

One of the best passages in Corinthians tells us that love is patient and kind, but never boastful, envious or out of ego or pride.

Jealousy should not be in a loving, trusting relationship.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is selfless.

Any time jealousy rears its head in a relationship, talk about it, and talk to God about it. Overcome it, because true love does not envy as Corinthians tells us.

What Does the Bible Say About Jealousy KJV?

The KJV has a lot to say about jealousy and how it can affect our lives if we allow it.
A passage in Job tells us that anger can slay the foolish man, but jealousy kills the simple.

There is nothing good about jealousy or envy. Jealousy has begun wars and feuds, from Biblical times through to today. While jealousy doesn’t always kill, it can harm your spirit – and quickly leads us to other emotions, like selfishness or anger.

“For anger slays the foolish man, and jealousy kills the simple.”Job 5:2

The KJV has a lot to say about jealousy and how it can affect our lives if we allow it.
A passage in Job tells us that anger can slay the foolish man, but jealousy kills the simple.

Proverbs asks, who can stand before jealousy? The same passage also mentions anger and fury as emotions that jealousy can inhibit.

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”Proverbs 27:4

If you are content in God’s plan for you, jealousy has much less of an impact on your life, relationships or thoughts.

What Does the Bible Say About Envy?

Envy is a different emotion than jealousy, even though the two are very close to the same. When we feel envious, we start to want and covet the things we don’t have (but someone else might).

Feelings of jealousy invokes revenge, but envy inspires us to act out in other ways that are not in line with a fulfilled life. Envy makes us desire, and sometimes it can make us want to build success on the backs of other people.

If we go back to Proverbs, it tells us that a heart at peace is life for the body, but envy is what rots the bones.

The meaning of this passage is not just literal, but also refers to the effect that envy could have on our spirit. An envious soul cannot live their life in full light of the Lord.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”Proverbs 14:30

Ecclesiastes is another part of the Bible that talks about envy and the impact it has. This specific passage talks about achievements that are the result of sheer envy – and it called as meaningless as chasing after the wind.

“And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”Ecclesiastes 4:4

The Bible tells us that envy is not a useful emotion that will bring us forward in life, or closer to fulfilment in God.

Examples of Jealousy in the Bible

The Bible is filled with examples of jealousy and envy.

Biblical figures were, like us, subject to normal lives and emotions. It helps to show us that emotions like jealousy are things we all feel, but that not everyone chooses to act or obsess over a jealous thought.

When we act on jealousy, it leads to unfortunate consequences. Jealousy leads to mistrust, fear, hatred, anger, war and a life further away from the Lord.

One of the first examples of jealousy occurs in Genesis, and it says that they “could not speak peacefully to him.

” Jealousy, in this particular example, led to hatred between brothers. “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.”Genesis 37:4

The Bible also mentions in certain passages that people were envious of Jesus in His time. In the book of Mark, the envy that people felt for Jesus would be one of the reasons why they would give Him up in a time of need.

“It was out of envy that they handed Jesus over.”Mark 15:10

We cannot act out of jealousy and kindness at the same time.

Even though envy and jealousy is something that many of us feel in our daily lives, it does not mean we should act on this thought.

Types of Jealousy in the Bible

The Bible defines four different types of love in the Greek translations.

Stoge, Philia, Eros and Agape.

Each type of love the Bible mentions is reserved for a different type of love we feel. Storge is empathetic towards people, while Philia is the love between close friends. Eros is the love we feel in romance, and Agape is unconditional, undying love that God can provide us.

Just like there are different types of love to think about, there are also different types of jealousy throughout the Bible.

Jealousy can be aimed at desire for someone’s life or something they have. But jealousy can also happen in relationships and friendships.

The Bible distinguishes between jealousy and envy as two separate emotions.

The dictionary definitions of each jealousy and envy makes it easier to see why.

Envy means to desire someone else’s advantage, whether it is being envious of their life, or envious of their car. Jealousy, by comparison, means to be apprehensive of rivalship.

Jealousy comes from ego, when we do not want to be bettered or try to “keep up” with what others have.

The Bible also goes on to show us that if you have God’s love, there is no need to be jealous or envious of any material things.

Consequences of Jealousy in the Bible

The Bible shows us several good examples of jealousy and envy as it happens to other people. Simultaneously, the Bible also shows us the possible consequences of jealousy or envy and what happens when these feelings are allowed to dominate our actions or thoughts.

In Mark, it is feelings of jealousy that causes men to give Jesus up in His time of need. In Genesis, we see how jealousy corrupts love and friendship between brothers.

The Bible goes on to tell us that jealousy can slay, or cause us to harm or want to hurt others. Jealousy can trigger other emotions for which we should keep no place in our minds or hearts.

There are more examples of jealousy in the Bible, just as we see examples of anger or people who lost their faith. Jealousy, Proverbs mentions, can turn into an urge for revenge – and in essence, destruction of life and love.

How Does the Bible Deal with Jealousy?

The Bible doesn’t only give us some good examples of jealousy, but also gives us several passages that tell us how to deal with jealousy when it happens. Emotion is human, and it’s something that we will all experience – but this, the Bible says, does not mean we should act on jealous feelings.
One of the most important Bible verses about jealousy appears in the Song of Songs.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.”Song of Songs 8:6

The passage says, simply, that jealousy is one of the emotions that we can overcome through our faith in the Lord. A life in God makes jealousy and envy powerless.

Philippians also speaks of jealousy and another related emotion, vanity. The passage encourages us to act with selflessness at all times, instead of through jealousy or self-promotion.

When we act for others instead of ourselves, we value them as the Lord says we should.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.”Philippians 2:3

While it is never good to be boastful or vain, Galatians tells us that we should take pride in the positive things we have achieved through the Lord. If we each see the things we have done through our lives, it is easier to focus on what we can do rather than what others have done.

“Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else.”Galatians 6:4

Is Jealousy a Sin in the Bible?

Jealousy is an emotion like all others, and it is human to have a jealous or envious thought fly through our minds at times. However, the Bible makes it clear that obsession or action is where a fleeting thought becomes problematic for someone’s faith.

It is when one gets stuck on jealous thoughts, feelings or actions that it can lead us to sin.

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