What God Says About Anger in the Bible
The Bible warns us about anger in hundreds of verses
Doug Britton, MFT
This study is part of a series of free online studies on anger. It is adapted from Victory over Grumpiness, Irritation, and Anger.
Our anger usually is not righteous anger
Angry people usually justify their anger, saying it’s someone else’s fault they are angry. Yet the Bible repeatedly warns us against giving in to anger when we are upset by other people’s words or actions.
There is such a thing as righteous anger. And sometimes we need to talk about problems or deal with dangerous situations. (Even at these times, we must exercise self-control.) Yet most of the time, our anger is not righteous. As James wrote, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20).
When we give in to anger, we often focus on our own welfare, comfort or happiness. Instead, we should be primarily concerned about other people’s welfare and being a good witness for God.
As you can see in the following Scriptures, God does not want us to simply react emotionally to others’ actions. Instead, we should respond with wisdom and a gentle spirit.
Related: Identify when you get angry
Related: Antidotes to anger
Warnings about anger
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)
A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated. (Proverbs 14:16-17)
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)
A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day. (Proverbs 27:15)
Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. (Proverbs 29:8)
An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. (Proverbs 29:22)
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment … first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19)
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions. (Galatians 5:19-20)
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
Your anger grieves God
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31)
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
Overcome evil with good
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:26-32)
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:5)
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Jesus said to love your enemies, but that’s a hard thing to do. Read this free online Bible study on how to love your enemies for practical, life-giving tips.
Related: How to love your enemies
Pray to be patient and kind
A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:24)
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (Proverbs 15:18)
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27)
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. (Proverbs 20:22)
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
Related: More Bible studies on anger
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About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.