We all get angry. We all know it can get ugly. So it’s no surprise that there are countless mentions of anger in the Bible! We’ve included seven verses on anger in the post, along with commentary from some of the major spiritual giants in Christianity.

These quotes are gathered from the Crossway Classic Commentaries Series.

VERSES
Psalm 37:8-9
Proverbs 29:11
Matthew 5:2
Ephesians 4:26-27
Colossians 3:8
1 Timothy 2:8
James 1:19-20

Theologians
Charles Spurgeon
Charles Bridges
J.C. Ryles
Charles Hodge
J.B. Lightfoot
John Calvin
Thomas Manton

Anger in the Bible – Psalm 37:8-9

Psalm 37:8

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37:8-9

Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Spurgeon

Verse 8

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Especially anger against the arrangements of Providence, and jealousies of the temporary pleasures of those who are so soon to be banished from all comfort. Since anger will try to keep us company, we must resolvedly forsake it. Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. Many who have indulged a grumbling disposition have at last come to sin, in order to gain their fancied rights. Beware of carping at others; study to be yourself found in the right way; and as you would dread outward sin, tremble at inward repining.”

Verse 9

“For evil-doers shall be cut off. Their death will be a penal judgment, not a gentle removal to a better state. But those that wait upon the Lord – those who in patient faith expect their portion in another life – they shall inherit the earth. Even in this life they have the most real enjoyment, and in the ages to come theirs shall be the glory and the triumph.”

Anger in the Bible – Proverbs 29:11

Proverbs 29:11

A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.

Proverbs 29:11

Charles Bridges’ thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Bridges

“Indeed the words of the fool, as an old expositor remarks, ‘are at the very door, so to speak, of his mind, which being always open, they readily fly abroad. But the words of the wise are buried in the inner recess of his mind, whence the coming out is more difficult’ (Cartwright). This is wisdom to be valued and cultivated.”

Anger in the Bible – Matthew 5:22

Matthew 5:22

But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:22

J.C. Ryles’ thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Ryles

“He expounds the sixth commandment. Many thought that they kept this part of God’s law so long as they did not commit actual murder. The Lord Jesus shows that its requirements go much further than this. It condemns all angry and passionate language, and especially when used without a cause. Let us mark this well. We may be perfectly innocent of taking life, and yet be guilty of breaking the sixth commandment!”

Anger in the Bible – Ephesians 4:26-27

Ephesians 4:26

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27

Charles Hodge’s thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Hodge

“His next exhortation refers to anger, about which he teaches that we are not to allow anger to be an occasion of sin; we are not to cherish it; we are not to give Satan any advantage over us when we are angry.

The words ‘In your anger do not sin’ are borrowed from the Septuagint version of Psalm 4:4 and can be interpreted in various ways.

1. The original text in Psalm 4:4 can be translated, ‘Rage and sin not’

I.e., ‘Do not sin by raging’; so the words of the apostle may mean, “Do not commit the sin of being angry.” To this it is objected that it makes the negative qualify both verbs, while it belongs only to the latter. It is not necessary to assume that the apostle uses these words in the precise sense of the original text, for the New Testament writers often give the sense of an Old Testament passage with a modification of the words, or they use the same words with a modification of the sense.

This is not properly a quotation; it is not cited as something the psalmist said, but the words are used to express Paul’s own idea. In Romans 10:18, ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth,’ we have the language of Psalm 19, but not an expression of the meaning of the psalmist.

2. Others make the first imperative in this clause permissive and the second commanding: ‘Be angry and (but) do not sin.’

3. Other say the first is conditional: ‘If angry, sin not’.

That is, do not sin in anger; do not let your anger be an occasion of sin; repress it and bring it under control, that it may not hurry you into the commission of sin. The meaning is the same as the expression ‘being angry, sin not.’ This is perhaps the most satisfactory view of the passage. It might be objected that the apostle is here speaking about sins, and that in verse 31 he forbids all anger; and therefore any interpretation which assumes that anger is not itself a sin is inadmissible. But it is certain that all anger is not sinful. Christ himself, it is said, regarded the perverse Jews ‘in anger’ (Mark 3:5).

The same generic feeling, if mingled with holy affections or in a holy mind, is virtuous; if mingled with malice, it is sinful. Both feelings, or both combinations of feeling, are expressed in Scripture by the term anger. Nothing in itself sinful can be attributed to God, but anger is attributed to him. Verse 31 is not inconsistent with this interpretation, for there the context shows that the apostle is speaking about malicious anger and not the hatred of evil.

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

The word angry here is ‘paroxysm’ or ‘excitement.’ Anger, even when justifiable, is not to be cherished. The wise man says, “Anger resides in the lap of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Do not give the devil a foothold.

Here give place to [as in the KJV – Ed. note] means to get out of the way of, to allow free scope to, and therefore to give an occasion or advantage to someone. We are neither to cherish anger, nor are we to allow Satan to take advantage of our being angry. Anger, when cherished, gives the tempter great power over us, as it furnishes a motive to yield to his evil suggestions. The word devil is translated by Luther as ‘slanderer.’ It is used as an adjective in that sense in 1 Timothy 3:11 (KJV), 2 Timothy 3:3, and Titus 2:3; but with the article (the devil) it always means Satan, the great accuser, the prince of the demons or fallen angels, who is the great opposer of God and seducer of men, against whose schemes we are commanded to be constantly on our guard.”

Anger in the Bible – Colossians 3:8

Colossians 3:8

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Colossians 3:8

J.B. Lightfoot’s thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Lightfoot

“All such things as these.

‘Not only those vices which have been named before (verse 5) but all vices, of whatever kind.’ The apostle accordingly goes on to specify sins of a wholly different type from those already mentioned, sins of uncharitableness, such as anger, rage, malice, and the like.

Anger, rage.

The one denotes a more or less settled feeling of hatred, the other a tumultuous outburst of passion.

Malice.

Or ‘malignity,’ as it may be translated in default of a better word. This is not (at least in the New Testament) vice generally, but the vicious nature which is bent on doing harm to others. This is clear from the context in which it comes in Romans 1:29, Ephesians 4:31, and Titus 3:3. So malice and sexual immorality (verse 5) (which frequently occur together, for example in 1 Corinthians 5:8) only differ insofar as the one denotes the vicious disposition, the other the active exercise of it.

Slander.

‘Evil speaking, railing, slandering,’ as, for example, in Romans 3:8; 14:16; 1 Corinthians 4:13; 10:30; Ephesians 4:31; Titus 3:2.”

Anger in the Bible – 1 Timothy 2:8

1 Timothy 2:8

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

1 Timothy 2:8

John Calvin’s thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Calvin

Without anger or disputing. Some think this refers to a sudden burst of indignation as when a conscience is at war with itself, and, as it were, is complaining to God, an event that usually happens when he is hardpressed by an enemy. We are annoyed with God that he does not immediately rescue us and are overcome with impatience. There are many assaults that shake our faith. When overwhelmed by doubts, with no apparent help from God, we wonder if he cares about us or wants to save us, and so on. People who interpret this verse like this think that disputing means the confusion of a doubting mind.

So, according to them, we should pray with a quiet conscience and unshakable confidence.

Other commentators, such as Chrysostom, believe that Paul means that our minds should be at peace with both God and men, and so we are free from anything that can disturb us, since nothing upsets sincere prayer as much as arguments and strife. This is why Christ also ordered that if anyone had an argument with his brother he should be reconciled with him before he brought his gift to the altar. ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift’ (Matthew 5:23-24).

I agree with both these interpretations, but from the context of these verses, I feel sure that Paul is referring to the arguments that erupted because the Jews were so upset to have Gentiles as their equals. So they questioned their calling and, in fact, rejected and excluded them from a share in God’s grace. So, Paul wants such divisions to be healed and all of God’s children, from whatever race or land, to pray together with one heart. However, we can derive general teaching from this particular situation.”

Anger in the Bible – James 1:19-20

James 1:19

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

Thomas Manton’s thoughts on this passage about anger in the Bible.

Anger in the Bible - Manton

“Renewed men should be slow to become angry.

You must understand this in the same way as the other clauses; so it implies that the Word must not be received or delivered with an angry heart. This concerns both listeners and teachers.

  • The teachers. They must be slow to anger in delivering the Word.
    • Do not let the Word stem from private anger. Spiritual weapons must not be used in your own cause. The Word is not committed to you for advancing your own interests but Christ’s.
    • Do not give yourselves over to your own passions and anger. People easily distinguish between this feigned thunder and divine threatenings.
  • The people. This teaches them to sit patiently under the Word. Do not rise up in arms against a just reproof. This is natural to us, but be slow to do it. Do not yield to your nature. Anger only reveals your own guilt. The children of God are meekest when the Word hits their hearts directly. Bless God for meeting with you in the Word.

Anger is curbed by delaying it. Be slow to become angry.

Anger does not grow by degrees, like other desires, but at birth she is full grown. ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience’ (Proverbs 19:11). Many men are like gunpowder. They ignite at the least offense. When people are quick to become angry, they dishonor God and wound their conscience. Later they are sad about the effects of their sudden anger. Athenodorus advised Augustus, when he was overtaken by anger, to repeat the alphabet. This advice was good, as it tended to cool a sudden rage, so that the mind, being distracted, might deliberate later on.

Thus, after Theodosius the Great had rashly massacred the citizens of Thessalonica, Ambrose advised him to decree that all people sentenced to death should have their execution deferred until the thirtieth day, so that there might be time for showing mercy if it was necessary. It is a description of God that he is ‘slow to become angry’; certainly a hasty spirit is most unlike God. Solomon says, ‘Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools’ (Ecclesiastes 7:9).”

Learn More with the Crossway Classic Commentaries Series

Crossway Classics Commentaries Set

The Crossway Classic Commentaries Series gathered commentary from some of the best intellectual and spiritual giants of the Christian tradition. Altogether, there are 26 volumes, covering 33 books of the Bible. With this collection, you’ll be able to easily learn from the best of the best while you study God’s Word.

Learn more about this set by visiting our store!

Write A Comment

Pin It