Anger and the Christian Walk

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Most erroneously believe that the Bible condemns both anger and judgment, and have little basis for understanding biblical love or zeal. A walk that honors God comes through a heart that can express both anger (Eph 4:26) and zeal (Tit 2:14). As we shall see, those who cannot or will not express righteous anger are unbalanced in the fruit of the Spirit. Righteous anger is an aspect of the love of Christ

Sound Doctrine, Balance, and A Spiritually Healthy Walk

Sound doctrine is biblical teaching that leads to a balanced and spiritually healthy walk. The outcome of sound doctrine is holy living (1 Pet 1:15). Scripture commands both righteous anger and zeal. Yet, further study is needed to determine a spiritual application of this truth, and the difference between the righteous anger we are commanded (Gk., orge), and anger that originates from our immaterial “flesh” or sin nature (Gk., parorgismos).

BE angry (orge), and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (parorgismos), and do not give the devil an opportunity. Eph 4:26

Our God is a God of love who has done the utmost to provide love, joy, and peace to a world enslaved to sin and death. The world knows of the Church’s teachings of love, yet it has never experienced or understood it. The world’s concept of love is “give to get.” The world’s tolerance of sin is that it “is ok as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” The purity of a genuine love that comes from God hates and departs from sin and evil, and clings to what is good (Rom 12:9; 1 Thess 5:21; 2 Tim 2:19; Job 28:28; Ps 34:14; 37:27, 101:4; Prov 16:17).

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord… Rom 12:9-11

The Christian walk must be firmly founded upon God’s word. Walking in His will and light regarding anger and zeal requires an understanding of God’s definition of these terms in Scripture, apart from current cultural/ societal norms, standards, and morals. In a pluralistic society, strong emotions are never ok to be expressed except towards those (like “Hater Christians”) who do not follow society’s dictates as to what is “tolerant” or “fair.” Being His shining light into a world that hates God and loves its sin, requires more than a placid, lukewarm and worldly Laodicean approach (Rev 3:14-22).

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is …   Eph 5:15-17

The key is spiritual balance; for us to walk in God’s will, doing things in God’s way. The example for our walk is Christ Jesus, who exhibited both great zeal for the Father’s will and work, and anger at those who denied His honor and glory. In a postmodern society, “where everyone does what is right in their own eyes,” man is quick to substitute his own righteousness and truth for the eternal God who created and redeemed us (Rom 10:2). The so-called “righteousness of man” is culturally and socially acceptable. The righteousness and light that is of God exposes the darkness of sin. An inability to express righteous anger or zeal for God’s honor and glory exhibits a heart that is less than sincere, genuine, or wholesome.

Ryrie explains the foundation of biblical truth for balanced and healthy spiritual living.

The Bible must be the guide and test for all of our experiences in the spiritual life, for biblical spirituality is the only genuine spirituality. The practical importance of this is simply that all experiences of the spiritual life must be tested by biblical truth, and if any experience, no matter how real it may have been, fails to pass that test, it must be discarded… By (genuine or) wholesome I mean balanced. There is nothing more devastating to the practice of spiritual living than an imbalance. One of my former teachers repeatedly reminded us that an imbalance in theology was the same as doctrinal insanity. The same applies to the realm of Christian living.[1]

Main Point: Thesis of “Anger and the Christian Walk”

  1. The fruit of the Spirit is a ninefold expression of the love, character, and life of Christ. Mistakenly, many believers view this fruit as passive.
  2. Righteous anger and zeal are applications of His love towards God and man. Lovers of God are concerned about sin, and His honor and glory. Lovers of God desire to please Him and to walk according to His will. Love is concerned with sin because sin is self-destructive. Christian love is making the health, happiness and well-being of another just as important as your own (Matt 22:39-40).
  3. Righteous anger may result in rebuke or the shining of light into the sin of another, but the desire is for the “good” of love, peace, and joy (and an experience of all the rest of the fruit that is Him).

Our Example is Christ

God does not honor all zeal. Most anger that is expressed by Christians comes from the immaterial flesh or sin nature. Only Scripture and the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit can delineate the differences in our understanding so that we can walk and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our example is Christ (John 13:15; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 John 2:6). Vine states:”The ideal Christian life is an extension of the life of the Lord Jesus; the things that in the days of His flesh He manifested in His own way among men, He manifests now by the power of His Spirit in the lives of His people.”[2]

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps… 1 Pet 2:21

For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. John 13:15

… the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.              1 John 2:6

Jesus Exhibited Anger

The tense of the Greek words used in our Scripture below indicate that the look of anger was momentary. Jesus’ anger was tempered by His grief at the hardness of their hearts. “Grieved” is in a present tense meaning that His grief at their sins was continuous. As we shall see, orge anger is a form of anger, that if no sinful element enters into it, can be expressed in a righteous manner.

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Get up and come forward!’ And He said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger (orge), grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.   Mark 3:1-6

Other examples of the righteous orge anger of Jesus may be seen in the two times he cleansed the temple (John 2:13-17; Matt 21:12-13), at the beginning and end of His ministry, and His rebuke of the Pharisees (Matt 23:13-29).

Source of Righteousness in Our Christian Walk

As believers, we have been declared righteous by the Father. This righteousness is due to our position of being “in Christ.” At salvation, the Holy Spirit baptized and sealed us into Christ creating an inseparable union that nothing can tear apart. As a result of this union, all believers currently possess the life of Christ, which is the eternal life of God. We have been saved from the penalty of sin.

Due to this union in Christ, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. We are no longer slaves to sin. Our participation in His death frees us from slavery to the Old man and sin. We are now free to choose how we will walk as believers. This walk of faith is a walk in fellowship with God in His light, life, and Spirit. By faith, we choose to deny the sinful, immaterial flesh and put on the life of Christ through the power of the Spirit and the Word. As we continue to walk and grow by grace into the likeness of Jesus, we will experience sanctification or experiential righteousness. We are being saved from the power of sin.

“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”   Eph 4:18-24

The character, behavior, and fruit we display in our walk depend upon the source; whether our heart and its thoughts and actions are of the Spirit or the immaterial “flesh.” It is the life we chose to live through our hearts that determines whether our anger or zeal is godly or sinful. This is why Paul states in Galatians:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.   Gal 2:20

The life we live out of our hearts is not ours, but Christ’s. The Spirit enables us to access His life, which indwells the heart, and it is that life we live. If our goal and intended outcome is the life of Christ, we must know what His life entailed. The most succinct expression of the life of Christ is Galatians 5:22-23. The clearest expression of anger and zeal, the subject of our study, should be found in Him. As we examine the scriptures regarding righteous anger and zeal, we will see that the source of each is found in Christ’s character – the fruit of the Spirit – which is the goal of a walk that honors God and brings Him glory.

Be Angry and Do Not Sin

Ephesians 4:26 is one place in the Bible where believers are commanded to be angry. The second half of verse must be explained, however, for the Scripture to be of practical use. Notice in the scripture below that there are two Greek words that are used to indicate anger or wrath: orge and parorgismos. The third Greek word for anger or wrath, (Gk., thumos) may be found in Eph 4:31.

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. BE angry (Gk., orge), and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Gk., parorgismos), and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Eph 4:25-28

Three Words for “Anger” in the Greek New Testament

Wuest defines the three Greek terms for anger.

  • Thumos speaks of a turbulent commotion, the boiling agitation of the feelings, passion, anger … boiling up and soon subsiding, which is forbidden in Ephesians 4: 31.
  • Parorgismos, also translated “anger” in 4: 26 in the NASB, is also forbidden. It refers to anger that is accompanied by irritation, exasperation, embitterment.
  • Orge is an anger that is an abiding, moderate, and settled habit of the mind that is aroused under certain conditions. (It is) not operative at all times… but exhibiting itself as a sudden outburst of anger that cools off quickly when the occasion demands it. This is the anger spoken of in the words, “be angry.” [3]

Anger as a Righteous Passion

In this section, Wuest quotes from Trench regarding the righteousness of the orge anger of Eph 4:26. Trench indicates that a spiritually healthy soul should, when the occasion is warranted, express anger moderated by reason. One unable to express this type of anger is in a low moral condition; yet, one who is hot-headed is fleshly. Balance should be brought by the Spirit, which is seen in the life of Christ.

Believers Bible Commentary states that, “…it is right to be angry in God’s cause, but never in one’s own.” Horrible incidents of brutality, murder, or rape, whether they happen to me or others, can all be seen as an affront to God’s will and desire. Jesus was not provoked by words or action taken against Himself. His activity was oriented to the honor, glory, will, and work of the Father. He was about the Father’s business. He tells us that we “are not of the world,” and should expect similar treatment and share His sufferings.

Trench states: “Under certain conditions, orge (anger) is a righteous passion to entertain.

  • The command to “be angry” tells us not to be apathetic. The Scripture has nothing in common with the Stoic’s absolute condemnation of anger… (or any other strong emotion).
  • This orge anger is a moderation, and not a suppression, of the passions given to man. According to Plutarch, the passions were given to man as winds to fill the sails of his soul.

When guided by reason, anger is a right affection, so the Scripture permits it, and not only permits, but on … occasion demands it….

  • There is a ‘wrath of God’ (Matt. 3: 7, Rom. 12: 19); who would not love good unless He hated evil, the two being so inseparable, that either He must do both or neither.
  • A wrath also of the merciful Son of Man (Mk. 3: 5) A wrath which righteous men not merely may, but, as they are righteous, must feel; nor can there be a surer or sadder token of an utterly prostrate moral condition than… not being able to be angry with sin- and sinners.

‘Anger,’ says Fuller, ‘is one of the sinews (strength, energy, power, muscle) of the soul.’

  • He that wants to be filled with anger is obsessed with power and must be brought to a halt. Nor is it good to even converse with one who cannot be angry.’
  • ‘The passions of one’s soul, as another has said, ‘are not like poisonous plants to be eradicated, but as wild (plants), to be cultivated (directed, and influenced by the Spirit).‘ “[4]

How Sin Enters into Righteous Anger

The appearance of irritation, exasperation, or indignation into a settled and righteous orge anger signals a transition to sin. Wuest explains:

Paul is not therefore, as so many understand him, condescending to human weakness, and saying, ‘Your anger shall not be imputed to you as sin, if you put it away before nightfall.’ Paul is telling us ‘Be angry, yet in this anger of yours allow no sinful element to enter. A parorgismos anger that is typified by irritation, exasperation, frustration, or embitterment must be dismissed at once. Orge anger must be purified of the parorgismos irritation and bitterness, so that the anger which remains is righteous.

Righteous anger, and the action that comes from it, is based upon an abiding continual attitude of righteous indignation against sin.

The words, ‘be angry,’ are a present imperative in the Greek text, commanding a continuous action. This orge anger, an abiding, settled attitude of righteous indignation against sin and sinful things, is commanded, together with the appropriate actions when conditions make them necessary; however, the exhortation ‘and sin not,’ is provided as a check and restraint. It may be properly translated, ‘Be angry, yet stop sinning.

Expositors says:  ‘A righteous anger is acknowledged in Scripture as something that the obedient must perform, and is seen in Christ Himself (Mk. 3: 5).

Paul speaks here of an anger that is commanded (orge), while in ‘and sin not’ he forbids only a particular form or measure of anger (parorgismos). As the following clause suggests, even a righteous wrath by overindulgence may pass too easily into sin.’

In the words, ‘ … do not the sun go down upon your anger,’ the word ‘anger’ is parorgismos, anger that is mingled with irritation, exasperation, and embitterment. Such anger is forbidden. In Ephesians 6: 4, ‘Provoke to anger’ is parorgizo, the verbal form of parorgismos. This kind of anger is forbidden, and if indulged in must be checked and surrendered without delay.” [5]

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger (parorgizo), but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.   Eph 6:45

Positive Commands vs. Sinful Anger – Eph 4:29-32

Sin grieves the Holy Spirit as it interferes with His ministry to the believer of enabling power to live the life of Christ.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath (thumos), and anger (orge), and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Eph 4:29-32

Believers are to get rid of these six vices: bitterness (pikria), rage (thymos), anger (orgê), clamor (kraugê), slander (blasphêmia), and malice (kakia). Several of these vices are also listed in Colossians 3: 8.

Anger” is orge, the word used in 4: 26 of legitimate anger, namely, righteous indignation or a settled feeling of anger. But here, Vincent says: ‘What is commanded in verse 26 is here forbidden, because (it is) viewed simply on the side of human passion (as opposed to righteous indignation).’ ”

The source of orge anger in Eph 4:31 is the immaterial “flesh.” This anger is not an abiding, moderate, or settled righteous indignation. It is fueled by sin and selfishness, and is a transgression to God’s holy nature.

There are three positive commands. One specifically involves a fruit of the Spirit (kindness). Kindness would include the operation of other aspects of the ninefold fruit such as the three graces related to ourselves: self-control, meekness or humility, and faithfulness. The three commands are:

  • Be kind (chrêstoi), lit., “what is suitable or fitting to a need”;
  • Be compassionate (eusplanchnoi); used elsewhere in the NT only in 1 Peter 3: 8; cf. (splanchnois), “inner emotions of affection,” in 2 Cor. 6: 12; 7: 15; Phil. 1: 8; 2: 1; Col. 3: 12; Phile. 7, 12, 20; 1 John 3: 17;
  • Be forgiving (“being gracious,” charizomenoi), the participle from the verb charizomai, “to give freely” or “to give graciously as a favor”.The reason for these positive commands is that in Christ God is kind (Eph. 2: 7), compassionate (Mark 1: 41), and gracious (Rom. 8: 32) to believers. [6]

Selfish Anger Opposes the Working of the Word

Receptivity to the Word, responsiveness to the Word, and resignation to the Word are essential to spiritual growth. One must accept God’s Word, act on it, and abide by it...” [7]

The apostle James stresses doing of the Word, as opposed to hearing only, in James 1:22-25.  The focus in James 1:19-21 is upon listening to and receiving the Word.

The reception of the Word demands a readiness “to listen.” Reluctance at this point will block the acceptance of truth. It also demands restrained speech. A continual talker cannot hear what anyone else says and by the same token will not hear when God speaks to him. Finally, the restraint of anger is demanded. Anger will close the mind to God’s truth.[8]

The context of this Scripture in James is in the teaching and instruction of the Word we must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (orge); for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:19

In an argument the one who is listening rather than creating clamor and strife is the one who is slow to anger. An angry attitude is not the atmosphere in which righteousness flourishes. The seed of the Word, whose fruit is righteousness, is sown into the hearts of believers in peace, not anger or argumentation. This Scripture does not negate anger as an expression of righteousness and love to God, when in the course of relation or circumstance it is validated by the Spirit. The context of the exhortation is we should be slow to anger when being instructed in the Word. An environment of anger is not the climate conducive of the seed of the word being implanted into hearts, nor producing its fruit of righteousness.

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18

Other Scriptures Regarding Sinful Anger


Anger is a common aspect of the character of unbelievers. Their denial and hatred of God forms a center or pattern in the emotional aspect of the heart that is driven by the life of the sin nature.

Rom 1:18-31 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, … they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

Ecc 7:9 Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools. [A fool is one who says in his heart there is no God (Ps 14:1).]


A angry or hot-tempered man is unbalanced, unrighteous, and lives prominently out of the sin nature. Fleshly anger, in addition to the other listed sins, grieves the Holy Spirit and is not of God or the life of Christ. The descriptions given in these verses have nothing to do with the fruit of the Spirit.

Prov 22:24 Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man …

Prov 27:4 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?

Prov 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot- tempered man abounds in transgression.

Gal 5:19-21a Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy (zelos), outbursts of anger (thumos), disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…

Eph 4:30-31 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath (thumos) and anger (orge) and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Col 3:8-9 But now you also, put them all aside: anger (orge), wrath (thumos), malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…

1 Tim 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.   (Orge anger and arguments interfere with prayer)

Fruit of the Spirit

Continuing to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ is both the goal and outcome of spiritual maturity. Paul states that our call is to live, “not my life but His.” A concise statement of the character of Christ, exhibited during His walk of the first advent, is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Much can be gained from an in-depth study of the meanings of each of the terms used to describe the ninefold fruit that is the love of Christ Jesus.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love (Gk., agape), joy (charis), peace (eirene), patience (makrothumia), kindness (chrestotes), goodness (agathosune), faithfulness (pistuo), gentleness (prautes), self-control (egkrateia); against such things there is no law.   Gal 5:22-23

The following sections on the fruit of the Spirit are from Vine.

Inasmuch as man sustains a threefold relation to the universe, i.e., to God, to the world, and to himself, ‘instruction in righteousness’ necessarily falls into three categories; cp. Titus 2:12, ‘we should live soberly [in ourselves], and righteously [in relation to others], and godly [in relation to God] in this present age.’ It may be that a similar division is intended here (in our study of the ninefold fruit of the Spirit), and in that case the first three are Godward, the second three are manward, and the remaining three are internal graces of the Spirit.

Fruit of the Spirit in Relation to God

The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” begetting love in our hearts in return. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  (Because of this),  we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” and we “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Romans 5:1–5.


  • Love               Affectionate Regard, Self-Sacrificial Act of the Will
  • Joy                 Joy, Mirth, Gladness of Heart
  • Peace              Quietness, Tranquility, Calm, Lack of Strife

Fruit of the Spirit in Relation to Man

The selfishness of men, their pride, self-will and ambition, make it inevitable that they should impose a strain upon those with whom they are brought into contact…  Hence it is to long-suffering the first place is assigned in the triplet that prescribes the Christian’s relation to his fellows. Kindness and goodness follow, for it is not enough that one should merely bear with others (and he must not forget that others have to bear with him), he is called to active beneficence, to do good to all men after the pattern of Christ.


  • Patience          Long-Suffering, Forbearance, Self-Restraint (Towards People)
  • Kindness         Fairness, Moderation
  • Goodness       Good Deed, Grace, Rebuke, Admonish

Fruit of the Spirit in Relation to Self

The final triplet is composed of those personal virtues which are to be cultivated in the heart for their own sake; they describe what the believer should be in himself apart from any question of his relations with other people. And though these are mentioned last yet is it certain that on their vigor the manifestation of the Godward and manward graces that precede them in the list will largely depend.” [7]


  • Faithfulness   Truth, Godliness, Piety, Reverence, Assurance, Confidence
  • Gentleness     Gentleness, Meekness, Moderation, Humility
  • Self-Control   Contentedness, Sober

Expression of the Fruit of the Spirit in Righteous Anger

Differing expressions of the love of Jesus is seen through the ninefold fruit of the Spirit. Jesus’ loving character, which is the “normal” spiritual life of the believer. includes goodness (agathosune), gentleness (prautes), and self-control (egkrateia). The interplay of these three graces is present in righteous anger, and the spiritual ability to not sin (Eph 4:26). All three graces require the interaction of other aspects of the fruit of the spirit to work properly. As we discuss these virtues in more detail, we must remember that each one is an expression of love that finds its source in God.

Goodness in Action

Goodness (agathosune) is ‘goodness in action.’ It is more than kindness (chrestotes). (Chrestotes is a grace that pervades the whole nature – mellowing all which would be harsh or austere. Chrestotes has the harmlessness of a dove, but not the wisdom of the serpent which agathosune shows in sharpness and rebuke.) Goodness (agathosune) is character energized expressing itself in active good. Goodness does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others. A person may display his agathosune, a zeal for goodness and truth, in rebuking, correcting, or chastising (Rom 15:14; Eph 5:9-10, 15-16; 2 Thess 1:11).” [8]

Trench, following Jerome, distinguishes between chrestotes and agathosune in that the former describes the kindlier aspects of “goodness,” the latter includes also the sterner qualities by which doing “good” to others is not necessarily by gentle means.[9]

The synonym for agathosune goodness is “good deed” or grace. Its antonym would be evil, malice, iniquity, and wickedness. [10]

An example of the action of agathosune goodness would be Jesus’ cleansing of the temple at the beginning and end of His ministry (John 2:13-17; Matt 21:13) and His denunciation of the Pharisiees (Matt 23:13-29).

He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”

Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;

But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight,

And a good blessing will come upon them… Prov 24:24-25

Gentle Balance and Moderation of Power

Vine states that, “Meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest.”

Prautes is meekness, but not in a man’s outward behavior only…, nor his… natural disposition. Rather, it is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the expressions of it are primarily toward God (James 1:21; 3:13; 1 Pet. 3:15; Sept.:Ps. 45:4). It is that attitude of spirit we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.

According to Aristotle, praútēs is the middle standing between two extremes: getting angry without reason, and not getting angry at all. It would be correct to say therefore, praútēs is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason. Praútēs is not readily expressed in English (since the term “meekness” suggests weakness), but it is a condition of mind and heart that demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.

Its synonyms are moderation, gentleness, and humility. Its antonyms are explosive anger (thumos), exasperation, irritation, or indignation (parorgismos), and disposition to sinful anger (orge). “[11]

Self-Control Over Our Disposition

Vine states that the foundation of the other fruit begins with self-control. The motivation of self-control is a desire to please the Lord. Fear of God or reverence (in self-control expressed by the denial of sin) is the negative side of this desire to please Him, whereas faith is the positive side. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10; Ps 111:10), yet without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6). Gentleness is power under control.

In the past, the Greek term enkrateia was translated as “temperance.” This gives the false indication that the direction of control is in the one area of drunkenness. It implies the ability to deny sin in reverence to God.

Vine clarifies the definition of self-control in the following: “the various powers bestowed by God upon man are capable of abuse; the right use demands the controlling power of the will under the operation of the Spirit of God.”

In the exposition of Tit 2:6 Vine states the following regarding a synonym of self-control or “sober minded.” “It is translated “be ye of sound mind,” and this broader meaning is the significance in the present passage. The word expresses the exercise of self-control. Self-restraint is the special need of youth. To gain and retain the mastery over the tendency to indulge in what is (injurious) to moral and spiritual welfare, requires that self-control which is consistent with walking in the fear of God.” ” [12]

Summary of the Fruit of the Spirit and Righteous Anger

The Scripture in Ephesians below relates the source of the fruit as Light. Attributes of God include goodness, righteousness, and truth. Light that is of God exposes sin. As we have seen, the function of goodness is to invoke the good by the stern measures of “rebuke “or “admonish” (1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 1:13; 2:15; Rev. 3:19).

Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…   Eph 5:7-11

Righteous anger led Christ to rebuke the Pharisees and cleanse the temple. His love for God, truth, and holiness led Him through agathosune goodness to rebuke the Pharisees and money changers. The situations are similar. It is love for the truth, honor, and glory of the Father that motivates Jesus. He takes a stand against the evil words and deeds of the moneychangers as well as the false shepherds who were fleecing the sheep and leading them to their death.

The three graces associated with ourselves, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, must be spiritually operational. This foundation of the fruit of the Spirit and its expression into our lives lie with our choices. We must continue to walk in faith and separate from sin. We must allow the power of the Spirit to show us the sin and darkness in our own hearts. As we become filled with the life of Christ, we become disciples and servants of the Living God. Self-control ensures separation from sin. Gentleness brings balance into our heart, and relations with others as it is humility and strength under control. Gentleness or meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness or self-interest.

In our relations with men, our fruit choices are patience, kindness, or goodness.  The Spirit will lead us to choose how best to relate to others in this circumstance: long-suffering, kindness, or the exhortation and showing of the good they will miss out on through their choices of self or sin. All service comes from God’s love. Each part of the ninefold fruit is an aspect of His love.

If righteous anger is validated by the Spirit, then love becomes an act of the will which we do in faith. Gentleness ensures that exactly the right amount of energy and power is exerted. Self-control, kindness and goodness operate to ensure that the intended outcome is for good and not the hurting of another. Love aggressively, convict humbly.


The life of Christ is love and light. Light illuminates and shows the reality of character and deeds. His love is not blind. His love is truth and an act of will through which we serve God and others. “Live and let live,” the cultural view of love that is infesting the church, is indifference. “Love the sinner and hate the sin” is the world’s version of love, i.e. “If you love me you will ignore my behavior.” Love is concerned with sin because sin is self-destructive. Christian love is making the health, happiness and well-being of another just as important as your own (Matt 22:39-40). We should never love at the expense of truth (2 John 1:1). Love aggressively, convict with truth humbly.

The fruit of the Spirit is a ninefold expression of the love, character, and life of Christ. Many believers mistakenly view the fruit as passive. The thesis of this study is that righteous anger and zeal are applications of His love towards God and man. Lovers of God are concerned about sin, and His honor and glory. Lovers of God desire to please Him and to walk according to His will. Righteous anger may result in rebuke or the shining of light into the sin of another, but the desire is for the “good” of love, peace, and joy (and an experience of all the rest of the fruit that is Him). We should love Him such that we express and walk in all the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit including the one that the world despises – goodness or agathosune.

As believers, we long and pray for the day when His name will be known and worshipped throughout the earth, and peace and righteousness reign. Only a believer with a deadened soul could see and experience what is happening in the world today and not feel a righteous anger at those who arrogantly advance the enemy’s program.

That righteous anger can be an expression of God’s love is a surprising statement in today’s postmodern worldview of tolerance and fairness as supreme virtues. Just as fear is an aspect of the love of a believer who cares enough about God that he turns away from anything that would displease God – righteous anger can also be an expression of love. Indifference, not anger, is the opposite of love. Indifference that leaves a loved one in their sin for fear of accusations of being judgmental borders on hatred.

Today’s post-modern society advocates that all truth is subjective, relative, and culture-based. The world hates God, fears death, and loves its sin. It seeks to confine God and Christians into a moral box of “tolerance and being fair.” For them, following God in hating sin, and clinging to good is not acceptable. The Christian can either go-along compromising with the world and those who advocate its views, or decide to shine light into darkness. This is where we will begin to experience persecution, sharing the sufferings of Christ in our homes and families, churches, workplace, and country. Marantha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!


[1] Ryrie, Charles C., (1994-10-09), Balancing the Christian Life: 25th Anniversary Edition,

Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, Kindle Edition, page 9.

[2] Vine, W. E. (1996). Collected Writings of W.E. Vine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Gal 5:23.

[3] Wuest, Kenneth, (1997), Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI:

Eerdman’s Publishers, Ephesians 4:26.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Walvoord, John, Zuck, Roy, (1985), Bible Knowledge Commentary, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, James 1:19.

[8] Gaebelein, Frank, (General Editor), (1982), Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Zonndervan Publishers, James 1:19.

[9]  Vine, W. E., (1996), Collected Writings of W.E. Vine, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Gal 5:22-23.

[10] Baker, Warren, Zodhiates, Spiros, (1992), Complete Word Study Bible, Chattanooga, TN: AMG

Publishers, “Goodness,” Gk., agathosune., Gal 5:22-23.

[11] Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and

   New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 274). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

[12] Baker, Warren, Zodhiates, Spiros, (1992), Complete Word Study Bible, Chattanooga, TN: AMG

Publishers, “Goodness,” Gk., agathosune., Gal 5:22-23.

[13] Ibid., “Gentleness, meekness,” Gk., prautes., Gal 5:22-23.

[14] Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and

   New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 620). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.