The Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

There is a difference between jealousy and envy.

Jealousy is the emotion that comes when you lose someone’s affections that rightly belong to you.  If my wife left me for another man, I would be jealous of that man.

Envy is the emotion that comes when you want someone’s affections that don’t belong to you.  If I wanted another man’s wife, I would be envious of that man.

The Bible describes God as jealous. Jealousy is intrinsic to his character (Exodus 34:14).  God becomes jealous when we give our first affections to another instead of to Him.  Our affections rightly belong to God.

God is never described as envious.

The jealousy of God can only be genuine if we are freely able to do things that God does not prefer – such as giving our first affections to another.  If exhaustive determinism is true, God cannot be jealous.

The Hebrew word for jealousy is “kanah“.  God is El Kanah.

Kanah is also translated as zealous (Isaiah 9:7).  In the New Testament, the Zealots (kananaios) were those who were willing to die to free Israel from Rome.  One of Jesus’ disciples was a  Zealot.

God’s jealousy is like that.  God’s jealousy is a catalyst to action.

Jesus Christ was willing to die to save us all from sin.

Why?  He’s a jealous God.

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6 Comments

Filed under jealousy

6 responses to “The Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

  1. Most excellent reasoning!

  2. Thanks for that clear explanation of the difference between jealousy and envy and I am glad that our God who is worthy of all our worship is a jealous God.

  3. An excellent contrast between the two.
    And you make a very good point when you say the following:

    “The jealousy of God can only be genuine if we are freely able to do things that God does not prefer – such as giving our first affections to another. If exhaustive determinism is true, God cannot be jealous.”

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