I have a question on Ephesians 4:26. Most versions say be angry and sin not. NIV says in your anger do not sin, Weymouth translation says if angry be aware of sinning, And the Living Bible says If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge.

In light of verses around verse 26 is all about personal sin. Paul implies that this would give foothold to the Devil not to get over it quickly. I’ve heard that by people means it’s OK to be angry for a time not too long. I’ve heard compared to Jesus being angry in righteousness. But it doesn’t seem to equate my mind I wonder how you understand this verse.

– J.



Thank you for your inquiry about Ephesians 4:26. Many have pondered the meaning of this verse.

A common interpretation is that “Be angry, and sin not” means “Don’t get angry, but since you probably will anyway, get right with the people you’re angry with before you go to bed.” This is often applied to husbands and wives. But this interpretation misses the imperative Be angry. The imperative, however, is in the passive voice. The idea is to allow yourself to become angry (for the right cause).

There is a time to become angry. The Bible speaks of the wrath of God against sin. Jesus showed anger when He dealt with those who were financially scalping people who had come to the temple to offer sacrifices, and had thus turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves. The cleansing of the temple occurred at the end of Christ’s ministry recorded in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). But the Gospel of John records a similar event at the beginning of Christ’s ministry. This record provides an important clue to righteous anger.

“And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:13-16).

Notice the descriptive phrase when he had made a scourge of small cords. This detail informs us that Jesus made a whip of small ropes. This took time and planning. Therefore, the anger Jesus showed that day was not an uncontrolled eruption of anger, but controlled intentional anger.

There is a proper place to show anger. My dad, in a sermon, said that in child training you needed discernment in dealing with different types of issues. Mischievousness was one thing, but character issues such as lying were quite another. He said that if one of the kids was caught lying, even if it seemed small, it really wasn’t, because it was a character issue. So he and my mom agreed ahead of time that if this happened they would respond as if the world were coming to an end. In other words they chose to show anger to emphasize the gravity of the sin of lying.

Grave matters should be addressed with the appropriate emotional deportment. Thus, allow yourself to become angry, staying under the influence of the Spirit, and in so doing, address the sin issue before it is lost in other affairs of life. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26).

Obviously, sinless anger demands walking in the Spirit. Walking in the flesh can only produce the works of the flesh involving carnal outbursts of anger. Fleshly anger is a real problem. But it is possible, when you by faith trust in the reality that your new man is righteous (see Eph. 4:24, just two verses prior to the verse in question) and is joined to the Holy Spirit, to respond with righteous anger.


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