Jealousy and Envy II

Bible-verses-to-overcome-JealousyThis is a continuation of the topic we started last time.  If you haven’t already done so, please go back and read the last installment of this topic.  Last time, we talked the differences between envy and jealousy.  We also talked about how God is a jealous God.  We also discussed how his jealousy is not evil because there is no evil or darkness in God at all.  Therefore, it is my opinion, that this type of jealousy is really a byproduct  of love.  We also talked about how this is similar to a marriage where either someone or some thing is pulling one spouse away from the other and the other spouse can become jealous.  Finally, we talked about envy and how envy is always bad.  We talked briefly about James 3:16.

James 3:16  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 

A Tale of Two Words

We talked about the word being used for envy in this particular scripture was the Greek word zēlos.  Wherever you find zēlos, you are going to find these things:  confusion and every evil work.  Before we can continue, let us take a close look at this word and what it means.   Zēlos can have different meanings depending on the context of it’s usage.  This isn’t unusual.  We have many words like that in modern English.  Consider the word “Hot” as an example.  Look at the meaning in these three examples of common usage:

  1. “Be careful, that plate is really hot.”
  2. “I’ve never seen the boss this mad before. He’s really hot.  You better wait for him to cool down”.
  3. “She looks really hot in that dress.”

It’s the same word.  It’s spelled the same and yet we have three completely different meanings depending on the context in which it’s used.  The ancient Greeks did the same with their language and the word zēlos is one of those occasions.  Zēlos can be defined as envy, jealous, zeal, emulation, fervent mind and indignation.  the word can take on any of those meanings depending on the context of its use.

There is another word that is frequently used and that word is Phthonos. This word is always translated as envy in the New Testament. But this envy always has a sense of evil attached to it.  The Zēlos style of envy is fairly tame.  It simply wants what you have.  Phthonos on the other hand is not tame at all.  In the world of Phthonos, it isn’t good enough to simply desire what you have. Phthonos wants to strip what it desires from you so they have it and you do not.  They will do whatever it takes to get what they want including murder if they have to.  Before we move on, take a look at this verse from Proverbs.

Proverbs 14:30  A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones.

My friend, what is a sound heart?  In the Hebrew it describes it as medicine or as deliverance or as healed, cured or yielded.  This brings life to your flesh, life to your body.  This lines up completely with 3 John 1:2

3 John 1:2  Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 

As your soul begins to prosper, that life begins to flow outwardly into your body and other areas of your life. But what about the rest of Proverbs 14:30?

Proverbs 14:30  A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Notice, the writer doesn’t say “sin.”  He specifically mentions envy.  Envy sucks the very life out of you.  The destruction and decay of the bones brings death in all of it’s forms to your life.  Envy at first doesn’t seem bad, but remember what we read in James:

James 3:16  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 

As envy begins its negative work it partners with other things,  it begins to cloud your mind. Then as it becomes fueled by jealousy, there is no end to the evil that can be done.

To see how this works, you need to look no further than those supermodels of phthonos and zēlos, the Jewish leaders.

The gospels and the book of Acts are filled with examples, but we are going to just take a look at a few.  Please turn to Luke Chapter 6 verses 6-11.  Think about what we just read in Proverbs 14 and James 3 as you read the following in Luke.

Luke 6:6  And it happened, also on another sabbath, that He entered into the synagogue and taught. And there was a man whose right hand was withered.  And the scribes and Pharisees watched him to see if He would heal on the sabbath day, so that they might find an accusation against Him.  But He knew their thoughts and said to the man who had the withered hand, Rise up and stand in the middle. And he arose and stood.  Then Jesus said to them, I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil, to save life, or to destroy it?  And looking around on them all, He said to the man, Stretch out your hand! And he did so. And his hand was restored whole like the other.   And they were filled with madness, and talked with one another as to what they might do to Jesus.

Look at that last sentence once more. “And they were filled with madness, and talked with one another as to what they might do to Jesus. ”  That sure sounds like confusion and every evil work to me.  In the end, even Pilate could see what was going on. Both Matthew and Mark have recorded this about Pilate.

Mat 27:18  For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 

Mar 15:10  For he knew that the chief priests had delivered Him because of envy.

In both cases, the word translated as envy is phthonos.  As you may recall, this is the envy that will stop at nothing to get what you have.  But that’s not enough, they must also strip it away from you and if killing you achieves that, then so be it.  This is why they always confronted Jesus in public.  They could have met with him privately, but that wouldn’t achieve their goal.  They wanted to trip Jesus up and use his words against him in front of everyone.  This would tear him down and elevate themselves in the eyes of the people.  They were the great teachers of Israel, not this new guy (Jesus) and they had to prove that.  With their great knowledge, they thought they could outwit Jesus and shame him in front of everyone and the people would flock back to them and that would be the end of this Jesus character.  Unfortunately for them, Jesus knew their hearts and their plans failed and they ended up looking like childish fools.  This only caused more people to flock to Jesus and away from them.  Clearly, they were filled with jealousy because they were losing their position in the eyes of the people.  They were envious of Jesus’ miracles and his knowledge of scripture.  It was this envy, mixed with jealousy, strife and all sorts of evil that gave birth to this other form of envy (phthonos).  We can see this in John 11, right after Lazarus was raised from the dead.

John 11:45-53  Then many of the Jews who came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees gathered a sanhedrin, and said, What can we do? For this man does many miracles. If we let him alone this way, all will believe on him. And the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, Caiaphas, being the high priest of that year, said to them, You do not know anything at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation perish. And he did not speak this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for that nation only, but also that He should gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then from that day they took counsel together that they might kill Him.

There is a lot going on here, but I want us to focus in on verse 48.

John 11:48  If we let him alone this way, all will believe on him. And the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.

In the last installment I mentioned that our jealousy was related to fear.  Here is an example of that.  They were afraid that everyone would believe on Jesus and then they would lose their place (or position) and even their nation.  In order for them to retain these things, Jesus had to go.  But, it gets worse.  Not only did Jesus have to go, but his greatest miracle had to go also.

John 12:9-11  Then a great crowd of the Jews learned that He was there. And they did not come for Jesus’ sake only, but also that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.  But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death also,  because many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus because of him.

I probably don’t need to remind you of this, but I’m going to anyway.  Remember this?

James 3:16  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work

These religious leaders are supposed to be godly men.  But look where they end up because of their envy and jealousy.  Plotting to kill Jesus certainly qualifies as evil work.  But then they go for evil bonus points by plotting to kill Lazarus also.  Lazarus did NOTHING except die and Jesus brought him back to life.  Yet, by simply being alive, he was a walking, breathing testimony of God’s power that was working through Jesus’ ministry and conspicuously absent from theirs.  This was irrefutable evidence about Jesus,  and people were flocking to Jesus because of him.  So, he had to go also.  Fortunately, it seems that Lazarus escaped and later became a Bishop (overseer) over churches in another region (probably Cyprus or possibly France).

Later, in the book of Acts, we see similar patterns arise with the apostles.  We will take a look at that next time as we wrap up this important subject.  Until then, may God’s richest blessings be yours in Christ today.




Copyright (c) 2021 M. Unruh