“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:1–4, KJV)
In Shakespeare’s play “Othello,” he referred to jealousy as the “Green Eyed Monster.” Why is jealousy a monster? It is because it can attack people and become a detrimental emotion that will produce bizarre and negative behaviors. It is generally something that we must guard against.
Though normally not the case, jealousy might have some positive influences as well if it would result in positive reactions. It would be positive if it worked to move one to protect someone from a wayward relationship. This is what Paul wrote here. He had a “godly jealousy” for the believers at Corinth.
The word translated as “jealousy,” zelos, we normally use in its transliterated form as zealously. He had a zeal for the believers in this congregation. The problem was that the false teachers were tempting them to stray from their pure devotion to Christ and follow a false teaching. The false teachers were preaching a doctrine that Paul marked as “another Jesus.” Thus, the idea of jealousy fits very well since this was a relationship issue. They were being lured to a relationship with a false savior. Paul was “jealous over them.”Here his use of the verb zeloo reveals the strong feelings that he had for them. His great concern was that they would somehow turn their hearts to another Jesus.
I remember one occasion as a pastor where one of our parishioners wandered off. This young believer just disappeared from our fellowship. After being gone for weeks, I sought some answers and discovered that this person had become enamored with a certain Bible preacher and began following him. I investigated this man’s teachings and discovered some strange and alarming things. Honestly, I understand how Paul felt to some extent. I was concerned for this parishioner, fearful that she would follow a false teaching. Fortunately, she began to question much of what she heard from this teacher and would contact me for my opinion. I did not give her an opinion but took her to the word of God. His word speaks for itself. The good news is that in time, she returned to the fold.
Jealousy normally results in bad responses. Yet “godly jealousy” will focus our hearts to the right direction. This “godly jealousy” should prompt us to take action to rescue people from straying in their pure devotion to the true Jesus and following a false savior.