Does God have emotions?

by Matt Slick

Yes, God has emotions. Of course, when we say that God has emotions, we are saying that He has emotions like we do. We have to understand that what we are seeing in Scripture is God relating to us in terms we can understand - and this includes God having emotions. This is anthropomorphism - God manifesting to us in ways that we can understand. So, we can say yes, God has emotions. He has revealed them to us in the Bible.

But, the emotions that God has our perfect and without fault, without sin, and are always appropriate. Since we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), then we to have emotions. However, because we are affected by sin, our emotional expression is often accompanied by improper motives. Therefore, we very often misuse our emotional ability. For example, we could be unrighteously angry with someone. We could desire to have what someone else has and so covet. Emotions are good because they're created by God. But our emotions are touched by sin, where God's emotions are not.

Let’s take a look at some of the emotions that God displays.

  • God gets angry
    • "Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against His people And He abhorred His inheritance," (Psalm 106:40).
    • On this account the anger of the LORD has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. For all this His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out," (Isaiah 5:25).
  • God loves
    • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
    • "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8).
  • God hates
    • "The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity." (Psalm 5:5).
    • “The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates,” (Psalm 11:5).
  • God has compassion
    • “But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city,” (Genesis 19:16).
    • "And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion," (Exodus 33:19).
  • God grieves
    • “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart,” (Genesis 6:6).
    • "But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them," (Isaiah 63:10).
  • God expresses joy
    • "...Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10).
    • “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy," (Zephaniah 3:17).
  • God rejoices
    • “For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you. And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you,” (Isaiah 62:5).
    • “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying," (Isaiah 65:19).

So, does God have emotions? Absolutely, yes He does.

Impassibility of God

The impassibility of God deals with whether or not He is emotionally affected by our actions? In other words, does God experience pain-and-suffering based on what we do, right and wrong? Christian theologians have debated this for many years. But from the above Scriptures, we can state, for example, in Genesis 6:6 that God was sorry that He had made man that He was grieved. Why would God be grieved? It is because of the sinful actions of people.

But we have to be careful and not just assume that God is grieved in the same way we are. God is completely different from us and His emotions, that are revealed in Scripture, are perfect and holy. They are tied to His glorious nature. But since God knows all things from all eternity, how then can He grieve over something He always knew would happen? Or, since He grieves can we say that it is painful for God? Or, is God's grief different from ours?  Questions like this and others are the fodder of many discussions. It is not the intention of this article to answer them here.




About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.