The existence of emotions is undeniable, but it is also particularly hard to define with words. We respond to what we think, to what others think of us, to reality and fantasy, and to the things we experience throughout our lives, with feelings that we call emotions. These feelings are felt in the body, but also they seem to transcend the body and mind; they are something we experience with our soul, or spirit. God does not have a body like ours (1 John 1:5; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Revelation 1:14–15) or a mind like ours (Isaiah 55:8–9; Numbers 23:19). However, the Bible makes it clear that God is an emotional being, who feels and responds with emotions.
Does God have emotions?
Some of the emotions that God feels include love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3) and hate (Proverbs 6:16; Psalm 5:5; 11:5), jealousy (Exodus 20:5; Joshua 24:19) and joy (Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 32:41). He feels grief (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40) and He also laughs (Psalm 2:4; 37:13: Proverbs 1:26). His heart is moved by compassion (Psalm 135:14; Judges 2:18; Deuteronomy 32:36).
Do these emotions correspond exactly to human emotions? In other words, is God feeling exactly what we feel? It is more accurate to understand human emotions as a reflection of God's emotions. In other words, what we feel is an "image" of what He feels, just as we are made "in His image" (Genesis 1:27). God, as Creator, made us according to what already existed within Himself. In order to create a being with sentience, who could feel pleasure, understand humor, cry, be jealous, or feel compassion, He had to make us emotional creatures—creatures who were a reflection of Himself, a God who has emotions.
Sometimes our emotions go wrong because of sin (Jeremiah 17:9), but God's emotions are never wrong, because He is sinless. Jesus felt all the strength of temptation, just as we do, but He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is "the exact imprint of [God's] nature" (Hebrews 1:3) and this is proof that God has emotions. Jesus lamented over Israel's rejection (Matthew 23:37–39) and He wept because of the pain caused by death (John 11:33–35). He felt compassion for the spiritually lost (Mark 6:34) and for those who were simply tired and hungry (Matthew 15:32). In anticipation of the cross, Jesus' sorrow became so great that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Most fascinating of all, while He was on the cross, Jesus cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was one with the Father (John 10:30; 14:9), so He knew exactly why God had to forsake Him. But Jesus still cried out the question. This shows that even the very human conflict between emotion and reason is something that God can and has experienced.
Emotions can cause men and women to change their minds, to make mistakes, and to break promises, but God's emotions do not make Him volatile or capricious. He never changes, and He never lies (Numbers 23:19). God has emotions, and His emotions are always a reflection of who He is: just, true, and perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:31; Revelation 16:7).
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