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Scripture Reading: John 2:13-22

Zeal for What is Good



1.  Zeal (zelos) is “excitement of (the) mind, ardor, fervor of spirit…in embracing, pursuing, defending anything” (OLB Greek Lexicon).

  a.  From zeo, “to boil with heat, be hot”.

  b.  It is not prejudice, anger or hatred disguised as religious fervor.

2.  Zeal is a good thing when grounded on truth and directed toward godly ends, Jno. 2:17 (Psa. 69:9); Gal. 4:17-18.

3.  Misplaced zeal is not good and can be deadly:

      A 45-year-old woman who was killed as she walked onto I-55 near Sherman, Ill., in October was revealed to have been a member of a Jehovah’s Witnesses breakaway group that believes they should test their faith (much     like snake handlers do) by standing in the middle of traffic. A few days before her fatal demonstration of faith, she had been pulled to safety from the same highway as she attempted to proselytize to drivers zooming by.  [Springfield State Journal-Register, 10-27-00]



  A.  Zeal without Knowledge, Rom. 10:1-3.

    1.  Ignorance and unbelief, cf. Paul, Acts 22:3-5; Phil. 3:6; 1 Tim. 1:13.

    2.  We can be zealous, but if our fervor does not advance truth, it is just emotion; or worse, it is self-promoting and sinful.  Either way, we are still lost!  (Rom. 10:1-2)

  B.  Zeal for the Traditions of Men, Gal. 1:14 (cf. Mk. 7:1-13).

    1.  Entering the holiday season, when zeal for Christ is defined by human traditions.

    2.  When we define truth by our traditions we sin and are lost (Col. 2:8).

  C.  Zeal that is Selfish and Self-serving, cf. Rom. 12:11.

      -Religious zeal that only stirs over some topic or concern of self-interest is not “serving the Lord,” cf. Gal. 4:17; 6:12-13.



  A.  Harmonizes with the Divine Will, Num. 25:6-11 (Rom. 10:2).

    1.  Enthusiasm for truth and righteousness…stand and act, cf. Phinehas, Psa. 106:30-31.

    2.  cf. Zealots (Simon, Lk. 6:15). Professed great zeal for the law; dedicated to violent overthrow of Rome; refused to pay taxes.

  B.  Directed toward God, not Men, cf. Num. 25:11-13.

      -It is the “thy will be done” mentality that drives one to have a fervent spirit in doing the will of God, cf. Matt. 7:21-23 (Rom. 12:11).

  C.  Directed toward “Good Things” at all Times, Gal. 4:18; Phil. 2:12.

    1.  It is not fervency borne of “eye-service” to please men (Col. 3:22-25).

    2.  God’s word that teaches us what is “good” in His sight (Heb. 13: 21; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

    3.  Christians are zealous for good works, Tit. 2:14.

  D.  Works and Prays for Spiritual Well-being of Others, Col. 4:12-13.

    1.  Genuine zeal will strengthen and influence fellow Christians to pursue good works, cf. 2 Cor. 9:2.

    2.  Does not condone religious error and moral corruption, Jno. 2: 13-17; 1 Kgs. 19:10, 14.

    3.  It will not harm the cause of Christ and His church, Phil. 3:6.

  E.  Grows out of Genuine Conversion, 2 Cor. 7:11.

    1.  Result of godly sorrow and repentance of one’s sins.

    2.  Result of genuine conversion to Christ, cf. Gal. 2:20.

    3.  Note examples: Acts 2:41-47; 8:39; 19:17-20.



  A.  Our Lord is Zealous of Righteousness, Num. 25:11-13.

  B.  Our Lord Zealously Accomplishes His Purposes, cf. Isa. 9:6-7.

      -We would expect the zeal we should have would emulate the divine zeal.



1.  We need stirring up to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).

2.  Zealous of good works of God (Tit. 2:14).

3.  Zeal w/o knowledge leads to self-righteousness; Zeal with knowledge leads to fervent and faithful service to the Lord.



By: Joe R. Price

Posted: November 25, 2018