Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Four Temperaments and Biblical Personalities

Ever wonder what your personality is like through the lens of Scripture?  Well this is a great little outline that I picked up during my class on Spiritual Development, with one of my favorite professor's of all time, Dr. David Oliver.  So, are you Sanguine? Melancholy? Choleric? Phlegmatic?  Read on and find out.  Hope you enjoy it!!

1. Sanguine-- ATrust me! It'll work out!

Proverbs 15:13 "A happy heart make the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."

Proverbs 15:15 "All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual


Jesus enjoyed eating and drinking with friends and sinners and telling parables.

Peter--ATrust Me type.  He was very dramatic, often speaking up for the rest of the disciples. Sometimes he spoke before thinking. One moment, in front of the crowd, he promises to never forsake Christ. A while later he denied even knowing the Lord. He was probably sanguine and choleric.

John Mark--started well but then quit (Acts 15:37-39).

King David, Samson, Barnabas, Mary (Martha's Sister-probably sanguine/phlegmatic, people oriented, somewhat passive). Ruth showed sanguine behavior when she enticed Naomi to let her travel with her. She demonstrated family loyalty and an adventurous spirit by her willingness to move to a foreign country (probably sanguine/phlegmatic).

Many evangelists are sanguine.

2. Melancholy-- How was it done in the past?

Proverbs 27:12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for


Jesus taught the lost about the kingdom of God.

Moses--A Do it Right kind of guy. Wanted to know the details of how God was going to help him lead the people out of Egypt. Attentive to the details of the Law given by God and the precise measurements of the temple. Probably Moses was a melancholy/phlegmatic. He seemed unsure of himself and tried to convince God to make his brother Aaron a leader.

Apollos--Acts 18:24-28 Probably melancholy and choleric.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus--Analytical: She wondered what sort of greeting this might be. Luke 2: 19 "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." Be it done unto me according to all you have said.  Likely melancholy/phlegmatic.

Judas Iscariot, Joseph (O.T.), Thomas--he doubted Christ's resurrection. Jesus gave him the evidence Thomas needed to believe. Esther the Queen was willing to comply with the rules and requirements of her position. Yet, when it became necessary to bend the rules, she wanted to make sure that it was done correctly. She planned very carefully and prayerfully and was systematic in her approach to problem solving.

Many teachers and intercessors have melancholy personalities.

3. Choleric-- Let's do it now!

Galatians 1:10 Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please

people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Proverbs 11:14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure. This

text provides corrective guidance for the choleric temperaments who believe they are right

about most things.

Jesus argued with the scribes and pharisees about the Law.

Paul--A Do it Now! temperament.  He was left for dead, imprisoned, stoned, forsaken and forgotten, yet he pressed on toward the high calling of God.

Elijah stood against the priests of Baal.

Joshua, Rebekah, Priscilla, John the Baptist, Martha

Many apostles/prophets are Choleric.

4. Phlegmatic-- Let's keep things the way they are!

Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 15:18 "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Jesus spoke to the deepest needs of the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery.

Barnabas--probably phlegmatic and sanguine, Acts 15:37-39.

Nehemiah--AStatus Quo and Consensus builder, good administrative skills to accomplish a task.

Isaac, Joseph (N.T.), Hannah--she was submissive and remained faithful, even though her dreams were not fulfilled. She may have appeared  unstable  when she prayed in the temple. Her reaction after she prayed shows she was very stable.

Many pastors and intercessors are phlegmatic.


  1. God bless you for the wonderful piece of biblical scripture

  2. Very helpful i must say. Needed this for my presentation in church.

  3. Does Dr. Oliver have any other material on the temperaments that I can find online?
    Paula from Texas

  4. great,thanks God bless

  5. This was really good read through. Thank you for your post.

  6. I'm melancholy-phlegmatic and no wonder my favorite biblical characters are Moses and the Joseph (both the dreamer (OT) and foster father of Jesus(NT)). Incidentally my name, a feminine variant which originated from Jacob, another melancholic.

  7. Replies
    1. Each temperament has strengths and corresponding weaknesses. Jesus was perfect. There is no perfect temperament.

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  9. Thank you for the information. It helps me a lot as I prepare my lesson for the young people and young adults ladies in my church. God bless.