The Wrath of God and its Theological Implications

by Max Andrews

Guest Post by Bryan Raszinski

The wrath of God is a truth that is rarely taught or proclaimed within the Church these days. The Church seems to display greatly the love of our God, the mercy of our God, and the grace of our God…but when His wrath is brought up we just shut down and move forward like it is nothing of any theological importance. J.I. Packer recognizes this problem and says:

“To an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex and self-will, the church mumbles on about God’s kindness but says virtually nothing about his judgment…The fact is that the subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society, and Christians by and large have accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter…One of the most striking things about the Bible is the vigor with which both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God’s wrath.”

The Bible is clear that the wrath of God plays an important role not only in the life of an unbeliever but also in the life of a believer; Israel and the other Gentile nations.

In Exodus 3:20 it reads: “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.” One theological implication of this text is divine justice. Moses was just commissioned to go before Pharaoh by YHWH and demand the release of his people. This is the promise YHWH gives Moses as a sign that Moses is not alone in this deliverance. Israel is being delivered and redeemed back into the land they are supposed to dwell in as was authorized by the Lord back in the Genesis account. YHWH is going to strike the Egyptian nation with His wonders and miracles and as the Exodus account continues it becomes clear that His wonders are divine judgments that go against the 10 major gods of the Egyptians as well as play a part in showing the glory of His power and His name to the nation of Egypt and use this as an example for other nations to see. His wrath on the Egyptians was divine deliverance for His people the Israelites.

As we move in the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives important implications of the wrath of God. We read in Ephesians 2:1-3-“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to thecourse of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:1-10 is a popular passage when it comes to sharing the gospel and for good reasons. The first three verses serve as a reminder of the state we were in prior to believing in the Lord and acknowledging Him as Lord. They place us in a place that is often not spoken of…a place we refuse to realize we were in in the first place before being saved and transferred from  kingdom to another (Col. 1:13-14). We were devil worshipers and by our very nature a stench that repelled us from our Lord. We were sons of disobedience and walked by the flesh. We were children of wrath. Paul is very clear that before verses 4-10 occurred we were not in a neutral spot ready and prepared to say yes to the Lord whenever we deemed it necessary. We were naturally against the Lord and our minds and bodies were embodied in the chains of sin and depravity. We understand verses 4-10. We tend to only read that section and then move on from that passage praising the Lord for His grace…but do we know why we are praising His grace? Do we understand the full extent of where our sin had us and what He did for us?

The wrath of God gives us this ability. We as believers and co-workers of Christ can rejoice in the wrath of God because of the grace that has covered us for our sins in the past, sin we commit now, and sin we will commit in the future. Believers should not ignore the truth that the wrath of God has ingrained in it. There are two places in eternity- Heaven and Hell. For His children who will reside with Him in heaven we are able to rejoice in both the grace of God and wrath of God for the grace of God, given to us by the act of propitiation that Christ performed on the cross, has covered us and made us holy and above reproach. We can rejoice in the wrath of God because we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord always no matter what (Phil. 4:4) and because the wrath of God gives us deliverance from the sin of the world and separates us from the imperfections and distortions that sin has committed. It is the wrath of God that will eventually eradicate sin and temptation from the world and give us an imperishable place of residence free from such heavy chains (1 Corinthians 15:50-57) and allow us to be able to be what we were originally meant to be- the perfect and holy image of God.


4 Comments to “The Wrath of God and its Theological Implications”

  1. This article “The Wrath of God and its Theological Implications,” Guest Post by Bryan Raszinski is well-written and easily understood; thank you for writing it. When reading it, Colossians 1:16-18 (AV) comes to mind too.

    Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Published Author 2011
    “For as awareness is, so is God consciousness.”
    http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Mommy’sWritings.html (currently not active)
    The Mommy’s Writings Series
    Mommy, would you like a sandwich?
    Book 1

  2. The Catholic theologian James Alison has some interesting thoughts on God’s wrath that I feel are particularly relevant in light of what you’ve said:

    “In the first place we can see that for Paul the Gospel is the Gospel of the righteousness of God. This is what the death and resurrection of Jesus has revealed for him. That is shown in Romans 1:17, and again in Romans 3:25. What has happened in between these two references is that Paul, because of the necessity of clarifying the question of the exact theological nature of the Law, has gone in for a long explanation of the inverse consequence of the same revelation of the righteousness of God: the revelation of what he calls the wrath of God. The content of this revelation is exactly the same as what I suggested above: that all humans are constitutionally wrong (we all have a “debased mind,” 1:28), and constitutionally idolaters, as is demonstrated by our not knowing the righteousness of God. It would be as well to examine this notion of the wrath of God because of the easy misunderstanding to which it is prone.

    “The word wrath (orgé) appears ten times in Romans. Only once does it appear as the wrath of God (Rom. 1:18). On the one occasion where it appears to be something inflicted by God on people as a result of our wickedness (Rom. 3:5) Paul expressly indicates the mythical nature of the terminology (“I speak in a human way”). On all the other occasions where the term appears (2:5, 8; 4:15; 5:9; 9:22; 12:19; 13:4, 5) it is impersonal. Even in the first case, where the orgé is linked to theou the content of the wrath of God is itself a demythification of a vindictive account of God (whose righteousness has just been declared). For the content of the wrath is the handing over by God of us to ourselves. Three times in the following verses the content of the wrath is described in terms of handing over: 1:24; 1:26; and 1:28. That is to say that the wrath, rather than being an act of divine vengeance is a divine non-resistance to human evil [Alison's note: As Hamerton-Kelly indicates, Sacred Violence, 101]. However, I would suggest that it is more than that. The word “handed over” (paredoken) has, in primitive Christian sources a particularly subtle set of resonances [Alison's note: This word is vital and recurrent in all the Gospels, where much is made of the irony of God handing over Jesus, Judas handing over Jesus, and Jesus handing over himself.]. For God is described as handing over (paredoken) his own son to us in a text no further from our own than Romans 8:32. The handing over of the son to us, and the handing over of ourselves to sin appear to be at the very least parallel. The same verb (paredothé) is used in 4:25 where Jesus was handed over for our trespasses, and raised for our justification. I would suggest that it is the handing over of the son to our killing him that is in fact the same thing as handing us over to our own sins. Thus wrath is life in the sort of world which kills the son of God” (The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes, pp. 126-127)

  3. So what do you say to those who reply, “yeah, but that’s Old Testament”, implying and usually saying outright that since the cross of Christ, God is not in judgment mode anymore but only redemption mode?
    I know what I say, but I’m curious as to your response.
    Thanks!

    • Mark, I would tell them in brief response that 2 Timothy 3:15-17 were primarily speaking of the Old Testament writings.
      We know from Hebrews that Jesus doesn’t change, yesterday, today and forever His character is the same!
      Jake

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