The Meaning of the Wrath of God

The Meaning of the Wrath of God

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
–Romans 1:18

What do we mean when we talk about the wrath of God? There are two Greek words that are translated “anger” or “wrath” in the Bible. The first Greek word is “thumos.” This word refers to an explosive anger that wells up quickly and also subsides quickly. It’s that emotion you feel when somebody cuts you off on the highway or says something that rubs you the wrong way. You get furious, but hopefully you get over it.

The second Greek word for “anger” or “wrath” is “orge.” This is the term used for the wrath of God. Leon Morris defined it as “a strong and settled opposition to all that is evil arising out of God’s own nature.” When we sin, God doesn’t lose His temper, pour out His anger, and then get over it. Instead, God’s wrath is His building opposition to everything unholy. Think of God’s wrath as the water that builds up behind a dam and will eventually break through that dam. The anger of God is building and building, and one day it will be unleashed upon ungodliness.

Sometimes the water that is building behind the dam laps over onto the people below before the dam bursts. And it’s the same thing with the wrath of God. Yes, there is a future day of God’s wrath, but right now we experience the result of His holy revulsion for breaking His laws in our everyday lives. We experience that individually. Whenever we ignore God’s commands, we experience natural consequences such as broken relationships, divorce, or illness. In Romans 1:18, Paul said, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” That’s not only true for us individually, but it’s true for our nation as well. No nation can reject God and be blessed by God. What is the cure for the depravity and divisiveness in our country right now? It’s the same cure God gave three thousand years ago to His people in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

The final unleashing of the wrath of God is described in Revelation 20. This is the time when God finally judges sin in the world. Verses 11-12 and 15 say, “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it. . . . And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. . . . And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The ultimate unleashing of God’s wrath will be at that final judgment when every human being who has ever lived will be sentenced to the punishment he deserves, and that is eternal torment in the lake of fire. The only people who will be exempted are those who trusted in Christ as Savior and had their name written in the Lamb’s book of life.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What about Those Who Have Never Heard about Jesus?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Leon Morris, “The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), 35.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.