The Nature Of God’s Wrath
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 4b of 83

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

Paul would refer to the wrath of God another 9 times in his letter to the Romans alone (1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 4:15; 9:22; 12:19 and 13:3, 5). But what does he mean by the wrath of God? Well, there are 2 Greek words that are translated ‘wrath’ or ‘anger’ in the English Bible.

·       The first word is ojrghv, which means “to grow ripe for something.” It speaks of wrath as building up over a long period of time, like water collecting behind a dam, ready to burst forth. We may think of ojrghv as simmering anger.

·       The second word is qumov", which comes from a root word to mean “rush along fiercely,” “to be in the heat of violence” or “to breathe violently.” James Montgomery Boice suggests that ‘panting rage’ would express the meaning of this word well.

The word qumov" (or panting rage) occurs 18 times in the New Testament. It is never used of God except in the book of Revelation to describe the great outpouring of God’s wrath.

On the other hand, the word Ojrghv (simmering anger) occurs 36 times in the Greek NT, and it is attributed to man only about 5 times. This is the word used to describe the wrath of God.

The apostle Paul, therefore, is not speaking about a sudden outpouring of God’s anger that is soon over. There will indeed be a great outburst of wrath. But that will have to wait until the Last Day.  Paul is speaking, rather, about God’s wrath as a strong, settled opposition arising out of God’s holy nature against all that is evil.[1]

Like a great dam collecting water from every source, this firm, fearsome hatred of God against all wickedness is building up. And one day it will burst forth in a final outpouring of wrath and eternal condemnation upon all who are not covered by the blood of the Lamb of God.

It is in anticipation of this final day of wrath that Paul writes in Chapter 2, v. 5,—

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom 2:5).

The world may mock and live as if God doesn’t care. But the day of God’s wrath will come and is coming. There is more certainty to the fact that we will all behold the wrath of God one day, than the fact that you will see the sun tomorrow.

c.  The day of wrath will come. But the fact that a great display of God’s wrath is still to take place in future does not mean that God has suspended His hatred and anger against all wickedness. Indeed, Paul says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven…”.

…to be continued next issue

[1] .  Prof John Murray defines God’s wrath as “the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness” (Epistle to the Romans, 65).