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The Wrath (ὀργή) of God
General James Green
L ET US NOW PROCEED with Part 6. Starting here with what some of the early Church fathers said about the anger/WRATH of God. We already know that HIS ANGER WAS KINDLED AGAINST BOTH HIS PEOPLE AND PAGANS; Moses provoked His anger in Ex. 4:14.
Aristides: (Early 2nd cent.—A converted Gk. philosopher of Athens who wrote one of the earliest Christian apologies.) “He (God) possesses neither WRATH nor indignation. For there is nothing that can stand against Him” (c . 125, E), 9.264).
Origen: (c. 185-255—some marked him as an heretic, but he was a pupil of Clement of Alexandria who took over the (famous) catechetical school there. He was also called the “father of Christian Theology.” He was a champion of the Christian faith despite some of his unsound Theological speculations.) “When we read of the anger of God either in the OT or NT, we do not take such expressions literally” (c. 225, E), 4.278).
“Indeed, we speak of the WRATH of God. However, we do not maintain that it indicates any passion on His part. Rather, it is something that is assumed in order to discipline by stern means those sinners who have committed many and grievous sins. For that which is called God’s WRATH and anger is actually a means of discipline” (c. 248, E), 4.529).
Novatian: (d. 257—Roman presbyter who led a schism when Cornelius was ordained as Bishop of Rome—c. 251.) “When we read of His anger…we are not to understand them to be attributed to Him in the same sense in which they are to humans…All those angers or hatreds of God, or whatever there is of this kind, are displayed for our healing…they arose out of wisdom, not from vice” (c. 235, W), 5.615).
Lactantius: (c. 250-225—Prominent Roman teacher of rhetoric who later converted to Christianity.) “It is the fear of God alone that guards the mutual society of men…However, such fear is taken if man is persuaded that God is without anger (Amen to that !!)…He is moved and is indignant when unjust actions are done” (c. 304-313, W), 7.269).
“There is also just anger. This anger is necessary in man for the correction of wickedness. Plainly, then, it is also necessary in God, who sets an example for man” (c. 304-313, W), 7.278).
Lactantius at least had his head screwed on right. I could quote several more from him, but here is a right-to-the-point one: “We should understand that since God is eternal, His anger also remains to eternity” (c. 304-313, W), 7.277).
(Note: Here are some names you can research: Alexander of Alexandria, Apollonarius, Archelaus, Aristo of Pella, Arius, Arnobius, Athenagoras, Bardesanes, Barnabas, Caius, Celsus, Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Dionysius of Alexandria of Corinth, of Rome (3 Persians), Eusebius, Firmilian, Hegesippus, Hermas, Hippolytus, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Marcion, Montanus, Papias, Polycarp, Tatian, Tertullian, Theonas, Theophilus, Trypho, Victorinus etc.)
SOME OF THE ABOVE WERE LIBERALS, SOME CONSERVATIVES, SOME HERETICAL: JUST AS WE HAVE TODAY.
The WHOLE World Under WRATH
THIS MAY SCARE MOST, but it is true. Paul shows this in Romans 1:18-3:20. Some nations/cities show this more than others. Paul pin-points the city of Athens (Greece) that “the whole city was wholly given to idolatry,” just as we could say San Francisco (Calif.) Is wholly given to sexual perversion (see Acts 17:16).
I’ve tried to show that ὀργή is anger against evil (Rom. 12:19; 13:4); OT and NT have plenty of texts as I’ve endeavored to show. WE CAN’T HAVE A JOHN 3:16 DIET AND LIVE, WE’VE GOT TO EAT ALL OF GOD’S WORD—EVEN IF WE HATE IT.
Because of These Things…
“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the WRATH of God upon the children of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6).
“For which things’ sake the WRATH of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” (Col. 3:6).
So, here we have “causes” and “effects” of the Divine WRATH revealed. What “things” (Eph. 5:6) caused the WRATH of God? Well, verse 3 gives a vice list, v. 4 continues, v. 5 ends with no one who practices such things will have “any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.”
And this exclusion from the KOG will naturally end one up in Hell Fire forever, e.g., Gehenna (Gehenna is one of 3 Gk. words that are translated as “Hell” in the KJV. The other two are “hades” and “tartaros.” To the early church, Gehenna and Hades were two different places. Gehenna=the “Lake of Fire,” Hades = the intermediate place where souls await the resurrection (not purgatory).
So, if one does not make Heaven, Gehenna is the final abode. Jesus used this word in Matt. 5:29, and in Rev. 20:14, Death/Hades are cast into Gehenna. (See Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.566). Tertullian wrote about Gehenna (see c. 197, W), 3.52 and c. 203, W), 3.665). Cyprian gives a gorey depiction of Gehenna (see c. 250, W), 5.464-65).
Also, the Treatise on the Glory of Martyrdom gives a gory account also (see c. 255, W), 5.584).
Mark 9:47, 48 speaks of this horrid place where “the fire is NEVER extinguished.” Matt. 25:34, 41, 46 speaks of it; Rev. 21:7,8 speaks of it.
Barnabas, Polycarp, second Clement, Hermas, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Irenaeus, (who gives quite a long detailed depiction), Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, (who also gives a lengthy depiction), Mark Minucius Felix, Hippolytus, Origen, (also gives a lengthy depiction), Commodianus Cyprian (another one to write at length), Victorinus, Methodius, Lactantius (is very wordy also), Arnobius etc., etc. Most of these believe in eternal punishment, some do not, although they believe in punishment, just not everlasting. I’ve studied all this out for years and I believe that Gehenna is forever, i.e., never-ending torment. Repentance and living the Christian life (The Biblical way!) will keep any and all out of this Hell!!
But my point in all this is to show you that ὀργή θεο is the eternal effect of man’s disobedience.
WRATHFUL Hell is yet to come. The “Hell” we experience here on earth is also, in most cases, caused by what we do, and don’t do.
Apostasy = WRATH
IN A WORD, apostasy kindles God’s WRATH. God continually punished ancient Israel for her backslidings/apostasy. Why don’t we hear more sermons preached from 1 Cor. chapter 10? Are ministers afraid to quote vv. 5-12? If what rebellious, backslid, apostate Israel did, and 1 Cor. 10:6 says those things, “Were our EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not LUST AFTER EVIL THINGS, as they also LUSTED.” What’s the problem? And this is repeated the second time in v. 11, “…all these things happened unto them for ENSAMPLES: and they are written for our ADMONITION…” Those “things” Paul was writing about were idolatry, drinking, playing, fornication, tempting God, murmuring. I see why 1 Cor. 10:1-12 isn’t preached in today’s backslid, reprobate/apostate church!
Did Israel get by with their sins? NO!, for in ONE day 3 and 20,000 were KILLED, destroyed by serpents. Thus, God’s Divine WRATH achieved its supreme effect.
Rebel Like Hell!!
AH, THIS IS IT! This counter-revolution. God wants His people to rebel against Hell, not against Him. But in this generation we have this counter-movement that prides itself on despising His Will-Way-Word, which is the decisive cause of ὀργή.
Let it be said, when we say NO! to Jesus, our NO! is answered by God’s NO! in the form of His ὀργή. WHERE HAS THIS TEDDY-BEAR JESUS STUFF COME FROM? Not from the Bible. You people had better WAKE UP FAST, the WRATH of God/curse of God is now over America.
THE ABOVE GK. WORD means “revenge,” “punishment,” “retribution,” which is predominantly a Septuagint (OT Gk) term. This decides the NT usage. The LXX uses it Micah 7:4: “…Woe, woe, thy times of VENGEANCE are come; now shall be their lamentations” (the KJV = “…the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.”) We also find this Gk. word in Ez. 16:41; 25:17; Deut. 32:35; Hos. 9:7 etc. We find Josephus using only ἐκδίκια, not ἐκδίκησις in his Ant. 1, 208; 19, 20; 2, 107; 137; 13, 19; 17, 291 etc.
To shorten all this, let’s go into the NT (ἐκδίκησις = “revenge,” “threat,” “punishment,” most always referring to the lost). When Deut. 32:35 is quoted in Romans 12:19; Heb. 10:30: ἐμσι ἐκδίκησις ἐγὠ ἀνταποδὠσω—there is an agreement against the LXX—the Divine retribution is denoted. Also, we find in Luke 21:22 a prophetic text, “the days of VENGEANCE…” In 1 Peter 2:14 we find that the magistrates are sent to PUNISH evil doers. In Acts 7:24 the word “avenged” is used (“to procure revenge”) .
II Thess. 1:8 is a powerful text: “I flaming fire taking VENGEANCE on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Note the following please: “Who shall be PUNISHED with EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” Let’s take a moment to ponder vv. 8-9.
“Vengeance” is mentioned by Paul only here, and in two other passages (Rom. 12:19 and 2 Cor. 7:11); Romans joins with Heb. 10:30 in quoting from Deut. 32:35; the verb is also used by Paul in two passages (Rom. 12:19; II Cor. 10:6). The idea in both noun and verb is that God “acts forthrightly in justice,” giving to the unrighteous what is the rightful return for their sinful conduct. REMEMBER THIS!
“Destruction” is a Pauline word (1 Thes. 5:3; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 6:9). So far as he indicates what he means by it, which matches my point completely, it is EXCLUSION from the Lord’s presence. Remember this!
The Gk. word used here for “destruction” (ὄλεθρος) prevailingly carries a literal idea in the class. Gk. (άπὠλεια), has a more ethical connotation. 1 Tim. 6:9 joins these two words (destruction/perdition). It is pointed out by Prof. J.W. Bailey and Prof. J.W. Clarke (exegesis/exposition) that “The language of this passage is more vivid than in 1 Thess. 5:3 (e.g., “destruction”), even though the general idea is the same.” I agree.
The word “eternal” (RSV), “everlasting,” (KJV) applies to the age to be, following the revelation of the Lord. Paul uses it with reference to God (Rom. 16:26), invisible reality (2 Cor. 4:18), future glory (2 Cor. 4:17, 5:1), God-given comfort (2 Thess. 2:16), and life (Gal. 6:8).
The conception of “exclusion from the presence of the Lord,” is, as Bailey says, “part of Paul’s inheritance from the religion of his fathers and is expressed in language reminiscent of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (e.g., Isa. 2:10, 19, 21; 66:4, 15; Jer. 10:25)” (Interp. Bible, p. 321).
“Flaming Fire” is associated with the “revelation” (RSV), and not with “taking vengeance” (KJV). Daniel 10:2-9 is especially valuable as a background for this passage (see also Rev. 1:13-16). So, the “mighty angels” (2 Thes. 1:7), “flaming fire” (v. 8) and the “glory of His might” (v. 9) all belong to the tradition of Judaism. This vivid language sets the tone, forcefully, and feelingly. Do any of us want to fall under God’s vengeance?
Professor Gottlob Schrenk (Zürich) believes 2 Thes. 1:8 should be rendered “to execute revenge.” Either way, all this is part of the LORD’S/Lord’s WRATH.
THE ABOVE GK. WORD, which by assimilation to ἐκδικάζω acquires especially the sense of “to avenge,” “to punish.” Again, these Gk. words have a good deal of history for which it would take up space and time, but briefly, we see that there is the cause of punishment, or occasion of revenge (by man/God); “to judge or pronounce penance,” punishment with a wholly negative result being intended.
In the NT ἐκδικέω occurs 6 times. II Cor. 10:6 is a good place to start: “And having in a readiness to REVENGE all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (Good advice!).
THIS GK. WORD went thru an etymological transformation. Originally it meant “to purify,” “to test,” but then the original meaning faded into the background; it came to denote “torture” or “torment.” In the LXX this Gk. word and derivatives are seldom found, except in the original Gk. books. A corresponding basis in the Hebrew is lacking in almost every case according to Prof. Schneider. In general, this Gk. word and its derivatives are found to mean this:
a) “testing afflictions which the righteous have to suffer in the world at the hands of the wicked”; and
b) “judicial sufferings which by reason of his/her conduct, the wicked person WILL receive from the righteous in time and eternity.” IN OTHER WORDS, THE RIGHTEOUS PERSON WILL SUFFER AS A (TRUE) CHRISTIAN, BUT TO HIS/HER GOOD; THE WICKED, TO THEIR DESTRUCTION (see Wisdom 2:19; 3:1; Ezek. 12:18; Ezek. 32:24, 30).
βάσανος refers to future torments: “…them that go down to the pit.” In Ezek. 30:20 and 7:19, the LXX has altered the meaning of the text and made this Gk. word to signify “suffering” in the sense of “punishment.” Actually, there are alterations in many texts: “punishment” instead of “eternal torments.”
Again, there are too many resources to quote from, so I’ll keep it short.
βάσανος in NT
IN MATTHEW AND LUKE we find this word. In Matt. 4:24 we find the word “torment” relating only to the physical; Lk. 16:23, 28 are more in line with our study: “And in Hell he (the rich man) lifted up his eyes, being IN TORMENTS…;” “…lest they also come into this place of torment.” Hell/Hades here is not Gehenna, but the place of departed spirits awaiting the final judgment/punishment. Jesus did not say a word about Lk. 16:19-31 being a parable. So, we can conclude it was a true story. HELL IS REAL—the sinning “rich man” was in TORMENTS, no mention of escape or annihilation! (All this is covered in our Hell booklets.)
So, βάσανοι refers to the “torments of Hell” (penal torment). (See “ὁ τόπος τς βασάνου.”.)
THERE IS NO SALVATION from “eternal WRATH/punishment” if we are disobedient. All this liberal BULL spewed forth from the likes of Joel Osteen and hundreds of other “have your best life now” liars is not true. Better study God’s Word friends. God HURLS the disobedient into everlasting punishment and torment—who will you believe, snakes and flakes, wolves in sheep’s clothing, or Jesus?
“I Don’t Like It!”
WELL, TOO BAD FOR YOU. God does not want anyone to perish, but He wants them to be saved eternally. This is His LOVE. This is why He sometimes goes to extremes to turn the sinner around. SOMETIMES SEVERE PUNISHMENT IN THIS LIFE IS RENDERED IN ORDER TO SPARE ONE FROM THOSE IN THE AFTER LIFE. Consider the Son of God, Jesus, who was severely punished (whipped) before He was executed. He took that bloody punishment, 39 stripes, FOR YOU AND I…then submitted to dying on the Cross. So, if God is using all these disasters etc. upon America now, He is doing it to SPARE the transgressors from a greater punishment=HELL FIRE!
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GO TO HELL?
WRATH OF GOD #7