In Yesterday’s (Sunday of the 30th Week) Mass there was a reference to the wrath of God and how only Jesus can save us from it. St Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, commends them who have turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath (1 Thess 1:9-10). Well thank you, Jesus!
But what is God’s wrath? It is spoken of often in the scriptures and it is a concept with which we have to be careful. On the one hand we cannot simply dismiss the concept as contradictory to the fact that God is love. But neither can we deny God’s wrath as unfit in terms of His love.
It seems worthwhile to consider some aspects of the very complicated reality of the wrath of God. There is not enough space to cover the whole topic in this post, but the comments stay open, as always, for your additions and subtractions. What are some ways that we can explain and understand the wrath of God? Let me propose a few.
The wrath of God is not merely an Old Testament concept. In fact, it is mentioned quite frequently in the New Testament as well. For example, consider the following:
- Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
- The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Rom 1:18).
- Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom 12:19).
- Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things [i.e. sexual immorality] God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient (Eph 5:6).
- For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:9).
- The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath (Rev 14:19).