Monday, August 6, 2007

How Much Wrath does God Have?

The Scriptures use various terms to express God’s emotions that are in contrast to his love for, pleasure in, and satisfaction with his people. In the Old Testament at least six terms are used to express his negative reactions to humanity, particularly to his covenant people. These terms, all of which express varied shades or degrees of wrath, anger, displeasure, or vexation, are the following: ˒aph (to be angry), zā˓aph and derivatives (to be wroth, displeased, sad); ḥêmâḥêmâh (indignation, anger, wrath); kâ˓as (to be angry, wrathful, indignant, vexed, grieved); ˓ebrâh (rage, wrath); qâsaph (to be displeased, angry, wroth); ˒saneh (to hate). In the New Testament there are more than twenty references to the anger, wrath, or vengeance (orgē) of God and a few references to indignation and displeasure (achthŏs). These terms are to be considered anthropopathic expressions; human terms, however, cannot give the full meaning of the infinite and sovereign God’s emotional experiences. As his love is infinitely incomprehensible, so are his displeasure, hate, anger, wrath, and vengeance. There is good reason indeed for the writer to the Hebrews to warn sinful people that it “is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

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