God’s “Wrath”

What is translated as “wrath” in conventional translations cannot – as commonly believed – be an essential change of disposition on God’s part toward man. God has only one disposition, one inclination, one divine posture in His relationship with man: that of unconditional love coming to us in unearned grace. He is determined to fully give Himself to us unreservedly. When one sees this, we become His bond-slave, bound by such love.

The primary Greek work translated as “wrath” is “orge,” from which we get our English word, “orgy,” and its various forms. The word itself and its root conveys aroused passion, excitement, a reaching after, and overlaps in meaning with “thumos,” translated also as “wrath.” Ed Browne translates “orge” as (God’s) “intrinsic fervor.” I like that. I think Ed has captured the essential meaning. For me, it suggests ravishing love.

Since God IS love, then wrath necessarily is a form of love, for nothing could proceed out from the nature of God that is inconsistent with the love that He IS. The conclusion is just too obvious once one has been delivered from the dark, demonic imagination that fuels eternal torment dogma: namely, that God, when faced with the ontological contrarianism that seeks to impose on us a false identity, with us being overcome by a false persona, His love is aroused to reclaim us, to lay claim with divine jealousy to that which belongs to Him. With intrinsic fervor He reaches out to possess that which is His, and we are His by creation and by redemption …

What is commonly called “the wrath of God” is that quality of love that will not let us go, and will not let us miss the glory of His love. It’s an awesome, passionate, jealous, intense, possessive love, that when heated up fills us with awe. Initially it can be terribly frightening to be the object of such fervor.

I think of the old song about Casey waltzing with the strawberry blond. “His brain was so loaded it nearly exploded, the poor girl would shake with alarm …”

Whenever we are not participating in the faith of Christ, when we are not ongoingly believing in Christ, sharing His restful trust in the Father’s perfect love, His intrinsic fervor abides on us. He becomes, out from the depths of His love, a consuming fire, utterly radical in His pursuit of us, even to the cross.

John R. Gavazzoni
The Cup of God’s Wrath

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