The Source of God’s Wrath

by John MacArthur,  (Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 1–8)

The wrath of God isn’t some mystical phenomenon. Nor is it limited to judgment events at the end of time. The Bible speaks of God’s wrath as a present and tangible reality coming down from heaven. That’s what the apostle Paul meant when he said that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” (Romans 1:18, emphasis added).

God’s wrath is rendered from “heaven.” Despite Satan’s present power as prince of the air and of this world, the earth is ultimately dominated by heaven, the throne of God, from which His wrath is constantly and dynamically manifested in the world of men.

Paul frequently speaks about the wrath, indicating a specific time or type of wrath. Although the NASB rendering does not indicate it, there is a definite article before “wrath” in Romans 3:5, which should read, “who inflicts the wrath.” It is a subject Paul continually makes reference to throughout his epistle to Rome. In chapter 5 he speaks of our being “saved from the wrath of God through” Christ (Romans 5:9). In chapter 12 he instructs those who are vengeful to “leave room for the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19). And in chapter 13 he reminds his readership to be in subjection to God “not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:5). Around five years earlier he assured the fearful Christians in Thessalonica that Jesus delivers them “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Heaven reveals God’s wrath in two ways: through His moral order and through His personal intervention. When God made the world, He built in certain moral as well as physical laws that have since governed its operation. Just as a person falls to the ground when he jumps from a high building, so does he fall into God’s judgment when he deviates from God’s moral law. That is built-in wrath. When a person sins, there is a built-in consequence that inexorably works. In this sense God is not specifically intervening, but is letting the law of moral cause and effect work.

The second way in which God reveals His wrath from heaven is through His direct and personal intervention. He is not an impersonal cosmic force that set the universe in motion to run its own course. God’s wrath is executed exactly according to His divine will.

Several Hebrew words which convey a highly personal character are used in the Old Testament to describe God’s anger. Charah is used ninety-one times. It refers to becoming heated, to burning with fury, and is frequently used of God (see, e.g., Genesis 18:30). Charon is used forty-one times. It refers exclusively to divine anger and means “a burning, fierce wrath” (see, e.g., Exodus 15:7). Qatsaph, which means bitter, is used thirty-four times, most of which refer to God (see, e.g., Deuteronomy 1:34). The fourth term for wrath is chemah, which also refers to a venom or poison, is frequently associated with jealousy and is used most often of God (see, e.g., 2 Kings 22:13). David declared that “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11). “Indignation” translates zaam, which means to foam at the mouth, and is used over twenty times in the Old Testament, often of God’s wrath.

Some people try to downplay God’s role in the wrath we see in Scripture by blaming the devil. But this is not a form of wrath that is satanic in origin. Whether it is cause and effect wrath or the personal fury of God being meted out, that wrath originates in heaven.

And we can find comfort—as well as fear—in that fact. We should flee God’s wrath in fear, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that our sovereign has provided a us with a certain means of escape—the Savior whom He also sent from heaven.

What’s in YOUR Eternity?

In a recent Sunday School lesson in 1 Peter, the question was asked “When you hear someone say “The end of the world is near” how do you respond, and why?”

I could say, “Why do you ask?” Knowing why the comment was made just might help guide the conversation along it’s path, especially if your desire is to steer it toward the message of the gospel.

Given that the topic is the end of the world, I could get straight to the point and ask, “What’s in YOUR eternity?”

First, phrasing it more like a credit card commercial might elicit a more positive response than just asking “Where’s your soul going when you die?” like the sidewalk Christian evangelist downtown handing out tracts to young soldiers out for a good time in Junction City, Kansas, outside of Fort Riley Kansas  (deja vu). I could claim just about any religion and ask my question. Without being overly blunt, my question assumes that, like a credit card, everyone has an ‘eternity’. Every major religion believes we will eventually spend eternity somewhere. You can check it out. We have the technology.

My goal is to present the Christian view of eternity in a loving manner, using the Bible as my source document.

The Bible tells us that there is something about ‘eternity’ in each and every one of us:

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) (Emphasis mine)

John MacArthur says of this passage:

“God. put eternity into man’s heart. God made men for his eternal purpose, and nothing in post-fall time can bring them complete satisfaction.”

Our innate sense of eternity comes from knowing something of God, the eternal creator. Concerning this knowledge of God, there is perhaps no clearer verse in all of scripture than Romans 1:19, in which the Apostle Paul tells us:

“For what can be known about God is plain to them (men), because God has shown it to them.”

We all know something about God and eternity, although what we know is limited. I believe this knowledge is part of the ‘imago dei’, the image of God, in which we were created. God IS eternal, and although our bodies will one day die, we have an innate interest in life after death.

Here’s where the conversation can get a bit more challenging. You see, along with being told that we all know that God IS, we are also told something about those who try and deny the existence of God. Immediately before Romans 1:19 we are told:

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

So what’s this about “The wrath of God”? We can turn to Matthew, Chapter 25 and Jesus’ teaching about His second coming and the final judgment of all men.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

. . . .

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Matthew 25:31-34 & 41-46)

In the above verses, there are two groups of people, the ones on Jesus’ right, and the ones on Jesus’ left. The ones on Jesus’ right represent those who knew and loved Him in this life and those on Jesus’ left represent those who denied Him in this life. Those on the right will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the world’s beginning. Those on the left will experience eternal fire reserved for the devil and his angels.


1. There are two groups of people inhabiting this world; those who have received the truth of God and the ones who suppress the truth of God; the ones who have repented of their sin and believed the gospel and the ones who have rejected Christ.

2. There is an eternal destiny for every human being who ever lived or is living today; eternal life or eternal death.

3. What’s in YOUR eternity, my friend?

Six Characteristics of the Wrath of God in One Verse

If you’re the sort of person that doesn’t care much for the subject of the wrath of God, this post is for you. If you are a professing Christian who accepted Jesus as savior but did so not based on facing the issue of human sin head on, but based on something else, such as your ‘best life now’, this post is also for you!

Six Characteristics of the Wrath of God in One Verse

The verse:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Rom 1:18b

The six characteristics of God’s wrath found in the verse:

1. Quality. It is the wrath of God, and therefore a perfect wrath. If it was not perfect then God would not be perfect and he would not be God

2. Time. The wrath of God is revealed. Not ‘was’ revealed, not ‘will be’ revealed, but IS revealed. That means yesterday, today, tomorrow and always.

3. Source. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven. We are talking about a divine and all powerful wrath, that in no way can be compared with mere human anger.

4. Nature. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” This a divine, perfect and holy wrath against the sin of men. That’s us.

5. Extent. The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against ALL ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. This a divine, perfect and holy wrath against the sin of men. Not just the ‘big’ sins, or certain types of sin, but against ALL of OUR sin.

6. Cause. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. What truth? The Gospel truth that Paul was not ashamed of and is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, who are the just who live by faith (vv. 16 and 17).

Have you believed the gospel? My friend, if you haven’t, you are living under the holy wrath of a holy God, and condemned where you stand. (John 3:18, John 3:36).

If you have not believed in Christ for the forgiveness of your sin, there is GOOD NEWS! As Jesus said. . .

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Believe in the One upon whom God poured the holy, just, and perfect wrath that we all deserve!


HT: John MacArthur, j