What about God’s wrath?

As I preach this gospel of grace and proclaim the goodness of God one of the major obstacles people have in accepting this is the topic of God’s wrath and judgement. I myself have struggled to come to terms with this topic and have only really found peace about it in the last couple of years.

For this reason I was really excited when I asked my friend Jonathan Welton to do a guest article on this website and he suggested that he share on this very topic of wrath!

For more information about Jonathan and how you can connect with his ministry see the end of this post.

For now however, enjoy this advanced preview of chapter 10 of the upcoming 2nd edition of Raptureless:

“The Kingdom Without Wrath”

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“If Jesus took the wrath of God on the cross, how come He brought about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70?”

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I get this question a lot nowadays, especially from those grappling with the reality of grace and stepping into optimistic eschatology. Unfortunately, a lot of misconceptions about grace and wrath are floating around the Church. For example, some branches of the Church teach that Jesus was the sponge that soaked up all of God’s wrath at the cross. Some go even farther, saying that God no longer has any wrath after the cross.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many other Christians believe that God poured out His wrath at the cross, and the Church is currently living in a period of unprecedented grace. However, at the onset of the endtimes, the Church will be suddenly raptured away so that God can pour out His wrath again upon the earth, as recorded in the Book of Revelation.

In the previous two paragraphs, there are as many theological errors as there are words!

Not surprisingly, I will present another perspective. I have looked up every reference for wrath from Matthew to Jude. As a result of my study, here is what I have come to understand: God has no more wrath to pour out in the future. He finished pouring out His entire wrath in the first century and is not storing wrath for our future.

What I am about to explain will likely be foreign to many of my readers, but it is not foreign to orthodox teaching and Church history. In brief:

  • The cross of Christ had nothing to do with the wrath of God.
  • God’s wrath was connected to the Old Covenant.
  • The Old Covenant coexisted with the New Covenant during the New Testament (see Heb. 8:13).
  • The Old Covenant was removed by the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, as described in Revelation and Matthew 24 (and as we’ve already discussed in this book).
  • Revelation 15:1 and First Thessalonians 2:16 indicate that AD 70 was the complete removal of God’s wrath with the passing away of the law.

God’s Wrath and the Old Covenant

The first thing we must recognize is that the crucifixion of Christ did nothing to assuage the wrath of God. Jesus was not the Father’s “wrath sponge” soaking up His anger toward sin on the cross. Although it is a popular notion, we have absolutely no indication of this in Scripture.1 The reality of what Christ did on the cross was that He operated as a perfect lamb sacrifice, thus creating a brand new covenant through which the Father could forgive sin once and for all. The cross was not the punishment of sin; the cross made a way for the Father to forgive sin. God did not punish our debt of sin; He forgave our debt of sin through the perfect sacrifice. No lamb sacrifice was ever punished for sin. Rather, the lamb’s death simply enacted covenantal forgiveness. The animal merely stood between the owner and God, and its shed blood brought covenantal forgiveness. Jesus, the perfect lamb, released perfect forgiveness (see Heb. 8:6–13).

Considering that no Scriptures point to God’s wrath being poured out at the cross, we must consider another question: What do we understand from the New Testament regarding the wrath of God? By studying every passage on wrath in the New Testament, I found that wrath is connected to the Law (the Old Covenant). This is seen very clearly, for example, in Romans 4:15, which says, “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”

Clearly, the wrath of God is an Old Covenant Law-based concept. When wrath is mentioned in the New Testament, it is consistently used to point to the coming destruction of Jerusalem, the final outpouring of God’s wrath. For example, in Matthew 3:7 and Luke 3:7, John the Baptist rebukes the Pharisees and speaks of their future destruction in AD 70, saying that the axe is already laid to the root and they won’t be saved by claiming Abraham as their father. He goes on to say of AD 70, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Similarly, in Luke 21:23, Jesus speaks of the AD 70 massacre of Jerusalem and refers to it as the great distress and the “wrath upon the people.”

Thus, we can see that the wrath of God was not poured out on the cross, but it was poured out at the destruction of Jerusalem. The death of the perfect Lamb on the cross has provided us with a New Covenant of forgiveness. By contrast, the Old Covenant provided Laws that, when broken, caused the wrath of God to come upon people. For those standing inside Christ in the New Covenant, there is absolutely no wrath, judgment, or anger. Yet for those in the first century who were not willing to enter into the New Covenant, who rather killed Jesus and persecuted the early Church, an accumulation of wrath was building up against them. In fact, Jesus went so far as to essentially say that all the sin of the Old Testament would be held to the account of the AD 70 generation (see Matt. 23:35–36).

It was that contemporary generation that Paul referred to as the children of disobedience who were destined for God’s wrath.

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6).

For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (Colossians 3:6 KJV).

The Book of First Thessalonians gives us the clearest indicators that the wrath of God was not poured out at the cross upon Jesus but was actually being filled up until the Days of Vengeance (see Luke 21:22). Then God took His vengeance out on those who killed His Son (see Matt. 22:41). They had even declared the judgment upon their own heads (see Matt. 27:25), and He avenged the early Church for the persecution they faced between AD 30 and AD 70 (see Rom. 12:19). Let’s look more closely at several verses from First Thessalonians (being sure to notice their first century relevance):

Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10b).

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last (1 Thessalonians 2:14–16).

This last passage clearly speaks of the children of disobedience, who clung to the Law, which brings wrath (Rom 4:15), and continued to persecute the first century Church until the wrath of God was filled up (see 1 Thess. 2:14–16) and poured out upon them in AD 70. In other words, God judged the Old Covenant, and those who clung to the sinking ship drowned with it. Those who turned to the New Covenant of Christ were saved from the Day of Wrath. As I mentioned previously, out of the approximately 1.1 million Jews who were killed in the slaughter of AD 70, not one Christian died.

To further understand the period of time between Jesus’ death on the cross (the inauguration of the New Covenant) and the wrath of God poured out at the destruction of Jerusalem (the end of the Old Covenant), let’s look at a sometimes confusing reality: The Old and New Covenants coexisted for forty years.

The Old and New Covenants Coexisted

Most Christians do not have clarity regarding the Old Covenant and the Old Testament, the New Covenant and the New Testament. The lines between these terms are blurry. The general tendency is to draw the dividing line between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew and declare the Old Testament as the Old Covenant and the New Testament as the New Covenant; yet that is a very inaccurate formula that leads to major interpretive problems.

A good starting point is to understand that not all of the New Testament is New Covenant and not all of the Old Testament is Old Covenant. For example, the New Covenant did not start in Matthew 1:1. It wasn’t until Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant by His death that a New Covenant was formed. Also, from Genesis 1:1 until Exodus 20 (when Moses met with God on Mount Sinai), the Law had not yet been given, and the Old Covenant had not yet been formed. Therefore, understanding the covenant interactions with human timelines is of great importance.

This can feel foundation-shaking for many Christians, who only recognize the division between the Old and New Testaments. When many first grasp that not all of the New Testament is New Covenant, the first response is to try to draw a new line between the Old and New Covenants—perhaps after John the Baptist (representative of the Old Covenant) is beheaded, or after the Mount of Transfiguration, or after the Last Supper, or after Jesus’ death, or after His resurrection, or after Pentecost, and so forth. Ultimately the truth sets in: There is no simple line to be drawn between the Old and the New.

This is because they coexisted, side-by-side from the crucifixion until the Old Covenant was completely removed in AD 70. That is why Hebrews 8:13 says “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. The Book of Hebrews was written decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet in Hebrews 8:13 we learn that the Old Covenant had been made obsolete and outdated (because of the perfect Lamb’s sacrifice on the cross) but was still in existence, still clinging on for a little longer.

Jesus came as the King in the manger and demonstrated His Kingdom during His ministry. He spoke of the New Covenant at the Last Supper and inaugurated it upon the cross by declaring that the establishing of the New Covenant was now finished. However, the Old Covenant, although obsolete and outdated, had not yet disappeared, as Hebrews 8:13 makes clear. Therefore, throughout the New Testament we see Jesus the King, His established and growing Kingdom (see Matt. 13:31–33), and the New Covenant inaugurated at the cross—but, the Old Covenant had not disappeared yet.

For this reason, I believe the second most significant event in Christian history (the death and resurrection being foremost) was the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. From Christ’s prophecy of the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 24 until its fulfillment, there was a forty-year period of transition (AD 30–70). Theologians refer to this time as a transition generation, a time when the Old Covenant was fading out and the New Covenant was rising. This was exemplified in the Old Testament by Israel’s wilderness journey, which allowed time (also forty years) for the older slave-minded generation to die away and for the next generation to take their place.

We can also see this picture in the story of King Saul, who remained king for forty years after God rejected him. During the same forty years, God anointed David and prepared him to take Saul’s place. Lastly, we find an example in what Paul writes in Galatians regarding Ishmael and Isaac see (Gal. 4:21–31). He clearly shows that Ishmael represents the Old Covenant and Isaac represents the New Covenant—and that Ishmael and Isaac have an overlapping time of coexistence. The same is true of the New and Old Covenants in the New Testament. Because of these forty years of coexistence (AD 30–70), we lose any chance of drawing a simple and clean line between the Old and New Covenants.

With this in mind, as we approach the New Testament, we must review each passage with new lenses because not everything is New Covenant. For example, Jesus says that we must forgive or else the Father will not forgive us (see Matt. 6:15), yet Paul writes that we forgive because we are forgiven (see Eph. 4:32). These two statements directly contradict each other. This difference can be reconciled by understanding that Jesus’ statement was rooted in the Old Covenant, which no longer has personal application, whereas Paul’s verse is the reality of the New Covenant, in which we dwell. This may be hard for some to swallow, but we must remember that part of Jesus’ mission on earth was to show His listeners the futility of trying to hold up the Law. His statement in Matthew 6:15 falls into that category, and we know that because it contradicts the gospel of the New Covenant.

We must also recognize that (as we’ve already discussed) the Church from AD 30–70 was looking toward and anticipating the coming destruction of Jerusalem as the removal of the Old Covenant. As Ishmael persecuted Isaac, so the Old Covenant persecuted the New Covenant (see Gal. 4:21–31). Clearly, the two coexisted during that forty-year period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem.

The End of God’s Wrath in AD 70

The destruction of Jerusalem introduced the end of God’s wrath, as First Thessalonians 2:16b so clearly describes: “…the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. Also in Revelation 15:1, it says, “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished (ESV). Here we see that, as God poured out His wrath on Jerusalem in AD 70, He put an end to the Old Covenant once and for all. At His coming in judgment against Jerusalem, Jesus made war against the apostate Old Covenant system and completely annihilated it. Once He poured out His wrath on the Old Covenant system, we entered the Kingdom Age accompanied by the glorious truth that God does not have any more wrath to pour out on the earth, ever.2

What about Deliberate Sin?

This revelation of God’s grace and the end of wrath has led to much confusion among believers. Some wonder, “But what if someone deliberately keeps on sinning?” Won’t that bring wrath upon them?

The confusion comes from a few passages in the Book of Hebrews. For example: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” (Heb. 10:26).

The issue is that these passages in Hebrews have not been put into their biblical/historical context. Specifically, Hebrews 8, 9, and 10 require a contextual understanding for proper interpretation; without it, we can easily end up with a God who is very judgmental toward His very own stumbling children.

The first thing we must understand is that the Book of Hebrews was written somewhere between AD 30 and AD 70. As we just discussed, during that time period, the King, the Kingdom, and the New Covenant had been established, yet the Old Covenant continued to linger until the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem.

Hebrews 9:1–9, speaking of the Old Covenant tabernacle, repeats this key concept again: “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order. Again the author declares that the Old is only going to last until the time of the “new order.”
 
The rest of chapter 9 goes on to show the blood of Jesus is the New Covenant, which replaces the blood of the goats and bulls of the Old Covenant. In chapter 10, the theme continues with Jesus as the high priest that replaces all the Old Covenant high priests. In verse 9 we find again “Then He said, ‘here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. The theme of the Old being replaced by the New is inescapable. Yet, unfortunately, many today are trying to drag the Old into the New.

Chapter 10 continues to speak of this amazing New Covenant until we get to verse 25: “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching. This fascinating verse has been used by pastors for years to encourage people to keep going to church, but this is a false application. The context here is that the early Church was meeting from house-to-house daily until AD 70, when every one of their houses would have been burned to the ground in the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the “day” they saw “approaching.”

Directly following Hebrews 10:25 is verse 26, which we began this discussion with: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” (Heb. 10:26). The context of this verse is Jesus’ delivery of this amazing New Covenant, along with the promise that the lesser, outdated, and obsolete Old Covenant is about to be destroyed and removed by the “approaching Day” of judgment.3

From Hebrews 10:26–39, the rest of the chapter speaks of those who go back from the New Covenant to the Old Covenant. It says that God is coming to “judge His people” (the Jews) (Heb. 10:30) and that “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Heb. 10:37). This is not a reference to the final return of the Lord (that is in our future), but to Jesus’ coming to bring destruction upon Jerusalem. Thus we see that this promise of judgment against God’s people referred to a specific and unique period of time, when the Old and New Covenants coexisted, and it referred to people who, after accepting the New Covenant, later turned back to the Law.

If we don’t put Hebrews 10:26 into its proper context, as I have done here, we end up very confused by the way it contradicts other passages in the Bible, such as:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1).

So when we sin, is Jesus our advocate or is our sin being counted against us and building up wrath? For years, I was terrorized by the Hebrews 10:26–39 passage until I understood the context. God’s judgment, spoken of in these passages and others, was for the Jews of the first century who would not accept what Jesus’ blood did on our behalf and, thus, trampled the Son of God under foot. Now, under the New Covenant, if we sin, Jesus is our lawyer. He is on our side, standing as our defender against the accuser of the brethren. We are not now and never will be the subjects of God’s wrath. He poured it out on the earth, once and for all, when He judged the Old Covenant at the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Yes, at the end of time, there will be a final judgment before God’s throne, but this is not something believers need to fear. We are not destined for wrath; we are forever covered by His grace!

Chapter Points

  • God’s wrath was connected to the Old Covenant.
  • God did not pour out His wrath on Jesus on the cross. The cross was not the punishment for sin, but it made a way for God to forgive sin by cutting a New Covenant of forgiveness.
  • The New Testament references to wrath are primarily speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem that was coming in AD 70. This was the final pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth.
  • The first century Jews who received witness of their Savior, but refused to accept Him, were the “children of disobedience.” They clung to the Law and the Old Covenant and, therefore, chose to be judged with it, bringing the wrath of God upon themselves.
  • The Old Covenant and the New Covenant coexisted during the New Testament (AD 30–70), in the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection (inauguration of the New Covenant) and the destruction of Jerusalem (elimination of the Old Covenant).
  • Some of the statements in the New Testament were written from the perspective of the Old Covenant and the Law rather than the gospel of grace.
  • The Old Covenant was forever destroyed by the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (as described in Revelation and Matthew 24).
  • Revelation 15:1 indicates the complete removal of God’s wrath and the passing away of the law. God does not have any more wrath to pour out on the earth, ever. (All that remains is the final judgment before the throne of God.)
  • When a believer sins, God responds with grace, not judgment.
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For more about Jonathan check out his website The Welton Academy.

I personally consider Jonathan to be one of the most important people on the planet! He is a theological genius, walks out a supernatural lifestyle and has a great understanding of the finished work of the cross. (A dangerous combination! :) )

I highly recommend that you check out his itinerary and consider doing one of his courses if he is in your area, if not I highly recommend you consider signing up to be a part of his online Supernatural Bible School… spaces are extremely limited so check it out now!

This article is a new chapter written for the 2nd edition of his book “Raptureless” which will be out in the very near future. If you would like to read the 1st edition you can do so for free at Raptureless.com

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Comments

  1. says

    While I can’t prove that you’re mistaken in a comment that I can’t spend a lot of time on, I can show that you haven’t proven your case.

    You have made sweeping statements about the Bible (supposedly) saying nothing about God’s wrath having been poured out on Christ. There’s nothing you can do to prove a negative, so skeptical readers have to search the scriptures on our own. And you’re completely confident nobody would find anything, right?

    Actually, I found several verses very quickly! Here’s one passage:

    “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:8-10

    This says explicitly that God was angry at us, His enemies, but that Christ did something to appease or remove that anger. This was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Hmm, I wonder what it was. This verse is talking about the cross but it couldn’t have been that (if you’re my guru/rabbi), so maybe it was his birth in the manger… right?

    Another thing we can know for certain is that the Jewish people didn’t bear God’s wrath on our behalf.

    I could cite other verses, but that would be doing your job for you, wouldn’t it? I hope someone will have the sense to delete this entire post.

    • Phil Drysdale says

      Hey Martin,

      Thanks for your post, please do remember that this is a chapter from an entire book building an argument so it’s not going to cover everything that is in the prior and coming chapters.

      If you really want to get a feel for the full argument I’d encourage you to check out Jonathan’s book which you can read for free.

      I personally will not be answering theological questions on this particular post as it’s not my article (although I do have lots of thoughts of my own on this topic).

      I will ask Jonathan if he has the time to check this page once in a while and add some thoughts as I’m sure he could help you see where he’s coming from regarding some of your questions/verses.

      Bless you my friend. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    • J Welton says

      “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:8-10

      Martin writes: This says explicitly that God was angry at us, His enemies, but that Christ did something to appease or remove that anger.

      J Welton: No it does not. It does not say that God was angry at us and Christ appeased or removed it. I will explain the verse properly below.

      Martin writes: This was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Hmm, I wonder what it was. This verse is talking about the cross but it couldn’t have been that (if you’re my guru/rabbi), so maybe it was his birth in the manger… right?

      J Welton: It seems that you have taken offense at my article and I am sad to see that you are not open to dialogue and discussion.

      Here is what Romans 5 actually teaches.

      While we were Sinners God demonstrated His love for us by dying for us.

      We are justified by His blood

      Those that were justified: “much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Notice the future tense in this sentence. Clearly the wrath hadn’t yet occurred but those that were justified would be “saved by him from the wrath.”

      The wrath was the 70AD destruction which is the backdrop of the whole New Testament

      • says

        Thanks for your response. I don’t get personally angry at people, but I’m constantly seeing false teachings on the Internet, and I find it disturbing. The Bible allows for Christian teachers to be held to a high standard of accountability, as I’m sure you understand.

        I haven’t read your entire book, but this material was posted independently of that. If this material cannot stand on it’s own, supporting material could have been included above, or you can still cite it in your comments. I’m not reading the book simply because of this post. I’d like to, but I don’t have time for it. I noticed that there was supposed to have been at least one footnote above, which is missing.

        In my opinion, basic respect for others would normally lead to an inquiry about (in this instance) why other Christians believe the Bible teaches that Christ bore God’s wrath on our behalf. It seems that the approach you’ve taken is a more haughty one. I see what I can only describe as a careless and neglectful approach to this discussion through the sweeping statement that this theological perspective is nowhere to be found in the Bible. This effectively sets yourself up as an authority over against multiple authorities going many centuries back who HAVE cited chapters and verses. So the presumption seems to be that we can ignore all of that because you researched it, and you said we can safely do so.

        I feel that all the Christians, including some who are especially vulnerable due to a lack of Bible knowledge, who take time to read posts on sites like this, not to mention all the other Christians who’ve taught on this topic before, deserve more respect than that. And the Bible itself is more deserving of respect.

        Since you didn’t understand my point, please allow me to explain how I understand Paul’s words, quoted again here:

        “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:8-10

        Here’s my summary of what Paul seems to have been saying and/or implying:
        We were sinners. We were God’s enemies. We were deserving of His wrath. We were in need of reconciliation. This came through the cross. If Jesus hadn’t died for us, we would have been subject to God’s wrath, and would have received all the punishment that would have been due to us.

        Your point is that the wrath was coming in 70 AD. I know that, BUT Christians had already been spared God’s wrath because of Christ’s sacrifice. It was a done deal. Similarly, wrath lies ahead of us, in our future. After the end of earthly time, God will gather all people around His throne. He will separate the sheep from the goats, and will judge the goats. Christians will also be spared from His wrath at that time. The question is…

        Why will we be spared from the wrath of God?

        Will it be because God will instead pour His wrath out upon unbelievers?

        NO, it will be because Jesus Christ already bore our sins on the cross. That’s actually not enough. The second reason is because every true Christian will have put their faith in Christ’s sacrifice, not in our own righteousness. Add ANYTHING to that and you’re getting yourself into hot water. That’s not just my opinion; it’s Christian orthodoxy.

        Here are some additional verses on this topic:

        But he was pierced for our transgressions,
        he was crushed for our iniquities;
        the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
        and by his wounds we are healed.
        We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
        each of us has turned to our own way;
        and the Lord has laid on him
        the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:5-6)

        “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”” Galatians 3:13 (Jesus was cursed for us)

        “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 (Our sins in His body on the cross!)

        “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:12 (Does God hate sin?)

        “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Heb. 9:28

        You may, perhaps out of sincere ignorance, mock the traditional view by asking, “Did God the Father get personally angry at Jesus when He was on the cross?”

        If so, I would reply, “Don’t be ridiculous!” God and Jesus are the very definition of love. God the Father had to turn away from Jesus on the cross. That’s the only time they were ever separated. The spiritual reality (not mere symbolism) is that Jesus bore our sins. God didn’t look upon our sins. That’s when our sins were forgiven and God’s wrath appeased. Jesus bore the punishment that was due to us.

        Your interpretation, though you may not realize it or intend it, seems to have the Jews in 70 AD bearing all of God’s wrath. Perhaps earlier generations of Jews under the Old Covenant also bore some of God’s wrath, from your point of view. In fact, Jesus was the only Lamb of God, and only He was able to take away the sins of the world.

        In fairness to you (not that it excuses error), I’ve seen other modern theologians falling into this and similar errors. The Atonement is a mystery, and people coming from a scientific and literalistic mindset have difficulty with it as they try to comprehend it and rationalize it.

        By the way, I can’t fathom how you think your interpretation makes God appear more merciful and gracious than under the standard interpretation, which is as I’ve presented it. Do you believe that God has additional wrath reserved for unrepentant, faithless sinners on a future Judgment Day?

        The 70 A.D. judgment was upon the generation of Jews (also affecting some children and grandchildren) who crucified Christ. As you pointed out, God gave them 40 years to repent, but they refused. This also marked the end of the Old Covenant, as most prominently displayed in the destruction of the temple, which Jesus had prophesied. This was an important, and much overlooked event in covenantal history, but PLEASE, let’s not make it virtually equal with the Atonement in its effects upon all mankind!

        I’m not sure that you’ve completely thought this all the way through for yourself, especially concerning the status of unbelievers under the New Covenant (actually not “under” the NC but in the NC era) . Here’s what you wrote:

        “God does not have any more wrath to pour out on the earth, ever. (All that remains is the final judgment before the throne of God.)
        When a believer sins, God responds with grace, not judgment.”

        I agree that God responds with grace when believers sin. However, you seem to have left open the question of how God responds when a nonbeliever sins.

        Unbelievers are actually under the law. They have to be perfect in order to get into heaven, but of course they’re sinners. Christ didn’t set every human being free from the law. It’s only by faith and grace that Christians are free (Rom. 8:2). So for unbelievers, there’s no reason why God’s wrath (the same wrath as under the Old Covenant) would not extend to them also, even on this earth (Eph. 2:3). That said, I do think things are different now because Christians are “salt” and “light”. Our presence helps to abate the wrath of God because God doesn’t punish righteous people together with the wicked (Gen. 18). God wants to save all people, not to judge us all. The dispensationalists (“Left Behind” believers) have it wrong.

        That was starting to get off topic so I will end it here. Thanks for being accountable here, both you and Phil. I really love a lot of the posts on this blog.

        Honestly, you guys could teach effectively about God’s grace and mercy from a more traditional, preterist perspective. Even if, for some reason, I believed this, it would do nothing for me in terms of appreciating God’s mercy. Jesus bore our sins on the cross.

        • J Welton says

          Well, now I see you are interested in debate/discussion and have set aside the flip remarks, thank you.

          As you said, you don’t want to take the time to read my book in light of your read of this blog. On the other side, it would take the writing of a small book just to respond to the long comment you have written. In which case you probably wouldn’t want to read that either.

          I do not write as a novice and that is why I write with authority, not arrogance. If I say I have studied something out, I truly have. Although my conclusions may be different than yours.

          I will make a few sweeping responses and leave it at that.

          The verses you presented do NOT use the word “wrath” which is a particular word at the center of this discussion. You may draw conclusions from the verses you presented, but to be specific I am writing about the “wrath” of God, not a particular Penal Substitutionary interpretation that is grasping for straws.

          You stated that I “mock the traditional view” regarding the Father being angry at the Son on the cross. Actually that is incorrect. The view you are espousing, the Penal Substitutionary view did not exist before the 1100’s and Anselm of Canterbury. Gustaf Aulen has definitively proven this in his 1923 work, ‘Christus Victor.’ The first thousand years of Christianity would not recognize the gospel as you have described it. It is not traditional.

          I will leave it at this, I encourage you not to talk down to people. I have found my brief interaction with you to be disrespectful and distasteful. If a non-Christian were to read the way that you have written to me, I am not sure that he could see that we were brothers. If I have offended you, I understand, we have different view points. At least try to remain honoring and respectful.

          If the day comes that you would consider giving Raptureless.com a read, I would be intrigued to read your feedback.

          Also in a few years when it is complete, I will have my 500 page Doctoral Essay done which will include a review of the 9 views of the Atonement, if you are interested in learning more.

          • says

            I’m respectful of God’s Word. Of necessity, that involves some level of disrespect for whatever (not whoever) goes against His Word. I made no personal attacks against you, and bear no ill will against you.

            Whoever a person may be in this world, I don’t believe they have authority in themselves.

            I agree with you that disunity among Christians is a major cause of disbelief among non-Christians. By the same token, nobody is fooled by nice words when meaningful issues are swept under the rug, and Christian denominations continue to proliferate throughout the world.

            I value Christian unity, but it must be based on the truth of God’s Word. I presented a Bible-based plan for Christian unity in Chapter 26 of my book, Return to Genesis (available on Amazon).

            Finally, I was already familiar with the view of atonement that you espouse. I’m also well-versed in how the Christus Victor proponents like to denigrate the “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” view.

            You will have noticed that I made no mention of P.S.A. in my posts above. In fact, I don’t believe that what God accomplished through the cross is fully described by P.S.A. God revealed His justice through the cross, but He also revealed His mercy.

            Finally, I think it’s a very literalistic, and mistaken method to key off on the specific word “wrath” in the Bible, and not to gain inferences from related words.

            These are the same things I would have said to anybody, irrespective of gender, education, or status.

          • says

            I must correct myself. I don’t think a blog post should have to stand on it’s own. If the author can’t fully make a case, he (or she) can and should say something like, “if you have any question about this point, please see this link.” For me, a link like that would have made a huge difference.

  2. Dennis Lee says

    “John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus was the first of the New Testament. But John had to come and bow the knee, which is the Old Testament model bowing the knee to the New Testament model. So think of it this way: Do you think Jesus was punished enough for sin? Do you think the Father judged Jesus thoroughly? Did He spend every last ounce of anger and wrath on Christ on the cross? So then there is no judgment left, no anger left, no punishment left. God is fully satisfied. Between Calvary, which was judgment on Christ, and the Judgment Day when all the books will be opened, there is no place for judgment in this world. What does judgment look like? We’re not judging humanity. We do sit in judgment on authority over the demonic. We cast out devils. But when it comes to a sin sick world, we are ambassadors of reconciliation. We’re saying a price has been paid. You cannot say on the one hand the price has been paid and be reconciled to God and then be judging people for their sin on the other hand. If all the judgment has been put on Christ, there is no judgment for us to enter into. It’s the goodness and kindness of God that brings people to repentance. We’re ambassadors of reconciliation and we have to move in the grace and mercy of Christ. When we look at a person who’s in sin we are assessing them not about their sin, we are assessing them in terms of Father. We are asking how much grace and mercy do we need to show to this person in order for them to be reconciled?” Graham Cooke

    • Phil Drysdale says

      This is a great train of thought from Graham – what an incredible blessing he is to the body! I’ve learned so much from him over the years and hearing him talk about the Father’s heart for me never gets old!

  3. says

    There is a lot of deeply entrenched theology that is a carry-over from much of Constatine and his influence…Anselm and Calvin hand us a very legalistic view of God that pretty much makes Him schizophrenic..there were those who opposed much of this influence, but primarily the idea of “Christus Victor” the idea that the cross was a covenant and any negative impact was dealing with ransoming us from the devil and sickness and buyingusback, as well as cutting a covenant wi Himself that we participate in.

    The wrath model makes no sense…in it you have a very disturbing Angry Father, a meek and victimized innocent Son, and a passive Holy Spirit standing by but not doing anything…this splits up the unity of who God is and is not what you see going on…any wrath the Father has will be towards those structures and creatures who mar and alienate Him from his children…it is. Natural Nger of a parent Nd is not directed to children of His passion…

    • Phil Drysdale says

      This is great Mark,

      Thanks for sharing – I personally hold to Christus Victor as a much more well rounded view of the atonement than Penal Substitution which we (wrongly) seem to consider more orthodox theology in the church today.

      Jesus was not on the Cross displaying the division of the Trinity over mankind but rather their wholehearted agreement that they had always been for us, they were not wanting to punish us but rather desired to gather us to themselves.

  4. Gary Bird says

    Hi all!

    I promise I’m not a salesman for C Baxter Kruger :) but I found his book ‘Jesus and the Undoing Adam’ a fantastic read on parts of this subject, in particular the chapter “A note on ‘Evangelical’ Theology”.

    I love it when the historical context of the gospel is so clearly presented even against popular opinion. Thank you Jonathan and Phil for speaking knowledgeably and loud even when it hurts.

    This post gives so much to dwell on

    All joy and peace

    Gary

    • Phil Drysdale says

      Love you Gary – so glad you enjoyed it. And yes that is a great book!!! The cover alone speaks volumes to me! Haha

  5. David Stark says

    Thank you Phil, thank you Jonathan. So much reading to do… all my plans for the last 24 hours went out the window once I started browsing Jonathan’s website and resources…
    So grateful that you (both) share so much free content online.

    • Phil Drysdale says

      You are so welcome David – so glad this article has connected you with Jonathan! As I said, he’s an incredible guy!

  6. Garnet says

    This is a very odd reading of scripture…

    You seek to define how God’s wrath works, but you did not clarify what you think it is.

    There is a large list of severe implications to writing off scripture regarding the wrath of God as being done away with in 70 AD.

    But instead of trying to dismantle a 100 different points, I will present a single scripture that might bring God’s wrath and judgement back into an eternal perspective.

    Romans 9:22-24
    What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

    This verse alone, proclaims that God continues to this day, to bare with patience the objects of his wrath. His creation which stands in opposition to him – who will one day face his wrath, which will be accomplished with eternal destruction. As the scripture states, “just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

    When we face that judgement, some will experience the love, mercy and grace of God, others who rejected God will experience his judgement.

    Why does God hate sin? Because it separates him from his children. The law of sin and death (which Paul teaches), is an eternal law, God’s wrath is simply God enforcing it. These are eternal truths.

    Blessings brother… keep studying, it sounds like you do have some interesting points regarding AD 70. I just think the doctrine needs to be refined.

    • Phil Drysdale says

      Thanks for sharing Garnet.

      I can’t address your issues with Jonathan’s article because, well, it’s Jonathan article :)

      But I would imagine that our interpretation of Romans 9-11 – objects of wrath/objects of mercy – to be somewhat different. I know at least I have a different view on it. It’s something I am planning on sharing about in the near future :)

      I won’t get into debate here regarding your points but if you browse around this website you will find much more on these topics specifically on sin and how it does not separate you from God (this might be a good place to start – http://www.phildrysdale.com/2013/02/does-sin-really-separate-you-from-god/ )

      Bless you my friend – thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Scott Leonard says

    Greetings. I know this is an old thread now, but I was just introduced to this site and am intrigued! I am trying to figure out how Martin is processing some of the NT testament verses. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was definitely God’s judgement….on Israel. There was no wrath poured out on Gentiles there. Yet Paul says in Romans that they, along with Jews, are storing up wrath for the ‘day of wrath,” when God will exercise his judgement and “will pay back to everyone according to their works….to those who are self-seeking, and don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation.” This was not poured out on non-Jews in AD 70. In addition, If you look at Paul’s statements about God’s coming wrath in Ephesians, Colossians and especially I Thess 1, 5, and II Thess 1, there is horrendous wrath coming on the Day Christ returns. Am I missing your point here?

    Additionally, our brother quoted Isaiah 53, but left out these important verses that show God was in fact pouring out wrath on Christ: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

    So I need help in understanding more about where you are coming from here.

    Thanks, and God Bless!

    • Phil Drysdale says

      Hey Scott,

      I personally wouldn’t be able to tell you what Jonathan would have to say about those passages. I’m nowhere near as well studied as he is in this area (or any other really haha). As you said it’s quite an old thread but he might be still monitoring it on and off… If not you might be better of trying to connect with him on Facebook :)

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      • Scott Leonard says

        Thanks for responding, Phil. Let me ask you this, do you believe that God’s wrath is coming one day on those who don’t know Christ?

  8. Madhavan Gunalan says

    Hi Phil, How do we interpret 1 Th 4:6, Lord will punish the believers for all such sins, in light of God’s grace.

  9. says

    Incredible article.

    I read Raptureless over the weekend and was BLOWN AWAY. I’ve never been exposed to optimistic eschatology before. But I’ve always felt there were some things quite off about the way that the “traditional end times view” was all presented. It always made me feel upset and confused. I felt like the timeline of it was just darn ridiculous. And don’t even get me started on the fruit. Watching my fellow Christians rejoice as America faced hardship and happy when Israel made war. For a people who are supposed to be peacekeepers, this seemed like downright insanity to me. “Love your brother, unless he’s a Muslim.” “Pray for peace, unless its Israel, then pray for war.” What?!?!

    Needless to say, loved Raptureless, and was encouraged to finally find a SCRIPTURALLY BASED veiw of the “end times” and the glorious beautiful return of Christ.

    Thanks Jonathan and Phil. You guys absolutely rock. And I look forward to sharing both “Renew Your Mind” and “Raptureless” with my friends. Thanks!

    • Phil Drysdale says

      I’m so blessed to hear that Nate! Raptureless is one of my most recommended books to people… I only wish more people then actually followed through and read it!

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