Lost in Translation: ‘Not Appointed Unto Wrath’ – What Scripture Is Really Saying
Buy a book written by virtually any popular ‘Bible prophecy teacher’ today and you are guaranteed — at some point within the confines of its pages — to read a sentence or two that sounds a little something like this: “The Bible says that we are not appointed unto wrath, which means that Christians are not destined to suffer the wrath of God. Since the Tribulation is the wrath of God that means, therefore, that the Church must be removed from the earth before the Tribulation begins. Otherwise, the Bible is lying.” You get the idea. Sounds reasonable, right? I mean, if the premisses are true then the conclusion must be sound, correct? In theory, yes, but only if all of the premisses are true. So allow me, if I may, to take a closer look at the ‘not appointed unto wrath’ proposition that leads many of us to conclude ‘removal from the earth’, and join me as together we delve a little bit more into the text in an effort to better understand the wrath that we see in the Book of Revelation, and the wrath that we specifically are not appointed unto. Something very, very important has been lost in translation.
First, let’s begin by looking at all the verses which tell us that we are not appointed to wrath, or are saved from wrath:
- 1 Thess 1:10, “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
- 1 Thess 5:9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”
- Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
- Eph 5:6, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”
Next, let’s look at the Greek word specifically used for “wrath” in each of these verses to better understand what we are studying:
- 1 Thess 1:10, — The wrath that we will be delivered from is the Greek “orge” (G3709).
- 1 Thess 5:9, — The wrath that we are not appointed to is the Greek “orge” (G3709).
- Romans 5:9, — The wrath that we are saved from is the Greek “orge” (G3709).
- Eph 5:6, — The wrath upon those who are disobedient is the Greek “orge” (G3709).
Easy enough. We are saved from, or not appointed to suffer, the “orge” wrath of God. Now let’s examine the “wrath” that is described in Revelation. The word “wrath” itself is found 13 times in English translations of Revelation, but in the Greek text the word translated as “wrath” is not just from the Greek word “orge”. It is from two separate words: ”orge” and “thymos.” The “orge” of God that we are promised to be saved from according to each verse above is only found six times. And here’s the kicker — each time “orge” is used it is always in a post-trib context only:
1 and 2. It is mentioned AFTER the cosmic signs and the revealing of Christ Jesus (Rev 6:16-17). Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that these signs happen immediately AFTER the tribulation (Matt 24:29).
3. It is found AFTER the SEVENTH trumpet (Rev 11:18). (When the 7th and last trump begins to sound we find the rapture described in Revelation 10, which I explain in detail here).
4. It is used to describe the final torment of unbelievers in hell (Rev 14:10, the wine of the ‘thymos’ of God is poured out into ‘the cup of His indignation‘ – orge).
5. It is found AFTER the SEVENTH bowl (Rev 16:19). (The trumpets and bowls are two sides of the same coin. They are separate descriptions of the same event. The trumpets are the cause and the bowls are the effect).
6. It is used in connection with Christ’s Second Coming (Rev 19:15).
Moreover, according to Revelation the thymos wrath is directed upon a very specific group only — the Antichrist, his land, his kingdom, those who have received the Mark of the Beast, those who worship the image of the Beast, those who have shed the blood of the saints (see Rev 16). Those upon whom the bowls of thymos are being poured are still given the opportunity to repent, but they refuse (Rev 9:20-21; 16:9-11). But when the orge wrath comes, however, there is no such provision for repentance. I believe that we will be here on earth witnessing these events right up until the beginning of the seventh and last trumpet, at which point we are gathered to Christ just before the ‘orge’ wrath.
This, therefore, is telling us that the orge wrath that we are saved from is not the same type of wrath that we find during the Great Tribulation. It is only immediately after the tribulation at the Second Coming of Christ. As such, even if the rapture does not happen until immediately after the tribulation we are still saved from the “orge” of God as promised, yet still be present to witness the “thymos” wrath of the first six trumpets/bowls upon the Antichrist, his kingdom, and his people (for more on Antichrist and his kingdom, see here).
The Difference Between “Orge” and “Thymos” Wrath
So, what’s the difference between “orge” wrath and “thymos” wrath? We should first be aware that some incorrectly assume that these two words have essentially the same meaning, however if that were the case then why did the Holy Spirit inspire the writers of the New Testament to use them both, and at times why were they both used in the same verse? Obviously, though they could have similar meanings they must, therefore, be qualitatively distinct. Here are some examples where they are both used in the same verse:
Colossians 3:8, “But now ye also put off all these; anger (orge), wrath (thymos), malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth”
Revelation 14:10, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath (thymos) of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation (orge); and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb”
Revelation 16:19, “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness (thymos) of his wrath (orge).”
thymos – sudden passionate anger; anger boiling up and subsiding again
orge – deliberate anger; indignation; hostile vengeance
Truth be told, the trumpets are themselves not even called wrath anywhere at all really. As I mentioned above, however, I view the trumpets/bowls as opposite sides of the same coin where the trumpet is the cause and the bowl is the effect. So knowing that the bowls are called the thymos wrath of God associates, to me, the trumpets with thymos wrath as well.
Every time in Scripture we read that we as believers are not appointed to wrath, or will be delivered from wrath, it is always the orge of God which is found in a post-trib context only. In this orge the anger will not subside, it will not abate. It is not a punishment to chasten and invoke repentance like thymos, because when the orge of God comes it is then too late.