A Response to Keller’s “The Importance of Hell”: Conclusion-Part 1

First, the Mystery…

These last posts in response to Keller’s “The Importance of Hell” will be a bit lengthy for they concern the mystery of the atonement. Evangelicals generally teach the atonement as if it is indisputably understood as they present their understanding as “the correct view.” Unfortunately one’s view of the atonement has become a dividing line between the theologically “liberal” and “conservative” and in some circles the basis for determining who’s actually in the Kingdom and who’s out.

But could something that has intrigued the hearts and minds of theologians, philosophers and mystics and arrested the attention of millions for centuries be nailed down within one single vision? Or is the cross actually the awesome mystery Scripture teaches? Could it possibly contain facets of glory not yet recognized? In other words, has the understanding of the cross been exhausted by our human understanding or are there ever more dimensions to be discovered?

Paul said “the mystery of godliness was great” as he recounted the gospel events of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Jesus most often shared what His kingdom was compared to as opposed to confining it within a definition.  It seems He could only tell us what it was like. In the same way I believe we must admit our inability to explain the atonement in anything more than in terms of what it resembles. There have been many theories: Was it like a sacrifice? or a ransom? or a rescue? or a victory? a recapitulation of human history? or a great example of love?

…Yes!

Yes to all of them while believing there is surely more revelation to be discovered!

Sacrifice seems to be the first association made for the cross for the obvious reason of the Messiah entering into the midst of a Jewish sacrificial system. But what kind of sacrifice and with what intention was it made? Was it a legal substitutionary payment to appease a wrathful God? This is the number one assumption and therefore the exclusive view presented in most churches today.

But is this the only view? More importantly, is this an accurate understanding of the cross as a sacrifice? What was ”that thing that Jesus did on the cross”?

We’d like to put forth two main thoughts regarding Keller’s assertion of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA). One is to understand that there have been many theories of the atonement revised throughout the centuries. This means that we really can’t claim that there is some kind of orthodox consensus. We must therefore look to the richness of all the visions of the cross together. Secondly we will discuss in particular how Keller’s view of the atonement as the foundation for “eternal conscious torment” does not align with Scripture.

We will begin with a summary of why we believe Keller’s Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory theologically, historically and anthropologically fails as an explanation for what happened on the cross. These preliminary points will be followed in another post by a more in-depth look with some links for further study:

Why Doesn’t Penal Substitution Theory Make Sense?

1. The Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) view that Keller appeals to in relation to an eternal hell was not introduced until the Reformation. A rudimentary Substitutionary view was formed by Anselm in the 1100′s. This begs the question of how the Church operated without the revelation of the one and only “correct view” in hand for over 1500 years.

2. The historical views of the Atonement are generally recognized as “theories” and are simply attempts to explain the inexplicable. The idea of a substitutionary atonement (while challenging the concept of it being “penal”) is taken to be at the very most simply one of many views of the atonement by such scholars as the late Leon Morris or Scot McKnight. (See McKnight’s book, A Community Called Atonement). And in the end they all admit to there being within the atonement “infinite mystery.” Doesn’t sound like something we can be dogmatic about with one another.

3. To adhere to the Penal Substitutionary Atonement view one must reverse the message of the Gospel from “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” to “For God so hated sinners that He had to pour out His wrath on His Son in order to love them…” This denies the Gospel “Back-Story” of love that pre-existed within the Trinity. It splits the unity of the Trinity and places an angry deity behind the back of Jesus. Did God have to die in the person of Jesus Christ in order to love and forgive you or has He loved you from before the foundation of the world and therefore die for you?

4. Most troubling the PSA view reverses the message of 2 Cor 5 where we are told: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” as we are invited: “Be therefore reconciled to God!” It changes it fundamentally to a message of His need to be reconciled towards the world. But notice in Scripture there is no sense in which God needs to be reconciled. He does not need to be changed. We do. We are invited to respond to His offer and His work of reconciliation. The cross was to change us. It appears that Jesus died that we might fall in love with Him rather than so that He might fall in love with us. (“We love Him because He first loved us.”) If you are an evangelical who has assumed the PSA view you must grapple with the fact that this view means the purpose of the sacrifice of Jesus was ultimately to change the Father’s mind! This is a glaring contradiction of  ”the Father of Lights who knows no shadow of turning” and “Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8)

5. It is also crucial to consider that the foundation of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement view has its origin in the legal framework and Greek mindset set forth by Augustine. The PSA reduces the cross and salvation to a legal transaction. Within the PSA model we lose sight of the importance of the incarnation and relational nature of the atonement where Christ is said to be identified with our humanity. It is our “at-one-ment” with Christ. “The Word took a body” said Athanasius.

The Incarnation answers the question: “Does God have a clue what it is like to be you? The cross is where Jesus identifies with our deepest alienation from God. Remember, He is fully God and fully man. On our behalf He assumes our doubt that we may become partakers of His faith.” (Andre Rabe) The PSA undermines the vicarious humanity of Christ as it translates Christ’s identification with man into the notion that God is somehow forsaking His Son.

6. Finally, to refer back to the top we ask: was it like a sacrifice? Yes, but in a way consistent with God’s true character and nature. God has always had a “habit” of taking our human concepts and through subversion turning them upside down. There is an understanding of the cross that is becoming ever more clear as we are being faced with the pagan origins of sacrifice to appease an angry deity. If Christ’s death was no more than a reflection of the same cycle of human sacrifice that has been the blight of human existence from the dawn of time then there is no divine revelation within Christ’s death. It is simply a replication of humanity’s failed wisdom. It would be the ultimate exhibition of an evil pagan practice.

So What Was That Thing Jesus Did On the Cross?

As theologians have concluded over the centuries the meaning of the atonement is as wide and deep as the universe. But that doesn’t mean it is a nebulous concept but rather it provides deep revelation for our worship. The stunning beauty of the atonement is that it possesses a timeless and very present application for every individual as well as a transforming power to bring healing to the nations!

Anthropologists have noted that every civilization has a founding murder and subsequent sacrificial practices of its scapegoat victims. This violence has escalated into wars. One theory called the Mimetic Theory explains man as a being that cannot be himself by himself but rather he is a being that reflects whatever he beholds. This theory harmonizes perfectly with what we have learn form Scripture. Ultimately man was meant to reflect the love and adoration of his Creator back to Him. This is where things went wrong. Man chose to try and be like God, without God. Man has been mimicking or mirroring one another to inform his desires which has led to competition, conflict, violence and even war. Sacrifice was instated as a magical way to appease the gods and bring peace to the conflict within societies. In enters God with a sacrificial model when He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Iasac. But notice how God “shifted” the paradigm of a human sacrifice to that of one He would provide! Here is the shadow of Christ!

We see Jesus coming not to imitate human pagan sacrifice but to be the sacrifice that ends all evil pagan and religious sacrifice …forever! Jesus came to turn our human wisdom to nothing (1 Cor 1:20-31), not to validate human sacrifice with a picture of yet another angry god needing blood to be satisfied. As Andre Rabe has so profoundly revealed through his penetrating question:

“What is the perfect sacrifice to the God who ‘does not require sacrifice or offerings’? Would it not be the sacrifice that forever invalidates our religious sacrificial systems?” (Psa 51:16; Heb. 10:8)

Andre continues to illuminate for us this understanding that Christ’s sacrifice demonstrated a divine sacrifice to end all pagan ideas of sacrifice:

“Jesus enacts the atonement to turn our view of sacrifice on its head. ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’ Jesus was not to satisfy the blood-lust of God. It’s God taking the initiative to change your mind about Him. He’s coming to reveal that He is not the angry deity. You were the angry deity who in your own violence invented the sacrificial system. God comes to reveal the Lamb of God. Every attempt we have made to try and twist the arm of a reluctant God Jesus comes to forever invalidate it.”

Perichoresis

The above requires a real paradigm shift. We have had the legal view of redemption ingrained along with its implications of a god who is distant and separated from us. These are yet more Greek concepts accepted throughout mankind’s history; the idea that if there is a god he is distant and he is ticked off at us. He needs to be appeased in order to win his protection and affection. This is not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is not a reflection of the relational oneness found in the Father, Son and Spirit–what has been called by theologians perichoresis (the interpenetrating love and dance of the Godhead).

Intuitively Keller seems to reject this legal notion as he often reminds us that “sin is more than breaking God’s rules but a breaking of God’s heart.” However, as he tries to defend the relational aspect of sin and salvation, he is contradicting his Westminster Confession foundation which is based upon Augustine’s legal understanding of salvation. What is quite shocking is that the Westminster Confession’s very definition of God does not include the trinitarian relationship within God, nor does it mention God as our “Father,” nor is love listed within their definition for God! This is not reflected in Keller’s preaching but he needs to come to terms with the contradiction. We also ask that he weigh the implications of his PSA view as articulated within his article which we will unpack further in Part 2.

Also in Part 2 we will discuss Keller’s assertion that the agonies of the cross entailed a separation from His Father and why PSA can longer be his foundation for the doctrine of an eternal hell.

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10 Comments

  1. Excellent post; I fully concur.

    • glwadmin says:

      Thanks Jonathan, I finally got it posted. I had to break it up in two parts because it was getting so long. It’s sure a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, eh? A lot of unraveling myths and deconstructing traditions of men.

      • I appreciate your writings, and your ministry via this blog.

        In case you are interested, I recently published a commentary on Romans. Along with my own thoughts and explanations of my translation, it is informed by Douglas A. Campbell’s The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (which I highly recommend), among other scholars. The title is, Just Paul: comments on Romans.

        All His goodness to you,

        Jonathan

        http://www.greater-emmanuel.org/jm

  2. Chris F. says:

    Great post, I see a lot of Baxter Kruger language in your post here as well and the Torrance brothers. I am curious if you have ever looked into the Eastern Orthodox Church and their teachings on this topic? They have followed with strict continuity from what St. Athanasius taught about the incarnation. They never had any innovations in their theology such as you mention above and almost wholly reject Augustine’s views of original sin, atonement etc.

    • glwadmin says:

      Thanks for the feedback Chris,
      Yes, we were introduced to Athanasius via Baxter Kruger and the Torrances. They enlightened us to the relational understanding of salvation as opposed to the legal transactional Augustinian model. And yes, this led us to the rich trinitarian theology of the EO. Kallistos Ware was recommended reading at a Perichoresis conference we watched online. These discoveries have enriched us tremendously. It has been the embracing of this Gospel of inclusion that has allowed us to learn from these very different Christian traditions. The premise of this website is that the Body of Christ, taken together, indeed embodies one unifying message. It is unifying because it settles the Calvinist/Arminian debate and allows us to focus not on what we believe about God but rather what He believes about us. Then what God believes (“It is very good” / “It is finished”) becomes the reference and content of our faith.

  3. Chris F. says:

    Btw you should also research the Eastern Orthodox view of hell. It sounds very similar to yours but they have 2000 years of continuity in their teaching. I may suggest an article that you can find online titled, “River of Fire” by Alexandre Kalormiros. Thanks again for the great article.

    • glwadmin says:

      Yes, I have come to appreciate the EO view of hell. It became more visible on the popular level when Rob Bell’s Love Wins came out and several YouTube videos were produced to illustrate the Orthodox view of salvation. Steve Robinson was the first and then Brian Zahnd did a similar one called “The Gospel In Chairs.”

      I will be sure to check out the article River of Fire. Thanks for the recommendation!

      grace and peace…

      • Thanks for the intriguing thoughts. I am an Evangelical Universalist as well, but i don’t see how this new theory really does justice to Scripture.

        Of course my own ingrained personal biases may have something to do with that, but it seems to me that there is such a thing as the “wrath of God’ and that he really is angry with the wicked every day and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

        My take on this is that since God is love it follows that everything that is averse to love must be infinitely offensive to him. So God cannot but be angry with “not love’ or sin. The concept of punishment then should not be viewed as a vindictive need for revenge but a logical response to that which is the opposite to God’s loving nature and also to our nature as originally created by him. We are his image.

        THUS I FEEL IT IS PREMATURE TO COMPLETELY JETTISON THE IDEA OF PENALTY BUT RATHER IT SHOULD BE SEEN AS AN ANALOGY REPRESENTING GOD’S DETESTATION OF HATE AND HIS INSISTENCE ON LOVE.

        (Sorry bout caps. Unintentional)

        It seems to me that for God to do other than condemn sin would be to approve his opposite.

        Just some thoughts.

  4. WRATH in the NEW TESTAMENT

    The definitions, below, are from the following scholars: Thayer; Bullinger; Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich; Friberg, Friberg and Miller; Liddell and Scott; Zodhiates; and The Analytical Greek Lexicon. In the NT examples which follow, note the contexts and settings.

    1) thumos: (from the verb thuo, which means “to rush on, or along; be in a heat; breathe violently or move impetuously or violently”) passion, strong emotion, outburst from a state of mind (these can be either positive, or negative – this latter being hot temper, anger, rage or wrath)

    It basically means to be stirred up in either spirit or soul; in mind or emotion. It can be the fervent love (passion) of a God of love, or if one’s view of God is that He is comparable to a pagan deity, then it can be violent rage and wrath.

    2) orge: (from the verb orgao, which means “to teem, denoting an internal motion, especially that of plants and fruits swelling with juice,” or, the sexual organs swelling in anticipation of intercourse) native character, mental bent, temperament, temper of mind, disposition, mood, impulse, propensity, inherent fervor (phrase by Eddie Browne), vigorous upsurge of one’s nature, passion – and in a negative sense, anger or indignation.

    NT examples of orge (underlined, from The Jonathan Mitchell New Testament):

    Mat. 3:7
    Now upon seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees [two religious and political sects of the Jewish culture] repeatedly or in turn coming upon the immersion (baptism) [event], he said to them, “O offspring (progeny; brood) of vipers (poisonous snakes)! Who secretly pointed out to you people (gave you a private, confidential suggestion) to flee, so as to escape, away from the inherent fervor (the internal swelling that gives rise to an impulse and mental bent which may be expressed in strong emotion, such as anger or wrath; a vigorous upsurge of [God's] nature) which is progressively about to be [demonstrated]?

    Mark 3:5
    Then glancing around at them with swelling emotion from His natural disposition (or: with indignation), being increasingly grieved and experiencing pain and sorrow with [them] at the petrifying of their [collective] heart (also: the covering-over of their heart with a hard, thick layer of flesh), He next says to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” So he stretched [it] out, and his hand was at once restored to its former condition.

    Luke 21:23
    “Tragic will be the situation for the women then being pregnant, and for the ones still nursing [babies] in those days. You see there will be a great compressive force upon the Land, and inherent fervor bringing internal swelling emotion on this People.

    John 3:36
    “The one habitually trusting (or: continuously believing) into the Son is constantly holding (or: progressively having) eonian life (life having the characteristics and qualities of the sphere of the Age; age-durative life; eon-lasting life; life whose source is the Age). Yet the person continuing being unpersuaded by the Son (or: being constantly incompliant, disobedient or disbelieving to the Son; being repeatedly stubborn toward the Son) will not catch sight of (see; observe; perceive) [this] life. To the contrary, God’s inherent fervor (teeming passion and swelling desire; mental bent and natural impulse; propensity and disposition; or: anger, wrath and indignation) is continuously remaining (habitually dwelling and abiding) upon him.”

    Rom. 1:18
    But you see, God’s personal emotion (or: mental bent; natural impulse; teeming desire and swelling passion; temperament; disposition; or: anger; wrath; or: an inherent fervor, which is God,) is continuously and progressively being unveiled (revealed; disclosed) from heaven upon every irreverence (lack of awe or absence of pious fear; disrespect) and injustice (wrong; unrighteousness; situation or act contrary to the Way pointed out) of mankind (or: that arises from humans) – the folks continuously holding down (restraining; stopping while possessing) the Truth (or: reality) in the sphere of (or: within the midst of) injustice (unrighteousness; that which is not right; unfairness and inequality) –

    Rom. 2:5
    Yet down from your hardness (or: in line with and in accord to your obstinacy) and an unrepentant heart (= unchanged thinking and affection in the center of your being) you habitually collect and lay up stores of personal emotion in yourself (or: progressively treasure up to yourself inherent fervor, passionate impulse and a mental bent or a disposition; or: periodically bank for yourself anger, indignation or wrath) within a day of personal emotion (fervor; passion; anger; etc.) and of an unveiling of a decision of rightwising from God
    (or: of a revealing of God’s verdict regarding fair and equitable dealing; of an uncovering of a just judgment which is God; of a disclosure of a separation for a decision having the character of the Way pointed out from God; of a disclosure from God’s right evaluation),

    Rom. 2:8
    Yet, on the other hand, in those (to those; for those) out of a work for ambitious, factious or contentious purposes, and in (or: by) being continuously incompliant (disobedient; unwilling to be persuaded) to (or: by) the Truth (reality; veritable essence), but constantly compliant (obedient; persuaded) in, to, by and for the injustice (inequity; that which is not in accord with the Way pointed out), [there will be] personal emotion (or: inherent fervor; passionate impulse; anger; indignation; wrath; a habit of mind; a mental bent or disposition) and rushing of feelings (or: intense passion of the mind; violent breathing; glowing animation; turbulent commotion of the mind; or: rage; fury),
    [note: the last phrase of this vs. translates thumos]

    Rom. 4:15
    For you see, the Law is by labor constantly effecting personal emotion from intrinsic fervor or natural propensity (or: is progressively working-down anger and wrath, repeatedly producing indignation and by habit fully accomplishing a teeming, passionate impulse or a disposition of desire). Yet (or: Now) where no law is existing (or: where there is no custom), neither [is there] a stepping to the side (a transgression; a violation; a breach).

    Rom. 5:9
    Much more, then – being NOW (at the present time) eschatologically delivered and rightwised (turned in the right direction; placed in right relationships of solidarity; righted and made fair within the Way pointed out; or: justified and made free from guilt; or: = placed in covenant) within His blood (or: in union with the blood from, and which is, Him) – through Him we will continue being rescued (saved; delivered; made healthy and whole; returned to our original state and condition; kept safe), away from the [conditions or situations of] personal emotion (inherent fervor; natural mental bent or disposition; teeming passion and swelling desire; or: [our] anger and [human] wrath).

    Rom. 9:22
    Now since (or: So what if) God – habitually willing (or: repeatedly intending) to display and demonstrate inherent fervor, natural impulse, propensity and disposition (or: teeming passion; swelling desire; or: anger, wrath and indignation), and also to make known by personal experience His power and ability – in much long-suffering (long-breathing; forbearance) bears and carries (or: brought forth and produced; or: enduringly supports while moving) containers (vessels; instruments; utensils) of natural impulse (belonging to a passionate disposition; displaying inherent fervor; from teeming passion and swelling desire; or: of anger; having the character of wrath; owned by indignation), being folks having been fully outfitted, thoroughly prepared and made correspondingly adequate for loss (or: having equipped, adapted and adjusted themselves down into ruin, waste and destruction [of their well-being]), and now continuing in this condition,

    Rom. 12:19
    not being folks habitually getting justice for yourselves (not maintaining what is right concerning yourselves; not avenging yourselves), beloved ones, but on the contrary, you folks must yield the position held in anger (or: give a place for [His] natural impulse, propensity, passion and personal emotion; give place to [His] intrinsic fervor; relinquish [your] right to anger or wrath), for it has been written,
    “‘In Me (or: For or By Me) [is] maintenance of justice (execution of the Way pointed out; working out of the right); I Myself will continue giving away, instead (or: I will progressively be making a recompense [to you]; or: I will continue taking the opposing position of giving [it] away; or: in its place, I Myself will repeatedly repay [you]),’ the Lord [= Yahweh] is habitually saying.”
    [Deut. 32:25; comment: if we are not to practice giving away evil in exchange for evil
    (vs. 17, above), then we should not expect the Lord to do this]

    Rom. 13:4
    for it is God’s servant (attendant who renders service or does a duty; an aid in dispensing; one who arranges for provision) for you (or: to you), [directing you] into the good (the profitable; the virtuous). Yet if you should be constantly doing the worthless (the evil; the base; the thing of poor quality; the ugly), be fearing with a healthy respect, for it is not purposelessly (aimlessly; vainly) continuing to bear the sword! For it is God’s servant, a maintainer of what is right (an obtainer and executor of justice) into a fruitful fervor (to a strong personal emotion; unto an angry result; unto [its] personal bent) for (or: in; to) the person constantly practicing or performing the worthless (the ugly; the poor of quality; the evil).

    Eph. 2:3
    immersed among which folks we all also were once twisted up (or: entangled; overturned; upset) within the cravings (lusts; full longings and desires) of our flesh (= the estranged human nature, or the alienated self), continually doing the will (or: producing the intentions) of the flesh (= our existence while in bondage), and of the divided thoughts and things passing through the mind. Furthermore, we were continuously existing in essence (in natural condition; by instinct) being children of natural impulse (natural disposition; inherent fervor and swelling passion; teeming desire; or: anger; wrath) even as (or: as also) the rest (the remaining ones) [were].

    Col. 3:6
    – because of which things God’s inherent fervor (natural impulse and propensity; internal swelling and teeming passion of desire; or: anger; wrath) is repeatedly (or: continuously; progressively) coming [other MSS add: upon the sons of The Disobedience (or: those having the condition of being unpersuaded; or: the stubbornness); note: “the disobedience” could refer to Adam and Eve eating from the tree, and thus, the “sons of the disobedience” could refer to all of mankind] –

    1 Thes. 1:10
    even to constantly dwell and remain (or: abide and lodge) back up again [with] His Son – [living] from out of the heavens! (or: His Son, whose origin is from the midst of the atmospheres) – Whom He raised from out of the midst of dead folks, Jesus, the One continuously and progressively drawing (or: repeatedly dragging) us to Himself from out of the midst of the repeatedly (or: periodically; continuously) coming violent emotion (inherent fervor; mental disposition of teeming desire; passionate impulse; or: anger; internal teeming & agitation; outburst of rage; wrath).

    1 Thes. 2:16
    while continuously forbidding us (cutting us off; preventing us) to speak to the nations (the ethnic groups; the non-Israelite multitudes; the Gentiles) – to the end that they may be delivered (saved; rescued; healed and made whole) – always [proceeding] unto that which fills up their own failures (errors; deviations; sins)! But inherent fervor (or: swelling passion; teeming desire; or: anger; wrath; agitation of soul) advanced upon them unto a purpose (or: on into [the] final act; or: in the end; on into the midst of a Goal).

    1 Thes. 5:9
    because God Himself did not (or: does not) place (or: set) us into anger (inherent fervor; violent emotion; wrath; or: teeming, passionate desire), but rather, into an encompassing of deliverance (unto establishing a perimeter of safety; into making health and wholeness encircle [us]; into the forming of an encompassing salvation around [us]) through our Lord, Jesus Christ –

    Heb. 3:11 (4:3 is the same)
    “So I swore in My inherent fervor (native character; or: swelling passion and teeming desire; or: inward agitation and anger; or: disposition and impulse),
    ‘If they shall enter into My rest (or: the stopping down and rest which is Me, and which comes from Me) …!’” [Ps. 95:7-11]

    Rev. 6:16-17
    repeatedly saying to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall upon us and hide us [Hos. 10:8] from the Face of the One continuously sitting upon the throne, and from the inherent fervor (natural impulse and propensity; internal swelling and teeming passion of desire; or: anger, wrath and indignation) of the little Lamb,”
    because the great Day of their [other MSS: His] inherent fervor (internal swelling emotion, teeming and passionate desire; impulse; or: anger, wrath and indignation; or: natural bent) comes (or: came), and who (which one) is continuously able (or: continues having power) to be made to stand (or: to be established)?

    Rev. 11:18
    Now the multitudes (ethnic groups; nations) were made angry (raged; were, or are, made to internally swell; were aroused; were made impulsive) [Ps. 2:1], and Your inherent fervor (swelling arousal; impulse; wrath; anger; indignation; natural bent) came (or: comes), and the season (fitting situation; suitable circumstances; fertile moment) for the dead folks to be sifted, separated, decided about and judged, and then to give the wages (or: reward) to Your slaves: to the prophets and to the set apart people, and to the ones continuously fearing Your Name – to the small (or: = insignificant) ones and to the great ones – and then to thoroughly spoil (fully ruin; thoroughly decay; utterly destroy) the folks continuously corrupting (thoroughly spoiling, ruining, destroying) the Land (or: earth; soil).
    Rev. 16:19
    And the Great City came to be [divided] into three parts, and the cities of the nations (multitudes; ethnic groups) fell, and then Babylon the Great (or: the Great Babylon) was called to mind (or: is remembered) in the presence of (before; in the sight of) God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the strong passion (rushing emotion; fury; anger) of His inherent fervor (natural impulse; mental bent and disposition; personal emotion; indignation; wrath).

    Rev. 19:15
    Also a sharp two edged broadsword repeatedly goes out (issues forth; proceeds) from His mouth, to the end that in it He may smite (or: strike) the multitudes (nations; ethnic groups). And He will shepherd them with an iron staff. Furthermore He is continually treading, [as on a path], (or: trampling) the tub (the wine vat) of the wine of the strong passion of the internal swelling fervor (natural impulse; mental bent; personal emotion; indignation; wrath) of the All Strong (Almighty).

    NT examples of thumos (underlined, from The Jonathan Mitchell New Testament):

    Luke 4:28
    Then all the men in the synagogue, as they were hearing these things, were filled with a rush of emotion (or: anger; fury),

    Acts 19:28
    Now at hearing these things and coming to be full of rushing and violent emotions (or: impetuous passion leading to indignation and fury) [D adds: then (or: while) running (or: dashing; rushing out forward) into the street], they began crying out, one after another repeatedly saying, “Great [is] Artemis of [the] Ephesians!” (or: they continued making exclamations of entreaty, constantly saying, “O Great Artemis of Ephesus!”)

    2 Cor. 12:20
    So you see, I continue being afraid, lest somehow – on coming – I may not find you folks such as I habitually intend (purpose; desire) – and I, myself, may be found by you [to be one] such as you folks continue not desiring – lest somehow [I may find] strife (contention; quarreling), jealousy, outbursts of emotions or swellings of anger, selfish ambition and factious rivalry, backbitings (down-babblings; slanderous conversations), whisperings (occasions of malicious gossiping), situations of puffing up (inflations of pride), disorders (situations of unrest; turbulences; losses of tranquility; instabilities).

    Gal. 5:20
    idolatry, sorcery (employment of drugs and enchantments; magic rites), hostilities (enmities; alienations), strife (contentious disposition), jealousies (or: zealous emotions), stirring emotions (rushing passions; furies), factions, standings-apart (divisions), sects (religious denominations; parties with a particular opinion; the making of choices from preferences),

    Heb. 11:27
    In faith, by trust and with confidence, he left Egypt behind, not fearing the rushing fury (violent breathing, rage and angry passion) of the king, for he was strong and stout as continually seeing the invisible (or: the Unseen One).

    Rev. 12:12
    Because of this, you atmospheres (or: heavens) – and the folks continuously tabernacling (or: normally living in a tent; presently encamping) within the midst of them – must continuously make yourselves glad (keep or develop a good frame of mind; rejoice). Woe to (or: Alas for; A tragedy into) the Land (or: earth) and the sea, because the devil (slanderer; separator; opposer; the one who thrusts through) is (or: was) cast down to you, having great anger (violent breathing; rushing passion), knowing that he continues having a little season (a small suitable place; a limited circumstance; a brief fitting situation).
    Rev. 14:8
    And then another, a second agent (or: messenger), followed, repeatedly saying, “It fell (It falls)! Babylon the Great fell (falls), because it has caused all nations (all ethnic groups and multitudes) to drink out of the wine of the strong passion (violent breathing) of her prostitution.”

    Rev. 14:10, 19-20
    10. “he will also drink out of the wine of God’s rushing emotion (strong passion; anger) – of the one having been mixed undiluted within the cup of His inherent fervor (natural bent; impulse; indignation; wrath). And he will be examined (scrutinized with the touchstone to test his “mettle”) within Fire and Deity (Divine qualities) in the presence of (before; in the sight of) the set apart agents, and in the presence of (before) the little Lamb.”

    19. And so the agent cast (or: thrusts) his sickle into the Land (earth), and picks (gathers) the vineyard of the Land and he casts [it; them] into the great wine press (trough; tub) of God’s strong passion (rushing emotion; or: anger).
    20. Then the wine press (or: trough) was trodden (or: is trod as a path) outside of the City, and blood came (or: comes; goes) forth from out of the trough (or: wine press) up to the horses’ bridle – from a thousand six hundred stadia (a fixed standard of measure; a racecourse; a stadium).

    Rev. 15:1
    Next I saw another sign in the atmosphere (or: sky; heaven) – great and wonderful (marvelous): seven agents continuously holding the last seven plagues (smitings, strokes), because within them God’s strong passion (or: fury; wrath) is (or: was) brought to its goal (has been brought to its purpose; is completed; is finished, was ended; has accomplished its destiny).

    Rev. 15:7
    Then one out of the four living ones gave (or: gives) to the seven agents seven golden bowls (or: shallow cups) continuously brimming (being full) of the strong passion (rushing emotion; or: fury; anger) of the God Who is continuously living on into the ages of the ages (or: from God, the One continuously living [and proceeding] into the [most significant] eons of [all of] the eons).

    Rev. 16:1-2
    And I heard a great Voice out of the Temple, saying to the seven agents,
    “You must go (depart) and you must pour out the seven bowls (shallow cups) of
    God’s strong passion (fury; rushing emotion; anger) into the Land (or: earth).”
    Then the first one went forth and poured (or: at once pours) out his bowl (or: cup) upon the Land (or: ground; earth) – and a bad and malignant, festering wound (or: ulcer) came to be upon those people having the imprinted mark of the little wild animal (creature; beast), even upon those continuously worshiping its image (or: likeness).

    Rev. 18:3
    because all the multitudes (nations; ethnic groups) have drunk [other MSS read: fallen] from out of the wine of the strong passion of her prostitution, and the kings of the Land (earth) commit (committed) prostitution (fornication; = idolatry) with her, and the merchants (those who travel by sea for trade) of the Land (earth) are (or: became) rich from out of the power (or: ability) of her headstrong pride and wanton luxury (or: reveling).

    I suggest that we need an understanding of God’s “wrath” as coming from His love (i.e., from His pure character) and therefore as corrective in nature, rather than penal (as is human wrath). When His judgments are in our land (i.e., our bodies) we learn His Way (Isa. 26:9b).

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