If you have not read Part 1 or 2, go back and catch up for the sake of context.
As I have built a case so far, our view of God’s character effects our understanding of the wrath of God. If we view God as constantly angry, then His wrath and judgement would probably look similar to an abusive Father just waiting to give us a beating. Then if we say that God the Father’s wrath was satisfied in the death of Jesus, you may get a picture of an angry and abusive Father delighting in the murder of His son, and maybe you even see God the Father as the murderer of Jesus.
I am a father of two children. When my children get in trouble, they receive the consequences of their actions. Our goal is not to discipline out of the emotion of anger, because we want our kids to realize that they are responsible and to avoid and be scared of the consequences and not us.
The way that we see wrath defined over and over in scripture is the same as what many of the early church fathers understood. As Brian Zahnd says while talking about the early church views, “wrath is best understood as divine consent to our own destructive will.”
The phrase that we see over and over when talking about God’s wrath is “hand over”. (Greek – παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) and ἔκδοτος (ekdotos)).
Here is one of the most used and prominent passages to understand wrath from this perspective:
Take a minute and read: Romans 1:18-25
A few highlighted verses in this passage:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness…
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires…
God’s wrath is often played out by Him handing over people to the consequences of their own depravity. God’s wrath says, “okay if that is the way you want it, have it your way” (keep this in mind when thinking about judgement and hell). This is not a response of a controlling/abusive father.
(It is the father who gave his son his inheritance early, handed his son over to his desires, and the son squandered all of it (Lost Son – Luke 15:11-32).)
What About Israel’s Exile in the Old Testament?
God is a God who protects His people, but part of His wrath playing out for their disobedience and idol worship is that sometimes the consequences come by Him removing His protection and letting pagan superpowers take Israel captive. He hands over Israel, with divine consent, to these nations as part of His judgement.
He did this by using Babylon in the Old Testament:
49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand,
Augustine says this,
“He shows also His power, by which He makes a good use of evil men, and endows them with many natural and temporal goods, and bends their evil to admonition and instruction of the good by comparison with it.”
Stephen Butler Murray, in his book “Reclaiming Divine Wrath: A History of a Christian Doctrine and Its Interpretation (Studies in Theology, Society and Culture)”, explains Augustines quote like this,
“Thus, God uses evil men and wicked rulers to accomplish the wrath of God upon others, both the elect and the reprobate.”
(I talk about this in my post “The Sheep and Goats Might Not Be What You Think”)
So finally… What about Jesus?
It is best explained in the message that Peter gave at Pentecost. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up, and began to address the Jewish crowd. Here is a part of what he said:
23 This man was handed over (ἔκδοτος (ekdotos)) to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
The wrath being satisfied in Jesus is when God the Father removed His protection and handed Jesus over to the wickedness of evil men who killed Him. Not just that… Jesus is God in human form, and He willingly handed Himself over in love to this process. THIS IS THE LOVING HEART OF GOD!!!
It is key to see that God the Father handed Jesus over, but it was wicked men who put Him to death. God himself (in Jesus) took the blow of evil men, turned the other cheek, did not repay evil with evil, showed His love, was the substitute (representative of His rebellious/idol worshipping people) for wrath to play out, and then had victory over sin’s consequences of death. We can now claim His victory over sin’s consequences by faith.
This is how God’s wrath was satisfied in Jesus.
How has this changed, challenged, or affirmed your view of God’s character? Feel free to write it in the comments and share!
Here are a fraction of the other verses in the New Testament that use παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) in the same way:
44 Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.
As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.
31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”
7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”