The Theology of Martin Luther

By Paul Althaus; Robert C. Schultz | Go to book overview

14
MAN UNDER THE
WRATH OF GOD

THE BASIS AND THE REALITY
OF GOD'S WRATH

AS THE holy God, God cannot respond to man's sin in any other way than with enmity and wrath.1 Referring to Paul, Luther says, “God is the enemy of sin, just as sin is the enemy of God.“' Luther uses several concepts, which all say essentially the same thing, to express this necessity in God's being. He can refer to the righteousness of God; every sin insults and injures God for sin injures righteousness. Since God loves righteousness and himself is righteousness, sin strikes and injures him in his very being.' In relationship to sin therefore God's righteousness necessarily expresses itself as wrath. Since Luther finds all commandments included in the First, he can also see the real nature of sin as an attack on God as God, and find a corresponding basis for God's wrath in his determination to remain God. God is the “jealous“ God and preserves his glory as the only God with holy jealousy— Luther here uses Old Testament terminology. He cannot stand idly by and allow men to have some other lord apart from him, and love something else instead of him or more than him, for precisely this is the nature of sin.4 This jealousy necessarily becomes wrath in response to sin. He has both the will and the power to punish.5

God's wrath is a terrible reality which man cannot bear.6 God's wrath is co-extensive with his majesty; like God himself, it is eternal, omnipotent, and infinite.7 God in his wrath is really “a de-

1Theodosius Harnack, Lutbtrj Tbeologie (LT 1) remains the best presenta-
tion of Luther's doctrine of the wrath of God.

2WA 10I1. 472.

3WA 5, 50; LW 14, 316. WA 6, 127; PE 1, 157.

4WA 10M, 361.

5WA 28, 582.

6WA 22, 285.

7WA 39°, 366. Cf. WA 40™, 513, 567; LW 13, 93 (cf. 125).

-169-

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The Theology of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • From the Preface to the German Edition v
  • Translator's Note ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Authority of Scripture and of the Creeds 3
  • 2: The Subject Matter of Theology 9
  • Part One - The Knowledge of God the Word of God and Faith 13
  • 3: The General and the Proper Knowledge of God 15
  • 4: God in Himself and God as He Reveals Himself 20
  • 5: The Theology of the Cross 25
  • 6: The Word of God and the Spirit of God 35
  • 7: Faith 43
  • 8: Reason 64
  • 9: The Holy Scripture 72
  • Part Two - God's Work 103
  • 10: God is God 105
  • 11: God's Will for Men 130
  • 12: Man as a Sinner 141
  • 13: Man Between God and Satan 161
  • 14: Man Under the Wrath of God 169
  • 15: God in Jesus Christ 179
  • 16: The Trinity 199
  • 17: Jesus Christ as the Reconciler and Redeemer 201
  • 18: Righteousness in Faith 224
  • 19: Law and Gospel 251
  • 20: The Freedom of the Gracious God 274
  • 21: The People of God 287
  • 22: The Church as the Community of Saints 294
  • 23: The Office of the Ministry 323
  • 24: The True Church and the Empirical Church 333
  • 25: The Sacrament 345
  • 26: Baptism 353
  • 27: The Lord's Supper 375
  • 28: Eschatology 404
  • Appendixes 427
  • Appendix One - “and Though I Had All Faith” 429
  • Appendix Two - “love and the Certainty of Salvation” 446
  • Indexes 459
  • Index of Names 460
  • Index of Subjects 461
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