MAN UNDER THE
WRATH OF GOD
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).