The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Was the wrath of God "satisfied"?

Sang this song in church today and the following stanza does not sit right with me.

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

Was the wrath of God “satisfied” by Jesus death on the cross?
I don’t think so. I think God’s wrath is still active against sin whether or not the one sinning claims Christ.
What do you think?

I agree.

Is there any place in scripture that talks of God’s wrath as “satisfied” by Christ? I can’t think of anything right now.


I have concerns about it too, however, I think the “traditional” answer would be PSA combined with the “now and not yet” concept. i.e. God was furious but Christ stepped in and took it all on Himself on the Cross, once for all time, however, the effects of that are still working themselves out until Judgement Day. Similar to the idea that believers are completely saved now but still go on sinning and suffering on earth.

I can agree with that song in a very figurative sense, if “wrath of God” is defined in the Romans 1 understanding of “the consequences of sin.” Otherwise, thinking that God is somehow furious with people and wants to beat them for their offenses against him–that doesn’t sit right with me either.

I don’t see God’s ongoing wrath toward sin as being “furious with people” and wanting to “beat them for their offenses”. I see His ongoing wrath as similar to the way a very wise and loving father will allow a prodigal to experience very painful and humiliating consequences. God’s wrath is corrective and remedial and I don’t think Christians get a pass. If I sin, I will experience the wrath of God.

I couldn’t find anything either.

I’ve had issues with that song for a while now as well!

Not being convinced by Penal Substitution, I went through a phase of finding the line, “The wrath of God was satisfied” hard to sing. It implies that God tortured Jesus until He was “satisfied” that sin had had its comeuppance. However, after lots of consideration, I find find myself able to sing the line comfortably… under a slightly different interpretation:

God has declared and end to His wrath. If God really does hate sin so much that the only justice is torment for all eternity, this line of the song effectively says, “God decided to do something about this and has declared His wrath ‘satisfied’ so that no more need to suffer.” Which sits comfortably with Hosea 11:8-9, where God shows His love in such a way that His heart is changed and His wrath withdrawn. Therefore His wrath is satisfied.

Does that understanding work?

Gem, I’m so convinced that on the cross it’s God’s love that was satisfied, not wrath. I get somewhat distressed when I come across songs like these, sometimes quite frequently, in church. Sometimes I have to take creative liberties and change the words. If I just switch a few things around I can usually redeem it quite well. :smiley: (And nobody seems to notice :laughing: )

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The song is written by ETC advocates, and so it is not dealing with remedial wrath - but the “wrath is gone, salvation offered” deal.

The song can still carry good meaning, though the wrath of God being satisfied would be (like many hymns and songs these days) be rendered poetic, but inaccurate.

Well, biblically speaking the concept of God’s wrath being satisifed has to do with propitiation.

Romans 3:24-25
“and are justified by his grace as a gift, ithrough the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

1 John 2:2
“And He Himself is the propitiationfor our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

So as I understand it, God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice in place of the transgressors. He died for the ungodly. They now receive justification. Am I missing something?

Maybe, maybe not :slight_smile: You might find these interesting:
Commentary on NT usage of “propitiate” (JRP)
Penal Substitution & Universalism
Is Penal Substitution a dangerous doctrine?

The thing I find hard to understand is if God is almost out of control with rage when it comes to sin, why did He create us, why does He sustain us, why does He get His hands dirty by coming into our creation through Jesus? Also the bible tells us blood sacrifices & burnt offerings aren’t what really makes God happy, so why is the Cross an exception? :confused: There are other ways of understanding the Cross & Substitutionary Atonement, which might be better e.g. Christus Victor

I hadn’t read this thread yet, but we happened to have this song at church yesterday morning (best song of the morning by far); and at the time I thought, yep–God’s love was satisfied on the cross, not His wrath.

So I made a note to look up this thread and, yay, someone beat me to it! :smiley:

Edited to add for Tillerman: I’m who wrote the commentary on the NT usage of “propitiate” that Alex linked to. The short answer is that the Biblical usage (in the NT at least) has nothing even remotely to do with God’s wrath; although usage of the term outside the Bible does reflect the natural religious expectation on this topic (namely that the deity does not love us, is at best indifferent to us, and may even naturally hate us, so has to be propitiated to smile on us or to lean in our direction.)

Well if God’s wrath was not satisfied, then it abides on us. By John 3:36 (He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him) we know that it does not “abide” on us who believe. To me that means it was taken away. We use the word “satisfied” because God is just and he must punish sin, He doesn’t just sweep it under the rug. So somewhere God has rectified our account (those who are being saved); we do not have to suffer His wrath for our sin. Christians believe that Jesus is the one who suffered in our stead(paid our debt). There therefore remains no more wrath to him who believes and is being saved.

Hi Kim,
I think where I would disagree with you is in the assumption that each sin necessitates a “payment” of wrath. That is the “eye for an eye” philosophy. On the contrary, our Lord tells us to turn the other cheek to the one who strikes us, to give to the one who asks of us, to lend without expectation of repayment, to freely forgive those who trespass against us, that love “covers” a multitude of sins. The Way of the Lord of Life is the way of love.

I don’t say that God will not punish sin – He certainly does! Not to equalize a balance of wrongs, but to bring about righteousness – because that is justice.

Welcome to the forum!

:laughing: I change the words of songs all the time. After all, that melody probably belonged to a perfectly good pub song when the Wesleys (or whomever) stole it. Why should I let it go to waste? :wink:

What sin do you think was satisified? What do you think sin is, the evil we do? Is sin based on right and wrong?

Sorry to butt in ‘AUniversalist’ - we don’t know when kimmykimko will reply (but she will pick up your questions when she does). I just wanted to share some relevant thoughts as they occur to me.

Hi Kimmykimko. I’d agree that we Christian’s believe that Christ died for our sins – but not all Christians at all times have believed that this means Christ died to pay a debt of wrath owed by us to God the Father. This view of the atonement was not the view of the Eastern Fathers of the Church and has never been the view of the Eastern Church - and they were reading the same Bible (but had the advantage of reading it in the original language).

Even amongst the more legalistic Latin Fathers the idea of Christ as substitute for God’s just vengeance is not found in exactly the form that some – but not all – Christians nurtured in the Western tradition believe today. We first find it in the writings of St Anslem (10th century) and it is not until the 16th century, in the writings of John Calvin, that we find it in its modern form.

One lesson I draw from this is we need to be tolerant of each other and give each other space to disagree . :slight_smile:

I agree with you completely here Sonia :slight_smile: – but I also think there is some continuity between ‘an eye for an eye’ and 'turning the other cheek:

As I understand it the ‘eye for an eye’ philosophy is actually an improvement upon other ancient Near Eastern Codes of law. For example, in the Babylonian Code Of Hammurabi the equivalent law states that if a nobleman takes out the eye of a nobleman he should pay with his own eye, and if he takes out the eye of a peasant he should pay a fine; however, if a peasant takes out the eye of a nobleman he should pay with his life. So the law as stated in the Pentateuch is an improvement on Hammurabi since it introduces the concept of equality before the law. (It strikes me as notable that forms of substitutionary atonement theory that argue that an infinite God being infinitely good and infinitely just, takes infinite offence at our finite sins etc, have more in common with the Code Of Hammurabi than Biblical principles of Justice.

Also ‘an eye for an eye’ introduces the principle of proportionality into law (‘no more than an eye for an eye’) and curbs the excesses of vengeance as it escalates into vendetta. We see this escalation in Genesis where Lamech, Cain’s descendant says: “I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy sevenfold” (Genesis 4: 23 – 24 RSV). Jesus words that Peter should forgive his brother not seven times but seventy times seven (Matthew 18: 22 ) must be alluding to Lamech. Therefore they are a fulfilment of the spirit of the law of ‘an eye for an eye’ - going even further to resolv

e the problem for vengeance - rather than its abolition. It seems to me that if this is the law of God then something has lost balance when we speak of Divine justice that needs to be satisfied through substitute or retributive punishment.

Thanks for that Cindy. I read it when the sky was grey and it cheered me up :smiley:

Good wishes to all


I sang this song at a funeral today and had the same questions at these words. Ended up not singing various phrases of many of the songs that were sung. It occurred to me that we might needs some new songs–songs that say “All will be well.”


Here’s the only one I know -

Loud are the bells of Norwich and the people come and go
Here by the tower of Julian I tell them what I know
Ring out bells of Norwich and Let the winter come and go
All shall be well again I know

Love like the yellow daffodil is coming through the snow
Love like the yellow daffodil is Lord of all I know
Ring out…

Ring for the yellow daffodil, the flower in the snow
Ring for the yellow daffodil and tell them what I know
Ring out…

(sung as chorus)
All shall be well I’m telling you Let the winter come and go
All shall be well again I know.

Sydney Carter