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From the book, THE WORKS OF THE FLESH: Understanding and Defeating the Works of the Devil.

Available in e-book and paperback formats on Amazon.



Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.


        In the last chapter we discussed the word "Jealousies" and we saw that the original word has a very rich connotation. In this chapter we will discuss a word that Galatians 5 lists as “Wrath.”


       There are two Greek words which can be translated wrath in the New Testament.: “Thumos” and “Orge.” The Greek word used in Galatians 5 is “Thumos.”


        According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, Thumos  wrath is to be distinguished from Orge wrath, in this respect: "Thumos, indicates… an outburst of wrath from inward indignation," while "Orge suggests a more settled or abiding condition of mind, frequently with a view to taking revenge." Orge is less sudden in its rise than Thumos, but more lasting in its nature. Thumos may issue in revenge, though it does not necessarily include it. Its characteristic, in most cases, is that it quickly blazes up and quickly subsides.

Thumos is found 18 times in the New TestamentTestament,  ten are found in the Book of Revelation, 7 of which refer to the wrath of God; Thumos and Orge are coupled in two places in the Rev. 16:19 where we read “the fierceness (thumos) of his wrath (orge) and Rev. 19:15 “the fierceness (Thumos) of the wrath (Orge) of Almighty God. 


       To summarize then, both Thumos and Orge can be translated wrath but the word Thumos refers to anger that is very intense, rises quickly, and ends quickly as well. Orge is more long lasting and is not necessarily as powerful. Thumos can turn into Orge, which is long lasting. We, of course, are dealing with the first: Thumos, which means short, sudden, and explosive rage.


       Has anyone here ever experienced “Thumos”? Has anyone here ever felt the effects of “Thumos”? We probably all have.


       One of our parents may have come home stressed out one day, when we were young, and we may have provoked him or her, and Thumos landed upon us with a vengeance -- and we will never forget it.


       One of our childhood teacher may have had a bad day and, being brought to the limit, exploded with Thumos. Some teachers’ explosions are also unforgettable. One day a high school teacher I know was so angry at a student for being defiant and disrespectful toward another teacher that he grabbed him and banged him against a locker. Unfortunately for him it was all caught on camera and he has been in significant trouble.


       Ironically Thumos can, at times, be preceded by much patience and longsuffering, and it may suddenly come to the fore unexpectedly. Thumos can rise out of the  most controlled individual from whom one would never expect such an explosion.


        I remember 17 years ago a teacher who was one of the most gentle and kind men I have ever met, who had shown huge quantities of patience toward a grade four student who was very trying. He finally lost it, grabbed the child, lifted him up and banged him on a stool. Surprisingly, the kid did not get hurt -- much, but he was surely shaken into sobriety—for a while. I was shocked that such a patient and kind man could ever do that—but he did. That was Thumos.


       What about road rage? This is definitely an area when Thumos manifests itself. According to the article, Road Rage Statistics: How to Avoid Rage & Stay Safe, 


“Fully one-half of drivers who are subjected to aggressive driving behavior on the road respond with aggression of their own, thus risking a more serious confrontation.
According to a recently released national survey, when a driver gets (An obscene Gesture), is cut off, or is tailgated, 50 percent of the victims respond with horn honking, yelling, cutting-off, and obscene gestures of their own.

       The survey, administered by Response Insurance, revealed that 34 percent of drivers say they honk their horn at the aggressor, 27 percent yell, 19 percent give the obscene gesture back, 17 percent flash their headlights, and 7 percent mimic the initial aggressive driving behavior. Two percent of drivers admit to trying to run the aggressor off the road.


       Another article titled, “Aggressive driving and road rage” informs us that that 250,000 people have died in traffic since 1990. It is believed that two-thirds of these deaths are at least partially caused by aggressive driving, ...218 were found to be a direct cause of angry drivers. 


       How about war rage? The killing of innocent people, by soldiers who become so vengeful that they destroy anyone in sight. How about marital rage? How many get killed yearly because of it.Solomon tells us that there are great dangers to committing adultery:

Proverbs 6:34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

       Many men find that wives or husbands are having an affair and explode into a killing rage.

       How about child abuse. How abut people who shake a crying baby to death. How about school killings, where Principals, Vice Principals, and teachers get killed by raging students. How about work-related killings.


       Every day Thumos takes its toll around the world with thousands of deaths, but we believers are told that we are to have no part in it.


       THUMOS is a serious problem. Thumos is a work of the flesh that needs to be mastered and controlled, especially by believers.




1. The first reason is because it is a work of the flesh and, thus, it is a trait inspired and amplified by Satan.

        Thumos is carnal. Thumos is a fruit of the carnal, sinful mind. Thumos is one of Satan’s favorite tools.  Thumos is Satan’s gift to us. Thumos does not belong in a Christian’s life. Thumos does not belong in a Christian family or in a Christian church. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that it is evil and, as such, it must not exist among us. Unfortunately, it does exist, and the Apostle Paul warns us that we must bring it under control.

2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;


Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath (Thumos), anger (Orge), clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.


Colossians 3:8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger (Orge), wrath (Thumos), malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Christians must fight Thumos and must defeated. It cannot be a part of our lives


2. The second reason why we must put away Thumos is because THUMOS can "literally" kill.

       Thumos is a psychological time bomb. It explodes suddenly like a bomb, and like a bomb it can produce a lot of damage. Thumos can lead to unthinkable actions. Thumos has led to murder and to other horrible acts. Thumos is a bomb that Satan drops with unpredictable consequences.

       Let’s look at some examples of Thumos in the Bible.

       We have mentioned this example before, and it certainly applies again.  In this example Saul’s son, Jonathan, makes the mistake of defending David and the consequences were almost fatal.

1 Samuel 20:30-34 -- Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”
32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” 33
Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, (His own son) by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.  34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger (But did not throw a spear at his father. Jonathan was able to be angry without sinning), and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully.


          The next example is found in the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar is told that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are not submitting to his wishes and what is his reaction?


Daniel 3:13 -- Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, (Thumos) gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king.

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.


         Herod was another tyrant who was prone to Thumos. This is Herod’s reaction to finding out that the wise men did not support his search for Baby Jesus.


Matthew 2:16 --Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.


Jesus had to bear the consequences of "Thumos" on more than one occasion. In the following example he bore the wrath of his own townspeople.

  Luke 4:16  -- So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
       Because He has anointed Me
      To preach the gospel to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives
      And recovery of sight to the blind,
      To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

In the above example we see Thumos evolving into Orge, as it often occurs, and leading to wanting vengeance. In the next example we read what Thumos did to Stephen.


Acts 7:54-58 -- You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.


 54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.


The apostle Paul was quite familiar with Thumos. He was one of the ones who was filled with it and Orge that day.


3. We must also put away Thumos, because it can have long lasting effects on us and others.


       Thumos can lead to foolish actions that can leave lasting physical consequences in others and us. We’ve seen how it can be dangerous for others, but what about us?


       Some people like to express Thumos in various creative and foolish ways such as breaking things, punching walls, punching doors, throwing things. (In all such cases something gets broken or damaged)

Others like to drive away furiously. They back up from their driveway angrily and end up hitting cars or, worse, people. Some continue driving away angrily down the road or on a highway, and end up in serious accidents.

       Some say something nasty back at the boss and end up losing a job. Some get involved in fistfights and lose a few teeth. Some angrily answer back at a teacher or a policemen, a judge or a teacher with wrathful consequences.

       Hitting a rock twice when God told him to do it only once, kept Moses from entering the Promised Land.

Numbers 20:10-- And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”

11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.


       Another example of long term consequences is found in Genesis 49:5-7. Simeon and Levi allowed their wrath to lead to vengeance and the killing of many. Their father cursed them because of their foolishness.

 5 “ Simeon and Levi are brothers;
      Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.

 6 Let not my soul enter their council;
      Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
      For in their anger (Thumos that turned into Orge) they slew a man,
      And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.

 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
      And their wrath, for it is cruel!
      I will divide them in Jacob
      And scatter them in Israel.

In their case, their fury brought about a curse that would last for generations.


4. Because it tarnishes our name as Christians believers, and the name of God whom we serve.

       Believers have been given a mission: be lights to the world. Be different. Be peacemakers not warmongers. Exude kindness not harshness. God’s Spirit must shine through us, and Thumos will not do.


       Paul had a fiery temperament at conversion. He had a strong propensity toward Thumos.


Acts 23:3 What did he say to the high priest, not knowing that he was the high priest.

3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”


Even though he did not know who the man was,  his reaction revealed that he had fire going through his veins. But Paul learned to control this weakness over decades of trials and tribulations and the help of God's Spirit. By the end of his life Paul had learned to keep Thumos out of his life.


       The other great Apostle Peter had a good dose of Thumos as well. In fact, because of Thumos, someone lost an ear. God put Peter through the grinder over decades and he he over time did calm down.


     The two "Sons of Thunder"  tended toward thumos. They would have pulverized quite a few people, if they had their way, but Christ said no. They calmed down as well. But they too had to be tenderized.


5. Only God can use Thumos righteously.

Romans 2:8 -- but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, (Thumos).


God’s fury is just, fair and well weighed -- ours is not.


Revelation 14:19 -- So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.


Revelation 15:1 -- Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.


Revelation 15:7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.


Other examples of God's "Thumos," are found in Revelation 18:3, Revelation 16:19, Revelation 19:15. 


       God therefore is the only one who is allowed to use Thumos. He will use it at the end of times to accomplish his good purposes and for good ends.


Reason 8 : We must conquer Thumos because if we don’t we will not inherit eternal life.

       Galatians 5:21  make it perfectly clear that the fast and easy way out of  the  Kingdom is by practicing

the works of the flesh. “...they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

        Why are the consequences so severe? Because we must be controlled beings. Before we enter God’s Kingdom we must be in control of our emotions, we cannot be controlled by them. God cannot afford to have uncontrolled beings assisting Him in running the universe forever.

        But how do we conquer such a powerful emotion?


1.  If we have the tendency toward Thumos, we must first and foremost admit it to ourselves.

People who come from areas of the world where anger is not frowned upon, would have a greater tendency toward Thumos. The fact that our culture may encourage it, or may not discourage it, is not an acceptable excuse.


2. We must not rationalize or try to excuse it.

The fact that we may have endured a situation a long time before we allowed wrath to take over, is not acceptable either. The fact that the person "deserved it," will not do.  Thumos is simply not acceptable for us Christians and we must conquer it.


3.  Remember the consequences.

Since we all have had Thumos moments, we all can remember the mess we made, the people we hurt, the bad taste we left behind, the embarrassment we felt, and the reasons we gave to others to say: “and you call yourself a Christian?”


4. Must admit it to God and repent.

We don’t need to necessarily admit our problem to others, but we definitely do need to admit it to God, on our knees and to ask for forgiveness. If we have difficulty seeing the seriousness of it, we need to ask for repentance. Repentance is a gift from God. We can ask for it and we will receive it.


5. Must ask for His strength to defeat it.

Thumos may be well entrenched in our personality. It may have been a part of us for decades, thus making it hard to get rid of it. We may need to continually ask God to free us from this weakness, until the job is done.


6. If the problem is very serious, we need to share it with the ministry and close brothers or sisters so that they will pray about it.

       When we share our weaknesses and trials with a committed brother or sister, not only will we be able to to get relief by venting, but we may find that others may have had the same problem and they they may have good, sound advice to share with us. Most of all they will join us in prayer and that will be the greatest benefit of all.


7. We must take into account and correct life style factors that could be contributing to the problem.

There are many cases where people suffer form high irritability because of physical causes. The following are some of them.

a. a diet poor in vegetables, fruits and calcium containing products. A deficiency in B vitamins and or calcium can lead to low stress tolerance, and high irritability.


b. too much sugar. Some research into the consequences of eating sugar may discourage a high intake. Some people react to sugar by becoming irritable.


c. too much coffee. Some people should not drink coffee at all. Coffee adds to their irritability. I counseled a man once that was a walking bomb; the man oozed tension. he finally confessed to drinking 30 cups of coffee a day.


d. Alcohol: Some people drink alcohol and relax, others become irritable.


e. Not enough sleep. Most people know that little sleep makes most people tired and very irritable.


8. High stress levels. Stress can affect us physically and psychologically. In times of stress our patience level is lowered and the possibility of anger increases. Stress and irritability go hand in hand.  Some times we cause our own stress. We take too much upon ourselves. We are too quick to do overtime. We may be too quick at offering to help when we should take a break. It is OK to politely say no, when we are genuinely stressed out. It is OK to say I’ll help another time, this time I can’t, if we are genuinely exhausted. Not doing so could lead to more exhaustion, then, in time, resentment and then anger and then, potentially, Thumos, with people around us.


9. We must take into consideration, repressed anger. Some times we may be storing in the back of our minds childhood traumas that are rising up unpredictably in the form of extreme anger or shocking explosions.  These are problems that need to be shared with close friends or the ministry. In some cases there may be need for professional help. It is best to talk about problems than to store them and then to explode. Some people go through this cycle: they store anger and then finally explode.


10. Must be filled with God’s fruits. Where the Holy Spirit abounds, the fruits of God’s Spirit abound. The closer we are to God in prayer and study and fasting the less the probability of losing control. Where love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance abound, it’s hard to find fury.

       We believers must stay close to God. Our prayer life must be abundant. We must ask God to fill us with the fruits of His Spirit on an ongoing basis, and if we do there will be a transformation over time.

       Thus today we have grown in understanding of another work of the flesh: Thumos: Instanteneous, quick-flaring, damaging, anger. We saw that this kind of anger is very common and that it is the cause of much pain and anguish in our world. We looked at various reasons why we must conquer it and various things we can do to overcome it. Lastly we saw that God provides a certain way to gradually and surely bring it under control.

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The next article will address the next work of the flesh: Strife

The Works of the Flesh:  Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresy, Envy, Murders, Drunkenness, Revelings.

The Fruits of the Spirit:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Longsuffering
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness / Faith
  8. Gentleness/ Meekness
  9. Self-control


© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2009.