Anger - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


thymos (G2372) Anger
orge (G3709) Revenge
parorgismos (G3950) Vengeance
Thymos and orge occur together several times in the New Testament (Rom. 2:8; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Rev. 19:15), in the Septuagint (Ps. 77:49; Dan. 3:13; Mic. 5:15), and in secular writings. These words may be juxtaposed, or one may depend on the other. Although orge thymou does not occur in the New Testament, it is frequently found in the Old Testament (2 Chron. 29:10; Isa. 30:27; Lam. 1:12; Hos. 11:9). On one occasion in the Septuagint, all three words occur together (Jer. 21:5).
After considerable development, thymos and orge came to refer to the passion of anger, the strongest of all passions, impulses, and desires. Although the grammarians and philologers spent some time distinguishing these words, there are a number of passages where they cannot be distinguished. The grammarians and philologers only assumed that the words were not used indifferently on every occasion and concluded that thymos refers to turbulent commotion, the boiling agitation of the feelings. Basil the Great called thymos "an inebriation of the soul" that will either subside and disappear or else settle down into orge, which is more of an abiding and settled habit of mind ("an enduring anger") that is focused on revenge. Thus Plato joined echthra (G2189) with orge, and Plutarch joined dysmeneia with orge.
This more passionate but temporary character of thymos may explain Xenophon's remark that thymos in a horse is what orge is in a man. The Stoics, who were often involved in definitions and distinctions, defined thymos as "beginning anger." In his wonderful comparison of old age and youth, Aristotle characterized the angers of old men in this manner: "Their passions [thymoi] are keen but weak"like fire in straw, quickly blazing up and as quickly extinguished. In his discussion of the two words, Origen arrived at the same conclusion: "Thymos differs from orge in that thymos is anger [orge] rising in vapor and burning up, while orge is a yearning for revenge."Jerome said: "Thymos is incipient anger and displeasure fermenting in the mind; orge however, when thymos has subsided, is that which longs for revenge and desires to injure the one thought to have caused harm." This agrees with the Stoic definition of orge:"a desire for revenge on the person who seems to have caused injury wrongfully." So Gregory Nazianzene said, "Thymos is the sudden boiling of the mind,/ orge is enduring thymos."Where the words occur together, Theodoret noted: "Through thymos is revealed suddenness, and through orge continuation." Josephus described the Essenes as "stewards of orge and controllers of thymos." Dion Cassius noted that one of Tiberius's characteristic traits was that "he became violent [orgizeto] at what barely aroused his anger [ethymouto]."
Menis and kotos are, respectively, "anger of long standing" and "anger of very long standing," and do not occur in the New Testament.
Parorgismos is not found in classical Greek but occurs several times in the Septuagint (as in 1 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 19:3). It is not synonymous with orge, though we have translated it as "wrath." But parorgismos cannot properly be translated by "wrath," because the parorgismos is absolutely forbiddenthe sun shall not go down upon itbut under certain conditions orge may be righteous. Scripture does not absolutely condemn anger, as did the Stoics, but teaches metriopaiheia, a moderation, not apatheia, an absolute suppression, of the passions. Nor does Scripture take a loveless view of other men's sins, such as is reflected in the words, "Do not trouble yourself. Does someone sin? He sins against himself." Aristotle was in agreement with all the deeper ethical writers of antiquity when he affirmed that anger guided by reason is a proper affection, just as Scripture not only permits but on certain occasions demands anger. And this view is held by the great teachers of the church. As Gregory of Nyssa wrote: "Anger [thymos] is a good beast whenever it is under the yoke of reason." And Augustine stated: "Our training does not inquire whether a dutiful mind is angry but why it is angry." Furthermore, Scripture refers to the "wrath of God" (Matt. 3:7; Rom. 12:19; and often). God would not love good unless he hated evil; the two are inseparable. Either God must do both or neither. And there is also a wrath of the merciful Son of Man (Mark 3:5) and a wrath that righteous men not merely may but (as they are righteous) must feel. There can be no surer and sadder token of an utterly prostrate moral condition than not being able to be angry with sinand with sinners. Fuller said: "Anger is one of the sinews of the soul; he that wants it hath a maimed mind, and with Jacob sinew-shrunk in the hollow of his thigh, must needs halt. Nor is it good to converse with such as cannot be angry." "The affections," as another English divine has said, "are not, like poisonous plants, to be eradicated; but as wild, to be cultivated." Thus in Ephesians 4:26 Paul is not condescending to human infirmity and saying (as many understand him): "Your anger shall not be imputed to you as a sin if you put it away before nightfall." Instead he was saying, "Be angry, yet in this anger of yours allow no sinful element to mingle; there is that which may cleave even to a righteous angerthe parorgismos, the irritation, the exasperation, the embittermentwhich must be dismissed at once in order that, being defecated of this impurer element which mingled with it, that only may remain which has a right to remain."

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