This needs some context to be provided. Paul is closing out his letter to the Corinthians and talking about coming to see them. He expresses a fear that when he comes they will not be as he hopes or he will not be as they hope (they have had some conflicts over the course of the two letters we have and they reference visits and letters that we do not have). He fears if this is the case (that he is not as they hope or they are not how he hopes) the result may be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults. If that is the case, Paul goes on to say in verse 21 “[And] lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and [that] I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ” So if they aren’t as he hopes or he isn’t as they hope and the result is debates, etc., then God will have to humble him among them and he shall bewail, or mourn, those who have sinned and not repented. What is the sin? Is it anger? No – it is uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness.
And the Greek word for wrath in verse 20 is “thumos” and means”1) passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again
2) glow, ardour, the wine of passion, inflaming wine (which either drives the drinker mad or kills him with its strength)” This is one of the things Paul is worried may happen when they get together if they can’t see eye to eye, but it’s not what he lists as sin.
On to Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: “
“Wrath” is again “thumos” or the boiling anger that comes and goes, and it could be expressed as the easy offense that Proverbs warns against.”Anger” is “orge” and is “1) anger, the natural disposition, temper, character
- 2) movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger
- 3) anger, wrath, indignation
- 4) anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself
- a) of punishments inflicted by magistrates”
This would be the character of anger. Not just anger, but the angry person. In modern language we would talk about someone who has an anger issue or anger problem.
Paul, in Ephesians, is addressing the coming together of Jewish and Gentile believers into one Body and before telling them, in verse 32, to be kind to one another, he admonishes them to get rid of the things that are driving and keeping them apart -including easily being provoked to burning anger or having a character flaw of being angry all the time. Also, he is not stating that these things are sin – only that they need to be put away, or caused to cease. These are certainly not beneficial qualities or actions, but I still see no evidence that they are “sin”.