In Revelation 11:18 (NIV) it is written,

18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

It would appear from the text that God saw that the nations were angry and he then executed his wrath upon the nations for being angry.

Would this be the point that the author is making? I find it difficult to understand considering that the nations could be justifiably angry and I know that God is a just God.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” (Psalm 89:14).

  • 1
    I see no discernible causative link here.
    – Dottard
    Jan 31, 2021 at 0:14
  • A causative link between the nations being angry and God's wrath. Is that what your question asks?
    – Dottard
    Jan 31, 2021 at 10:29
  • @Dottard- My understanding is that the nations were angry and when God saw this, He caused events on earth to happen........ Matthew 25:31-33....“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the NATIONS will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    – Bagpipes
    Jan 31, 2021 at 11:24
  • 1
    that is true but that is NOT the passage you have asked about - we are looking at Rev 11:18 where no explicit link exists between the nation's anger and God's wrath
    – Dottard
    Jan 31, 2021 at 19:35
  • good for you. Why did you ask the question? Is the link a theological one or a textual one?
    – Dottard
    Jan 31, 2021 at 19:58

7 Answers 7


I'm not sure what you consider a "reputable source." My degree is Master of Theological Studies at a Lutheran Seminary and my "resource" is the HarperCollins Study Bible NRSV that we used when I was in seminary. Just now I read the entire chapter of Revelation 11. Verse 18, which contains the line "the nations were angry" is part of a hymn that the twenty-four elders sang to worship God when the angel blew the seventh trumpet. See Verses 15-17. The hymn is Verses 17 through 18. More on this below. First let us put it all into context.

The Context: God's Throne Room & The Twenty-Four Elders

The Study Notes refer to Revelation 4:11 where God's Throne Room is described. This is where the 24 Elders are on their thrones before God when the Seventh Trumpet sounded (Chapter 11:15) and the loud voice spoke, at which the Elders fell on their faces and worshipped God (V. 16) with the above hymn (V.17).


The New International Version (NIV) says "The nations were angry." The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) says "The nations raged." Since that is the language of my resource, I'll stick with it for this answer.

The Study Notes contain quite a bit about The nations raged.

Three Main Points from Study Notes

The Study Notes refer to:

1. Glory of God's Power in Psalms 46:6

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

"The nations are in an uproar is similar to "The nations are raging." But when God speaks, the kingdoms totter and the earth melts. This glorifies the power of God. Likewise, the Elders glorify Almighty God for his "great power" (V. 17) and for "destroying those who destroy the earth" (V. 18).

2. The Trampling of Jerusalem Motif in Rev. 11:1-2

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months.

Study Notes:

The trampling or subjugation of Jerusalem by the nations (i.e. Gentiles) is a common eschatological motif.

"Eschatological motif" means that it is a literary symbol of end times. They give a number of examples, including Rev. 11.18 of this discussion. One of the other examples for the eschatological motif is Isaiah 63:18:

Your holy people took possession for a little while; but now our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.

Another is Luke 21:24:

they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

In the Bible, Jerusalem is the Holy Place, the sanctified refuge for God's children. Having unclean Gentiles trample Jerusalem means "the end of the world as we know it" to the biblical writers. Their safety is gone and they are at the mercy of their enemies. That is the meaning of "eschatological motif" as used in the Study Notes.

3. Nations' Assembly for Battle in Rev. 16:4

Here is the gist of Verses 12 to 16:

The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east....I saw three foul spirits like frogs...who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty....And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.

The Study Notes say re Verse 14:

To assemble them for battle. The tumult and assault of the Gentiles against Israel is a common eschatological motif.

Another eschatological motif. Again, a number of examples are given but I won't copy them here. It's plain where this is going. "The nations raged in the hymn in Revelation 11:17-18 refers to the motifs of the wicked or the Gentiles raging and rebelling against God's great power and/or God's people.


That is what I believe the writer of Revelation was thinking when writing that passage. For more insight, one might further research his personal, cultural and historical situation. If you wish to apply the verse to your own faith and life situation, you may wish to consult a minister. I am not a minister. I am merely a theologian. As such, I try to figure out what the ancient writers may have been thinking and help others understand this so they can apply it to their own lives as they see fit. All the best.

  • Welcome to the site and thanks for your answer.
    – Bagpipes
    Dec 16, 2021 at 11:17
  • You're welcome! Dec 16, 2021 at 15:28

Revelation 11:18 alludes to Psalm 2:1 English Standard Version

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

They are angry with God as they plot to persecute the believers. So God intervenes and shows his wrath against these ungodly nations/peoples.

This is how an earlier verse is satisfied:

15The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”

God exhibits his wrath and destroys the ungodly peoples to turn the world into the kingdom of God.


Rev 11:18 is part of what happens under the 7th trumpet of Revelation. Whatever system one uses to understand this book of symbols, one thing is clear - the 7th trumpet (Rev 11:15-18) has the following series of events:

  • V15 - “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” (V17) “We give thanks to You, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
  • V18a - The nations were enraged,
  • V18b - and Your wrath has come.
  • V18c - The time has come to judge the dead
  • V18d - and to reward Your servants the prophets as well as the saints and those who fear Your name, both small and great—
  • V18e - and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

Thus, there is no causative link between the nations being enraged and God's wrath, at least in this verse. This 7th trumpet clearly describes a time near or around the second coming of Jesus when Jesus begins his formal reign of all nations. [A Causative link is provided in Rev 6:15-17 and Rev 16:11, 21 but not in Rev 11.]

Thus, we cannot say, at least from this verse, that God's wrath is initiated by the angry nations any more that we can say that God's wrath is initiated by the judging of the dead and rewarding the prophets.

  • 1
    I suspect part of the anger of the nations would have to do with all the plagues being poured out on them
    – Robert
    Jan 30, 2021 at 22:27
  • @Robert - very likely as well as the political unrest that such disasters create. Whether this anger is against the various nations or against God is not explicitly stated but I suspect that it contains at least some anger against God.
    – Dottard
    Jan 30, 2021 at 22:36
  • yes, Rev 16.21, 16.11 makes this explicit
    – Robert
    Jan 30, 2021 at 22:41
  • @Robert - good point - I fully agree. That is the fundamental matter in the book of Revelation - whether we 9at the end) are angry with God (Rev 6:15-17) or are glad to see Him (Isa 25:9, Rev 22:4).
    – Dottard
    Jan 30, 2021 at 22:49

The verses leading into verse 18 explain why the nations have become so angry - angry against God and his sovereign right to rule, that is. Go back just a few verses to pick up what has just happened in the vision.

God had given power to his two witnesses on earth to prophesy. Anybody hurting them had fire come out of the witnesses mouths, which devours and kills such enemies. Those two witnesses inflicted various plagues upon the earth, but then satanic powers overcame them, killing them. They laid their corpses out to be viewed. For a certain time, the people in all the nations gloated, refusing to let the witnesses be buried. They rejoiced over what they took to be their victory over God's witnesses who had tormented them. They partied and sent gifts to each other. Suddenly, at God's appointed time, the witnesses arise, alive! They respond to the voice from heaven telling to "Come up here!"

This terrifies the nations and that same hour there is a great earthquake, a tenth of the wicked city falls, killing 7,000 men. (This is all symbolic stuff, you understand. It's not literal. It's a pictorial use of words to get us thinking about spiritual things that cannot be seen with the naked eye.)

That is called in verse 14 "the second woe" and hot on its heels comes a third woe. That is why the nations are so angry! All the God-sent plagues poured from heaven on to earth should have got the peoples fearing God, worshipping him, and repenting of their rebellion against him. They do none of that (Rev. 9:20-21 & 16:9). They curse God all the more-so. And, we learn in Rev. 12:18 that another reason for God's wrath finally falling on the nations is that the time has come for God to "destroy them which destroy the earth."

The nations have been given abundant time, yet they keep spurning God and his anointed one, and are bent on continuing to ruin God's good earth. In verse 18, the nations finally run out of time. The Day of Resurrection and Judgment is now upon them.

That's how readers of Revelation 11:18 are meant to understand it - not by looking at one verse, but the whole-run-up to that climax must be studied. Then it's obvious: the nations are continuing in their revolt against God's sovereign rights and they will never willingly accept God and his anointed one. Thus comes to pass other prophecies, such as Psalm chapter 2 & Isaiah 13:4-13.

God's wrath is utterly justified. The Day of Salvation has finally ended, and the Day of Wrath begun. And not a soul on the earth will be able to deny that God has been patient, forgiving, and loving, but only those who gladly bowed their knees to such a glorious God will have no wrath poured on them, for they have already been pardoned, the Son of God having borne their punishment in their stead, at the cross.


God does not execute his wrath upon the nations because they are angry. God executes his wrath upon the nations because they defy Him, they persecute the saints, they destroy the earth and they refuse to repent (Revelation 16:9-11; 22). Instead, they curse God because they receive their just rewards.

The sounding of the seventh and last trumpet is accompanied by loud voices in heaven and a warning that the Lord God Almighty has taken His great power and has started to reign. The time for judgment is upon the nations, for the destruction of those who destroy the earth and for God’s chosen people, the prophets and the saints, to be rewarded. Here is a partial quote from the nonconformist minister, Matthew Henry (October 1662 to June 1714):

We have here the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, which is ushered in by the usual warning and demand of attention: The second woe is past, and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded. This had been suspended for some time, till the apostle had been made acquainted with some intervening occurrences of very great moment, and worthy of his notice and observation. But what he before expected he now heard—the seventh angel sounding. Here observe the effects and consequences of this trumpet, thus sounded.

The saints and the angels in heaven worship God with reverence and humility and acknowledge the right of our God and Saviour to rule and reign over all creation. His people rejoice that his reign shall never end and that all his enemies will be put under his feet. Consider, now, how this contrasts with the nations who continue to curse the name of God and who refuse to repent:

Here were angry resentments in the world at these just appearances and actings of the power of God (v. 18): The nations were angry; not only had been so, but were so still: their hearts rose up against God; they met his wrath with their own anger. It was a time when God was taking a just revenge upon the enemies of his people, recompensing tribulation to those who had troubled them. It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his people's faithful services and sufferings; and their enemies could not bear it, they fretted against God, and so increased their guilt and hastened their destruction.
Source: https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary/matthew-henry-complete/revelation/11

Another source (John Metcalfe’s lectures 1997-1998) sheds illumination upon the attitude of God’s enemies towards His people, how they try to silence the prophets and saints and rejoice when they succeed.

‘The second woe is past; behold, the third woe cometh quickly’ (Revelation 11:14). Yea, it comes on the very heels of the conclusion of the second woe. This is the seventh trumpet, the last trumpet. It is the third and last woe. For the trumpet shall sound. The Last Trump shall sound on the day of judgement. This is described in the Old Testament imagery and symbolism so characteristic of Chapter 11, and so needful of spiritual handling. The passage occurs in the closing five verses.

Why were the nations angry? Because they failed in their mission to silence God’s people who bear witness to His sovereignty, dominion and power. God raises His slain witnesses from the dead to ascend into heaven “and great fear fell upon them” (Revelation 11:11-12) That is why the nations are angry and why they curse God and refuse to repent.

The Last Trump concludes with the general resurrection and the judgment to come. The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, who shall reign for ever and ever. God’s enemies are forever silenced. Source: The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Metcalfe, The Third Opening, Part Three, pp 268-270)


Actually this question opens up something we need to understand. The place and role of nations - in Gods eyes. Nations are important, and, part of the [end time] purposes of God is to reclaim the nations.

God’s intention was for nations. For the people to spread and divide. We see this after the flood. But, the people of the world rejected God. We see this at Babel. So, God gave ‘them’, the people, their desire, and gave them over. We see this in Deuteronomy 32. But more, he divided the people up into ‘nations’, set boundaries, and because they had rejected Him, He ‘put’ the nations ‘under’ the sons of god, who became these nations ‘gods’. We see evidence of this with Egypt, (Moses),and Babylon, (Daniel). Then we see Satan offering the nations back to Jesus in the temptation, because Satan knows that was one of the reasons Jesus came. (To reclaim the nations).

And, as well, we hear Jesus speaking parables about nations, sheep and goat nations. This relates to the end times, and ‘edges’ into the doctrine of the Millennium, so we’ll leave this here. (Although to get a full understanding of this question you will need to bring in your view of Revelation, and, not all ‘views’ will ‘fit’ this outline.)

Now, in Revelation we see the climax, the fulfilment of this. That is, ‘reclaiming’ the nations. But, those ‘over’ those nations aren’t impressed, and [those gods] have no intention of giving them up. Exactly the same as we saw with Egypt! Now, God Judges nations based on their leaders. We see this with Israel in the Old Testament. If they had a good leader/king, all went well, but if not, judgement came on them. So in Revelation, the ‘nations’ being angry is a reflection that the ‘leaders’ [leaders ‘motivated’ by their gods, just as pharaoh was] were angry.

Egypt, the nation (people) suffered under wrath, were the object of that wrath, [all] because of pharaoh, their leader, who was ‘motivated’ by the gods of Egypt. And, the same way the plagues were ‘put’ onto Egypt, will happen again during the Tribulation, thus invoking the response of those afflicted. (Nations).

So, that’s what’s being described in Revelation 11. “The nations were angry, and your wrath has come”.

REV 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,

  • 1
    The nations will be ruled with a rod of iron, being dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel. There is no possibility of 'reclamation'. There is only an Armageddon, coming shortly. Those who are saved are saved through repentance and a new birth.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 30, 2021 at 22:59
  • 1
    @Nigel J As I said in my response, this question edges towards one’s view of the Millennium, during which the Nations will be ‘ruled’ with a rod of Iron by Him on the throne in Jerusalem [my view]. But, this is after the nations have been ‘won’ back at end of the Tribulation - [still my view]. But now, with these responses, we are entering another fiercely debated doctrine:-)
    – Dave
    Jan 30, 2021 at 23:39

God's wrath could be provoked by the anger of the nations, but I think that here is used more as a poetic comparation to highlight the big difference between the nations anger and God's wrath. It's a plastic style to put two different elements next to each other to see better their differences.

  • No worries. :) I just hope that you understand what I meant, and this "answer" bring at least some clarification in your issue.
    – Leonard
    Dec 9, 2021 at 12:45

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