Q. In Romans 5:9, is the Lord (through Paul) referring to believers being saved from the wrath of the great tribulation, or from the wrath of eternal separation from God in Hell?
A. It seems to me that equating the wrath of God (which concludes with the Great Tribulation) with the eternal punishment of unbelievers is a relatively new idea. I see it as an attempt to deny that passages like Isaiah 26:19-20, 1 Thes. 1:10 and 1 Thes 5:9 speak of a pre tribulation rapture.
When the Lord wanted to distinguish the normal tribulation we face every day (John 16:33) from the end times judgments that will be the worst the world has ever seen, He added a modifier and called it the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15). But there is no such distinction where God’s wrath is concerned.
The Bible speaks of the day of His wrath, the time of His wrath, the wrath to come, and that with the Bowl judgments His wrath will be completed. This leads me to conclude that generally speaking where God’s wrath is concerned there’s a beginning (Rev. 6:17) and an end (Rev. 15:1) and they’re both contained within Daniel’s 70th Week.
And remember this. God doesn’t send people to Hell because He’s mad at them. He doesn’t want anyone to go there (2 Peter 3:9), so He made a full pardon available to any and all, and it’s free for the asking (Matt. 7:7-8). In effect, people send themselves to Hell by refusing His pardon. God is just and can’t overlook any sin. They all have to be paid for. If we don’t let Jesus pay the penalty for us, then we have to pay the penalty ourselves. It’s that simple.