Wednesday, 23 August 2017
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9
The word “For” is given to explain further what Paul has just said concerning right living as we wait on the Lord. Because of this hope, “God did not appoint us to wrath.” The point of living in a right manner is because we have a true hope of not being caught up in God’s wrath. If such were the case, there would be little point in right living. Every good thing we did would be in vain, and all that we could expect is a reward of pain and misery for our efforts.
But such is not the case at all. Instead of being appointed to wrath, we have been appointed “to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word translated as “obtain” is peripoíēsis. It is a word which means “to make one’s own,” or to “completely obtain.” Literally, it signifies “for abundant (all-around) gain.”
Believers have made a choice in Christ Jesus. They have put their trust in Him, and God has used that trust to guarantee our salvation. There is nothing the believer has done to merit this, but rather it is a choice of trusting solely in the merits of Christ for salvation. This is why Paul states, “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our faith is directed towards Him, and our salvation is obtained through who He is, what He has done, and the means which He has decided for it to come about. The same word is used in Hebrews 10:39 to show that it is faith which makes this possible –
“But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
There the word “saving” is the same as “obtain” here. The faith (those who believe) in Christ is what secures this. Again, it is faith in what Christ has done, and it is sufficient to be saved from God’s wrath.
An argument concerning the timing of the rapture comes up from this verse by some. It says “For God did not appoint us to wrath.” Some will argue that this means believers will be completely exempt from the tribulation period, and these words justify a pre-tribulation rapture. Others state that it justifies a mid-tribulation rapture because Revelation speaks of the “wrath of the Lamb” which is only the second half of the tribulation period.
Paul’s use of the word elsewhere could rightly be used to justify the former, but he also uses the term in the present sense when speaking of of the Jews in 1 Thessalonians 2:16. However, the second option, that of the wrath of the Lamb pointing to a mid-tribulation rapture, is impossible to justify. Nowhere does Paul indicate any such connection as this. But even more, this rather ludicrous analysis makes “the wrath of God” different than “the wrath of the Lamb,” as if Jesus is not God. No such separation is ever noted in Scripture, and it is truly a mishandling of what is being said in order to justify an otherwise unjustifiable presupposition.
Revelation 3:10, speaking of the entire tribulation period says –
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
This is speaking of the entire tribulation period which comprises everything after the letters to the seven churches, all the way up until the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation 19. The next verse after that then says, “Behold, I am coming quickly.” Those words are tied into the thought of “the hour of trial.” In other words, He will come quickly, and then will come “the hour of trial.” It would make no sense to say that one is coming quickly (meaning unexpectedly) if the timing of His coming was already known, meaning one-half way through the tribulation period.
The only justifiable position from a right understanding of Scripture concerning the coming rapture is that it will occur, and only then will the world enter the seven years of tribulation.
Life application: Though we may suffer greatly in this life, as countless millions of Christians have in the past, this is not an indication that God has poured out His wrath upon His people. Rather, that is a part of the world building up iniquity which will be poured out in wrath upon them. The Lord will reward the world with great wrath and indignation, but His people will be saved through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Heavenly Father, at times it seems as if You are absent from us. We face trials, sicknesses, and death. But we can be sure that these things are not an indication of Your absence. You are carefully watching out for Your people while allowing the world to conduct its affairs. You have promised that those who live for You, as well as those who have died in You, will be saved from the wrath to come. We have obtained salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us to remember this, and to be confident that we are safely guarded by you. Amen.