1 Thessalonians 5:7

Monday, 21 August 2017

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
1 Thessalonians 5:7

Paul now explains what those who are in darkness do with the darkness. First, they “sleep.” This is not to be equated with “those who have fallen asleep” in the previous chapter. There, Paul was speaking metaphorically of those who had died in Christ. Here, he is speaking of those who are spiritually dead as if asleep. They live in immorality, they act contrary to the word of God, and they are unpleasing to Him because of this.

Such people in this condition “sleep at night.” This continues the same thought. The night is the time of darkness. The physical darkness of a real night is to be compared to the spiritual darkness of those who are apart from Christ. They are doing the things which those “who sleep” do at the time when those who sleep do them.

Next he says, “and those who get drunk.” Again, Paul uses a physical example to make a spiritual analogy. A person who is drunk is incapable of right thinking. They are often rude, boisterous, etc. It is a real, literal, and physical condition which is to be taken metaphorically for those who are in a comparable spiritual state. They cannot discern rightly concerning the word of God. They are spiritually corrupt, morally abusive, etc. And as he says, such people who are in this state “are drunk at night.”

Paul again compares the life they live to being in spiritual darkness, and apart from the light which comes forth from Christ. His physical examples are provided for us to make spiritual comparisons to the world around us, and to discern what is right, moral, honorable, and glorifying of God.

Life application: Paul’s words are to be taken both literally and in a spiritual sense in this verse. One points to real conditions; the other as metaphors to those conditions. This is obvious because all people sleep at night, and there is nothing wrong with doing so. Further, not all people who get drunk do so during the night. These are general statements intended to provide spiritual applications. Careful consideration is necessary in verses like this in order to not jump to unfounded conclusions about what is spiritually right and proper, and what is spiritually improper.

Lord God, your word sometimes uses metaphors to teach us spiritual truths. These are really, really helpful to us when trying to understand what You wish for us. But how can we understand the spiritual meanings unless we understand the metaphor first! As always, if we don’t know your word, we are ships tossed about on an unfriendly sea. Help us to desire your word more than our necessary food. And then open our minds to understanding it properly. Amen.

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