1 Thessalonians 5:8

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Paul, using the metaphor of “those who get drunk are drunk at night,” from the previous verse now contrasts that with the expected life of the believer. He says, “But let us who are of the day be sober.” As noted, getting drunk is equated with a spiritually immoral condition. Paul doesn’t say that we cannot be in such a state. Rather, he exhorts that we should be otherwise. Christians are to have a complete break with the life-attitude and conduct of those who have not come to Christ. In order to accomplish this, he next gives two more metaphors to guide us.

First, he says, “putting on the breastplate of faith and love.” The words “putting on” give the idea of vigilance. The guard “puts on” his gear in anticipation of that which is certain to come. Adorned in these things, he is then to watch. Why? The reason is because he doesn’t know “the times and seasons” mentioned by Paul in verse 5:1. The guard is to stand ready at all times, not be asleep at night nor get drunk at night. “The breastplate of faith and love” is a protection. In Ephesians 6, Paul exhorted believers there to put on “the breastplate of righteousness.”

In our watchful state, we are to have defensive protection which is based upon who we are in Christ. Faith is our strong defense against the wait. It may be a long time; it may be a time of trial and persecution; it may be a wait which encompasses an entire life of ill health or disability. But we are to defend against the attacks of the world with faith. When we stand in God’s goodness, and upon His word, we will be able to endure whatever blows we may face.

Added to that is love. Paul’s discourse concerning love in 1 Corinthians 13, along with his many other references to it, can teach us how this should be realized in each of us. Suffice it to say that this is love of God and of man, and it is love from God and from man. We are to live in this state of love in order to protect ourselves from whatever attacks we may face.

Finally, Paul says, “and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” Paul retains the same metaphor that he used in Ephesians 6. The helmet, both there and here, is one of salvation. A helmet is used to protect one’s head. It is to guard us in our thoughts, in our knowledge, and in our understanding. As it is a helmet of salvation, it is one intended to keep us from falling into idleness, despair, loss of the knowledge we already possess, etc. When we have a hope, we are not to let it become diminished. Instead we are to retain that hope, reflect on it, and be encouraged by it. In so doing, we will not be as one who sleeps at night, or as one who gets drunk at night. Instead, we will be sober and alert at all times.

Life application: Faith, love, and hope are all things that we are exhorted to possess, and we should possess them in abundance, even to overflowing. If we stand in this way, then we will be able to overcome despair, and from getting sucked into the ways of the world once again. Christ is coming; we don’t know when that will occur; and therefore we need to stand ready at all times. If we don’t do these things, our walk will falter, and we will become ineffective soldiers in the church.

Lord God, help us to be sound, reasonable, and effective soldiers who are always on the watch as we wait upon Your return. It is so easy to get caught up into idle speculation, and to then let our guard down. In so doing, it will be easy to fall into despair, and in turn to lose our hope. Help us to not be this way, but to stand moment by moment throughout our lives in eager anticipation of being joined to You forever. Whenever the day comes, even so – let it come. Amen.

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.

1 Thessalonians 5:6

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:6

The word “Therefore” is given as a summary of what has been said concerning the words of verses 1 through 5. He has spoken of the “times and the seasons” which includes the Day of the Lord, and which will come as a thief in the night. He has said that those who are of the night will find that sudden destruction will come upon them. He has said that because we are not of the night, but rather are “sons of light and sons of the day” that this Day will not overtake us as a thief. This does not mean, and it cannot be inferred from these words, that we can know specifically when the Day of the Lord is coming. Rather it means that we will not be ensnared by it, having a general understanding of the prophetic timeline as he has laid it out. Because of this, “Therefore.”

To build upon the “Therefore,” he then says, “let us not sleep, as others do.” What this means will be further defined in the coming verses. Now, he simply tells us to not sleep. It is a metaphor which doesn’t so much speak of sin, but rather of being careless in things pertaining to morality and spirituality. He speaks of sleep in this manner in Ephesians 5 –

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:8-14

Therefore, Paul’s words here are not speaking of us being aware of the “times and seasons” of verse 1 at all. It is speaking of our spiritual state as we await the Lord’s unfolding of those set and appointed moments which are known but to Him alone. Again, as is seen in the previous verses, there is nothing to suggest that we are going to be aware of the day of the rapture. The Lord has told us this, Paul has confirmed it, and so we are to be spiritually and morally awake as we await Him.

We are not to fall into the same state of indifference which is noted about unbelievers (noted here as “the others” – see verse 4:13) who state “peace and safety.” In so doing, as is common among the apostatizing liberal churches of today, they are being drawn back into being in the dark rather than remaining in the light. This is something Paul states, time and again, which can happen to believers who do not actively stay awake, immerse themselves in the word, and walk according to the doctrine he lays down for us.

This then is confirmed by the contrasting clause, “but let us watch and be sober.” In the next verse, Paul will use the literal example of sleeping and drinking until being drunk. After that, he will explain what that means in a moral and spiritual sense by telling us how to avoid it. We are to be calm, wakeful, circumspect, and morally grounded because of knowing and adhering to the word. In acting in this manner, we will always be ready for the Lord’s coming. It will not be a moment of sad surprise when it happens, but rather a moment of joyous surprise. This is what Paul’s words convey. They in no wise indicate that we should be predicting the rapture, but rather we are to be in constant anticipation of it.

How sad it is that those who predict the rapture, time and time again, are actually in violation of this very precept. To state in January that the rapture is coming in September, or from one year to the next, or on a date four years away (or whatever!) would then wholly violate the intent of Paul’s words. We are to be awake at all times, ever prepared for a moment which the Lord has reserved unto Himself alone.

Life application: What a sad and dangerous attitude it is to speculate on the day of the rapture and the subsequent unfolding timeline of the time of God’s wrath upon the earth. And what an incredible waste of time it is. It is good to know the broad outline of these things, teaching them as doctrine, but it is error to specify when that outline will be executed. Let the Lord be the Lord. When we stand before Him, there will be no boast that we knew what He knew about the timing of these unfolding events.

Lord God, help us to be patient in our wait upon You. You would ask us to remain sober and alert, not spiritually darkened to the events of the world around us. There is no “peace and safety” ahead for the world, but rather there is only going to continue to be a degradation of society until the day You call us out of it. Help us then to not get sucked into it and allow our morals to lapse. You have called us to holiness, and so help us to be holy. This to Your honor and glory, O God. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:5

Saturday, 19 August 2017

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 1 Thessalonians 5:5

In verse 2, Paul said that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. In verse 4, he said that believers are not in darkness concerning the coming of this predetermined Day. Now to bolster that, he says, “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.” The words are written to all believers at Thessalonica (and are thus inclusive of all believers in Christ at all times and in all places). There are no divisions, there are no exclusions. Any and all who are in Christ are termed “sons of light and sons of the day.”

The word “light” is used to contrast the “darkness” of verse 4, and the word “day” is used to contrast “the night” of verse 2. The terms are Hebraisms which means “belonging to.” As we belong to the light and to the day, our lives are open and evident to the Lord. We have confessed our need for Christ. The contrast is to those who have not. In order to show this, he then says, “We are not of the night nor of the darkness.”

This is the world in general. All people who have not come to Christ have concealed their need for Him. Their dark deeds are hidden, but they will be exposed. Their walk is one of spiritual death rather than renewed life.

What Paul has done in these first verses of chapter 5 is move from the specific, such as “Day of the Lord,” to the general, such as “sons of the day.” The “Day of the Lord” is that time which will expose all darkness and all wickedness. Paul speaks in this same general form in Romans 13 as well –

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:11-14

As you can see, we are positionally already sons of the day and of the light, but we still have the choice (as seen in the Romans passage) to act in a manner contrary to that position. This will be seen as the chapter continues to unfold as well. Because we have gone from darkness to light, we should live as if it is the case, not pursuing deeds of darkness and immorality. Should we not do so, there will be a loss of rewards at the coming of the Lord.

This is confirmed by the use of the preposition “in” in verse 4 (believers are not “in” darkness), and then the use of the genitive form of the noun in verse 5 – (believers are not “of” darkness). Being “in” speaks of the state one is in, whereas being “of” points to the nature and origin of the state. Believers can be “in” darkness while not be “of” darkness. In the case of the day of the Lord, those at Thessalonica are neither in nor of. This is true with all who have been instructed in this particular doctrine. However, when were are not instructed in certain doctrines, we remain “in” darkness even though we have been brought out “of” darkness. This is a call and a challenge to read, know, and apply the word of God to our lives.

Life application: You have been called into Christ’s marvelous light. This came about by a freewill decision to leave the life you once knew. Why would you want to go back to the life you realized you wanted to once get away from? Stand fast in Christ, walk in the light, and be a true son of the day.

Lord God, there was a time when each person who follows You called out to be saved from the pit they were in. Many eventually turn back to the same things that they once called out to get away from. Why would we want to go back to a place that we needed to be rescued out of? Help us to not forget who we were so that we won’t be tempted to return to those dark days which stole our joy. Instead, help us to walk in Your light, and to be pleased to pursue a righteous and holy walk all our days. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:4

Friday, 18 August 2017

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:4

The words, “But you,” are given as a contrast to what has just been said in the previous verse. The world will say, “Peace and safety!” when there is actually only sudden destruction coming upon it. For them, there will be no escape. This is because, as he has already said, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. This then sets up the contrast. The night implies darkness; but for believers, they are “not in darkness.”

The night and the darkness are words which are not literally speaking of night, but of the spiritual pall of immorality, ungodliness, false religion, etc. Believers have been converted by Christ, and this is no longer their state. Because of this, Paul continues that for believers this Day should not “overtake you as a thief.” The word “Day” is speaking of the Day of the Lord of verse 2. It is the tribulation period. He then returns to the simile of the thief. As noted in a previous verse, Paul specifically states that the antichrist will not be revealed until the Restrainer is taken out of the way.

As the antichrist is the one to bring in the 7-year peace deal with Israel, then it is plainly obvious that the church will experience a pre- (not mid- or post-) tribulation rapture. To state otherwise, sets up several open contradictions in Paul’s eschatological timeline. Further, it then logically contradicts what is known from the book of Revelation.

The greater part of the tribulation saints will certainly, and logically, come from the first half of tribulation period. Maybe they will be converted and believe because of the rapture, or maybe because of the 144,000 who are sealed and who testify to what will happen. For whatever reason, they will refuse the mark of the beast.

It would make no sense to have to face the choice of taking the mark when one is already saved, which would be the case if a mid- or post-tribulation rapture were true. It would be like saying, “You now have to work to be saved.” That isn’t grace at all. The world will already be set up where nobody is able to buy or sell. Only in the second half will the truly greater part of the devastation take place. In the first half of the tribulation, the peace deal has been made; the second half is where things devolve.

If one thinks it through logically, it is not at the second half of the tribulation, but during the first half that the tribulation saints will refuse to join in the world system which has been realized. The words of Revelation state that there is a “great multitude” who will come out of the “great tribulation.” Those who endure the events of the second half of the tribulation period will, for the most part, be those who have taken the mark of the beast. Some who have not done so will survive through the entire period and enter the millennium, but logically they will be in the minority.

Finally, Paul’s words of this verse that we are “not of darkness” cannot be used to justify that we are able to pinpoint the day of the rapture. This is not saying that we are going to be enlightened to these things. Rather, it is speaking of our spiritual state, not an ability to divine what the Lord has already told us is something we are not to know.

Life application: Believers have a surety which is wonderful. The world is going to go through seven years of immense suffering, all of which will come about after the signing of a peace deal between Israel and her enemies. But this will not occur until after the rapture of the church. To go through half, or all, of that time of suffering would mean that we would have to earn our salvation. Something which no other generation of believers has had to do. It would negate the grace which we have been bestowed. Hold fast to the surety that we are not destined for wrath, but for salvation from this terrible time which lies ahead.

Lord God, how grateful we are that You have promised to keep those who have believed in Christ from the terrible events which lie ahead for the world which has rejected You. Once the world was destroyed by flood; again it will be destroyed, but this time by fire. But Your people have an Ark of safety in Jesus Christ. Thank You that we possess this wonderful assurance. Amen.