Keep Awake, The King is Coming
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
How to stay vigilant among the Lotus-Eaters
Published October 27th, 2019; Updated October 27th, 2019
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Main point summary
Discourse - Paraphrase
Takeaways, Thoughts, and Further Study
Main point summary
Let us look to the day of the Lord with vigilance and discipline, encouraging our brothers to do the same, all because Christ has already secured our salvation on that day.
Discourse - Paraphrase
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Now concerning w the times and the seasons, brothers, 1
Now as to the a times and the epochs, brethren, you b have no need of anything to be written to you.
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,
However, when it comes to the amount of time that we have remaining on this imperfect Earth before Christ returns in perfection,
you have no need to have anything written to you.
you really don't need for us to write anything more.
For you yourselves are fully aware that y the day of the Lord will come
For you yourselves know full well that a the day of the Lord 1 will come b just like a thief in the night.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
We write that you don't need any more instruction in that area because your worry about those who have died not being able to see the second coming of Christ is full evidence that you are aware of how, when Christ comes again,
like a thief in the night .
the timing will be characteristic of a thief coming in the dead of night.
While people are saying, “There is peace and security,”
While they are saying, “ a Peace and safety!” then 1 b destruction 2 will come upon them suddenly like c labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
To elaborate-- at the same time that people never expect to be robbed, presuming their lives safe and secure,
then z sudden destruction will come upon them
in a moment all of their so-called "safety" and "security" will be brought to nothing, and they will be left in shock, facing the wrath of God.
a as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman,
To provide a different picture, the return of Christ for the wicked will be like when labor pains come upon an expectant mother. It will be a long anticipated outcome-- but no one will be able to predict the exact moment the pains arrive.
and they will not escape.
But when they do arrive, there will be no way to evade what is happening.
But you are not in darkness, brothers,
But you, brethren, are not in a darkness, that the day would overtake you 1 b like a thief;
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
However , you, our brothers, are not like those who live believing the illusion that the temporary things we see offer "safety" and "security,"
for that day to surprise you like a thief.
which , you would have to be in order for the coming of Christ to ambush that same false sense of security.
For you are all c children 1 of light,
for you are all a sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of b darkness;
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
And we know you will not be shocked at the coming of Christ is because you are among the offspring of light, born again in Christ;
children of the day.
and because you are born of light of Christ, this means that you are about the business of that day when He comes again.
We are not of the night or of the darkness .
For , our identity lies not with the night, nor with the darkness that comes with it, which means we are not about the business of either.
So then d let us not sleep ,
so then let us not a sleep as 1 b others do, but let us be alert and 2 c sober.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
Therefore, because our identity causes us to be about the things of the day, we should not go about in this world without a sense of urgency, as if we could lie down at any time for a nap,
as others do,
which is the exact habit of those who walk in darkness.
but let us e keep awake
On the contrary , we need to be vigilant, working, and watching for the coming of our Lord,
and f be sober.
purposing to keep our minds and bodies from the rule of any of the powers of this world.
For those who sleep, sleep at night ,
For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get a drunk at night.
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
And we must aspire to have this spirit of vigilance because if we were to live aimlessly we would be putting the character of the children of darkness.
and those who get drunk, g are drunk at night .
Likewise, if we were to neglect holiness and sobriety, we would be further conforming to the character of the children of darkness.
But since we belong to the day ,
But since a we are of the day, let us b be 1 sober, having put on the c breastplate of d faith and love, and as a e helmet, the f hope of salvation.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
No ,we are not given to darkness, but, because we are given to the work of light in this world like a valedictorian to his studies,
let us be sober,
as children born again of light we should maintain our abstinence from the things of this world,
h having put on the breastplate of i faith and love,
since we have been equipped as offspring of light with the gifts of faith and love ( which function as a breastplate to protect us from sins of the heart),
and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
as well as our great hope of salvation ( which functions as a helmet to protect us from sins of the mind).
For God has not destined us for j wrath,
For God has not destined us for a wrath, but for b obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And God didn't equip us in this way because He had destined us to receive His wrath,
but k to obtain salvation
but rather He eqiupped us in this way because He has destined us from eternity's past to fight for and receive salvation as a reward,
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
which is only made possible because it has already been secured for us by Jesus the Messiah,
l who died for us
a who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
the perfect sacrifice, the Son of God, who died in our place.
so that whether we are awake or asleep
Christ accomplished this for us because of our weaknesses, for He knows that sometimes we will fall into the temptation of darkness, and other times we will walk with Him in the light,
we might live with him.
but , praise be to God, that our salvation is not dependent upon us-- it is dependent on Christ's victory, otherwise we would never live with Him in eternity.
Therefore encourage one another
Therefore 1 encourage one another and a build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Now, because we have such a gracious new identity obtained for us in Christ, having been adequately equipped for the task at hand, let us further equip the offspring of light that surround us,
and build one another up,
and work to strengthen one another's faith, reminding each one of the urgency of the task at hand,
just as you are doing.
which is exactly what you are already doing now.
John 12:36
Takeaways, Thoughts, and Further Study
Takeaways: The Command : (6c) We have a new identity as children of light, which comes with a new task: being vigilant for the return of Christ. This does not mean that we spend all day staring at the sky, but rather that we prayerfully and joyfully await His return. The Many Means : (6d-8b) Staying awake is extremely difficult when we allow the many persuasions of the world to entertain our affections. We quickly lose focus and will become drowsy in the embrace of the world, slowly fading into the false sense of security that the children of darkness live on. So, let us walk in discipline, keeping from any substances or media that would work to take our focus off of the coming King. (8c-d) The Father has not left us alone in our difficult task of staying awake. He knows that our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), and that our minds are given to the things of this world (Romans 1:28). Rather, He has equipped us with the gifts of faith, love, and the hope of our salvation. Faith and love work as a breastplate to protect our hearts, for faith comes by hearing, and the hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17)-- and how shall we cleanse our way without clinging to His Word (Psalm 119:9)? And what is love but the proper outpouring of the truth that Scripture pours into us? For as we obey the Word, we find that our affections follow the course of Christ instead of the wayward path of the world. And the hope of our salvation works as a helmet to keep our minds from entertaining those same wayward thoughts before they enter our hearts. For the hope for the fruit of salvation (eternal life) works as far better motivation than the fruit of following those thoughts to their conclusion (death). (11a-b) Furthermore, the Father has given us other brothers and sisters of light as a means for equipping one another. We are not left to stay awake at the wheel alone, but we have others with us that have the same end in mind, and can remind us frequently, tapping us on the shoulder when we begin to drift at the wheel. The Motivations : (2b-3d) If we will not be vigilant, reveling in darkness-- all that remains is the shock of coming judgement. For, those who walk in darkness are ignorant of the coming destruction. Let us not prove to be numbered among them. (6c-d) Indolence and intoxication only demonstrate the darkness of worldliness,which is not the purpose that we have been born unto. (5a, 8a-b) On the other hand, we have been given to the day, that is, we are now identified with light because of what Christ has done. Therefore, let us follow in line with our given purpose. Let us not walk contrary to the destiny that Christ died to secure for us. We are about the business of the returning Savior. (1b-2a, 11c) You are already aware of these truth about Christ's return, and furthermore, you are already obeying them. If then you are already continuing in the way Christ would have you go, continue therein! The Mighty Anchors : (9a-10a) Now, the command to stay vigilant is only made possible through Christ's coming, Christ's dying, and Christ's rising again. If He didn't accomplish this for us, all our striving would be in vain. (10b-c) Because we are prone to fall to drift off in sleep, much like the disciples in the garden. We will fail, and we will obey. What we need is a sure salvation secured for us, and that is why Christ came: so that we might live! Praise God that if we turn to Him in obedience, life awaits us and not death! For even if I find myself unfaithful at times, Christ remains faithful and true forever. For, Christ has already accomplished victory of death-- the task is done, who are we to undo it? Christ has joined us to Himself, in such a way that whether we are watching, or wandering into sin-- He will bring us into life with Himself at the end of all things. Awake, or asleep-- we LIVE. For, even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Even while the disciples were sleeping, Jesus walked to the guards to turn Himself over. Final Thoughts: Just as the disciples found it hard to stay awake in the garden waiting on Christ-- we too become drowsy easily, and slip off into sin if we are not careful. But God has not left us unequipped for the task-- much has changed since Gethsemane. Christ has accomplished on Calvary what the Father originally purposed-- our salvation. He has given us His Spirit, a new identity, armor for the task, and a community of like-minded, like-hearted, and like-armored watchmen. Therefore, let us hold fast our position, unwavering, in joyful expectation of our coming King. The picture of a child of the day walking in the light puts the image in my mind of a man walking round the Earth, always in the light of the sun, the darkness never overtaking him, for, as long as he is moving, he is walking in the light. Therefore, staying still is the same thing as moving backward. We have to fight to even stay where we are. Be ever so wary of "taking a break from righteousness" in entertaining some sin. The contrast is clear-- I've had many interactions with co-workers and other friends who are looking forward to the night, that is, being off work, and usually the nighttime is when they will engage in a number of sinful activities. They are pining for the night-- but, on the other hand, this is a "hope" that the children of the DAY have been delivered from. Instead, we pine for the day of Christ, which is why we are able to take joy in our work in the day, for there is a real hope in it. For, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. For Further Study: What comparisons are to be drawn between the children of light here in 1 Thessalonians and Jesus' words on the subject in John 12:27-36? Are there further connections to draw between this passage and Jesus' interactions with His disciples at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)? Am I contradicting the words of Christ in Matthew 26:41 by saying that keeping from sin is a means to watching for Christ's coming? Doesn't Christ say the reverse is true?
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.