Don’t get caught sleeping

1 Thessalonians 5:6-11 SCC 6/22/14


Since we are not destined for the Day of the Lord like unbelievers we must stay alert and clear headed as we live here 5:6

1. So the argument continues with a deduction from the previous teaching in 5:1-5. A transition is made to a further developed idea. Namely, therefore then let us not sleep. On the basis of this hope, that we are not of darkness or night v 5, an exhortation is given, premised upon the imminence of the Lord’s return.

2. Here is the connection: we are not as the rest, that is those of the darkness and night—unbelievers. So how should this effect the way we live now and here? Here is the opposing contrast…

(a) BUT let us watch

We should be watching for the coming of the Lord. In this case in the context it would be the kind of coming related in 4:13-18—the snatching of the church from the earth. This is what we should be watching for daily. But another related idea is…

(b) and let us be sober

The word sober in the original means exactly what is meant by it in English. It is the word for not being intoxicated. We are prone to be intoxicated, not necessarily by alcohol but by the stimulants of the world — its glamour, pleasures, and appearance. Realizing the solemnity of the events for us and for those who will be left behind, it should make us earnestly watch and be sober. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians therefore to remain alert (watchful) and sober (self-possessed), not asleep (insensible) to things that God has revealed.


The reason for alertness and clear-headedness is because the Day of the Lord is the unbeliever’s destiny and not ours; so don’t get caught up in their worldly thinking and lifestyle 5:7

1. This exhortation is grounded in sound spiritual reasoning. Namely, the reason we should watch and be sober is because unbelievers who are sleeping do it at night. In other words, their interests are here and now. Since we are not destined for the Day of wrath why we would let our lives slip into mimicking those who are? Watchful preparation in view of the future is motivation to keep an eye out about how we are living our lives.

2. He adds a further related thought to this idea, namely, and ones getting drunk get drunk by night.

That is the world’s life in a nutshell. Eat, drink, and be merry. Life lived in the horizontal. Life lived by the senses. Paul’s point is that our behavior should NOT be characterized by the sin of unbelievers. This is enumerated in many ways in the scriptures: Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. So why would you want to go there?


Our destiny requires we live here with a sober mindset based on our salvation 5:8

Here again we have a change in direction built upon the previous message but we being of the day let us be sober. This is not a suggestion. We should live with our lives under control not blatant disregard for the way we conduct our living. The realm of day we belong in demands a new kind of life. There are at least three characteristics that govern how we should then live:

(a). having put on a breastplate of faith

On the basis of our being “of the day,” we are to go on in the faith for the Lord. In this context, the breastplate has two features: faith and love. “Faith” protects the heart. If we live by faith, we will be spiritually stable in spiritual war. Faith and faithfulness will help us persevere until Jesus returns.

(b). and of love

“Love” is the other side of the breastplate. Our faith must result in love. This is not an emotion but an action. Love is serving the greater good of another without the motivation for bounce back. It is agape love. Tolerating people is not loving them. It has a vested interest in the greater good from God’s point of view. It is service in context of the vertical.

(c). and a helmet a hope of salvation

This protects the mind and produces clear thinking. What is the “hope of salvation?” It is the certainly that if we die before Jesus returns, we who believe will go directly to heaven. If we live until Christ’s return, it is the certainty that we will be raptured off this earth to meet Him in the air. Either way we’re going to be delivered—whether alive or dead. This is what we know and how we think. It motivates what we do and how we live. It does not inform the unbelievers life at all.


Our destiny is not an appointment with wrath in the Day of the Lord but deliverance from it in Christ 5:9

1. The consequence of our salvation is that God did not appoint us to wrath. Deliverance from the judgments of the day of the Lord (i.e., the outpouring of God’s wrath in the Tribulation) is certain for Christians. It is certain because God has not appointed His children to wrath in any form or at any time. This promise extends even to those believers who are not alert (5:10). A state of non-alertness affects present sanctification, but has no impact on the time of future glorification.

2. Actually the exact opposite is our destiny: BUT obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

He is expressly saying that our appointment is to be caught up to be with Christ. The appointment of the world is for the Day of the Lord, the day of wrath. One cannot keep both of these appointments. Many will be saved after the church has gone to heaven, but they will experience the awfulness of that period. As the wrath of God is poured upon the earth, it will involve them too. They will participate in the awful trials and troubles of that day, and the reason they will be subjected to these things is that they were not ready for Christ when He came for His church.

3. The basis of our deliverance is the One who died for us (that Christ and none other). This deliverance is certain because Jesus Christ died as our substitute. He took all God’s wrath against us on Himself. We who have trusted Him, who have believed in Christ as our personal Savior, are not appointed to that day of wrath. We are appointed unto the day of grace to meet Christ in the air and to be forever with the Lord. Christ is coming for His church before the Day of the Lord begins, before the day of trouble pictured in Revelation and all through the Bible overtakes the world. We are not appointed to wrath, but to salvation. Whereas Christians do experience divine discipline we will not experience divine wrath.


The aim of our salvation whether we died before the rapture or are alive at the rapture is to live together with Christ not wrath at the Day of the Lord 5:10

1. There is a specific aim for our salvation true whether we are still alive here as believers or have died in the Lord beforehand the purpose of which whether we are awake/watch or we sleep. “Sleep” in 1:6 where the reference is to spiritual lethargy is a different one from the word translated “asleep” here and in 4:13, 14, and 15 where the reference is to physical death. Whether we “wake,” that is, are living in the world at the time the Lord comes, or whether we “sleep”, that is our bodies have been laid in the grave, though our spirits have gone to heaven, when Christ comes back for His church there will be a wonderful reunion— both a translation of the living saints and a resurrection from the dead. It is all based on the hope of the death of Christ.  

2. That hope is that we may live together with Him. Our being raptured depends on the death and the resurrection of Christ as this picture indicates. Then every true believer in Christ who has trusted in Him as his sacrifice for sin and as his God and his Savior will be translated when Christ comes and will go home to glory with the Lord and with the loved ones who have gone on before. The arrival of the last days brings two contrasting experiences: rescue versus ruin. Those who believe in Christ are destined for rescue, the world for ruin. This destiny not only belongs to those Christians who are wide-awake when Christ comes, but also to those who are sound asleep! In short, Christ’s return delivers all believers!


Our destiny, which is living together with Christ, should be the baseline for our ongoing ministry of encouragement and edification toward one another 5:11

Based on this certain wonderful prospect therefore, encourage one another (presumably with this knowledge and information) and edify or build up one the other (person to person).

1. In the New Testament, it is used of building in a spiritual sense. But the idea is to build up other believers like you would build up a house. To use the building metaphor this means you lay a foundation of discipleship and construct a life built upon God’s Word. In the present tense this implies continuous action. We need to continually “encourage” and “build up” our fellow believers. And a related idea…

2. just as indeed you do  In other words, don’t be caught off guard like unbelievers. This sure hope is a sound basis for mutual encouragement and edification among believers. Not only can we comfort one another when believers die but we can also strengthen one another while we live. Fortunately, the Thessalonians are fulfilling these commandments. Paul tells them to simply keep doing what they are already doing.


So What?

1. God disciplines his children and will punish unbelievers. Punishment will come and it is reserved for all unbelievers in the spiritual and worldly realms. God will bring judgment to both—one accountability for faithfulness and rewards—the other for sinfulness and punishment.

2. The only means of deliverance from the Day of the Lord is salvation in Christ. There is no other way out of this eternal punishment. Believers should live sober and circumspect lives in light of this truth.

3. Serving one another is always in the context of the possibility of being with the Lord at any moment. This governs how we do ministry as much as why we do it. Urgency, sincerity, accuracy, transparency, authenticity, truthfully, and maturity highlight the emphasis of this investment in others when imminency is calculated.