World English Bible translation
5:1But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. 5:2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 5:3 For when they are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape. 5:4 But you, brothers, aren't in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. 5:5 You are all sons of light, and sons of the day. We don't belong to the night, nor to darkness, 5:6 so then let's not sleep, as the rest do, but let us watch and be sober. 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep in the night, and those who are drunken are drunken in the night. 5:8 But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation. 5:9 For God didn't appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
The apostles continue from their instruction on the Lord's return to how the anticipation of His return should affect our conduct. The first way in which the return of the Lord should affect the lives of Christians is in their preparedness. The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, like birth pains on a pregnant woman. For those who see the signs and prepare for these events, their preparation will benefit them when the fatal moment arrives. Panic and calamity fall on those who neglect to prepare.
But for those in Christ, the day of the Lord will not catch us unprepared. It is something we wait for and anticipate. We are not in darkness and ignorance about His return. Instead, we are sons of light and sons of the day. Sometimes in our electrical world, we forget what the world was like when people could not just flip a switch and dispel the darkness. Nighttime was associated with evil and only revelers and criminals preferred the darkness. People did not usually travel at night.
Earlier, when the apostles had used the term, "fallen asleep" they were using it as a euphemism for dying. In the beginning of this passage, sleeping means remaining in ignorance. Those who are asleep and drunk (the lost), sleep and drink at night. Just as God first dispelled the darkness in creation, so the Spirit brings light into our lives and teaches us to live sober lives, prepared for what will come.
The apostles use the figure of armor for being prepared and vigilant. Put on a breastplate of faith and love and a helmet of our hope of salvation. (Do you remember the combination of faith, hope, and love from earlier in this letter?) The sons of light are armored for battle and prepared for the day of the Lord.
Though we may first pass through trials and difficulties, we were not appointed (destined) for wrath. He has armored us so that we will not lose the battle. God has bought us and delivered us so that we might be saved. And this salvation is through His son.
Paul returns here to his first meaning of being awake or asleep. Here, whether we wake or sleep means whether we live or die in this life. Christ died for us (and was raised!) so whether we live or die, we will live with Him. He is the Lord of life and death. There is nothing that can separate Christ from His beloved ones.
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