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An Urgent Appeal

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers;

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11. Moreover, etc. He enters now on another subject of exhortation, that as the rays of celestial life had begun to shine on us as it were at the dawn, we ought to do what they are wont to do who are in public life and in the sight of men, who take diligent care lest they should commit anything that is base or unbecoming; for if they do anything amiss, they see that they are exposed to the view of many witnesses. But we, who always stand in the sight of God and of angels, and whom Christ, the true sun of righteousness, invites to his presence, we indeed ought to be much more careful to beware of every kind of pollution.

The import then of the words is this, “Since we know that the seasonable time has already come, in which we should awake from sleep, let us cast aside whatever belongs to the night, let us shake off all the works of darkness, since the darkness itself has been dissipated, and let us attend to the works of light, and walk as it becomes those who are enjoying the day.” The intervening words are to be read as in a parenthesis.

As, however, the words are metaphorical, it may be useful to consider their meaning: Ignorance of God is what he calls night; for all who are thus ignorant go astray and sleep as people do in the night. The unbelieving do indeed labor under these two evils, they are blind and they are insensible; but this insensibility he shortly after designated by sleep, which is, as one says, an image of death. By light he means the revelation of divine truth, by which Christ the sun of righteousness arises on us. 409409     The preceding explanation of night and day, as here to be understood, does not comport with what is afterwards said on Romans 13:12. The distinction between night and day of a Christian, ought to be clearly kept in view. The first is what is here described, but the latter is what the passage refers to. And the sleep mentioned here is not the sleep of ignorance and unbelief, but the sleep, the torpor, or inactivity of Christians.
   That the present state of believers, their condition in this world, is meant here by “night,” and their state of future glory is meant by “day,” appears evident from the words which follow, “for nearer now is our salvation than when we believed.” Salvation here, as in Romans 8:24, and in 1 Peter 1:9, means salvation made complete and perfect, the full employment of all its blessings. Indeed in no other sense can what is said here of night and day be appropriate. The night of heathen ignorance as to Christians had already passed, and the day of gospel light was not approaching, but had appeared. — Ed.
He mentions awake, by which he intimates that we are to be equipped and prepared to undertake the services which the Lord requires from us. The works of darkness are shameful and wicked works; for night, as some one says, is shameless. The armor of light represents good, and temperate, and holy actions, such as are suitable to the day; and armor is mentioned rather than works, because we are to carry on a warfare for the Lord.

But the particles at the beginning, And this, are to be read by themselves, for they are connected with what is gone before; as we say in Latin Adhoec — besides, or proeterea — moreover. The time, he says, was known to the faithful, for the calling of God and the day of visitation required a new life and new morals, and he immediately adds an explanation, and says, that it was the hour to awake: for it is not χρόνος but καιρὸς which means a fit occasion or a seasonable time. 410410     The words καὶ τούτο, according to Beza, Grotius, Mede, etc., connect what follows with the preceding exhortation to love, “And this do, or let us do, as we know,” etc. But the whole tenor of what follows by no means favors this view. The subject is wholly different. It is evidently a new subject of exhortation, as Calvin says, and the words must be rendered as he proposes, or be viewed as elliptical; the word “I say,” or “I command,” according to Macknight, being understood, “This also I say, since we know the time,” etc. If we adopt “I command,” or “moreover,” as Calvin does, it would be better to regard the participle εἰδότες, as having the meaning of an imperative, εστε being understood, several instances of which we have in the preceding chapter, Romans 12:9,16,17. The whole passage would then read better in this manner, —
   11. Moreover, know the time, that it is even now the very time for us to awake from sleep; for nearer now is our salvation than when we

   12. believed: the night has advanced, and the day has approached; let us then cast away the works of darkness, and let us put on the

   13. armor of light; let us, as in the day, walk in a becoming manner, etc. — Ed.

For nearer is now our salvation, etc. This passage is in various ways perverted by interpreters. Many refer the word believed to the time of the law, as though Paul had said, that the Jews believed before Christ came; which view I reject as unnatural and strained; and surely to confine a general truth to a small part of the Church, would have been wholly inconsistent. Of that whole assembly to which he wrote, how few were Jews? Then this declaration could not have been suitable to the Romans. Besides, the comparison between the night and the day does in my judgment dissipate every doubt on the point. The declaration then seems to me to be of the most simple kind, — “Nearer is salvation now to us than at that time when we began to believe:” so that a reference is made to the time which had preceded as to their faith. For as the adverb here used is in its import indefinite, this meaning is much the most suitable, as it is evident from what follows.