1 Thessalonians 5:6-10

6. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

6. Ergo ne dormiamus ut reliqui, sed vigilemus, et sobrii simus.

7. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night.

7. Qui enim dormiunt, nocte dormiunt: et qui ebrii sunt, nocte ebrii sunt.

8. 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.

8. Nos autem qui sumus diei, sobrii simus, induti thorace fidei et caritatis, et galea, spe salutis:

9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

9. Quia non constituit nos Deus in iram, sed in acquisitionem salutis, per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum:

10. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

10. Qui mortuus est pro nobis. ut sive vigilemus, sive dormiamus, simul cum ipso vivamus.


6. Therefore let us not sleep. He adds other metaphors closely allied to the preceding one. For as he lately shewed that it were by no means seemly that they should be blind in the midst of light, so he now admonishes that it were dishonorable and disgraceful to sleep or be drunk in the middle of the day. Now, as he gives the name of day to the doctrine of the gospel, by which the Christ, the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2) is manifested to us, so when he speaks of sleep and drunkenness, he does not mean natural sleep, or drunkenness from wine, but stupor of mind, when, forgetting God and ourselves, we regardlessly indulge our vices. Let us not sleep, says he; that is, let us not, sunk in indolence, become senseless in the world. As others, that is, unbelievers, 1 from whom ignorance of God, like a dark night, takes away understanding and reason. But let us watch, that is, let us look to the Lord with an attentive mind. And be sober, that is, casting away the cares of the world, which weigh us down by their pressure, and throwing off base lusts, mount to heaven with freedom and alacrity. For this is spiritual sobriety, when we use this world so sparingly and temperately that we are not entangled with its allurements.

8. Having put on the breastplate. He adds this, that he may the more effectually shake us out of our stupidity, for he calls us as it were to arms, that he may shew that it is not a time to sleep. It is true that he does not make use of the term war ; but when he arms us with a breastplate and a helmet, he admonishes us that we must maintain a warfare. Whoever, therefore, is afraid of being surprised by the enemy, must keep awake, that he may be constantly on watch. As, therefore, he has exhorted to vigilance, on the ground that the doctrine of the gospel is like the light of day, so he now stirs us up by another argument--that we must wage war with our enemy. From this it follows, that idleness is too hazardous a thing. For we see that soldiers, though in other situations they may be intemperate, do nevertheless, when the enemy is near, from fear of destruction, refrain from gluttony 2 and all bodily delights, and are diligently on watch so as to be upon their guard. As, therefore, Satan is on the alert against us, and tries a thousand schemes, we ought at least to be not less diligent and watchful. 3

It is, however, in vain, that some seek a more refined exposition of the names of the kinds of armor, for Paul speaks here in a different way from what he does in Ephesians 6:14 for there he makes righteousness the breastplate. This, therefore, will suffice for understanding his meaning, that he designs to teach, that the life of Christians is like a perpetual warfare, inasmuch as Satan does not cease to trouble and molest them. He would have us, therefore, be diligently prepared and on the alert for resistance: farther, he admonishes us that we have need of arms, because unless we be well armed we cannot withstand so powerful 4 an enemy. He does not, however, enumerate all the parts of armor, (panopli>an,) but simply makes mention of two, the breastplate and the helmet. In the mean time, he omits nothing of what belongs to spiritual armor, for the man that is provided with faith, love, and hope, will be found in no department unarmed.

9. For God hath not appointed us. As he has spoken of the hope of salvation, he follows out that department, and says that God has appointed us to this--that we may obtain salvation through Christ. The passage, however, might be explained in a simple way in this manner--that we must put on the helmet of salvation, because God wills not that we should perish, but rather that we should be saved. And this, indeed, Paul means, but, in my opinion, he has in view something farther. For as the day of Christ is for the most part regarded with alarm, 5 having it in view to close with the mention of it, he says that we are appointed to salvation.

The Greek term peripoi>hsiv means enjoyment, (as they speak,) as well as acquisition. Paul, undoubtedly, does not mean that God has called us, that we may procure salvation for ourselves, but that we may obtain it, as it has been acquired for us by Christ. Paul, however, encourages believers to fight strenuously, setting before them the certainty of victory; for the man who fights timidly and hesitatingly is half--conquered. In these words, therefore, he had it in view to take away the dread which arises from distrust. There cannot, however, be a better assurance of salvation gathered, than from the decree 6 of God. The term wrath, in this passage, as in other instances, is taken to mean the judgment or vengeance of God against the reprobate.

10. Who died. From the design of Christ's death he confirms what he has said, for if he died with this view--that he might make us partakers of his life, there is no reason why we should be in doubt as to our salvation. It is doubtful, however, what he means now by sleeping and waking, for it might seem as if he meant life and death, and this meaning would be more complete. At the same time, we might not unsuitably interpret it as meaning ordinary sleep. The sum is this--that Christ died with this view, that he might bestow upon us his life, which is perpetual and has no end. It is not to be wondered, however, that he affirms that we now live with Christ, inasmuch as we have, by entering through faith into the kingdom of Christ, passed from death into life. (John 5:24) Christ himself, into whose body we are ingrafted, quickens us by his power, and the Spirit that dwelleth in us is life, because of justification. 7

1 "The refuse, as the word loipoi< emphatically signifies, or the reprobate and worst of men.... The word caqeu>dwmen, signifies a deeper or a more intense sleep. It is the word that is used in the Septuagint to signify the sleep of death." (Daniel 12:2)--Howe's Works, (Lond. 1822,) vol. 6:p. 290.--Ed.

2 "Et yurognerie;"--"And drunkenness."

3 "Pour le moins ne deuons--nous pas estre aussi vigilans que les gendarmes?"--"Should we not at least be as vigilant as soldiers are?"

4 "Si puissant et si fort;"--"So powerful and so strong."

5 "D'autant que volontiers nous auons en horreur et craignons le iour du Seigneur;"--"Inasmuch as we naturally regard with horror, and view with dread the day of the Lord."

6 "Du decret et ordonnance de Dieu;"--"From the decree and appointment of God."

7 "Comme il est dit en l'Epistre aux Romans 8:b. 10;"--"As is stated in the Epistle to the Romans Romans 8:10."