Escape the Wrath of God
1 Thessalonians 5:6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 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. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NKJV)
Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica, which he, Silas, and Timothy started during Paul’s second missionary journey in 50 A.D. Paul is writing this in 51 A.D. from Corinth, Greece.
Previously in this letter Paul wrote of the “day of the Lord” (v. 2). This is not a single day, but a time of judgment, desolation, and darkness. It is a time that begins with the rapture, the event where all Christians are taken out of the world.
We could say that “the day of the Lord” is when the Lord takes over. It includes the rapture, the seven year Tribulation, the coming of Christ with His Saints, the thousand year reign of Christ on earth, during which Satan is bound, and the destruction of the heavens and Earth by fire.
In this passage, Paul instructs the Thessalonica believers, and all believers, on how we should behave as we approach the day of the Lord. We should “not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (v. 6).
This means that, as Christians, we should always be alert and vigilant. This is because we do not know when the day of the Lord will begin, since it will come as “a thief in the night” (v. 2).
Paul then contrasts the way Christians should behave with the way non Christians behave. Non Christians are “those who sleep” (v. 7a). They are not alert and vigilant. They belong to the “night”, a reference to a lifestyle of sin (v. 7b), when sinful acts often occur, such as drunkenness (v. 7c).
On the other hand, Christians “belong to the day” (v. 8a), a reference to a lifestyle of following God. In the Bible dark refers to evil and light refers to good.
So, as Christians, we should always be alert and vigilant. This means that each day we should exercise our “faith and love”, putting on the armor of God, specifically the “breastplate” (v. 8b).
Also, we should express “the hope of salvation”, signified by a “helmet”, to non Christians to save them from the wrath of the day of the Lord (v. 8c). Christians will be raptured, taken out of the world, before the wrath of God comes upon the world during the day of the Lord.
In this way Christians have been appointed by God not “to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 9). Part of being alert and vigilant is to tell non Christians “the hope of salvation” so that they will “receive salvation” and not suffer this wrath.
Christians will not suffer this wrath because Christ “died for us” in order that “we may live together with him”, in Heaven (v. 10). He died for all man kind, but only those who receive Him as their Lord and Savior, Christians, will live together with Him in Heaven.
Paul then closes this passage with encouraging words. The Thessalonian Christians should continue to “encourage one another and build each other up”, as they have been doing (v.11). He is commending them for doing a good job and instructing us on how we should relate to others.
We should encourage and build up other Christians in their faith. We should also build up and encourage non Christians to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In this way they will escape the wrath of God during the day of the Lord.
Online Bible Commentary