Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
February 8, 2015
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
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.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
1901 ASV Translation:
6 so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that are drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
- I. Paul's Conclusion.
- A. There are two connecting particles.
- 1. The first (not widely used) emphasizes a logical conclusion from the preceding argument.
- a. The Logos Bible program says of this "connecting particle" that it is "an untranslatable interrogative particle implying anxiety or impatience".
- b. Robertson says that its etymology is clear, though disputed: it originally meant "fittingly, accordingly"...the word expresses some sort of correspondence between sentences or clauses." In other words, it means that the following conclusion is decidedly "fitting" to the prior issue on the table. It would be something like, "since Christ died for us, it is only fitting that we respond with unqualified loyalty".
- 2. The second is, by far, the more widely used way to argue from one point to the next.
- 3. Together, these are used in 12 texts of the New Testament and highlight the absolutely crucial conclusion of an argument; this "conclusion" being emphatically "suited" to the previous thesis.
- a. In our text, the prior thesis is that "we are not of night nor of darkness".
- b. Therefore, it is only "fitting" that we should not sleep or get drunk.
- B. The first exhortative verb is a present subjunctive and means "to sleep", but it is not the word used in 4:13-15; it is used with a negative preceding it: let us not lie down to sleep.
- 1. Strong's says this verb's concept is "to lie down with the result that one falls asleep".
- 2. This verb, unlike the one in the passage about the Rapture, is in the active voice and strongly implies that this is the action of the one involved rather than the one involved being the subject of someone else's action.
- a. This verb is used 20 times in the New Testament in contexts wherein the people are "oblivious to" what is actually going on (classic illustration of meaning is Matthew 13:25; the farmer is 'asleep' when an adversary sows tares in his wheat field).
- b. It is the verb used when Jesus declares that the daughter of the ruler is not "dead", but "asleep" (Matthew 9:24), clearly indicating a temporary condition of complete inactivity.
- c. It is the verb used to describe Jesus "asleep" in the boat while the storm raged (Matthew 8:24).
- d. It is also the verb applied to the disciples who could not stay awake to pray with Jesus in the garden (Matthew 26:40, 43, and 45).
- e. As an "exhortation" it seems best to understand it as "don't lie down, or you will be overcome with a case of the obliviousness of the sleeping/dead" (Ephesians 5:14). The ideas seem to be two: one is a sense of complete unawareness of some critical realities; and the other is a sense of total inactivity that is likened unto the death of the body. Paul's picture is of one who never lies down to sleep because he/she "lives" in the light of day. This, obviously, is not to be taken literally, but it is to be taken seriously. Those in/of the day should never lie down to sleep and those in/of the night are never up and awake. Clearly, this is a condition of the soul in its attitudes and values that has nothing to do with being physically asleep.
- 3. This verb is applied to "the rest" and is used by Paul in this letter in one other context: 4:13. In that text the word applies to "those who have no hope" and this text does nothing to overcome, or alter, that application: "let us not sleep as 'the rest' (who have no hope)".
- C. The second exhortative verb is also a present subjunctive that is the opposite of the first; it means, "let us stay awake...". It is a mistake to think that Paul is saying "let us watch...".
- 1. There are some interesting parallel passages to Paul's thought here.
- a. 1 Peter 5:8 uses exactly the same two terms (stay awake and be sober) because we have a "roaring lion" adversary looking to devour whomever he can.
- b. Revelation 3:2, 3 (and 16:15) are all tied to the "I will come as a thief" concept, but this context relates specifically to the "angel" of the church in Sardis who is "dead", not "alive". The issue of the context of the 16:15 text is "keeping one's garments so nakedness will not "shame" him/her. Additionally, the "garment" concept is emphasized in 3:4-18.
- c. In the Garden scenes in Matthew and Mark, Jesus' exhortation is "stay awake" and pray.
- 2. At issue is whether the person will be able to "see" the involved issues with sufficient clarity as to be able to live by the Spirit.
- D. The third exhortative verb, like the preceding two, is a present subjunctive and it means "abstain from intoxication": "let us be sober...".
- 1. It seems clear that "staying awake" and "being sober" are linked in substance. Interestingly the translators of the Authorized Version confuse the two ideas by using "be sober" and "watch" as interchangeable concepts in 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; and 5:8.
- 2. It is also clear from Paul's parallelism in our text/context that "be sober" means "do not be drunk". However, being "drunk" is also a metaphor in this text/context. As a metaphor, it carries a close parallel idea to that of being "oblivious" as in "sleeping". However, as a metaphor, it seems to be fixated upon the "mind" as the instrument that is at the root of "function" (as in 1 Peter 1:13).
- a. Peter's "gird up the loins of your mind" seems to indicate that one is to be careful how one's "mind" spends its "procreational abilities".
- *** b. Here the idea zeroes in on Paul's "function" thesis in the "let us not sleep" exhortation. This seems to be Paul's expansion of his thesis: Let us not "sleep" in either becoming oblivious (let us stay awake) or becoming inactive (let us be sober).