Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: The believer's "status" is an emphatic motivation for the believer's "behavior".
Introduction: In our last study we saw that Paul declared that "the Day of the Lord" will not overtake believers for one reason: they are "sons" of both "light" and "day". He did not say that believers will not be overtaken because they, somehow, will know when that "Day" is to come. That knowledge has been deliberately reserved in heaven and the events of that "Day" are reserved for those "of the night" and "of darkness".
In our study this evening we will consider the implications of this clear declaration. Since "the Day of the Lord will not overtake" believers, those who "believe" that are possessed of some pretty strong motivations to make certain choices and take certain actions.
February 8, 2015
- I. The Doubled-Up Conjunctions.
- A. Paul begins 5:6 with two conjunctions, one after the other.
- 1. Both of these conjunctions are used individually when preceding information insists upon a certain conclusion.
- 2. They each, however, bring something a little bit different to the table.
- a. The first is characterized by the Logos Bible Program as "implying anxiety or impatience" (which does not seem to actually be the case in use).
- 1) There may, however, be an undercurrent of animosity toward false conclusions in the author's mind.
- 2) In any case, this first conjunction does seem to follow Robertson's characterization of its use as addressing a conclusion as particularly "fitting" to the preceding facts.
- 3) The point is that Paul wrote this first conjunction to indicate that he saw a very strong link between his "fact" and his "fitting" conclusion.
- a) His "fact" is that the Day of the Lord will not overtake believers because they are sons of light and day and are not "of" night or darkness.
- b) His "fitting conclusion" is that there are certain "behaviors" that should be in place because they, alone, "fit" the fact.
- b. The second is the widely used "therefore" concept (because this is true, therefore do this).
- c. The two are used together in 12 texts of the New Testament and have this meaning: "there can be no other legitimate response to the facts as given".
- B. The conclusion we draw from this emphatic "turn to a conclusion" is that Paul wanted the Thessalonians to know just how potent is the legitimate hope of the Rapture as the believer's escape from the coming Day of the Lord.
- 1. It is his thesis in this letter that "waiting for the Son from heaven" sponsors the trilogy of "the work of the faith, the labor of the love, and the endurance of the hope".
- 2. The problematic issue is the "relative" strength of "the hope" because being "driven" to do the kinds of things involved in this trilogy actually demands a certain amount of strength undergirding the hope.
- II. The Conclusion Itself.
- A. Consists of three exhortative statements that derive their potency from "faith, love, and hope".
- B. The three exhortations.
- 1. First, a contrasting negative.
- a. Let us not ... as the rest.
- 1) The "let us not" sets forth the negative; something we are not supposed to get involved with.
- 2) The "as the rest" is deliberately parallel to 4:13 where "the rest" "have no hope".
- 3) Hopeless people act out their hopelessness, and we are not to act like them.
- b. The heart of this negative.
- 1) The verb is translated "let us not sleep".
- 2) This is not the same verb as Paul used in his "Jesus puts us to sleep" concept in 4:14, and its meaning is different.
- 3) This verb is used in the New Testament as follows...
- 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 in harmony with its etymology: as "don't lie down, or you will be overcome with a case of the obliviousness of the sleeping/dead" (Ephesians 5:14).
- i. 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.
- ii. Paul's picture is of one who never lies down to sleep because he/she "exists" in the light of day.
- iii. 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.
- iv. Clearly, this is a condition of the soul in its attitudes and values that has nothing to do with being physically asleep, but has everything to do with a deliberate fixation upon "the Hope".
- 4) Our conclusion is this: "let us not sleep as do the hopeless" means that we should not let anything come between us and The Hope so that we "submit to being overcome by obliviousness".
- 2. Second, a positive exhortation as a sub-set of the negative.
- a. The negative has two elements: don't lie down, and don't submit to oblivion.
- b. This positive exhortation expands the second of the two: "Stay Awake".
- 1) The words "stay awake" and "be sober" are confused by the Authorized Version as illustrated by 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; and 5:8 where "be sober" in 1:13 is translated "watch" in 4:7 and then back to "be sober" in 5:8 and our verb (don't lie down to become oblivious) is translated "be vigilant".
- 2) The basic idea is, as Jesus used it in his instruction to the disciples in the Garden, "don't lie down and become oblivious to what is happening", i.e., "stay awake".
- c. The point is that "oblivion" erases the impact of The Hope.
- 3. Third, a second positive exhortation as the other half of the sub-set.
- a. This exhortation is translated "be sober" and its meaning is adequately explained by the next verse about "being drunk".
- b. The meaning, however, explains the first of the negative's two elements.
- 1) The idea of the negative's first element is don't lie down, which means "don't put yourself in a position so that you are overcome by oblivion".
- 2) This parallels our understanding of "drunkenness" as a condition wherein we are exposed to temptations to act in ways that a sober person will not act.
- 3) The basic idea is "don't expose yourself to influences that will expose you to temptations to act contrary to "Hope".
- c. The point is that "drunkenness" weakens a person's abilities to respond to the realities that exist around him/her and such weakness is a huge liability; thus, don't "lie down" and "be sober" drive the same point: do not do anything that sets you up to be driven by something less than "The Hope".