by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 February 22, 2015 Dayton, Texas
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:
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. The Rationale For "The Hope of Salvation".
A. God has not "appointed" us unto "wrath".
1. The word translated "appointed" is widely used (Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon has four full columns given over to it).
a. Our problem with this is that the latitude for the use of this word is so great as to make it impossible for us to determine a precise meaning from the use of the word in general. The temptation is to simply assign a meaning to it that fits our particular theological preference.
b. We can, however, do some sleuthing in order to attempt to discover Paul's meaning.
2. The exact form found in our text is also found in seven other New Testament texts.
a. The Father has "put" the "times and seasons in His own power" so that human beings are not to "know" them (Acts 1:7).
b. Herod "put" Peter in prison, intending to put him to death as he had James (Acts 12:4).
c. Paul "purposed" in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21).
d. The Holy Spirit "hath made" the elders "overseers of the flock" (Acts 20:28).
e. God has "set" the members, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him (1 Corinthians12:18).
f. God has "set" some of these members in the church to be apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. (1 Corinthians 12:28).
g. Our current text (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
h. Summary: When this particular form is used, it indicates a decision of intention that is followed by the taking of particular actions to attempt to fulfill that intention. There is a kind of "sovereignty" involved in that the person making the decision does so on his/her own without regard for what others may, or may not, think. When God is the one who is attributed with the decision and action(s), it is pretty much a done deal. His wisdom and power are irresistible by any/all others. Only two of the seven instances are not references to God's decision/actions. This precisely fits Paul's theology of promise: the One who makes the promise is the One Who is responsible to fulfill it (Romans 4:21).
3. This "appointment" is "not unto wrath".
a. This term, "wrath", is used to indicate legal retribution, not an explosion of temperament (Romans 4:15).
b. The exemption of believers from "wrath" is an exemption from the down side of "law" as an instrument of punitive reaction for evil done. It is a firm exemption rooted in the reality that the death of the Christ for sinners delivers them from "law" if they "believe" (Romans 5:9).
c. Of the 34 texts of the New Testament where this term is used, ten are in the letter of Paul to the Romans and his use is consistent: "wrath" is not an emotional outburst; it is a deliberate refusal to allow any "sin" to escape its "legal" repercussions.
B. God has "appointed" us unto the "acquisition" of "salvation".
1. The adversative ("but") is the strongest in the Greek of the New Testament and signals a potent and opposite alternative.
2. We have been "appointed" unto the "acquisition" of salvation. The word translated "obtain" by the Authorized Version is a word that was coined to indicate the surrounding of a desired object/objective by the one with the desire. It's derived meaning is the assimilation of something/someone into one's own identity. It is the perfect expression of what happens when a person "believes": he/she is both "immersed into" Christ and "indwelt by Christ" (He in me and I in Him -- we are complete in Him and He in us is our hope of glory: Colossians 2:10 and 1:27).
3. This "appointment" is entirely dependent upon Christ as the One Who died for us; it has no direct dependency upon how we react as responsible/irresponsible "believers".
a. Paul pointedly tied the exemption from "wrath" to the death of Christ in this text/context and that exemption is entirely dependent upon Christ alone.
b. Then he deliberately announced that His "acquisition of us" was without regard to whether, or not, we "sleep" or "stay awake".
4. The remaining question is whether the "wrath" is that of the Day of the Lord or the judgment of the Great White Throne. The answer is in Paul's "whether we wake or sleep": these concepts are directly tied to the unexpectedness of the Day of the Lord so that any "salvation" must be a deliverance from that Day.
a. Additionally, the "together with" is the exact terminology of 4:17, heavily insinuating that Paul is not addressing the future Judgment of the Throne, but the gathering of the believers together to "ever be with the Lord".
b. Jesus' death for us was a complete deliverance from "wrath" in every historical setting in which "wrath" is the identifying characteristic.