Friday, July 24, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day: Died

Day 19: Died

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10


Today I thought we would walk through this passage to get a better understanding of it, as well as practicing that technique again. You can look at the document "Walk Through a Passage" on the Bible Study Techniques page for a refresher. This really is an exercise that can quickly lead to understanding a passage. Remember we let the important connectors (connectives, prepositions and conjunctions) and the verbs lead us through the passage pointing us to which investigative questions to ask.

Since the passage begins with 'for', which is a conjunction that is a term of explanation, we need to look backward to find out what it is explaining. Since we have two meanings for the word 'for' a good way to determine which form is being used is this: If you can read the sentence and replace the word 'for' with the word 'because' then it is a term of explanation. As opposed to using 'for' as  'on behalf of' or 'in place of'. When we see 'for', a term of explanation, we will almost always need to look at what was said before  it (the words, verse or passage) to determine its meaning.

So, again, our passage begins with 'for' and we see its explanation back in verse 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." 1 TH 5:8
In verse 8 Paul says that since (because) we are children of the day (which we looked at on day 17) we are called to be self-controlled. How are we or can we be self-controlled? Look at the verb: By "putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet". Paul likes to use military language to give us a visual picture. Both a breastplate, that covers the chest to protect vital organs, and a helmet, which protects the head, offer life saving protection for a soldier. So faith, love and the hope of salvation, like armor, protect us. Why do they protect us? Here's where we come to the 'for' in verse 9.

Faith, love and the hope of salvation protect us. Why? Because God did not appoint or destine us.  To what? To suffer wrath. When would we suffer wrath? We look at the context of the passage this verse is in to get the answer. The context encompasses 4:13-5:11. But we can simply look back at the preceding verses in chapter 5.  We know from our previous words that this passage is about "the day of the Lord" (5:5), the day of judgment. Paul said that those in darkness sleep, meaning they are not aware of its coming. The children of the day will be "alert and self-controlled" (5:6) because Paul has taught them the importance of living a holy life (4:7), thus they are prepared for the coming day and they will not suffer wrath (judgment of death). We can also remember that way back in chapter 1 Paul told us that those who have turned to the living and true God are waiting for His Son to come down from heaven and He will rescue us "from the coming wrath" (1:9-10).

Chapter 5 verse 9 continues with 'but' (instead). Instead of being destined to suffer wrath we are instead destined to what? "Receive salvation". We already know through this book that we have received the salvation of having been reconciled to God through the forgiveness of our sins through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross. SO this cannot refer to that salvation. So in the context of our current passage, this salvation refers to the salvation of being freed from the wrath of God on the day of the Lord. How do we receive salvation from the coming wrath? "through our Lord Jesus Christ". 

Here is a side note: In Paul's letters he uses three tenses of the word salvation - past, present, and future. Our past tense salvation looks back to the day we receive Christ as Lord and through Him are saved from the penalty of our sins. Our present tense salvation is the ongoing work through the Spirit  of Christ in our lives to live a holy life saving us from the power of sin in our life (see Phil 2:12 for an example). Our future tense salvation is what we have looked at in this passage, we will be saved at the time of Christ's second coming, again through Jesus Christ, from suffering the wrath of God . So we have received salvation, we continue to work out our salvation, and we will finally be saved on the Day of the Lord. Notice the word "through" in each of the tenses. This is an important theological preposition in the New Testament. In Greek it is "dia" and is most commonly translated as 'through' or 'by' and points us to the means by which something happens. Used often in the New Testament for significant truths: "Through Jesus Christ', 'through the Spirit', 'by faith', by the power of the Spirit' etc. Don't quickly read on when you see 'through' or 'by'. Pause and see what significant truth is being communicated by this little preposition! Back to our passage.

Now at the beginning of verse 10 it say 'He'. Many of the other translations say "Who", which really helps the flow, because in the Greek verse 10 is not a new sentence but a continuation of verse 9. So we can read it as, "...through Jesus Christ, who died...". So what does Paul say about Jesus Christ in verse 10? That He died. Who did He die for? Us, those who are children of the day/light. Remember the 'for' here is used as 'on behalf of'' or 'in place of''. Jesus Christ died on behalf of us, in our place. Why? We have to look past the parenthetical statement, which we'll come back to, for the answer. He died 'so that' we may live. How may we live? Together with Him. This is a statement of eternity. We will not suffer wrath instead we will complete our salvation, living together with Him forever. The parenthetic statement, 'whether we are awake or asleep' refers to the topic he has covered in previous passages. So whether the children of the day are awake (alive) or asleep (dead) when Christ returns, they will all live together with Him forever. Salvation - past, present, and future - is a gift of God provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!



  



Today our newest document on the Bible Study Techniques page will look at Bible versions, the difference between translations and paraphrase, and how to use them in study. Next week we will start to look at various ways we can respond to God through what we have discovered in study.

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