1 Thessalonians 5:10
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Who died for us.—Not a mere pious recollection of a fact which has nothing to do with the context, but an account of the way by which Christ made it possible for us to set about earning salvation. What a blessed privilege a Christian’s life of labour must be, if it alone—to say nothing of the “salvation” at the end—cost such a price!

Whether we wake or sleep.—The mention of Christ’s death at once brings back the recollection of the Advent and the questions concerning the dead in their relation to it. The words “wake or sleep” seem distinctly suggested by the metaphor used from 1Thessalonians 5:2 to 1Thessalonians 5:8, being different in the Greek from the terms used in 1 Thessalonians 4, but abruptly take a much altered meaning. They here, no doubt, signify “life and death:”—“Let us arm ourselves with a brave hope of our salvation, for it will be against God’s will if we should perish: He means us to save ourselves by union with Him who put an end to death for us by dying, and made all who wait for His coming to live, whether they be in the world’s sense dead or alive.”

We should live.—In sharp contrast with “who died for us.” Christ’s dying destroyed the power of death (Hebrews 2:14); henceforth it is only a matter of being awake or asleep; those who sleep quite as truly live, and live with Him, as we who wake (see Luke 20:38; and compare the more developed passage in Romans 14:8). The word “together” (as the Greek clearly shows) must be separated from the “with;” rather, “we should live with Him together,” i.e., we quick, and our brethren the dead; for St. Paul has entirely reverted from the effect of the Advent-doctrine upon Christian life to the subject of the last chapter—the equality of the two classes at Christ’s coming. Bengel, thinking that St. Paul is still applying himself to the discussion of the date of the Advent (which in fact was scarcely raised), tries to make out the meaning, “That we should there and then live with Him.”

1 Thessalonians

WAKING AND SLEEPING

1 Thessalonians 5:10.

In these words the Apostle concludes a section of this, his earliest letter, in which he has been dealing with the aspect of death in reference to the Christian. There are two very significant usages of language in the context which serve to elucidate the meaning of the words of our text, and to which I refer for a moment by way of introduction.

The one is that throughout this portion of his letter the Apostle emphatically reserves the word ‘died’ for Jesus Christ, and applies to Christ’s followers only the word ‘sleep.’ Christ’s death makes the deaths of those who trust Him a quiet slumber. The other is that the antithesis of waking and sleep is employed in two different directions in this section, being first used to express, by the one term, simply physical life, and by the other, physical death; and secondly, to designate respectively the moral attitude of Christian watchfulness and that of worldly apathy to things unseen and drowsy engrossment with the present.

So in the words immediately preceding my text, we read, ‘let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober.’ The use of the antithesis in our text is chiefly the former, but there cannot be discharged from one of the expressions, ‘wake,’ the ideas which have just been associated with it, especially as the word which is translated ‘wake’ is the same as that just translated in the sixth verse, ‘let us watch.’ So that here there is meant by it, not merely the condition of life but that of Christian life--sober-minded vigilance and wide-awakeness to the realities of being. With this explanation of the meanings of the words before us, we may now proceed to consider them a little more minutely.

I. Note the death which is the foundation of life.

Recalling what I have said as to the precision and carefulness with which the Apostle varies his expressions in this context; speaking of Christ’s death only by that grim name, and of the death of His servants as being merely a slumber, we have for the first thought suggested in reference to Christ’s death, that it exhausted all the bitterness of death. Physically, the sufferings of our Lord were not greater, they were even less, than that of many a man. His voluntary acceptance of them was peculiar to Himself. But His death stands alone in this, that on His head was concentrated the whole awfulness of the thing. So far as the mere external facts go, there is nothing special about it. But I know not how the shrinking of Jesus Christ from the Cross can be explained without impugning His character, unless we see in His death something far more terrible than is the common lot of men. To me Gethsemane is altogether mysterious, and that scene beneath the olives shatters to pieces the perfectness of His character, unless we recognise that there it was the burden of the world’s sin, beneath which, though His will never faltered, His human power tottered. Except we understand that, it seems to me that many who derived from Jesus Christ all their courage, bore their martyrdom better than He did; and that the servant has many a time been greater than his Lord. But if we take the Scripture point of view, and say, ‘The Lord has made to meet upon Him the iniquity of us all,’ then we can understand the agony beneath the olives, and the cry from the Cross, ‘Why hast Thou forsaken Me?’

Further, I would notice that this death is by the Apostle set forth as being the main factor in man’s redemption. This is the first of Paul’s letters, dating long before the others with which we are familiar. Whatever may have been the spiritual development of St. Paul in certain directions after his conversion--and I do not for a moment deny that there was such--it is very important to notice that the fundamentals of his Christology and doctrine of salvation were the same from the beginning to the end, and that in this, his first utterance, he lays down, as emphatically and clearly as ever afterwards he did, the great truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the Cross, thereby secured man’s redemption. Here he isolates the death from the rest of the history of Christ, and concentrates the whole light of his thought upon the Cross, and says, There! that is the power by which men have been redeemed. I beseech you to ask yourselves whether these representations of Christian truth adhere to the perspective of Scripture, which do not in like manner set forth in the foreground of the whole the atoning death of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Then note, further, that this death, the fountain of life, is a death for us. Now I know, of course, that the language here does not necessarily involve the idea of one dying instead of, but only of one dying on behalf of, another. But then I come to this question, In what conceivable sense, except the sense of bearing the world’s sins, and, therefore, mine, is the death of Jesus Christ of advantage to me? Take the Scripture narratives. He died by the condemnation of the Jewish courts as a blasphemer; by the condemnation of the supercilious Roman court--cowardly in the midst of its superciliousness--as a possible rebel, though the sentencer did not believe in the reality of the charges. I want to know what good that is to me? He died, say some people, as the victim of a clearer insight and a more loving heart than the men around Him could understand. What advantage is that to me?

Oh, brethren! there is no meaning in the words ‘He died for us’ unless we understand that the benefit of His death lies in the fact that it was the sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and that, therefore, He died for us.

But then remember, too, that in this expression is set forth, not only the objective fact of Christ’s death for us, but much in reference to the subjective emotions and purposes of Him who died. Paul was writing to these Thessalonians, of whom none, I suppose, except possibly a few Jews who might be amongst them, had ever seen Jesus Christ in the flesh, or known anything about Him. And yet he says to them, ‘Away across the ocean there, Jesus Christ died for you men, not one of whom had ever appealed to His heart through His eyes.’

The principle involved is capable of the widest possible expansion. When Christ went to the Cross there was in His heart, in His purposes, in His desires, a separate place for every soul of man whom He embraced, not with the dim vision of some philanthropist, who looks upon the masses of unborn generations as possibly beneficially affected by some of his far-reaching plans, but with the individualising and separating knowledge of a divine eye, and the love of a divine heart. Jesus Christ bore the sins of the world because He bore in His sympathies and His purposes the sins of each single soul. Yours and mine and all our fellows’ were there. Guilt and fear and loneliness, and all the other evils that beset men because they have departed from the living God, are floated away

‘By the water and the blood From Thy wounded side which flowed’;

and as the context teaches us, it is because He died for us that He is our Lord, and because He died for every man that He is every man’s Master and King.

II. Note, secondly, the transformation of our lives and deaths affected thereby.

You may remember that, in my introductory remarks, I pointed out the double application of that antithesis of waking or sleeping in the context as referring in one case to the fact of physical life or death, and in the other to the fact of moral engrossment with the slumbering influences of the present, or of Christian vigilance. I carry some allusion to both of these ideas in the remarks that I have to make.

Through Jesus Christ life may be quickened into watchfulness. It is not enough to take waking as meaning living, for you may turn the metaphor round and say about a great many men that living means dreamy sleeping. Paul speaks in the preceding verses of ‘others’ than Christians as being asleep, and their lives as one long debauch and slumber in the night. Whilst, in contrast with physical death, physical life may be called ‘waking’; the condition of thousands of men, in regard to all the higher faculties, activities, and realities of being, is that of somnambulists--they are walking indeed, but they are walking in their sleep. Just as a man fast asleep knows nothing of the realities round him; just as he is swallowed up in his own dreams, so many walk in a vain show. Their highest faculties are dormant; the only real things do not touch them, and their eyes are closed to these. They live in a region of illusions which will pass away at cock-crowing, and leave them desolate. For some of us here living is only a distempered sleep, troubled by dreams which, whether they be pleasant or bitter, equally lack roots in the permanent realities to which we shall wake some day. But if we hold by Jesus Christ, who died for us, and let His love constrain us, His Cross quicken us, and the might of His great sacrifice touch us, and the blood of sprinkling be applied to our eyeballs as an eye-salve, that we may see, we shall wake from our opiate sleep--though it may be as deep as if the sky rained soporifics upon us--and be conscious of the things that are, and have our dormant faculties roused, and be quickened into intense vigilance against our enemies, and brace ourselves for our tasks, and be ever looking forward to that joyful hope, to that coming which shall bring the fulness of waking and of life. So, you professing Christians, do you take the lessons of this text? A sleeping Christian is on the high road to cease to be a Christian at all. If there be one thing more comprehensively imperative upon us than another, it is this, that, belonging, as we do by our very profession, to the day, and being the children of the light, we shall neither sleep nor be drunken, but be sober, watching as they who expect their Lord. You walk amidst realities that will hide themselves unless you gaze for them; therefore, watch. You walk amidst enemies that will steal subtly upon you, like some gliding serpent through the grass, or some painted savage in the forest; therefore, watch. You expect a Lord to come from heaven with a relieving army that is to raise the siege and free the hard-beset garrison from its fears and its toilsome work; therefore, watch. ‘They that sleep, sleep in the night.’ They who are Christ’s should be like the living creatures in the Revelation, all eyes round about, and every eye gazing on things unseen and looking for the Master when He comes.

On the other hand, the death of Christ will soften our deaths into slumber. The Apostle will not call what the senses call death, by that dread name, which was warranted when applied to the facts of Christ’s death. The physical fact remaining the same, all that is included under the complex whole called death which makes its terrors, goes, for a man who keeps fast hold of Christ who died and lives. For what makes the sting of death? Two or three things. It is like some poisonous insect’s sting, it is a complex weapon. One side of it is the fear of retribution. Another side of it is the shrinking from loneliness. Another side of it is the dread of the dim darkness of an unknown future. And all these are taken clean away. Is it guilt, dread of retribution? ‘Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.’ Is it loneliness? In the valley of darkness ‘I will be with thee. My rod and My staff will comfort thee.’ Is it a shrinking from the dim unknown and all the familiar habitudes and occupations of the warm corner where we have lived? ‘Jesus Christ has brought immortality to light by the Gospel.’ We do not , according to the sad words of one of the victims of modern advanced thought, pass by the common road into the great darkness, but by the Christ-made living Way into the everlasting light. And so it is a misnomer to apply the same term to the physical fact plus the accompaniment of dread and shrinking and fear of retribution and solitude and darkness, and to the physical fact invested with the direct and bright opposites of all these.

Sleep is rest; sleep is consciousness; sleep is the prophecy of waking. We know not what the condition of those who sleep in Jesus may be, but we know that the child on its mother’s breast, and conscious somehow, in its slumber, of the warm place where its head rests, is full of repose. And they that sleep in Jesus will be so . Then, whether we wake or sleep does not seem to matter so very much.

III. The united life of all who live with Christ.

Christ’s gift to men is the gift of life in all senses of that word, from the lowest to the highest. That life, as our text tells us, is altogether unaffected by death. We cannot see round the sharp angle where the valley turns, but we know that the path runs straight on through the gorge up to the throat of the pass--and so on to the ‘shining table-lands whereof our God Himself is Sun and Moon.’ There are some rivers that run through stagnant lakes, keeping the tinge of their waters, and holding together the body of their stream undiverted from its course, and issuing undiminished and untarnished from the lower end of the lake. And so the stream of our lives may run through the Dead Sea, and come out below none the worse for the black waters through which it has forced its way. The life that Christ gives is unaffected by death. Our creed is a risen Saviour, and the corollary of that creed is, that death touches the circumference, but never gets near the man. It is hard to believe, in the face of the foolish senses; it is hard to believe, in the face of aching sorrow. It is hard to-day to believe, in the face of passionate and ingenious denial, but it is true all the same. Death is sleep, and sleep is life.

And so, further, my text tells us that this life is life with Christ. We know not details, we need not know them. Here we have the presence of Jesus Christ, if we love Him, as really as when He walked the earth. Ay! more really, for Jesus Christ is nearer to us who, having not seen Him, love Him, and somewhat know His divinity and His sacrifice, than He was to the men who companied with Him all the time that He went in and out amongst them, whilst they were ignorant of who dwelt with them, and entertained the Lord of angels and men unawares. He is with us, and it is the power and the privilege and the joy of our lives to realise His presence. That Lord who, whilst He was on earth, was the Son of Man which is in heaven, now that He is in heaven in His corporeal humanity is the Son of God who dwells with us. And as He dwells with us, if we love Him and trust Him, so, but in fashion incapable of being revealed to us, now does He dwell with those of whose condition this is the only and all-sufficing positive knowledge which we have, that they are ‘absent from the body; present with the Lord.’

Further, that united life is a social life. The whole force of my text is often missed by English readers, who run into one idea the two words ‘together with.’ But if you would put a comma after ‘together,’ you would understand better what Paul meant. He refers to two forms of union. Whether we wake or sleep we shall live all aggregated together, and all aggregated ‘together’ because each is ‘with Him.’ That is to say, union with Jesus Christ makes all who partake of that union, whether they belong to the one side of the river or the other, into a mighty whole. They are together because they are with the Lord.

Suppose a great city, and a stream flowing through its centre. The palace and all pertaining to the court are on one side of the water; there is an outlying suburb on the other, of meaner houses, inhabited by poor and humble people. But yet it is one city. ‘Ye are come unto the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.’ We are knit together by one life, one love, one thought; and the more we fix our hearts on the things which those above live among and by, the more truly are we knit to them. As a quaint old English writer says, ‘They are gone but into another pew in the same church.’

We are one in Him, and so there will be a perfecting of union in reunion; and the inference so craved for by our hearts seems to be warranted to our understandings, that that society above, which is the perfection of society, shall not be lacking in the elements of mutual recognition and companionship, without which we cannot conceive of society at all. ‘And so we shall ever be with the Lord.’

Dear friends, I beseech you to trust your sinful souls to that dear Lord who bore you in His heart and mind when He bore His cross to Calvary and completed the work of your redemption. If you will accept Him as your sacrifice and Saviour, when He cried ‘It is finished,’ united to Him your lives will be quickened into intense activity and joyful vigilance and expectation, and death will be smoothed into a quiet falling asleep. ‘The shadow feared of man,’ that strikes threateningly across every path, will change as we approach it, if our hearts are anchored on Him who died for us, into the Angel of Light to whom God has given charge concerning us to bear up our feet upon His hands, and land us in the presence of the Lord and in the perfect society of those who love Him. And so shall we live together, and all together, with Him. 5:6-11 Most of mankind do not consider the things of another world at all, because they are asleep; or they do not consider them aright, because they sleep and dream. Our moderation as to all earthly things should be known to all men. Shall Christians, who have the light of the blessed gospel shining in their faces, be careless about their souls, and unmindful of another world? We need the spiritual armour, or the three Christian graces, faith, love, and hope. Faith; if we believe that the eye of God is always upon us, that there is another world to prepare for, we shall see reason to watch and be sober. True and fervent love to God, and the things of God, will keep us watchful and sober. If we have hope of salvation, let us take heed of any thing that would shake our trust in the Lord. We have ground on which to build unshaken hope, when we consider, that salvation is by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, to atone for our sins and to ransom our souls. We should join in prayer and praise one with another. We should set a good example one before another, and this is the best means to answer the end of society. Thus we shall learn how to live to Him, with whom we hope to live for ever.Who died for us - That is, to redeem us. He designed by his death that we should ultimately live with him; and this effect of his death could be secured only as it was an atoning sacrifice.

Whether we wake or sleep - Whether we are found among the living or the dead when he comes. The object here is to show that the one class would have no advantage over the other. This was designed to calm their minds in their trials, and to correct an error which seems to have prevailed in the belief that those who were found alive when he should return would have some priority over those who were dead; see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Should live together with him - See the notes at John 14:3. The word rendered "together" (ἁμα hama) is not to be regarded as connected with the phrase "with him" - as meaning that he and they would be "together," but it refers to those who "wake and those who sleep" - those who are alive and those who are dead - meaning that they would be "together" or would be with the Lord "at the same time;" there would be no priority or precedence. Rosenmuller.

10. died for us—Greek, "in our behalf."

whether we wake or sleep—whether we be found at Christ's coming awake, that is, alive, or asleep, that is, in our graves.

together—all of us together; the living not preceding the dead in their glorification "with Him" at His coming (1Th 4:13).

Some refer these words to the latter end of the foregoing chapter, where the apostle had spoken of the saints’ death and resurrection, which is their sleeping and waking, as they are here called. And their being for ever with the Lord, is here called their living together with him. And lest it might be thought that none should be with Christ until they awaked at the resurrection, he therefore speaks of living with Christ even when we sleep. He had spoken of sleep in another sense, 1 Thessalonians 5:6, as meant of security; but here meant of death, as it is taken 1 Thessalonians 4:14. And as watching is set opposite to the former sleep, so here waking to the latter, which is a resurrection from death. And we hence gather that the soul doth not sleep with the body, but lives with the Lord when that sleeps in the grave; as the apostle expected to be with the Lord upon the dissolution of his body, Philippians 1:23, and he mentions it as the privilege of other saints as well as his own, 2 Corinthians 5:1. When we sleep we are with him only in our souls; when we wake we shall be with him both in body and soul. And both these we have from Christ’s death. If he had not died, heaven had been shut against our souls, for our entrance into the holiest of all is by his blood, and the veil of his flesh rent for us, Hebrews 10:19,20; and the grave would have shut up our bodies, and there would have been no resurrection; so that our living with Christ, both when we sleep and when we wake, springs out of his death. Others carry these words no further than the foregoing verse, showing how we are saved by Christ; saith the apostle, he died for us. As God appointed persons to be saved, and Christ to be the person to be saved by, so also to be saved by his death; with respect to his Father he is said to be put to death, 1 Peter 3:18; with respect to his own freedom and willingness, he is said here to die for us. And his dying for us implieth the greatness of our guilt, and expresseth the greatness of his own love, John 15:13. He loved us, and thereupon would have us live with him; and he died that we and he may live together. And so he may be said to die for our salvation, the substance whereof consisteth in our living with him. To live with so glorious a Person, and a Person that is full of love to us, and shall then be perfectly beloved of us, and that stands in many near relations to us, and whose presence will have such a blessed influence upon us, and in such a place as heaven is, and that for ever, surely carries the substance of our salvation in it. And if this was the end of his death, surely it was more than to be an example of faith, patience, and submission to God, or to confirm to us the doctrine he preached; it was to satisfy Divine justice, and obtain the pardon of our sin, and merit for us the privilege of living with him. Who died for us,.... The elect of God, who are not appointed to wrath, but to salvation by Christ, on which account he died for them; not merely as a martyr to confirm his doctrine, or only by way of example, but as a surety, in the room and stead of his people; as a sacrifice for their sins, to make atonement for them, and save them from them; so that his death lays a solid foundation for hope of salvation by him:

that whether we wake or sleep: which phrases are to be understood, not in the same sense in which they are used in the context; as if the sense was, whether a man indulges himself in sin, and gives way to sleep and sloth, and carnal security, or whether he is awake and on his watch and guard, he shall through the death of Christ have eternal life secured to him; not but that there is a truth in this, that eternal life and salvation by Christ, as it does not depend on our watchfulness, so it shall not be hindered by the sleepy, drowsy frame of spirit, the children of God sometimes fall into: but rather natural sleep and waking are intended; and the meaning is, that those for whom Christ died are always safe, sleeping or waking, whatever they are about and employed in, and in whatsoever situation and condition they are in this world; though it may be best of all to interpret the words, of life and death; and they may have a particular regard to the state of the saints at Christ's second coming, when some will be awake, or alive, and others will be asleep in Christ, or dead; and it matters not which they are, whether living or dead; see Romans 14:7 for the end of Christ's dying for them, and which will be answered in one as well as in another, is, that

we should live together with him: Christ died for his people, who were dead in trespasses and sins, that they might live spiritually a life of sanctification from him, and a life of justification on him, and by him; and that they might live a life of communion with him; and that they might live eternally with him, in soul and body, in heaven, and reign with him there, and partake of his glory; and this all the saints will, whether they be found dead or alive at his coming; for the dead will immediately arise, those that sleep in the dust will awake at once, and they that are alive will be changed, and both will be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and be for ever with him: now the consideration of the death of Christ, and this end of it, which will certainly be answered, serves greatly to encourage hope of salvation by him, and faith in him, and an earnest expectation of his second coming.

{5} Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

(5) The death of Christ is a pledge of our victory, for he died so that we might be partakers of his life of power, indeed even while we live here.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 5:10. That by which the acquisition of salvation is rendered objectively possible is the death of Christ for our redemption. However, this objective reason of περιποίησις σωτηρίας appears, according to the verbal expression, here not in causal connection with the preceding; for otherwise 1 Thessalonians 5:10 would have been attached with the simple participle ἀποθανόντος without the article. Rather Paul adds in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 simply the fact of the death of Christ for our redemption as an independent expression, in order, by the addition of the final end of His death, to return to the chief reason which led him to this whole explanation concerning the advent, namely, to the comforting assurance that Christians who have already fallen asleep at the entrance of the advent will, as well as those who are alive, be partakers in Christ’s glory.

ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν] for our benefit, not in our stead (Baumgarten-Crusius). See Meyer on Romans 5:6.

γρηγορεῖν and καθεύδειν cannot here, as formerly, be taken in an ethical sense; for in what precedes καθεύδειν was represented as a mark of the unbelieving, of the children of this world, something incompatible with Christians in their character as children of the light. But to understand the words in their literal sense, with Musculus, Aretius, and Whitby, that is, to interpret them of day and night: “whether the advent happens in the day-time or at night,” would be feeble and trifling. It only remains that waking and sleeping here is to be regarded as a figurative designation of life and death, whether we are yet alive at the advent, or whether we are already dead. Accordingly the same thought is expressed in the sentence with ἵνα, generally considered, which is contained in the concluding words of Romans 14:8 (ἐάν τε οὖν ζῶμεν ἐάν τε ἀποθνήσκωμεν, τοῦ κυρίου ἐσμέν).[63]

On καθεύδειν of death, comp. LXX. Daniel 12:2; 2 Samuel 7:12; Psalm 88:5.

On εἴτεεἴτε, with the conjunctive, see Winer, p. 263 [E. T. 368].

ἅμα] does not belong to σὺν αὐτῷ (Hofmann, Riggenbach), but to ζήσωμεν. It here corresponds to the Hebrew יַהַד, altogether (Romans 3:12), so that it emphatically brings forward the similar share in the ζῆν σὺν Χριστῷ for all Christians, whether living or dead.

ΖΉΣΩΜΕΝ] more specific than ἘΣΌΜΕΘΑ, 1 Thessalonians 4:17; for being united with the Lord is a partaking of His glory. According to Hofmann (comp. also Möller on de Wette), ΖΉΣΩΜΕΝ is designed to denote only a state of life-fellowship with Christ, so that there is indicated by it not something future, but the present condition of Christians. But this weakening of the verbal idea militates against the context of our passage, as it has for its contents questions respecting the advent, and we are reminded of the period of the advent by ΕἸς ὈΡΓΉΝ and ΕἸς ΠΕΡΙΠΟΊΗΣΙΝ ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑς directly preceding. Besides, Paul, if he would have expressed nothing more than “a fellowship of life with Christ, for which the distinction of corporeal life and death is indifferent,” would much more naturally have written ΑὐΤΟῦ ὮΜΕΝ (comp. Romans 14:8) instead of ΣῪΝ ΑὐΤῷ ΖΉΣΩΜΕΝ.

[63] By this parallel with Romans 14:8-9, the objections of Schrader against our passage are settled, who thinks that “the manner in which the death of Christ and His coming again are spoken of, is not similar to what is found elsewhere in Paul, but rather to what Mark and Luke say concerning it. We do not find here the words taught by the Holy Spirit as we are accustomed to hear from Paul, but the words from tradition, such as were at a later period prevalent among Christians!”1 Thessalonians 5:10. Life or death makes no difference to the Christian’s union and fellowship with Jesus Christ, whose death was in our eternal interests (cf. Romans 14:7-9). For this metaphorical use of γρηγ. εἴτε καθ. (different from that in 6), Wohl. cites Plato, Symp., 203a: διὰ τούτου (i.e. Eros) πᾶσα ἐστιν ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος θεοῖς πρὸς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἐγρηγορόσι καὶ καθεύδουσιν, as a possible basis.10. (through our Lord Jesus Christ,) who died for us] It has been said that the gospel which Paul preached at Thessalonica was “not the gospel of the Cross of Christ, but of the Coming of Christ.” But these two are not exclusive or conflicting doctrines; they are complementary parts of one and the same Gospel. This clause is enough to show how far the apostles were from ignoring the Cross of Christ in their ministry at Thessalonica. When St Paul writes, “Christ died for us … that we should live together with Him,” his words involve the entire doctrine of Redemption by the death and resurrection of Jesus, as it is set forth at length in the next group of Epistles—in Romans 3:21-26; Romans 4:25 to Romans 5:2; Romans 6:1-11; Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 2:10-21; Galatians 3:9-14; 2 Corinthians 5:14 to 2 Corinthians 6:2; &c. They imply the Atonement and Salvation by Faith, the receiving of Christ’s Spirit of sonship, and abiding union with Him in His risen and heavenly life. The whole theology of the Cross is in this sentence,—which indeed could only be interpreted and understood by the Thessalonians in the light of such teaching as we find in the later Epistles. The message of salvation through the death of Christ had been the staple and centre of the Apostle’s testimony all along. In writing to the Corinthians, and referring to his preaching in Corinth at the very time when he wrote the letters before us, he calls his message simply “the word of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2); comp., for an earlier period, Acts 13:38-39; Galatians 3:1, also Galatians 6:14. See Introd. pp. 16, 17.

that, whether we wake or sleep] More exactly, whether we be awake or asleep, i.e. living or dead—with allusion to the use of the same terms to denote spiritual wakefulness or slumber in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7 (see notes).

At the same time these words carry us back, with a sudden change of metaphor, to ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. There it was shewn that believers living at the Lord’s return, and those who “fall asleep” before He comes, alike belong to Him, and will share alike in the glory of His advent. And now it appears that this deep and sure relationship of the saints to Christ, unbroken by the sleep of bodily death, is grounded upon His death for them. That death He underwent for the very purpose of giving them a deathless life: in order that … together with Him we should live (comp. Romans 14:8-9 : “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.… Christ died and came to life, that He might be Lord of both dead and living”). The stress lies upon the last word: Christ died for us, that we might live with Him—a life consisting in spiritual union with Him, and continuing undestroyed whether the man wakes or sleeps to this world. “I came,” said Jesus, “that men might have life … I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If any one eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. Yea, and the bread which I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world” (John 10:10; John 6:51). Risen from the grave, our Saviour “lives” evermore “to God; death no longer lords it over Him” (Romans 6:9-10). And those who are Christ’s, “joined to the Lord” as “one spirit” with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17), share His life, which flows from the heavenly Head to all the earthly members of His Body. This is the life “that is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:19); it is superior to the accidents of time, since in its spring and essence “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-4). Such is St Paul’s conception of the nature of the Christian’s life.

The “with Him” of ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is echoed and unfolded in the “together with Him” of this verse, as it formed the basis of the “together with them” of ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:17. All joy and strength for the present life and hope for that to come, for ourselves and for those dear to us, are centred in the words “together with Him.” So the Apostle resumes the strain of consolation, from which he had turned aside in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 to utter words of caution; and he concludes, almost in the language of ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:181 Thessalonians 5:10. Ἀποθανόντος, who hath died) That appointment for a peculiar preservation (περιποίησιν σωτηρίας), consisted in the death of Christ itself.—εἴτε καθεύδωμεν, whether we sleep) as to the body, in natural sleep or in death.—ἅμα) at the same time as the coming takes place. Or are we rather to take it, together with Him, in the same place where, and in the same manner as, He lives? I cannot think so. The whole subject is “concerning the times” (1 Thessalonians 5:1), and at the end of the discussion the discourse returns to those things with which it began. They had always set before themselves the coming of Christ as a thing near at hand. So also does Lubinus explain it.Verse 10. - Who died. His death being the meritorious cause of our salvation. For us; that is here, not "instead of us," but "for our benefit," or "on our account." That, whether we wake or sleep. Here not to be taken in an ethical sense - whether we are spiritually awake or asleep, for those who are spiritually asleep will be surprised by the coming of the Lord; nor in a natural sense - whether he come in the night and find us taking our natural sleep, or in the day, when we are awake - which would be a mere trifling observation; but in a metaphorical sense - whether we are alive or dead. The apostle has just been speaking of those who are dead under the designation of those "who are asleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:13), and therefore it is natural to interpret the clause, "whether we wake or sleep," of the condition of believers at the coming of the Lord. There is here certainly a change of metaphor: "sleep" in ver. 6 denotes religious carelessness; in ver. 7, natural sleep; and here, death. We shall live together - or, in one company - with him. The apostle is still continuing his consolatory address to those who were mourning over their deceased friends; and he tells them that at the advent there will be no difference between those who are then alive and those who sleep - both will live together with the Lord (comp. Romans 14:8, 9). Who died

Frequently the resurrection is coupled with the death of Christ by Paul, as 1 Thessalonians 4:14; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1-4. Not so here; but the thought of resurrection is supplied in live together with him.

Wake or sleep

Whether we are alive or dead at Christ's appearing. Comp. Romans 14:9. Καθεύδειν in N.T. always literally of sleep, except here, and possibly Ephesians 5:14. In Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52, it is contrasted with death. In lxx in the sense of death, Psalm 87:5; Daniel 12:2; 2 Samuel 7:12.

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