You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ye are all.—St. Paul recognises no exceptions, no inner distinctions, among the members of the Church: all stand alike so far as grace, privileges, and duties are concerned. The following exhortation shows that it was a matter of each man’s free will whether he would sustain his character as a “child of light” or not.
Children of light.—The expression is an enthusiastic Hebrew poetical turn for intimate vital connection with anything; thus, e.g., “children of this world” (Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34) = “mere products of this age,” with a family likeness for other worldly people; “the son of peace” (Luke 10:6)=a person with whom peace has a natural affinity, to whom the “peace” pronounced will cleave naturally. So “children of the light” are persons to whom darkness is an alien thing, whose natures have a kinship, an intuitive responsiveness for whatever may be called “light.” To such persons the “light,” the “day,” can never come as an unwelcome, startling apparition.
We.—Notice St. Paul’s courtesy again: he suddenly includes himself in his exhortation.
And the children of the day - Who live as if light always shone round about them. The meaning is, that in reference to the coming of the Lord they are as people would be in reference to the coming of a thief, if there were no night and no necessity of slumber. They would always be wakeful and active, and it would be impossible to come upon them by surprise. Christians are always to be wakeful and vigilant; they are so to expect the coming of the Redeemer, that he will not find them off their guard, and will not come upon them by surprise.
are not of—that is, belong not to night nor darkness. The change of person from "ye" to "we" implies this: Ye are sons of light because ye are Christians; and we, Christians, are not of night nor darkness.
1. Positively: Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; which is a Hebraism: Ye are partakers of a spiritual light, and this light is not the darker light of nature, or the light of prophecy, which the Jews had, compared to a lamp, 2 Peter 1:19; but ye are children of the day, as the time of the gospel is called day, Romans 13:12 2 Corinthians 6:2.
2. Negatively: We are not of the night, nor of darkness; your state is exceedingly different from other Gentiles, and from what it once was, as the light is from darkness, and day from night: not as if there was no ignorance remaining in them, for the best men see but through a glass, darkly, 1 Corinthians 13:12; but the apostle compares them with their former estate when they were Gentiles, and with the Jews under the law; and with respect to their state in Christ, they were not children of the night, or, as to their state, of the night, but children of light, and of the day.
and the children of the day; of the Gospel day, in distinction from the night of Jewish darkness; and of the day of grace which was come upon their souls, in opposition to the night of ignorance and infidelity, which was past; and of the everlasting day of glory, being heirs of, and having a right unto, and a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light:
we are not of the night, nor of darkness; that is not the children of darkness, as the Syriac and Arabic versions read; and the former changes the person, and reads, "ye are not the children of the night", &c. of the night of the legal dispensation, or of Gentile ignorance; or of a state of natural darkness, in unregeneracy and was no need to write unto them concerning the time and season of Christ's coming, and lays a foundation for the following exhortations.Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Thessalonians 5:5, first positively, and then negatively with a general reference to all Christians.
υἱοὶ φωτός] sons of the light, and υἱοὶ ἡμέρας, sons of the day, are Hebraisms: being a concrete mode of expression, in order to represent “belonging to.” Comp. Ephesians 2:2-3; Ephesians 5:8; Luke 16:8; 1 Peter 1:14, and other passages. See Winer, p. 213 [E. T. 298], ἡμέρα is here used as a synonym for φῶς. The transition from the notion of the day of the Lord to the notion of day generally, in contrast to the darkness, was so much the more natural, inasmuch as the day of the Lord is according to its nature light, before which no darkness can exist, or rather by which every impurity of the darkness will be discovered and judged. An entirely similar transition from the ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου to ἡμέρα generally is found in Romans 13:12-13.
Το οὐκ ἐσμὲν νυκτὸς οὐδὲ σκότους, Estius, Pelt, Schott, and others incorrectly again supply υἱοί; for εἶναι, with the simple genitive, is the genuine Greek mode of expressing the idea of a possessive relation. See Kühner, II. p. 167; Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 165.1 Thessalonians 5:5. The present age is utter night (שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ לַיְלָה), as contemporary rabbis taught; the age to come is all day. Meantime faith is to be held fast through this night (cf. passages quoted in Schlatter’s die Sprache u. Heimat des vierten Evangelisten, 17, 18). υἱοὶ φ. καὶ ὑ. ἡμέρας is a stronger and Semitic way of expressing the thought of “belonging to” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8).5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day] More correctly, For you are all sons of light and sons of day. This confirms positively what was stated by way of denial in 1 Thessalonians 5:4. Those cannot be “in darkness” who are “sons of light.” Light is their native element and abode.
By a common Hebrew idiom, a man is said to be a son of any influence that determines or dominates his character. So there are “sons of Belial” (worthlessness) in the O. T.; and Christ speaks of “sons of thunder,” “sons of the Resurrection,” &c.
Light is a favourite figure with St Paul: see Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:8-14; Colossians 1:12. St John employs it still more frequently; in his Gospel, Christ applies it with emphasis to His Person as well as to His doctrine: “I am the light of the world” (John 1:49; John 8:12), &c. Both conceptions meet in the words of Psalm 36:9, addressed to God: “In Thy light shall we see light.” This natural and beautiful metaphor describes the truth revealed by God to men (1) in its moral purity, as opposed to the darkness of sin (see 1 Thessalonians 5:7-8; comp. Romans 13:12-13, John 3:19, 1 John 1:5-7); but especially (2) in its saving effect, as the bringer of life, deliverance and joy (Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation;” Isaiah 40:1-3; John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; &c). These two meanings are united in St Paul’s conception. (3) The thought of mental enlightenment also accompanies the figure (see e.g. Ephesians 1:17-18).
“Day” is here not a mere synonym for “light” in general; it takes up again the “day of the Lord” of 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4. Now receiving the light of Christ’s truth and assimilated to it, the sons of light will be ready for “that day.” Christ’s advent will be to them like sunrise after long twilight. It is their birthday, the time of their full redemption and revelation. “The day of the Lord” claims them for its own,—“sons of day,” being “sons of God” and “the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36). See 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Romans 8:18-24; Colossians 3:4.
This the Apostle assumes of “all” his readers; for he counts upon them all maintaining the watchful hope that befits the sons of light.
we are not of the night, nor of darkness] The Apostle passes from the second person to the first (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4); he associates himself with his readers in this repudiation of night and darkness.
Night, as the opposite of “day,” is the period, or the state, of ignorance and estrangement from God, which for believers in Christ has passed away. And yet in contrast with the full light which will burst forth on “the day of the Lord,” the present hour is even for them one of comparative darkness and obscuration: see Romans 13:12; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 3:2. Darkness is the element and empire of night; the condition in which “the rest” (1 Thessalonians 5:6) live and have their being. Such darkness involves, along with ignorance of God, moral debasement (see 1 Thessalonians 5:7, and ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:5) and insensibility (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12; Romans 1:30; Matthew 24:38-40); hence exposure to surprise and ruin (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).Verse 5. - Ye are all the children of the light, and the children of the day. Hebraistic expressions denoting, Ye all belong to the light and to the day. An affirmation, strengthening the previous declaration. The light and the day are synonymous expressions - the day being the period of light, as opposed to the night and darkness. We are not of the night, nor of darkness; rendering the positive assertion more emphatic.
In the text γὰρ for should be inserted after πάντες all. Ye are not in darkness for ye are sons of light.
Children of light (υἱοὶ φωτός)
More correctly, sons of light. See on Mark 3:17, and comp. Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:12. The Christian condition is habitually associated in N.T. with light: see Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:16; John 3:21; John 8:12; Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:7. The contrary condition with darkness: see John 3:19, John 3:20; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 4:16; Matthew 6:23, etc.
Of the night - of darkness (νυκτὸς - σκότους)
The genitive marks an advance of thought from ἐν σκότει in darkness, 1 Thessalonians 5:4. Ἑν indicates the element in which one is. The genitive, of darkness, points to nature and origin. To belong to darkness is more than to be in darkness.
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