1 Thessalonians 5:9
For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
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(9) For.—This is not the reason for being watchful, but for being hopeful of salvation. The image of the soldier is abandoned’ as suddenly as it was introduced.

Hath not appointed.—Rather, did not appoint, referring to some mysterious moment of God’s eternal counsels, when He fixed His predestination of us—whether the moment of creative thought, or of sending the gospel to us. The “wrath” is that which is to come upon the “children of wrath” at the Second Advent, as in 1Thessalonians 1:10; 1Thessalonians 2:16. (Comp. 1Peter 2:8.) We may well be confident then, for we ourselves are the only persons that can defeat God’s predestinations.

To obtain salvation.—More than “obtain;” the Greek means “acquire” by one’s own efforts;” earn and make our own;” being the same word as is used in 1Timothy 3:13 and Acts 20:28 in the verb; and in the substantive in Ephesians 1:14 (where it is translated “purchased possession”); 2Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 10:39 (translated “saving”); and 1Peter 2:9, where see Note. It will be seen that God does not predestinate men to “salvation” without laborious acquisition on their part, but predestinates them to occupy a position in which they will be able to “work out their own salvation” by placing them “under grace” in the Church. The very same word is used of the Christian’s way of securing salvation, and of Christ’s way of securing it for him (see references); both are “purchasing,” “earning.” But mark that the Christian can only so purchase salvation “through our Lord Jesus Christ:” apart from Him a man can do nothing to redeem himself, but through union with Him the believer can pay the whole price of his salvation (see e.g. John 15:5);

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.For God hath not appointed us to wrath - This is designed as an encouragement to effort to secure our salvation. The wish of God is to save us, and therefore we should watch and be sober; we should take to ourselves the whole of the Christian armor, and strive for victory. If he had appointed us to wrath, effort would have been in vain, for we could do nothing but yield to our inevitable destiny. The hope of a final triumph should animate us in our efforts, and cheer us in our struggles with our foes. How much does the hope of victory animate the soldier in battle! When morally certain of success, how his arm is nerved! When everything conspires to favor him, and when he seems to feel that God fights for him, and intends to give him the victory, how his heart exults, and how strong is he in battle! Hence, it was a great point among the ancients, when about entering into battle, to secure evidence that the gods favored them, and meant to give them the victory.

For this purpose they offered sacrifices, and consulted the flight of birds and the entrails of animals; and for this armies were accompanied by soothsayers and priests, that they might interpret any signs which might occur that would be favorable, or to propitiate the favor of the gods by sacrifice. See Homer, passim; Arrian's Expedition of Alexander, and the classic writers generally. The apostle alludes to something of this kind here. He would excite us to maintain the Christian warfare manfully, by the assurance that God intends that we shall be triumphant. This we are to learn by no conjectures of soothsayers; by no observation of the flight of birds; by no sacrifice which we can make to propitiate his favor, but by the unerring assurance of his holy word. If we are Christians, we know that he intends our salvation, and that victory will be ours; if we are willing to become Christians, we know that the Almighty arm will be stretched out to aid us, and that the "gates of hell" cannot prevent it.

9. For—assigning the ground of our "hopes" (1Th 5:8).

appointed us—Translate, "set" (Ac 13:47), in His everlasting purpose of love (1Th 3:3; 2Ti 1:9). Contrast Ro 9:22; Jude 4.

to—that is, unto wrath.

to obtain—Greek, "to the acquisition of salvation"; said, according to Bengel, Of One saved out of a general wreck, when all things else have been lost: so of the elect saved out of the multitude of the lost (2Th 2:13, 14). The fact of God's "appointment" of His grace "through Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:5), takes away the notion of our being able to "acquire" salvation of ourselves. Christ "acquired (so the Greek for 'purchased') the Church (and its salvation) with His own blood" (Ac 20:28); each member is said to be appointed by God to the "acquiring of salvation." In the primary sense, God does the work; in the secondary sense, man does it.

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation: some expositors make these words an argument to all the duties of holiness mentioned both in this and the foregoing chapters; and it is true, that the knowledge of our being elected, or appointed to salvation, doth not in the elect encourage to sin or sloth, as some affirm, but engage to all holiness: but I had rather restrain the words, and that either to the hope of salvation, mentioned immediately before, and then the sense to be this, we may well hope for salvation seeing God hath appointed us to it; or, to his whole discourse about the coming of Christ, and so they may give the reason why the dead in Christ must rise, and must, with the living saints, meet the Lord in the air, and be for ever with him; yea, and why they need not fear the destruction that will come upon others at that day, and why they should be watchful for its coming, because, saith the apostle: God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation, & c. Having spoken of two sorts of persons, the children of the day, and children of the night, and the sudden destruction of the one and salvation of the other at the coming of Christ, he here ascends to the first original of both, which is God’s appointment, which is an act of God’s sovereign will, determining men’s final estates; which seems to be more than mere prescience or foreknowledge, an act of God’s mind, as appears by Romans 8:29 1 Peter 1:2, or more than appointing of the means and way of salvation; but not of persons to be saved, or of persons only materially, as to the number how many, but not formally, or individually, who they are that shall be saved; whereas the apostle writes of some whose names are in the book of life, Philippians 4:3, and that from the foundation of the world, Revelation 17:8, and chosen before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4: otherwise, every man’s salvation would depend more upon the uncertainty of man’s will, than the eternal and immutable will of God; whereas whatever God works in man’s salvation, is according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians 1:11; and God’s counsel is certain, immutable, and eternal, extending not only to actions and means, but persons, Romans 8:29,30. Neither is this appointment of God grounded upon the foresight of man’s faith; for if faith be the gift of God, this gift proceeds from God’s counsel and fore-appointment; else men may say: That I may be saved I must thank God, but that I am saved I must thank myself: and hence there is a possibility for no man to be saved, and all the counsels of God in Christ to be made frustrate. But this is no place for controversy; only where God appoints to salvation, he appoints also to means, and without the means there is no attainment of the end, Ephesians 1:4 1 Peter 1:2. And the apostle here makes salvation stand opposite to wrath; what before he called destruction, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, he here calleth wrath, because God’s wrath produceth it, and is manifested in it. And those that are saved are delivered from it; and the supreme reason is, because they were not appointed to it, but to salvation, and none that are appointed to the one are appointed to the other. The vessels of wrath and of mercy are set in an opposite distinction, Romans 9:22,23, and so in the text, to illustrate the mercy of God the more in them that are saved. And whereas the apostle calls it the obtaining of salvation, it implies man’s endeavours for it, though he be appointed of God to it; and speaking positively, not only of himself, but these believing Thessalonians also, he hath appointed us to obtain salvation, doth not this also imply that some good assurance of salvation may be obtained in this world.

By our Lord Jesus Christ; the decrees of salvation are executed in him, and by him; and there is no salvation in any other, Acts 4:12. And he saveth not only by his doctrine and example, as some have affirmed, but by his blood as the meritorious, and his Spirit as the efficient, cause of salvation. Whether the infinite wisdom of God could have found out another way I shall not inquire, but this it hath pitched upon, wherein mercy and justice are admirably glorified together, and the highest engagement imaginable laid upon men to love, serve, and honour their Creator. And as the freeness of God’s grace is manifested in his appointing men to salvation, so the exceeding riches of it, in saving them by Jesus Christ. And whereas two things are necessary to it, the reconciling us unto God, and restoring his image in us, the former we have by the merit of his blood, and the latter by the operation of his Spirit; so that we have no ground for that fond opinion, that if men walk honestly and uprightly, they may be saved in any religion. For God hath not appointed us to wrath,.... To destruction and ruin, the effect of wrath; though there are some that are vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, of old ordained to condemnation, and who are reserved for the day of evil; but there are others who are equally children of wrath, as deserving of the wrath of God in themselves as others, who are not appointed to it; which is an instance of wonderful and distinguishing grace to them:

but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ; salvation is alone by Christ, he alone has wrought it out; it is in him, and in no other; he was appointed to this work, was called and sent, and came to do it, and has done it; and God's elect, who were chosen in him, are appointed in the counsel and purpose of God, to obtain, possess, and enjoy this salvation; and which, as this appointment may be known, as it was by these Thessalonians; the Gospel having come to them, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as it is an encouragement to faith and hope, so it excites to sobriety and watchfulness, and the discharge of every duty. The doctrine of predestination does not lead to despair, but encourages the hope of salvation; and it is no licentious doctrine, for election to salvation by Christ is through sanctification of the Spirit, and unto holiness; and good works are the fruits of it, and are what God has foreordained his people should walk in.

{4} For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

(4) He urges us forward by setting a most certain hope of victory before us.

1 Thessalonians 5:9. In this verse does not follow a new reason for the duty of watchfulness and sobriety (Musculus), but a confirmation of the concluding words of 1 Thessalonians 5:8 : ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας. Hofmann strangely perverts the passage: ὅτι is to be translated by that (not by for), and depends on ἐλπίδα,—a construction which is plainly impossible by the addition of σωτηρίας to ἐλπίδα, on account of which the passage Romans 8:21, which Hofmann insists on as an alleged analogy, cannot be compared.

The construction τιθέναι or τιθεσθαί τινα εἴς τι, to appoint one for a purpose, to destine one to something, is conformable with the Hebrew שׁוּת שׂוּם, or נָתַן with לְ following; comp. Acts 13:47; 1 Peter 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:12.

εἰς ὀργήν] to wrath, i.e. to be subject to it, to become its prey; comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

ἀλλʼ εἰς περιποιήσιν σωτηρίας] but to the acquisition of salvation. περιποιεῖν means to cause something to remain, to save, to acquire. The middle περιποιεῖσθαι signifies to save for oneself. Therefore περιποίησις denotes the acquisition, and particularly the possession of a people; comp. Ephesians 1:14; 1 Peter 2:9; Acts 20:28, corresponding to the Hebrew סְנֻּלָּה, by which the people of Israel were denominated God’s holy property; comp. Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6, etc. Here as in 2 Thessalonians 2:14 περιποίησις has the meaning of acquisition generally.

διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] belongs to περιποίησιν, not to ἔθετο (Estius). Even by this grammatical relation of the words, Hofmann’s opinion, that by διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ the pledge of salvation is prominently brought forward, is refuted. But the meaning is not: per doctrinam eam, quam Christus nobis attulit, non rabbini, non philosophi (Grotius), but: by faith on Him.1 Thessalonians 5:9. The mention of the future σωτηρία starts Paul off, for a moment, on what it involves (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath] In the strict order of the words, appointed us not unto wrath, but (to something very different) unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Obtaining” is securing, making a thing absolutely one’s own,—as in 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (see note), “the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Hebrews 10:39 the same word is rendered “saving of the soul;” in Ephesians 1:14 it signifies, passively used, a sure possession. In all these instances it points beyond the present attainment of salvation, still subject to trial and hazard, to the full realisation thereof, which is the object of the Christian’s hope (1 Thessalonians 5:8), as it is the end of God’s designs for him.

“Salvation,” in St Paul and in the N. T. generally, includes the whole of the benefits and blessings of the Gospel, the entire new life and well-being that it brings, both to the individual man and to the world; but it is referred more specifically to two essential elements, or moments, in the great process of renewal—(1) that spoken of in Luke 1:77 as “knowledge of salvation … in remission of sins,” and (2) to man’s deliverance from the grave and entrance on the risen life of the future world,—“salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). In the word redemption this double reference is even more conspicuous: see, e.g., Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:14. To this ultimate “salvation” the Apostle directs his readers’ thoughts and hopes.

“Appointed” reminds us of “election” (ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:4, see note); it implies the authority with which God called the Thessalonians to salvation (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:12), as well as the fact of His gracious intention respecting them. Comp. 1 Timothy 1:12, “appointing me to service,” and ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:3 above. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (see notes) this Divine appointment of grace is more fully set forth.

For the negative side of God’s purpose—not unto anger—see notes on wrath in ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. With the thought of Christ’s second coming, so constantly present to St Paul’s mind at this time (see Introd. pp. 18–21), there were present also the issues of the Last Judgement and its solemn contrast—the glorious “salvation” then to be attained by the sons of God, and the final and awful manifestation of His “anger” against the wicked. Similarly “the day of the Lord” is seen in Romans 2:5 as a “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God;” and in this light, wrath and future salvation are contrasted in Romans 5:9-10, just as they are here. There also, as in this passage, Christ’s death (see 1 Thessalonians 5:10) is set forth as our ground of hope in this prospect; through “His blood” we are brought from the sense and fear of God’s anger into His favour, and entitled to expect that eternal redemption will be ours.

It was the conviction that such is God’s purpose and will respecting those who believe in Christ that made St Paul’s “helmet of salvation so strong, and gave it all its splendour. Read Romans 8:31-39 as a commentary on this saying.

On the fall title “our Lord Jesus Christ” see note to ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:3.1 Thessalonians 5:9. Ἔθετο, hath appointed) So the LXX., Psalm 66:9, τοῦ θεμένου τὴν ψυχήν μου εἰς ξωήν, who hath placed (holdeth) my soul in life; Jdg 1:28, ἔθετο τὸν Χαναναῖον εἰς φόρον, put the Canaanite to tribute; where indeed the Vatican reading has ἐποίησε, but ἔθετο was a phraseology certainly not unusual with the transcriber.—περιποίησιν σωτηρίας) Salvation of that sort is intended, by which they who are saved are taken out (excepted) from the multitude of those that perish.[30]

[30] See note on Ephesians 1:14, as to the meaning of περιποίησις. It is said of that which remains, when all else is lost. So here of the elect saved, when all others are lost.—ED.Verse 9. - For. Not a new reason for watchfulness and sobriety, but referring to "the hope of salvation," why we may with confidence put on such a hope as a helmet. God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain - or, to the acquisition of - salvation by - or, through - our Lord Jesus Christ. Not through the doctrine of Christ, nor even through faith in Christ, but through the Lord Jesus Christ himself, through what he has done for us, and especially through his atoning death. The appointment of God's grace is here mentioned as the efficient cause of our salvation; and the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Mediator through whom salvation is bestowed. For (ὅτι)

Special emphasis is laid on the hope of salvation. The exhortation to put it on is enforced by the fact that God's appointment is to salvation and not to wrath.

To obtain (εἰς περιποίησιν)

More literally, unto the obtaining. See on Ephesians 1:14. In three out of five instances in N.T. the word clearly means acquiring or obtaining. In Ephesians 1:14 and 1 Peter 2:9, it is sometimes rendered possession (so Rev.). But in Ephesians the meaning is redemption or acquisition, or redemption which will give possession; and in 1st Peter a people for acquisition. The meaning here is that we might obtain. Comp. lxx, Malachi 3:17.

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