Rescued From Wrath- 1Thessalonians

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, we find that we are rescued from wrath. The topic of wrath is not one widely mentioned or taught about in the church these days, but it is something repeatedly attributed to God in the bible, so it should be taught about, as will be done in this post. The greek word wrath is orge, which is understood in the Greek way of thinking as an expression of thumos. Thumos is an inner passion which produces a response, and orge is the response to that which is passionately hated, expressed as punishment or discipline. The wrath of God then is the punishment or discipline God expresses in response to what He hates, which is sin. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 tells us that we “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead- Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath”. In this verse, the words “wait”, “rescues” and “coming” are all in the present tense, which indicates the continual nature of all three actions. We are continually waiting for the one who is continually rescuing us from a wrath which is continually coming. What does Paul mean here by wrath which is continually coming? We turn to 1Thessalonians 5:1-10 for the answer. Paul begins by addressing his brothers, signifying here that His audience is Christians. He tells them not to worry about the date and time of the Lord’s return, for they know it is coming, but will never know exactly when. It will come like “labor pains”, which are always expected by one who is pregnant, the only surprise is as to their timing, not their coming. This day brings destruction upon the unbeliever, but not for the “sons of light and sons of the day”, for this future wrath is not for them. They are therefore not to be asleep like the unbeliever, but alert and self-controlled. What is meant here by the use of asleep and awake? The reference here is to the wrath of God which comes upon all sin. Unbelievers are asleep to this, but believers are alert to it, and seek to be self-controlled and so avoid it. Since they are awake, believers are admonished to be “self-controlled putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet”. Self-controlled here is present tense, admonishing believers to continually be on guard against doing what God hates and bringing “wrath”. This is because God did not “appoint” us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation, to be rescued from not only the wrath to come upon the Lord’s return, but also from the discipline or punishment that comes upon all sin here and now. This occurs as we “live together with Him”. This living together with Jesus (in obedience to His commands and walking in His ways) will cause sin to be less frequent in our lives, and for us to experience less of the discipline which is the expression of God’s wrath against sin here and now. We will all experience less and less of this “wrath” as we grow to know Jesus and reflect more of Him in our lives.

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