1 Thessalonians 5:10-The Lord Jesus Christ Will Raise Both the Faithful and Unfaithful Child of God
1 Thessalonians 5:1 Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. 5:2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. 5:3 Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. 5:4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. 5:5 For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. 5:6 So then we must not sleep as the rest but must stay alert and sober. 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 5:8 But since we are of the day, we must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation. 5:9 For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 5:10 He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. (NET)
1 Thessalonians 5:10 contains three clauses with the first describing the Lord Jesus Christ who is mentioned at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5:9 as “the one who died for the benefit of each and every one of us as our substitute.”
The reference to the Lord Jesus Christ’s death not only refers to Him suffering physical death on the cross but also spiritual death, which refers to the Father abandoning Him during the last three hours of darkness on the cross (Matt. 27:46).
Therefore, the reference to the Lord dying contains the figure of heterosis of number which means that the singular form of a word is put for the plural form of the word.
The design of this figure here is to make emphatic that the Father reconciled sinful humanity to Himself through His Son sacrifice on the cross as a human being.
That the figure of heterosis is being employed with this verb apothnēskō in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 is again indicated by the fact that both of the spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ reconciled the entire human race to a holy God.
Adam died first spiritually as a result of his disobedience in the Garden of Eden and then physically.
Therefore, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ had to die spiritually first and then physically to negate the fall of Adam and to reconcile the first Adam and his progeny, i.e. the human race to a holy God.
So therefore 1 Thessalonians 5:10 teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ’s spiritual and physical deaths on the cross were the means by which the Father not only reconciled the Christian to Himself but also the entire human race.
The former appropriated this reconciliation through exercising faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
Paul asserts that the spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ on the cross benefited and were on behalf of not only himself, Silvanus, Timothy but also each member of the Thessalonian Christian community and every church age believer.
“So that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him” is a hina purpose-result clause, which presents both the purpose and the result of the Lord Jesus Christ dying both spiritually and physically on the cross for the benefit of each and every member of the church as a substitute.
Thus, this purpose-result clause emphasizes that the Lord Jesus Christ’s spiritual and physical deaths on the cross for the benefit of each member of the church as a substitute accomplished the purpose for which the Father sent Him to do this, namely that each member of the church will exist in the state of living together with Christ whether they are alert or asleep.
The reference to being alive with the Lord Jesus Christ refers to the church age believer existing in a state of living in a resurrection body, which is indicated by the statement in verse 9, which asserts that the Father appointed each member of the body of Christ for the purpose experiencing the acquisition of salvation as a permanent possession through their Lord Jesus Christ.
The reference to salvation is the completion of the church age believer’s salvation which will take place when they receive a resurrection body at the rapture or resurrection of the church.
Therefore, the reference to being alive with Christ is expressing the idea that Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and each member of the Thessalonian Christian community existing in the state of living with Jesus Christ in a resurrection body.
The clause “whether we are alert or asleep” presents two possible conditions of the church age believer when the rapture or resurrection of the church takes place and brings these two possible conditions together while keeping them distinct from each other.
“We are alert” is expressing the idea that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy as well as each member of the Thessalonian Christian community existing in the state of staying in a constant of readiness in light of the rapture taking place which is imminent and will deliver them from experiencing the prophetic events connected to the day of the Lord.
It is expressing the idea that they are alert or vigilant in prayer and continue to make it their habit of experiencing fellowship with God.
“Asleep” is expressing the idea that Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and each member of the Thessalonian Christians existing in the state of being asleep in the sense that they are not alert to the rapture taking place at any moment.
As we noted in our study of 1 Thessalonians 5:6 where it was used of the non-Christian, the reference to sleep here in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 refers to spiritual indifference as well as apathy and to carnality.
It implies immorality and a life that seeks to live independently of God and is a life therefore devoid of a relationship with God.
It speaks of spiritual lethargy in the sense of being insensitive to the things of God.
However, unlike, verse 6, the reference to sleep here in verse 10 is used of the Christian indicating that the Christian can be asleep spiritually in the sense that they can be spiritually lethargic by being incentive to things of God.
This type of Christian is in apostasy.
There is an interpretative problem we need to address with this clause since some assert that the reference to sleep here in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 is a reference to the dead in Christ who are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
However, there are several reasons why this cannot be the case.
First of all, the immediate context supports the idea that sleep in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 is to a child of God being insensitive, apathetic, lethargic with regards to the things of God and thus in apostasy because the verb katheudō, “asleep” is employed in this fashion in 1 Thessalonians 5:6.
However, those who reject this understanding of this word assert that in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 it is used of the non-Christian.
However, in response to this, Paul does not use katheudō in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 for the dead in Christ but rather koimaomai, which means “to sleep.”
I believe that the reason why Paul uses katheudō in relation to the Christian is that it is possible for the Christian to be spiritually asleep when it comes to the things of God.
This is clearly supported by Paul’s statements in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, which asserts that Paul, Silvanus, Timothy and each member of the Thessalonian Christian community must continue to not be asleep as the rest, which is a reference to the non-Christian.
Then Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to join him, Silvanus and Timothy in continuing to stay alert which he explains as being sober-minded.
The implication is that the Thessalonians can become spiritually asleep like the non-Christian if they don’t continue to be alert and sober-minded.
Why else would Paul implore the Thessalonians to remain alert and not be asleep as the non-Christian?
He does so because it is possible for the child of God to become spiritually asleep like the non-Christian because they still have a sin nature (cf. Rom. 6) and are opposed by Satan and his cosmic system (1 John 2:15-17; Eph. 6:10-18).
Furthermore, through the function of volition, the Christian can obey the lusts of the sin nature and the temptations of Satan’s cosmic system and thus become indistinguishable from the non-Christian.
So therefore Paul’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 which asserts that it is possible for a child of God to be spiritually asleep which is a manifestation of being in a state of apostasy refutes the partial rapture theory.
This view contends that not all believers will be taken off planet earth at the time of the rapture but only those who are “watching” or “waiting” for that event and who have reached some degree of spiritual development that makes them worthy to be included.
Those who adhere to this theory use Luke 21:36, Philippians 3:11, Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 4:8 and Hebrews 9:28 to support this view that only those believers who “wait, look for” and “have loved His appearing” will be removed from the earth at the rapture.
The problem with this view is that it misunderstands the value of Christ’s death in the sense that this death, which propitiated the Father, reconciled the believer to God and redeemed the believer from the slave market of sin, frees the sinner from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
This view does not understand the doctrine of justification, which by way of definition is a judicial act of God whereby He declares a person to be righteous as a result of crediting or imputing to that person His righteousness the moment they exercised faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
Consequently, God accepts that person and enters that person into a relationship with Himself since they now possess His righteousness.
Therefore, Paul is teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 that whether the child of God is faithful or not, they will receive their resurrection body at the rapture of the church and will be delivered from the Lord’s wrath which He will exercise against all the inhabitants of planet earth during the tribulation portion of Daniel’s seventieth week and His Second Advent.
In other words, if the child of God is unfaithful, God remains faithful to the apostate child of God (cf. 2 Tim. 2:11-13).