What does 1 Thessalonians 5:9 mean?
ESV: For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
NIV: For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
NASB: For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
CSB: For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
NLT: For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.
KJV: For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Verse Commentary:
Paul has used the metaphor of darkness versus light to explain how Christians can live out our knowledge of Christ's upcoming return. Sleeping and drunkenness, which make a person unaware of their surroundings, are associated with nighttime. Christians, in contrast, are "children of light, children of the day" (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and so should be alert and prepared (1 Thessalonians 5:8). The prior verse added the imagery of armor to this spiritual readiness.

Here, Paul explains why this readiness and awareness are so important. This is grounded in understanding that God does not intend wrath to the Thessalonian believers, but has saved them from the wrath he will pour out on earth during the tribulation. Believers will experience complete deliverance from sin, corruption, and mortality at the rapture, when Jesus calls every Christian to be with him (1 Corinthians 15:51–54; Philippians 3:20–21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17).

Although Christians are saved now from the penalty of sin and its mastery, at the rapture Christians will be saved completely from the power and presence of sin. All vestiges of sin will be removed from our bodies at that time. As 1 John 3:2 and Philippians 3:20–21 point out, we will be like the Lord when we meet him. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul mentions the sealing of the Holy Spirit as "the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (Ephesians 1:14). See also Ephesians 4:30.
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 5:1–11 informs believers about the day of the Lord. This phrase refers both to the moment of the rapture as well as the seven-year tribulation period that follows the rapture. The passage assures us that believers will not experience the tribulation. The day of the Lord will commence unexpectedly, like the arrival of a thief at night. It is described as a time of darkness with dreadful consequences. Unbelievers, identified as those who belong to the night, will be overtaken by destruction. But believers are, symbolically, of the day not the night. They are not the objects of God's wrath, but are destined to receive a full rescue from the day of God's wrath. In view of their exemption from the day of the Lord, believers ought to encourage and edify one another.
Chapter Summary:
First Thessalonians chapter 5 reiterates that the rapture will occur quickly, catching the unbelieving world unprepared. In contrast, Paul presents faithful Christians as those who are aware and ready for this event. This passage uses the contrast of day versus night to highlight those differences. Paul also completes his letter by offering various practical instructions. These include the need to be peaceful, hardworking, and forgiving. He also commends constant prayer and an attitude of joyfulness, before closing his letter with a command for this letter to be read aloud.
Chapter Context:
The end of chapter 4 discussed the nature of the rapture: a sudden, physical ''taking away'' of believers from the earth. Here, Paul continues to refer to this event's sudden and dramatic nature. A key analogy used in this passage is that of daytime versus darkness, and the concept of being awake and alert. As with many of Paul's letters, practical instructions make up the bulk of his closing statements. In particular, Paul adds a command that this letter be read aloud among all of the people of the Thessalonian church.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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