Lethargic or Dead in 1 Thessalonians 5:10? -- By: Thomas R. Edgar

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 06:4 (Oct 2000)
Article: Lethargic or Dead in 1 Thessalonians 5:10?
Author: Thomas R. Edgar

Lethargic or Dead in 1 Thessalonians 5:10?1

Thomas R. Edgar*

[*Editor's note: Thomas Edgar earned the B.S. degree from the U. S. Naval Academy and the Th.M. and Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He wrote Miraculous Gifts: Are They for Today? and Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit. He is Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Maryland. His email address is: [email protected]]


1 Thessalonians 5:10 says that He [Christ] died for us, that whether we watch or sleep we shall live together with Him. Most define sleep in 5:10 as “dead,” based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where sleep (κοιμάω, koimaō) does refer to death. However, 5:10 uses a different verb (καθεύδω, katheudō).2 Controversy arises over the interpretation of these different verbs in point 3 of the chart below. Most interpreters treat katheudō and grēgoreō in verse 10 (point 3) as if they repeated the verbs of 4:13–18 (point 1). Actually, 5:10 repeats 5:6–7’s verbs (point 2).

1. koimaō means “die” and zaō means “live” (4:13–18).

2. katheudō means “sleep;” grēgoreō means “awake” (5:6–7).

3. katheudō

“sleep;” grēgoreō

4. zaō means “live” (5:10).

If wake or sleep meant “live or die” in verse 10a, why does ...

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