“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation“
Paul now introduces the metaphor of the armor of a soldier to establish the believer’s spiritual armor (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3-4; 4:7).
But let us who are of the day be sober,
Paul appeals to the Thessalonians on the basis that they are “of the day.” Christians live according to the norms of the Christian day, not the Devil’s night.
The idea of “sober” here refers to spiritual stability. Paul repeats this idea for emphasis (5:6), not for padding. Being of the day is not enough for Christians to withstand darkness. They must understand the importance of having a cool and collected attitude toward temptation. Being “sober” has nothing to do with being gloomy and sad. There is nothing in the Bible against humor.
Christians must don their spiritual armor. The words “putting on” are the normal words for attiring oneself with clothes. If we are going to institute stability into our lives, we must put on our spiritual armor. God will not do this for us. This is our responsibility.
the breastplate of faith and love,
Paul argues for putting on two pieces of armor in particular: the breastplate and helmet. The “breastplate” consists of two parts in front and back, that protect the body on both sides, from the neck to the middle of the body. This piece of armor protects the chest against blows and arrows. In ancient times the breastplate covered a soldier’s vital organs. The modern-day equivalent is the bulletproof vest.
Paul’s breastplate has two features: faith and love. “Faith” and “love” may allude to the two parts of the breastplate. The first piece of armor is the faith that protects the affections or heart. Unbelief strikes hardest at the heart, so Paul mentions it first. The downfall of those without Christ is that they “believed not the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). If we live by faith, this will keep us “sober” — spiritually stable in the spiritual war. Faith will enable us to stand against those who would undermine what we believe.
The other side of the breastplate is love. God pronounces a curse on those without Christ because they love not the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:22). Believers, on the other hand, have a very special reward because they love Christ’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). A heart full of love will arm us against broken relationships. It will stabilize relationships and promote accountability, thus reducing the chances that people will steer into apostasy.
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12).
God provides two pieces of spiritual armor to protect us vertically and horizontally.
Faith and love protect believers against vertical problems and horizontal problems. Faith protects our ability to trust God when we’re in difficulty. Love protects our relationships. If we trust God, we will love people. These two graces will enable us to fortify ourselves in the Christian life. Faith and love are our armor against satanic influences.