12 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.
Verse 12 continues the thought of the nearness of our ultimate salvation.
12 The night is far spent [advanced],
The “night” is the entire period of man’s alienation from God (1 Th 5:5-7). The time in which we currently live is night time, a period when Satan has sway (2 Co 4:4; Eph 2:2). Night time is the time for sleep and sin because of the dark age in which we live. Satan’s time will soon expire. His time is coming to an end and the spiritual darkness he created will come to an end one day.
2 Pe 1: 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
the day is
The “day” is the time for setting ourselves apart unto God because He is the God of light (Jn 3:19-21; 1 Th 5:5,8). This day is the “day of Christ’s coming (1 Th 5:4; He 10:25; 2 Pe 1:19).
at hand [drawn near].
At hand” means to draw near, to approach. The Greek says that the day “has drawn near.” The result is that the day of Christ’s coming has drawn near. The Rapture is imminent. The “consummation of the ages” will come (He 9:26).
The Christian looks forward to a new day when Jesus will come again. That day is on the imminent horizon. Paul does not imply here that the Rapture would come during his time. His point is only that if we live our lives in light of the imminent coming of Christ, it will change our behavior. Christians should be always ready for His coming no matter how far off it might be. This day will manifest what the darkness conceals.
When a man is prepared to die, he is also prepared to live.
C. T. Studd: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.” The doctrine of the imminent return of Christ simply means there is no prophecy that needs to be fulfilled that would prevent the coming of Christ or the Rapture. He could come at any moment. Imminence in our passage does not carry the English sense of the word, but it does mean the nearness of prophetic perspective; it is not chronological but the idea is that nothing needs to be fulfilled before the Rapture. The next epochal event on God’s timetable is the Rapture. This even looms on the horizon of the believer.