Whether in a biblical context or in secular culture, the idea of light vs dark is commonly used to depict good and evil. In this passage, Paul extends this metaphor to help us understand the vigilance and holiness we must have in the end times. This is one of the passages which I feel are directed at us, modern day readers awaiting the Second Coming.
2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
In verse 2, the Second Coming is compared to a ‘thief in the night’ which, at first glance, is a bit of an ‘unconventional’ comparison.
Paul then pleads for us to be ready for the day so that we will not be surprised. He instructs us to (1) live in the light and (2) to emanate light.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate,and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
By living in the light, we can stand blameless when Jesus returns. In these verses, Paul also elaborates on what it means to live in the light:
(1) To remain vigilant and not live in slumber. We should keep our eyes open and be aware of our surroundings – we must set ourselves apart from worldly things and not be seduced by the things of this world. Part of the vigilance is also to have good judgement in deciphering which things around us are worldly and which are of God.
(2) To keep our thoughts pure and holy. Although Paul uses the term “drunk”, the meaning extends beyond just alcoholism and refers to the state of mind in general. We can interpret this as indulgence in things that cause us to lose focus of God.
This can be further supported by the parable of the ’10 Virgins’ – we need to be ready and spiritually well equipped for the return of Jesus so that we do not falter in the end times. We must maintain a strong foundation and relationship with Christ so that we will not be affected worldly opinions (verse 3) and that we do not immerse ourselves in the culture.