1 Thessalonians 5:9, The Antidote To Calvinism

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

//The above verse was a favorite of preacher John Murray in the late 18th century. It was a time when Calvinism ruled, and many people fatalistically accepted its doctrine of predestination. God had appointed some people “to prosperity, others to labor; some to ease, others to pain; some to fame, others to obscurity; some to salvation, others to be damned.” Murray couldn’t stomach this idea, and preached a dangerous alternative, using the words of Paul. God didn’t plan his wrath upon anyone, but appointed everyone to salvation.

Shades of Universalism? How do today’s Calvinists (who rely heavily upon other teachings of Paul) counteract this verse? Paul was an enigma who seemed to preach contrary messages depending upon what his listeners needed to hear, in order to embrace Christ. Did Paul believe that we were all predestined–destined to salvation?

Certainly there are a plethora of verses used by Universalists to support their stance that everybody goes to heaven. There are also a plethora of contrary verses quoted by exclusivists. It’s this smorgasbord of contrary Bible interpretations that keep my blog alive.

Ah, who really knows the nature of God?


  1. The Calvinist will just say this verse is only about the elect. So this is an epic fail.

    The only real solution to Calvinism is the one I outline on my blog, but its too radical for the feint of heart.

  2. Charles

    What does the context say? Is Paul making a distinction between “us” and “them”?

    1Thes5:1Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and THEY will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as OTHERS do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For THOSE who sleep, sleep at night, and THOSE who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

  3. We cannot add anything to our salvation. Christ’s work on the cross was enough. However we are expected to respond in obedience. Christ Himself said IF you love me you will keep my commandments. Free grace is not an excuse for careless Christianity. As for election, when we respond to or seek and find Christ, we become His elect. Predestination is a mystery, and whilst I cannot believe in universalism, I look to the “whosoever” in John 3:16. Are we chosen or do we choose? I believe it can be both!

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