Watch and Pray

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Are You Still Sleeping and Resting?

What does the command "watch!" mean for Christians today?

The Greek verb (1127 of Strong’s numbering system translated "watch" in the KJV) is used of "keeping awake," and of "spiritual alertness" according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. *

It is further defined by The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible**: "vigilance and expectancy as contrasted with laxity and indifference." Even though there are other Greek words that can be translated as "watch," it is the Strong’s definition of 1127 this issue will explore.

Jesus gave us this admonition, "Watch therefore…." The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming. But understand this: had the householder known in what [part of the night, whether in a night or a morning] watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be undermined and broken into. You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.
Matthew 24:42-44 AMP

After giving this warning, Jesus gave a parable to explain in what way they were to be "active:"

Who then is the faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household to give to the others the food and supplies at the proper time?
Matthew 24:45 AMP

Following this parable of faithful and unfaithful servants, Jesus gives the story of the ten virgins waiting for the Bridegroom to arrive. Half were prepared; the other half were not. Once again, Jesus warns, "Watch!" (Mathew 25:1-13).

While Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was crucified, he asked his disciples to "keep watch" with him. But they fell asleep. He admonished them, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matthew 26:41).

The warning to watch is given in Acts and in Paul’s epistles and again in the Book of Revelation.

Besides the warnings, there is also a blessing:

Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake [watcheth KJV] and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.
Revelation 16:15 NIV

Clothing is often used to represent putting on the righteousness of Christ as in Revelation 19:8 and Matthew 22:11-12.

We must watch to be sure we are faithfully carrying out our responsibilities as representatives of Jesus in this world and living out our salvation by grace, in faith and obedience to our Lord and Savior.

*Copyright 1989, 1996, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
**Copyright 2001, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Volume 14 Issue 07 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation |

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