Study Your Bible Online

Serious Bible Study!

Awake Sleeper

The church gathered around.  The individual confessed faith in the Lordship and Deity of Jesus.  Excitement filled the air. Everyone waited to join with the angels.  As the person went into the water the congregation sang.  Their words rang through the gathering place:  Awake sleeper and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.  As they finished the person was raised from the waters of baptism.

This practice of the ancient church must have been an awe inspiring sight. Paul in Ephesians 5:14 reminds the Christians of this saying.  The goal is simple: to provide a reminder. He wants Christians to remember what happened as they committed themselves to Christ. He wants them to reflect upon the challenge to live changed lives.  This changed life was to shun darkness and allow the light of Christ to shine through them.  They needed to please the Lord. They needed to produce God’s fruit (goodness, righteousness, and truth).

Although we no longer continue the ancient practice of singing these words during a person’s baptism, we still need to be reminded that in that moment we were making a commitment to a new way of life.  As you go through your day today, remember God wants to shine through you.  Let Him!

Holy Father,

We are constantly reminded of your graciousness toward us.  We pray that we will live lives that reflect that graciousness.  Help us today to shun the darkness and to be lights.  Help us to produce your fruit.  He us to please you.

Through Your Son,




  1. I like that. We use to always sing a song about taking off the old robe and putting on the new, as people were baptized.

  2. Wesley

    August 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Yeah I think it would be cool to revive this ancient practice. It would get the whole congregation more involved in the baptism and I think make the moment even more memorable. In fact I have put the words to Ephesians 5:14 into a tune to try sometime.

  3. Wesley

    August 24, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    How does that song go Kathy?

  4. “The best thing in my life I ever did do, the best thing in my life I ever did do, the best thing in my life, I ever did do was take off the old robe and put on the new. The old robe was dirty and tattered and torn, the new robe was spotless and never been worn. The best thing in my life I ever did do was take off the old robe and put on the new.” Short and sweet. Don’t know if there is any written music on this or not. Course, when I was younger, the song was “O Happy Day”.

  5. What a touching thing to know about the early Christians…that they sang this song while someone was being baptized makes me smile. If I could be granted one wish for time travel, I would ask to be in a Sunday worship assembly with the early Christians. Don’t think that will be happening soon, but a girl can daydream right? 🙂 I like the idea of involving the whole congregation in the baptism. It would help the new Christian to know from their first second of “birth” that they are not alone.
    It would be a great reminder to those witnessing of how they felt new and dedicated when they were baptized.

  6. Wesley

    August 24, 2010 at 8:44 pm


    I love studying early church history and reading about some of the traditions of the earliest Christians. You make a great point as well about baptism connected us with a new community. It is more than simply an individual’s action, it is a community welcoming a new member into their fold. And how could you not be touched singing the same song over someone that was originally sung over you.

    Thanks for participating. Look forward to hearing more from you.

  7. Could you suggest a secular book or two that we could read to give us some insight into early church history/traditions?

  8. Wesley

    August 25, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Hmm.. Everett Ferguson has a series of books on the Early Church that is really good. I try to read the sources in a series that has collected the writings of the Earliest Christians called the Ante-Nicene Fathers. These are Christian writers prior to A.D. 325. My favorite was a writer name Justin. He wrote to the emperor to explain the Christian faith. It really provides excellent insight into the earliest Christians.

  9. Hi Wesley,

    Where did you find that this song was sung during baptism?

    I would like to read more about that.

  10. Wesley

    February 2, 2011 at 11:37 am


    The apostle is quoting from some source. We think at least in allusion that he might be referring to Isaiah 60:1, but it isn’t an exact quote, nor can we say for sure that is where Paul is quoting from.

    Also the grammatical construction is consistent with the idea of a hymn, and since Paul uses hymns in other of his writings it would not be out of place for him to use one here.

    Finally, the question becomes when would this hymn be sung, or what allusion is being referred to in the hymn, and the most logical answer is baptism.

    It is not a perfect case, but we can’t expect it to be. All we can do is realize that the construction indicates we have a song, then we have to reason, to the best of our abilities, when that song would be song. It seems the best setting to me (and to several of the scholars I’ve read) that the best setting is during baptism.

    Hope this helps.

  11. Thanks.


    i was googling for info about the the history of the practice of singing songs.

Comments are closed.