ARE YOU READY?
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 January 25 2009
In this week’s lesson, we return to our study of
1 Thessalonians . Perhaps it will be helpful to retrace our path.
In the first three chapters of his letter, Paul reminded new
believers of his relationship with them:
l. He thanked God for them and prayed for them (chapter 1)
2. He recalled how he had preached among them (chapter 2)
3. He described how he had cared for them by sending
Timothy (chapter 3)
In chapters 4 and 5, Paul focused on exhortation,
encouraging them in several areas:
1. He encouraged them to be holy (1 Thess 4:1-12)
2. He encouraged them concerning death (1 Thess.4:13-18)
Along the way in this second section of the letter, Paul
included both doctrinal teaching (for example, concerning
the "rapture;’ 4:17) and practical application to Christian
behavior (for example, working for a living so as not to be
a burden to others, 1 thess4: 11-12). This week’s study-
encouragement about the future-follows the same pattern:
there is theological teaching (about the "Day of the Lord")
as well as good advice (about building each other up). In this
passage Paul named no individuals or places specific to the
original context. Therefore, the immediate connection and
relevance of this passage to our lives in 2009 is more
1. Recall What You Know (1 Thess. 5:1-3)
1Ths. 5:1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not
need to write to you, 5:2 for you know very well that the
day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 5:3
While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction
will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant
woman, and they will not escape.
Like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, this week’s Lesson
Passage discusses the second coming of Jesus. The focus
in the earlier verses was how to think about His return in
light of the death of believers . The big idea in the present
text is to think about how we are to live now as we
anticipate His return then.
Times and dates ( Acts 1:6-7). There have always
been some Christians who try to fix the date of our Lord’s
return, but apparently the Thessalonians were not among
them. Day of the Lord . (1Co 5:5). The expression goes back
to (Am 5:18). In the OT it is a time when God will come
and intervene with judgment and /or blessing. In the NT the
thought of judgment continues (Romans 2:5; 2Peter 2:9), but
it is also the “day of redemption” (Eph 4:30); the “day of
God” (2Peter 3:12), or of Christ (1Co 1:8; Php 1:6); and the
“last day” (John 6:39), the “great Day” (Jude 6) or simply
“the day” (2Thess. 1:10). It is the climax of all things. There
will be some preliminary signs (2Thess 2:3), but the coming
will be as unexpected as that of a thief in the night
(Matt 24:43-44; Luke 12:39-40; 2Peter 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15).
Destruction . Not annihilation, but exclusion from the Lord’s
presence (2Thess. 1:9); thus the ruin of life and all its proud
accomplishments. Suddenly . Paul stresses the surprise of
unbelievers. He uses a word found elsewhere in the NT only
in (Luke 21:34) (“unexpectedly”). Labor pains . Here the idea
is not the pain of childbirth so much as the suddenness and
inevitability of such pains. NOT. An emphatic double negative
in the Greek, a construction Paul uses only four times in all
2. Realize Who You Are (1 Thess. 5:4-6)
1Ths. 5:4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that
this day should surprise you like a thief. 5:5 You are all
sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to
the night or to the darkness. 5:6 So then, let us not be
like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and
Darkness. Believers no longer live in darkness, nor
are they of the darkness (1 Thess.5:5). (John 1:5;
Acts 26:18). Thief . 1 Thess.5:2). In Semitic languages
(such as Hebrew) to be the “son of” a quality meant to
be characterized by that quality. Christians do not
simply live in the light; they are characterized by light.
Asleep. Unbelievers are spiritually insensitive, but
this kind of sleep is not for “sons of the light.” Be
Alert . Lit. “watch,” which is in keeping with the
emphasis Paul is placing on Christ’s coming
( Matt. 24:42-43; 25:13; Mark 13:34-37).
Self-controlled . A contrast with the conduct
mentioned in (1 Thess. 5:7).
3. Reveal Who You Are (1 Thess. 5:7-10)
1Ths. 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and
those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 5:8 But
since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled,
putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the
hope of salvation as a helmet. 5:9 For God did not
appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ. 5:10 He died for us
so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may
live together with him.
True enough, behavior generally flows from what
a person already is. But to be reminded of behavior
appropriate to the person’s identity certainly can be
helpful. (If were appointed as an ambassador from the
United States, I would hope to be instructed in what
is expected of one in such a position.) In these verses
Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how they should
behave as Christ’s representatives.
The day . A reference to the light that characterizes
Christians; perhaps it refers also to the coming of
Christ (1 Thess 5:2 ). Breastplate . . . Helmet . Paul also
uses the metaphor of armor in (Romans 13:12; 2Co 6:7;
10:4; Eph 6:13-17). He does not consistently attach a
particular virtue to each piece of armor; it is the general
idea of equipment for battle that is pictured. For the triad
of faith, hope and love (1 Thess.1:3). Appoint . God’s
appointment, not man’s choice, is the significant thing.
Wrath . (1 Thess.1:10). Salvation . Our final, completed
salvation. Are awake or asleep . That is, “live or die”; or,
if the sense is moral, “are alert or carnal” (1 Thess. 5:6).
With him . To be Christ’s is to have entered a relationship
that nothing can destroy.
4. Relly Around One Another (1 Thess. 5:11)
1Ths. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build
each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Build . . . up . The verb basically applies to building
houses, but Paul frequently used it for Christians being
The doctrinal truths about Christ’s corning should give
confidence to every believer. Sometimes, however, knowing
and doing are two different things. Thus, Christians are to
encourage one another-talk about our future with
anticipation. We are to build each other up so we will not
grow weary in the journey and so we will avoid becoming
lethargic in our behavior.
One of the privileges we have as Christ’s followers is to
invest ourselves in the lives of others, adding to them,
rather than tearing them down. Instead of engaging in
criticism and fault-finding, we are to act toward others in
a way that will encourage them to be more godly. Paul
noted that the Thessalonians were already doing this; they
simply were not to give it up.
This familiar biblical phrase can refer to any
unusual time that God displays His sovereignty over human
powers and plans. The prophets of the Old Testament
sometimes used this phrase to refer to a past judgment, a
present experience, or a future event (Lam. 1:12; Joel 1:15).
Sometimes the people thought of the Day of the Lord only as
a time of salvation and light, but it was also a time of
judgment and darkness (Amos 5:18-20).
In the New Testament letters, this phrase points to
Christ’s victory over evil at His corning, when believers
will be delivered and sinners will be condemned. Both Paul
and Peter used the analogy that this Day will arrive like a
thief-suddenly and at an hour least expected
(1 Thess. 5:2; 1 Peter. 3:10).
The coming Day of the Lord is not a separate event
from Jesus’ return; rather, it emphasizes that His return
will include punishment for the wicked and deliverance
for the righteous. The phrase implies God’s sovereign right
to judge all humanity as the holy Lord.