I Thessalonians 5:1-11

 

 

With regard to the time of that glorious advent when believers, whether dead or

living, will be gathered together to Christ, the Thessalonians had already been fully

 instructed. They knew well that the day of the Lord would come suddenly and

unexpectedly, and surprise an ungodly world. But they were not in darkness so as to

 be taken by surprise.  Still, however, they must exercise constant watchfulness and

sobriety, and be armed with the Christian graces of faith, love, and hope, being

comforted with the assurance that God had not appointed them to wrath, but to the

acquisition of salvation through Jesus Christ, who died for their benefit, in order that,

whether living or dead, they might share in the blessings of his advent.

 

v. 1 – “the times and the seasons” – in reference to the Second Coming of Christ.

 

It is natural for man to want to know when – even the disciples had asked Jesus –

“Master, but when shall these things be?  and what sign will there be when these

  things come to pass?

 

But natural man responds by asking “Where is the promise of His coming?  For

since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning

of creation.  II Peter 3:4

 

The Bible’s answer is in the next verse –“For this they are willingly ignorant”

 

Jesus described the characteristics of that day and said “when ye shall see all these

things, know that it is near, even at the doors.  Verily I say unto you, This generation

shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”  - Matthew 24:33-34

 

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your

heads; for your redemption draweth nigh”  - Luke 21:28

 

Fifty years ago at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Somerset, KY, we used to study

about these signs and they seemed far away but now they seem to be falling down

around our ears.  This has prompted me in my ad in the Kentucky New Era to

acquaint people with www.adultbibleclass.com  to use the term “THE TIME IS

SHORT”!

 

Paul said in Romans 13:11-12 – “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time

to awake out of sleep:  for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  The

night is far spent, the day is at hand:  let us therefore cast off the works of darkness,

and let us put on the armor of light”

 

ye have no need that I write unto you” - literally, that ought be written unto you

(R.V.);  comp.Thessalonians 4:9. The reason why it was not needful for the apostle

to write unto them was, not because he regarded the information unprofitable or

superfluous, or because he knew it to be impossible, but because he had already

informed them when at Thessalonica that the time of the advent was beyond the

sphere of his teaching.  The apostle mentions this to repress that vain curiosity

which is natural to man, and which was the occasion of so much disorder among

the Thessalonians. Our duty is, not to pry into the times and seasons which the

Father hath put in his own power (Acts 1:7), but to exercise constant watchfulness.

 

v. 2 - “The day of the Lord” is a common Old Testament expression, denoting the coming of

 the Divine judgments (Joel 1:15; 2:1); and by the phrase here is meant, not the destruction of

Jerusalem, nor the day of one’s death, but the day of the Lord’s advent, when Christ shall

descend from heaven in glory for the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of the world.

The idea of judgment is contained in the term “day.” So cometh as a thief in the night.

The same comparison is used by our Lord himself  (Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39), and the

very words are employed by Peter (2 Peter 3:10). The point of resemblance is evidently

the unexpectedness and suddenness of the coming. The thief comes upon people

in the night season, when they are asleep and unprepared; so, in a similar manner, when

Christ comes, He will find the world unprepared and not expecting His advent.

 

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v. 3 – “When they shall say peace and safety” – that is the unbelieving world

 

I find it ironical that the disobedient are obsessed with a desire for peace and the

teaching of the Bible is “there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” –

Isaiah 48:22

 

HOW TO THE CARNALLY SECURE THE DAY OF THE LORD IS

TO COME AS A TERRIBLE SURPRISE. “When they are saying, Peace

and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a

woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.” The image is carried

forward, and we are to think of those who confine their interest to the

earthly sphere, and do not dream of their possession as ever to be

disturbed. But, having sown carnal security, they are to reap destruction,

and not only in their earthly but also in their higher interest. It is a strong

word which is employed, and corresponds to “wrath,” which is afterwards

employed. This feeling of carnal security grows upon men. At first they

chide themselves that they neglect Christ and their everlasting salvation.

But, carried forward by the desire or’ earthly gratification and in

confidence in their own strength, they find excuses for the course which

they are following. A state of moral darkness is produced in them. They

become blinded to the character of God, and the opposition which is ever

widening between their life and the will of God. The result is, that qualms

of conscience leave them, and they say, “I have a feeling of peace within,

and there is no trouble from without.” But just when they come to this

height of carnal security, then sudden destruction comes upon them, from

which there shall be no escape. Thus, it would seem, will it be at last. All

men will not be ready for the descending Lord. “As were the days of Noah,

so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were

before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and given in

marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not

until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the

Son of man.” So it would seem is it, anticipatively, now. Men go on in

their sinful courses, until they are suddenly overtaken by death and

destruction.

 

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sudden destruction cometh upon them” – when they supposed themselves

most secure, they were in the most danger.

 

TV show Cops’ Theme – “bad boys, bad boys, whataya goina do, whataya goina

do, when they come for you?  A Being much greater than the law will come for

you in that day!  and they shall not escape” -

 

 

 

The dissolution of the worlds – “the heavens and the earth…..are kept in store,

reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men…..But

the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens will pass

away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also

and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing that all these things shall

be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and

godliness”.   II Peter 3:7,10-11

 

Isaiah 24:17-23            Revelation 6:12-17

 

As travail upon a woman with child. The primary point of resemblance is certainly the

suddenness and unexpectedness of the event; as labor comes upon a woman suddenly,

so sudden destruction cometh upon the ungodly world. Still, however, the unavoidableness

of the judgment may also be here intimated; there is no possibility of escape: this is implied

in the last clause, “and they shall not escape”.

 

In the next few verses we find that “darkness” does not  hide them from God’s

vengeance.

 

The world does not think of the Great Judgment Day.  Worldly people do not

contemplate death.  No signs are given to the world of the dawning of this

dread day.  No lurid twilight betokens the tempestuous morning.  It bursts

suddenly upon a world slumbering in darkness (“and knew not until the

flood came and took them all away” was said of the anti-diluvians  - “so

shall also the coming of the Son of man be” is said of the contemporary

world!  Matthew 24:39

 

vs. 4-5 – The Day of the Lord is uncertain as to its timing.  The early Christians

            were mistaken in regarding that time is at hand, and we may be equally

            mistaken in regarding it as distant.

 

Christians live in light and are not in the dark as to the will and works

of God so that day, the Lord’s Coming, should not be a surprise and find

us unprepared!  We are children of Light and the daytime – not of Darkness

and the night.

 

Christians are not in the darkness.  God has not designed that that day overtake

Christians as a thief.  Our distraction and faithlessness cause us to not be prepared

for His Coming (see under verse 1 above).  The class from which we as Christians are

excluded is that of those who are of the night and of darkness. They are those who have

moral night drawn around them. They are those into whose nature the light of God’s mercy

and truth has not penetrated. Loving the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds

are evil, they come to have darkness as their surrounding and their nature, so that they are of

the night and of darkness. It was open to the apostle, from the use of similar expressions by

our Lord (“sons of this world,” “sons of the devil”), to have said sons of the night and sons

of darkness. He seems to have chosen his language purposely to avoid the idea of freedom,

to bring out the idea of servitude. They are not like the free sons of light and free sons of the

day. They are rather those who are hemmed in by the night, who are enslaved to darkness. 

 Darkness is the element, the sphere of the unconverted life. Darkness is ignorance

of God, ignorance of the atoning work of Christ, ignorance of the blessed influences

of God the Holy Ghost. Such darkness is either intellectual, darkness of the

understanding; or spiritual, darkness of the heart and will. The two act and react

upon one another.  Darkness of the understanding produces in some cases and in

some measure darkness of the heart. Darkness of the heart often results in darkness

of the understanding.

 

 

v. 6 – “let us not sleep  - a metaphor denoting “spiritual carelessness” –

            indifference, thoughtlessness and apathy are deadly enemies of the soul.

 

Mr. Spurgeon says “The only way sinners can be happy is by thoughtlessness”

and I say WHAT A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS!

 

 

 

It is a great mistake to be awake and alert to secular business, while asleep

over moral and spiritual subjects.  Christ said “What shall it profit a man if he

gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

 

as others”  - the unbelieving and the ungodly.

 

let us watch and  be sober” – a metaphor for “spiritual diligence and sobriety” –

 

Watchfulness denoting wakefulness from sleep and sobriety,  freedom from intoxication –

a subject should be in a fit state when ushered into the presence of his sovereign.  It will

be a solemn thing for us to be ushered into the presence of the Lord at death and we

should be in a fit state for the occasion.  (We need that wedding garment provided by

Christ – Matthew 22:11-12)

 

Both must be combined:  we must be watchful, on our guard, and we must be sober,

armed and prepared.

 

I Peter 5:8-9

 

v. 7 – Both heathen and the Jews considered it disgraceful to be seen drunk in the

          daytime. 

 

John  3:19-20

 

The lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life  - I  John 2:16 –

all these things intoxicate their votaries and make them slothful and drowsy in

concerns of the soul.

 

So those who are in the night of sin are in a state of spiritual intoxication. And that

is the worst thing that can be said of the literal drunkard. His spiritual nature is in a bad state.

In not restraining his appetites he is rebelling against God. In continuing in sin he is hardening

his heart. And he is not fit for passing into the presence of his Judge. And so is it, too, with

those who are drunken with the world’s engagements and cares. They become

 incapacitated for spiritual exercise, and for the enjoyment of the Lord’s presence.

But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and

drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare.”

                                                                                    Luke 21:34-35

 

 

v. 8We are to not only be watchful, but to be as armed sentinels.

 

Two defensive weapons help us to guard against surprise:  (1) the breastplate

of faith and love (2) the helmet of salvation.  These weapons are not for

aggression but for defense.  They are also for protection of the vital parts,

the heart and the head.

 

Faith imparts courage and love protects us from selfishness.  The helmet of

salvation preserves our head from being filled with idle dreams of worldly

happiness or fame.

 

Also, a sleeping sentinel is not aware of his danger, forgetful of his duty, and

is unconscious of the real world around him.

 

 

The apostle now adopts a favorite figure, that of spiritual armor. The arms which he

here mentions are only two — the breastplate to protect the heart, and the helmet to

guard the head; they are both defensive weapons, because the reference here is not so

much to the believer’s conflict with evil, as to his defense against surprise. And by these

spiritual weapons are denoted the three cardinal graces — faith, love, and hope

(1 Thessalonians 1:3). Let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate

of faith and love. By “faith” is here meant faith in Christ; and by “love,” not so much love

 to God as love to man. These preserve the heart of a Christian against the assaults and

influences of evil, as the breastplate guards the heart of the earthly warrior.  And for a

helmet, the hope of salvation.  Salvation in its most comprehensive sense. The hope

of salvation sustains our courage amid all the trials of life by holding out to us the prospect

of eternal blessedness.  Vigilance is of no avail unless armed by faith, hope, and love.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians there is a still fuller enumeration of the Christian armor

(Ephesians 6:14-18); and there is a slight difference in the description of the weapons.

Here the apostle speaks of the breastplate of faith and love; there of the breastplate of

righteousness and of the shield of faith. Here the helmet is called the hope of salvation;

there the apostle speaks of  the helmet of salvation. And besides these defensive weapons,

other weapons of defense and the sword, a weapon of offence, are mentioned.

 

The fiery darts of the wicked one cannot pierce the breastplate of faith and love. Faith

is trustfulness. The soul that trusts in Christ is fixed and steadfast. Trust not in earthly things;

they will fail you at the last. But trust in Christ; he abideth faithful; he is able to save even to

the uttermost; his love is stronger than death. Faith protects the Christian’s heart. “Believe

on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved.” Faith overcomes the world. Love springs

out of faith, and quickens faith. Believe in Christ, and love him you must, for faith realizes His

presence in all His grace and tenderness.

 

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The blessed hope of salvation (life eternal) living in the heart supports the Christian

in toil, in sorrow, in sickness and in death.

 

A soldier endures in hope of victory.  But the victory is to him an uncertainty;

it may not be realized, or he may not live to share it.  But the Christian soldier

has a Divine appointment on which to proceed.

 

 

 

v. 9 – “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord       

            Jesus Christ” – Through Jesus alone and what He has done for us on the

cross by His atoning death!  God’s grace is sufficient and salvation is

bestowed by Christ as Mediator of that salvation!

 

 

God “appointed…..salvation” – this word appointed signifies prevision,

arrangement, definite order.  Redemption is not an irregular makeshift

brought about by a hasty after-thought!  It comes from the calm, eternal

thoughts of God and takes its place in the orderly disposition of the Divine

government.

 

Salvation is too big a word to be defined by a theological sentence.  It is

deliverance all round – from root and fruit of evil, from wrath of justice, from

penalty of law, from tyranny of Satan, from vice of the heart, from judgment

without, and from corruption within!

 

by our Lord Jesus Christ” – through Him and obtained from Him only!

 

v. 10 – “Who died for us” – Christ’s death is the meritous cause of our salvation.

 

that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” – at the

advent of Christ there will be no difference between those that are alive and those

who died before the coming of Christ – both will live together with the Lord!

 

Romans 14:8-9 – “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die,

                        we die unto the Lord:  whether we live therefore, or die, we are the

                        Lord’s.  For to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that

                        He might be Lord both of the dead and the living.”

 

v. 11 – “comfort ….and edify (build up) one another”

 

These truths are to be consolatory.

 

Comfort and consolation, are sources of strength. The despondent, those who brood over

their sufferings and fret themselves in their troubles, are timid, devoid of energy and strength.

Comfort helps them to “lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,” and

stimulates them to look forward to the future with hope and courage. The Thessalonian

Christians needed both comfort and exhortation. They had a great trial of affliction; they

suffered much persecution from the beginning. No earthly comfort is so great as the

sympathy of loving Christian friends. And. those who sympathize with us stir us up by their

example, by their loving words; their sympathy implies exhortation; it issues in exhortation,

it makes exhortation real and effective.

 

 

To help in the great work, to build upon the one Foundation are privileges of

which there is no higher nor holier work than this, to prepare living stones

into one holy temple, the church of the Living God!            I Peter 2:5