1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 comment (0)
January 22, 2009
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Are You Ready?
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
Knowing the Truth (1–3)
Once again, Paul wrote about Jesus’ Second Coming. He commented the Thessalonians didn’t need any new information about the subject. Paul reminded the believers the return of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, a theme Jesus speaks about in Matthew 24–25. Unbelievers will be going about their business as usual when suddenly Christ will come back, and with Him, will come judgment for the unbeliever. Verse 3 shows how unbelievers will be saying, “Peace and security,” but while they think such positive thoughts, the reality is they will face an everlasting destruction. Today many people think all religions are roads that lead to heaven. How wrong these people are. When Christ returns, He will come and judge every man and woman and those who are not believers will not be annihilated and cease to exist as some believe. Rather they will exist in torment in hell for eternity. This fact should spur us on to love our neighbor and present the life-giving message of the gospel.
Being in the Light (4–6)
The Thessalonians, having learned about the Second Coming already, were not in the same situation as the unbelievers. While unbelievers are going to be caught unaware when Christ returns, the day will not sneak up on believers. The Thessalonians were not sons of darkness but sons of light. Light allows true sight. Since the Thessalonians were believers in Christ, they knew what signs would accompany His return. Non-Christians, however, do not see clearly. They do not have true spiritual understanding; thus they are in darkness.
Since Christians have this clear understanding of the Lord’s return, they should be alert. Paul did not use the term “sober” to suggest the Thessalonians were drunkards. Instead it suggested awareness. Paul urged the Thessalonians not to live like “the rest,” which most likely refers to the aforementioned unbelievers but could possibly refer to apathetic Christians. For us today, no less than for these first-century believers, we ought to live self-controlled lives, which not only emulate the teachings of God but also act as a witness to those who are not Christians.
Behaving as Believers (7–10)
Again Paul emphasized the importance of Christians living with self-control and awareness. The ones who sleep and get drunk here refers to those who are deadened to spiritual truth. Paul admonished believers to put on their armor of faith (which is seen in full in Ephesians 6). This armor was foretold in Isaiah 59:17, which a Jewish audience might be familiar with but the non-Jew would understand as Roman armor. Either way, it is Paul telling the believer to be ready. Since the King is returning, His soldiers need to be ready, not slack. The attributes with which the Christian is protected are faith, love and hope. The hope is the hope of salvation that we have in Christ. Paul emphasized we are not appointed for wrath by God but appointed for salvation through Jesus Christ. This salvation is assured because Christ rose from the dead thus defeating death. This saving atonement for our sins applies to all Christians — those who are still alive and those who have already died or fallen “asleep” as Paul puts it. This is our hope and our comfort: Jesus Christ died on our behalf, paying the price for our sins that whoever believes in Him has eternal life. This was the hope of the Thessalonians, and it is our hope today.
Encouraging One Another (11)
Paul urged the Thessalonians to encourage one another and build each other up as they were already doing.
Having just dealt with the hope of salvation, Paul emphasized the need to continue to encourage one another. Our ultimate encouragement comes from the knowledge of our salvation, and it always helps to hear this affirmed. It takes our mind off of our momentary troubles and fixes our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
The moment we turn our eyes from our troubles toward Christ is when we experience true encouragement. Let us build each other up with the knowledge of this salvation.