1 Thessalonians 5
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 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.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
‘The day of the Lord’ (verse 2) is a term used in Old Testament prophecy that refers to end time judgment as it does in Amos 5:18. God will intervene dramatically in judgment and/or blessing. In the New Testament, the judgment theme continues but it is also the ‘day of redemption’. (Ephesians 4:30). It is the day when Jesus returns to earth.
We do not know when the Lord will return but scripture informs us that it is a certainty. Should this cause us any anxiety? No! Assurances abound in the following verses. ‘You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.‘ (verse 5). God chose to save us through Christ Jesus so that all who live in him are secure (verse 9). Believers by virtue of their new nature and position as children of light can have no part in such a day. But that does not mean that we are to negate our spiritual responsibilities until then.
These prophetic verses serve to comfort and encourage and give hope where there might be little. They inform Christians against erroneous ideas that might be distressing. But perhaps the greatest purpose of the prophetic word is the pursuit of godliness. Our Lord’s return is used as an exhortation to live for Him, thinking clearly about our relationship with Him and our relationships with others, demonstrating our faith in the One who has given us salvation. Psalm 90:12 ‘Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom’.
Verses 4–8 emphasize the need to be spiritually awake and alert and living in anticipation of our Lord’s return. We are to be filled with faith, hope and love as is befitting those who have been saved by faith in Christ. Followers of Jesus have a certain hope and are secure. ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’ (verse 11)
Application: The basis of our confidence is in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. Are we comforting one another and building one another up by living for the Lord here and now? May the Holy Spirit help us to encourage each other to find their strength in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.