About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
1 Thessalonians 5
ch. 5:1-11 ch. 5:12-28
should note that Paul compares the coming of Jesus to a thief coming to
steel in the night. No one
knows the thief is coming. It's a surprise.
But really, the return of Jesus is no surprise to the believer
because he is watching for Jesus return.
I'm sure we in one sense of the word will be surprised, even
though we look for His return. The
point here is that the total surprise will be to those who don't believe
in his return.
the words "you know very well".
The reason why Paul said this is because when he was with these
people for the three short weeks, he told them all about the return of
Jesus, including this point. We
need to know that some teachers were saying that Jesus had already
returned to earth and that the believers in Thessalonica had missed His
thing to note here is that when Paul uses the words "times and
dates", it's clear to me that he was teaching people concerning the
times and dates that Jesus would return.
He specifically says that these people knew about the times and
dates. That means he talked
to them about them.
see Paul using the term, "the Day of the Lord" here in verse
2. The Day of the Lord is
seen in two ways in the Bible. The
term is actually an Old Testament Jewish term that means the exact day
when Jesus will return to earth, and, it also means the general time
prior to the exact day Jesus returns to earth.
I believe the context here tells us that Paul was thinking in
terms of the exact day when Jesus would return.
verse 3 Paul says that when “people are saying peace and safety,
destruction will come on them suddenly”.
To me this suggests a generation of people who are not looking
for Jesus’ return. They
are caught up with their own way of living, their pursuit of “peace
and safety”. When we
finally believe we have reached societal peace and safety, and everyone
is relaxing, Jesus will suddenly come with destructive force.
As the rapture or catching up of God’s people is sudden and
forceful, so will Jesus’ dealing with the world be sudden and
forceful. Paul calls it destructive.
Jesus will not only come for His people, but He will come to
bring judgement, which means destruction, “and the unsaved will not
escape”, Paul says. With no warning Jesus will suddenly appear out of
nowhere and bring quick judgment to the world.
This judgment is seen in two ways.
God will judge the Jews for forsaking Him, and He will judge the
world for not living for Him and how they have treated Israel.
my thinking that the specific peace and safety Paul is talking about
here is the peace and safety for the world that the anti-Christ provides
at the end of this age. As
seems to be the case now, the Middle East, and especially Israel, is where the world is most concerned with war and bloodshed.
Prophetic Futurists believe that the anti-Christ will make a
treaty with Israel, producing world peace. During
this time of peace, sudden destruction will begin as we see in the
verse 4 Paul clarifies his thinking concerning the subject of the thief
in the night. He says that
his readers “are not in darkness”.
The Day of the Lord will not come as a surprise to the Christian
who is actually watching and praying for this day.
This day will only come as a surprise to the unbeliever, and even
perhaps to the believer who is not watching and praying.
So for you and I, we should not have to be caught off guard by
Christ’s second return. It
should not be a surprise to us. It may not be a surprise in one sense of
the word, but I think it will still be a shocking experience for all
men, saved as well as unsaved.
verses 5 through 8 Paul says we are “sons of the light, and do not
belong to the night”, we will be living righteously.
We will not be like drunkards who get drunk at night.
We will be “self-controlled”.
This is Paul’s exhortation to his readers, that they should be
self-controlled, “putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the
hope of salvation as a helmet”. Once
again we have faith and love used together in the same phrase.
To faith and love Paul adds hope.
When speaking of hope, most of the time Paul is thinking about
the hope that he has in the resurrected life.
Faith, love and hope will keep us on the right track.
It will keep us awake and help us not to fall asleep so that day
catches us by surprise. Some
Christians don't think much about hope, but if you read Paul's writings
carefully, you will noticed that he speaks a lot about hope, something
he has a lot of, especially since his life on earth is very difficult.
it comes to Biblical hope, this hope is not a worldly type of hope as
in, "I hope I win the lottery".
Hope for the Christian isn't a wish.
It's a certainty of what we believe will come true.
We hope for Jesus' return. That
means we look forward to the certainty of His return.
the word "asleep" here. Paul
is not speaking of death when he uses this word as he did earlier.
Asleep in this context means to not pay attention to the signs of
the times concerning the end, which I would say, many Christians might
well be doing today.
verse 9 Paul says that “God has not appointed us to suffer wrath, but
salvation”. This is one of
the great messages from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
The wrath of God is real. There
will come a time when the world will see God’s wrath in its fullness.
On the cross God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus in order for
us to escape His wrath in the day of judgement.
If God was so upset that He killed His own son to make provision
for us to escape His wrath, how much more upset will He be with those
who refuse this provision.
believe the “wrath of God” here in verse 9 can be linked with the
“sudden destruction” mentioned in verse 3.
You should be able to conclude that when Jesus returns and brings
sudden destruction, some of this destruction may be the wrath of God in
who believe in a pre-trib rapture use this verse as part of their
defense. The Great
Tribulation is the time in which God pours out His wrath on the earth.
It is meant to once and for all to punish
continues by saying in verse 10, “He died for us so that whether we
are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him”.
Once again this is the message of the gospel that Paul preached
and he told his readers to encourage themselves with these words.
Simply put, we were saved in order to live with Jesus.
Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he speaks more of the return
of Christ. In summery what
we have learned in this chapter goes as follows. Christ will come with a
trumpet sound; an archangel shouts a command from His own mouth. This
day will come when the world appears to be relatively in peace and
safety, when the unbeliever least expects it.
It will be as a thief in the night to them but not to those
Christians who are watching for that day to come. When Jesus appears in
the atmosphere, the dead in Christ will rise first, and then those who
are alive and saved will rise afterwards.
We all will meet Jesus in the air.
We will return to earth with Him and He will bring destructive
judgement to the world.
verse 12 Paul gives some closing exhortations as he ends this letter to
the Thessalonians. He says
“to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the
Lord …” Paul is
telling his readers to think highly of those “who work hard, and who
are over you in the Lord”. We
need to understand the sentence structure in the Greek language in this
verse. “Over you in the
Lord” is what you call a participle.
A participle is a half verb and half noun.
Sometimes this particular Greek word is translated as
“leader”, which is a noun. This
is significant. Paul is telling these people to respect those who are
actually “taking the lead
over you”. He is not
saying merely to respect your leaders
because they have the title of a leader, but respect those who are doing
the job of leading.
is important. Just because
one holds the office of a leader or has the title of leader, does not
mean he is doing the job of a leader.
Paul says to respect the person who is actually doing the job,
not simply holding a title or an office.
In the case of the Thessalonians, their leaders appear to be
doing the job. This is not
always the case. In our day
and age when church leaders are not necessarily Christian, we are only
to respect the leader who is leading according to Scripture. Even
certain Christian leaders can lead from wrong motives and in unbiblical
ways. Paul is not saying we
should submit to them. We submit to godly leaders who are actually
leading in a godly fashion. Some
people claim we submit to a leader simply because he is the leader.
I don't believe that to be Biblical.
also the words "work hard".
Paul is joining two ideas here. He is uniting working hard with
those over you in the Lord. I
suggest that if the ones who are over you in the Lord aren't working
hard, then you think hard about how much respect to give them.
The respect is based on how hard they work.
also that it is "those who are over you."
This means they teach, and their teaching concerns both the
knowing and understanding of Biblical truth as well as how it is worked
out in the life of the believers.
13 confirms the idea of respecting those who work hard.
It says, “Hold them in highest regard … because of their
work”, not because they are called a leader. Respect for leaders is
based on the work they do, not simply the office they hold or titles
they have. It's time for us
to hold our leaders to proper Biblical practice.
If they don't follow Biblical practice, they need to be
confronted with the truth of Scripture. Scripture
is the ultimate authority, not the one who leads.
says all these things to the church at Thessalonica because their
leaders are working hard and doing their job.
They are a good example of Christian leadership.
continues by saying, “Live in peace with each other.”
Leadership sets the atmosphere for the church.
If they are working hard on behalf of God's people, then peace
will come. Leadership needs
to provide an atmosphere of peace.
14 states some more exhortations. Paul
says to “warn the idle”. Christians
are not to be idle, but to be busy in pursuit of the things of the Lord.
Being idle leads to time spent in things that are not Godly.
also says to “encourage the weak, help the timid”.
We note here that there are weak and timid Christians.
This is partly due to people’s God given character traits, as
well as life experiences. Not all people are strong. Yet these weak and
timid Christians can receive encouragement which would help them grow as
they should. The weak and
timid may not end up as a Paul, but they don’t have to stay weak and
verse 14 Paul says to “be patient with everyone”.
In all we do, in all of our relationships there needs to be a
measure of patience. I am
not suggesting that we be so patient that we condone sin in a person.
Paul himself would not do that.
Yet at the same time one cannot have good relationships with
others without a measure of patience. So,
when it comes to admonishing or correcting your brother for one reason
or another, that is something you don't take lightly.
You have patience, and once the proper time comes for the
correction, you do it in patient love.
verse 15 Paul says “to be kind with each other and to everyone
else”. Kindness is a key
ingredient in Godly love.
verses 16 through 18 Paul tells us and his readers what God’s will for
our lives are. We all want
to know God’s will, yet many times we seem to miss it.
Paul says that God’s will for us is to “be joyful, pray
continually, and be thankful”. This
is not deep and heavy, but makes good sense if we are Christians.
Not doing these things makes a poor witness to those around us.
tells these believers to give thanks in everything.
This was not an easy thing for them to have done.
Giving thanks in everything meant giving thanks while they were
being persecuted; while they were loosing their jobs and lives for the
sake of Christ.
verses 19 and 20 Paul says “to not put out the Spirit’s fire”.
This is one of the biggest downfalls of individual Christians and
the church in general. We
too often dampen the fire that the Holy Spirit lights within us.
This can be done through out and out sin.
It can be done by ignoring the moving of the Spirit, and
replacing His activity with our own.
Humanism is in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit, something
the church is way to content with. It
can also be done through an over-emphasis on tradition and
also tells us not “to treat prophecy with contempt”.
Prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God, no matter what form
it is presented to us in. Prophecy can be inspired preaching, or it can
be God using a person in the first person singular to speak to the
church. That is, when
someone stands up in a meeting and says something like “thus says the
Lord…” Yet once again,
our preaching way to often is not Holy Spirit inspired, but humanistic
in nature. In many churches
the “thus says the Lord…” prophecies are not allowed.
KJV says, “Despise not prophecy”.
The Greek word used here is “exoutheneo” which means “to
make of no account”, or “to regard as nothing”.
Churches who don’t allow prophecy regard it as nothing.
Also in many charismatic churches you may hear it so often that
you regard it as nothing. Both
are in error.
word prophecy in this verse might be in respect to what I've just said
in the last chapter, however, it might well include prophecy as in
predicting the future. Many
despise this kind of prophecy these days.
verse 21 Paul continues by saying, “Test everything”.
Not all that is called prophecy, or Holy Spirit preaching is of
God. He tells us to
test it. See if it lines up
with Scripture and the truth of the gospel.
Then he says to “hold to that which is good”.
The good things we hear, we should cling to and follow after.
The bad things we hear we should expose as being bad.
verse 22 Paul says, “Avoid every kind of evil”.
The KJV says to “abstain from every appearance of evil”.
This verse has been misunderstood and misused over the years
because of the KJV translation. There
is no hint in the original manuscript where we are to abstain from the
“appearance” of evil. It
simply says to “abstain from evil”.
Some KJV adherents would tell us that going into a restaurant
that served alcohol is wrong because there is an appearance of evil.
This is not right. We
are told to abstain from evil, not the appearance of evil.
Jesus Himself was criticized for His association with drunkards.
If He were to interpret this verse as staying away from the
appearance of evil, He should not have made friends with drunks.
This Scripture should not have the word “appearance” as part
of the text.
verse 23 Paul says, “may God sanctify you”.
That is to say, may God set you apart for His own purposes.
Non-Christians should view us as being set apart for Jesus, not
by the way we dress, and not necessarily by the things we do or don't
do, but by a holy lifestyle.
goes on to say in closing, “may your whole spirit, soul and body be
kept blameless…” at the coming of our Lord.
He also says that God can do this for you.
It is this verse that those who believe that we are made up of
three parts, that is spirit, soul and body use as a proof text for their
thinking. They may quite
well be right but the subject is not that simple that you can use one
verse to prove your point. When
God made man in the first place, He
made him as a “living soul” as the KJV states, or a living being as
the NIV states. (Genesis 2:7) Is
the totality of man a living soul or his soul is part of who he is as
seems to be the case stated here?
should know that much of Greek culture viewed man as spirit, soul, and
body. We should also know
that Hebrew culture tended to believe than the totality of man is a
soul. That means he doesn't
have a soul, but he is a soul. Those
who believe this say that Genesis 2:7 proves this point when the text
states that man became a living soul, or, living being, depending on
what text you are reading.
suggest you read my commentary on Genesis two for further details.
I state there a number of Old Testament passages that use the
Hebrew word for "soul" in a New Testament Greek way, that is,
as being part of man and not the totality of man.
people believe in spirit, soul, and body, but they really don't know why
they believe as they do. The
Genesis 1 and 2 account is important to this subject and must be
considered when dealing with spirit, soul and body.
closes his letter in verses 25 through 28.
He tells his readers to pray for him and his fellow workers,
something Paul most likely feels he needs a lot of.
Along with this request he says to greet the brothers with “a
holy kiss”. Then he
“charges” them “before the Lord” to read this letter to all of
the brothers. This letter
was not meant for a select few, but for everyone.
closes by saying, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you”.
It all boils down to the grace that our Lord Jesus has for us.
It is His grace that has saved us and His grace that keeps us
saved. It is His grace that
keeps this world together. It
will be His grace that we as believers will see when He returns to the
world to bring judgement. Paul
will have more to say about this in his next letter
last thought and that is about the word grace.
I will not prove my point here because I've done that elsewhere,
but if you study the word grace in the New Testament, you will notice
that there are two aspects to God's grace.
The first is well known, and that is "God's unmerited favour
towards us." That
simply means that God shows love and mercy to us even though we don't
deserve it. The second
aspect of God's grace is "the ability He offers us to do what He
wants us to do." We
cannot do God's will on our own, so He gives us the ability to do it.
This aspect of grace is less known, maybe because it means we
have no excuse not to do His will. Paul
knew both aspects of grace in his life, and so should we.