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1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 NOTES

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 - EXEGESIS 

CONTEXT:  In the last half of chapter 4, Paul dealt with concerns that Thessalonian believers who died prior to Christ's Second Coming would not be part of the resurrection. Paul reassured them, saying, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (4:14). He went on to say, "The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever" (4:16b-17).

Chapter 5 continues this discussion of Christ's Second Coming, but from the perspective of those who will be alive at the time of Christ's coming.

1 Now as to the periods and Times, brothers and sisters, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord is coming just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

"But concerning the times (Greek: chronos) and the seasons (Greek: kairos), brothers" (v. 1a). There are two Greek words for time-chronos and kairos. Chronos has to do with chronological time-clock time-the time by which we keep daily appointments. Kairos has to do with special time-special moments in time-the forks in the road that make all the difference-moments with the potential to determine destinies.  But when used together, as they are here, the distinction between the two words fades so that "times and seasons" expresses the intent well.

"you have no need that anything be written to you" (v. 1b). Paul believes that the Thessalonian believers have received sufficient instruction regarding the day of the Lord that they have no need of written instruction.

  • But he writes anyway, because written instruction is less likely to be forgotten or misunderstood than verbal instruction. Written instruction also makes possible an exactness that is difficult to attain in verbal instruction. The more complex the instruction, the more helpful written instruction becomes.

"For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night" (v. 2). The Day of the Lord will be an eschatological (end of time) event that will bring judgment to the guilty and deliverance to the faithful.

  • There are numerous references in the prophets to the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6, 9; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14; Malachi 4:5). Most of these references emphasize God's wrath, but some also include a note of vindication.

In his second letter to the Thessalonian church, Paul will say that God will "repay affliction to those who afflict you, and (will) give relief to you" (2 Thessalonians 1:6).

"comes like a thief in the night." Thieves don't signal that they are coming. They strike when least expected so no one will interfere with their thievery. They prefer the night, when darkness will cloak their comings and goings-and unwitting victims will be asleep.

   ▪ The day of the Lord will be like that. It will come at an unexpected time. Thus it is important to be prepared for its coming. Once the Lord has come, people's fates will already have been finalized. For the faithful, it will be a day of vindication, but for the unfaithful, it will be a day of judgment (Matthew 7:21-23; 11:20-24; 24:15-51; 25:1-46).

"For when they are saying, 'Peace and safety'" (v. 3a). The allusion here is to Yahweh's condemnation of those who said, "Peace, peace!" when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).

  • The people who are saying, "Peace and safety" are expressing their pleasure at living save and comfortable lives. The Pax Romana (Roman peace), imposed by the emperor's iron hand, insures that people obey Roman law. While people might prefer to be free, the benefit of Rome's dominance is "peace and safety."
  • This verse reminds us of Jesus' comment about the way people were living at the time of Noah. "As the days of Noah were, so will 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 giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn't know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37-39).

"then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman" (v. 3b). The analogy here isn't perfect, because a pregnant woman usually has a good idea when her baby is due. Nevertheless, birth pains often come suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of the night.

  • In developed countries today, modern medicine has allayed much of the anxiety that would have been typical of pregnancy in Paul's day. In that day (as is still true in many places even today), women often died in childbirth. Mentioning birth pains would have reminded the Thessalonians of anxious, unpredictable times. The point here is that the day of the Lord will Lord come quickly and unexpectedly-and that it will bring destruction to the unfaithful.

"and they will in no way escape" (Greek: ekpheugo) (v. 3c). The Greek word ekpheugo is a combination of ek (out) and pheugo (to flee). The picture we get here is people, suddenly alarmed, seeking a way out and finding none.

  • But this isn't Paul's main point. Yes, the day of the Lord will be terrible for the unfaithful, but in the next verses, Paul will emphasize that, for these Thessalonian believers, the day of the Lord will be a day of salvation rather than judgment (v. 9).

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then, let's not sleep as others do, but let's be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let's besober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

"But you, brothers, aren't in darkness, that the day should overtake (Greek: katalambano) you like a thief" (v. 4). Light and darkness are used in both Old and New Testaments as metaphors for good and evil-order and chaos-security and danger-joy and sorrow-truth and untruth-life and death-salvation and condemnation (Isaiah 5:20; John 3:19-21; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:17-18).

  • Paul's point here is that the Thessalonian believers have nothing to fear, because they aren't living in darkness. Nor are they engaged in dark activities, such as theft. As believers, they are committed to loving God and neighbor-and to having their actions reflect those affections. Therefore, the day of the Lord (mentioned in this verse only as "the day") will not overtake (katalambano) them like a thief.
  • The Greek word katalambano is made up of kata (down) and lambano (to take). It can suggest suddenness. In this verse, then, we get the picture of the people of darkness suddenly finding themselves being taken down by the powers of darkness-a fate which they had not imagined possible and for which they are unprepared.
  • But these Thessalonian believers need not fear such a fate, because they are living in the light.

"You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don't belong (Greek: eimi) to the night, nor to darkness" (v. 5). Paul ties their security to their identity-who they are at the core of their being. They are children of light and children of the day, so they don't belong (eimi) to the night or darkness. The word eimi has to do with being-who we are. Those who are of the light cannot also be of the darkness.

  • That is a powerful image, because light cannot coexist with darkness. The light of even a small candle will dispel the darkness throughout a large room. In a conflict between light and darkness, light will prevail.
  • The exception, of course, is if the darkness succeeds in extinguishing the light. John Sobrino, a Catholic priest living and working in San Salvador, says, "People often speak about the beautiful and spiritual victory of the martyrs in El Salvador, but don't forget that the Church in El Salvador is systematically being destroyed."          Christians around the world are being persecuted and martyred. We need to take more seriously the persecution of Christian brothers and sisters. We need to be more vocal in their support.

            We also need also to be sure not to hide our light under a basket, but to put it on a stand where it will spread light afar:

  • Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
  • He also said, "Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn't overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn't know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light" (John 12:35-36).

"so then let's not sleep, as the rest do" (v. 6a). Paul is using the word sleep metaphorically here. We must sleep physically, but we must not allow ourselves to be lulled into spiritual apathy.
"The rest," in this context, are those who are not children of light.

"but let's watch (Greek: gregoreo) and be sober" (v. 6b). The Greek word gregoreo has more to do with staying awake than watching-although, in this instance, the two are related. Paul means that believers much live in a state of spiritual readiness-ready to meet spiritual challenges-ready to parry the tempter-ready to defend the faith.

"and be sober" (Greek: nepho). The Greek word nepho means sober in two senses. First, it has to do with the avoidance of intoxication. Second, it has to do with the kind of behavior that we associate with sobriety-self-control, sound judgment, discretion, dependability, and studied decisions.

For scriptures that address sobriety, see Psalm 69:17; Proverbs 4:17; 20:1; Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10; Galatians 5:23; Ephesians 5:18.

"For those who sleep, sleep in the night, and those who are drunk are drunk in the night" (v. 7). Sleep and drunkenness are two activities associated with the night.

  • In this verse, Paul sets up a contrast between the behavior of night people and day people. Night people sleep-are spiritually dull or apathetic. They also get drunk and fail to maintain self-control and to exercise sound judgment.

"But let us, since we belong (Greek: eimi ) to the day, be sober" (Greek: nepho) (v. 8a). In verse 5, Paul told the Thessalonian Christians that they didn't belong (eimi) to the night. Now he tells them that they belong (eimi) to the day.

  • The word eimi is the Greek equivalent of the English "to be," so a more literal translation would be "we aren't of the night" (v. 5), but "we are of the day."

"be sober" (Greek: nepho). Paul calls these believers to the kind of behavior that is consistent with their identity-who they are. They are "of the day," so they should be sober-should maintain self-control and exercise sound judgment.

"putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation" (v. 8b). Paul turns to martial metaphors here. Breastplates and helmets are defensive gear-designed to help soldiers survive blows that might otherwise prove fatal. Paul adapts the wording of Isaiah 59:17, where Yahweh "put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head" (see also Ephesians 6:11-17).

This is an apt metaphor for believers, who, like soldiers, are likely to find themselves in life-threatening situations.

  • Jesus warned, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves" (Matthew 7:15).
  • Peter said, "Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeing whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
  • Paul warned Christians in Ephesus, "After my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore watch!" (Acts 20:29-31a).  So Christians need a good defense. Paul says that faith, love, and the hope of salvation constitute such a defense.

9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.

"For God didn't appoint us to wrath" (v. 9a). In verses 4-8, Paul emphasized the identity of Christian believers as "children of light" and "children of the day." He emphasized living in a way consistent with that identity. In verses 9-10 he emphasizes God purposes and actions. It wasn't God's intent that believers be subject to God's wrath.

  • In both Old and New Testaments, God's wrath is understood as the response of a righteous God to sin-his anger in the face of evil and the punishment that he devised for sinners. This wrath has eschatological (end time) overtones. While the unfaithful might experience God's judgment in the present, they will certainly experience it "in the day of wrath...(when God) "will pay back to everyone according to their works" (Rom. 2:5-6).

"but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 9b). God's intent was not that believers should experience wrath, but that we should obtain salvation "through our Lord Jesus Christ." As Jesus said, "For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him" (John 3:17).

"who died for us" (v. 10a). Later, in his letter to the Roman church, Paul will say that we have been "justified freely by (God's) grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25a).

"that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him" (v. 10b). Paul uses "wake or sleep" to hearken back to the concern that the Thessalonian believers had expressed for loved ones who had died without having experienced Christ's Second Coming. Paul reassured them, saying, "We who are alive... will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep.... The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (4:15-17).

11 Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing.

"Therefore encourage (Greek: parakaleo) one another" (v. 11a). The word parakaleo can mean either comfort or exhort.

  • This is the same counsel that Paul gave in the last chapter-after assuring these believers that they need not worry about the fate of their loved ones who had died. There he said, "Therefore comfort (parakaleo) one another with these words" (4:18).

"and build (Greek: oikodomeo) each other up" (v. 11b). The Greek word used here, oikodomeo, is usually associated with the building trades-with the construction of a house or a tower or a barn. That sort of thing isn't accomplished by a single action, but is a process that requires many actions-creating a design, laying a foundation, etc.

  • So also, believers need to engage in an ongoing process of building each other up-encouraging each other-sharing joys and sorrows-offering blessings of various kinds.

"even as you also do" (v. 11c). Paul acknowledges that these Thessalonian believers were already encouraging each other and building each other up. He isn't calling them to do something new, but rather to continue a process well-begun.


1 Thess. 5:1-11 Commentary

What is going to happen after the Rapture (1 Thess. 5:1-3)

  • NOW = Paul is now going to address a different (but related) subject. He has just finished discussing the resurrection of Church-age believers (both living and dead), but now he turns to the subject of the actual Second Coming of Christ and its relationship to the Rapture. Paul had previously discussed this topic with the Thessalonians when he was with them.
  • "Times and Epochs" = this phrase echoes the words of Jesus in Acts 1:7. The disciples had asked if He were coming at that time to judge the earth and establish His earthly kingdom. This phrase, then, refers to the Second Coming of Christ in judgment which will occur after the Tribulation period.
  • The Day of the Lord = this is the second clue that Paul is specifically referring to the Tribulation period. This phrase is used often in the Old Testament to refer to the time of destruction and judgment preceding the millennial reign of Christ (see Isaiah 2:12; Joel 1:15; 2:11).
  • The illustration of a "thief in the night" = this is figurative language. Jesus is not a thief and does not operate like a thief. But there is something about the coming of a thief in the night to people who are asleep that conveys an important truth. The focus is not so much on the thief as on the unconscious homeowner who is not expecting a visitation and will not be fully aware of it even when it begins to happen.
  • In 1 Thess. 5:3 Paul switches to subjects/objects in the third person plural: they and them. Believers (we and you) are not included in this description. They are saying "peace and safety" -- it is probably going to be more of a claim than a reality. This refers to the enforced peace at the time of the Antichrist (see Dan. 9:27; Ezek. 13:10).
  • The illustration of a "woman starting her labor pains" = again, this is figurative language. The point is not necessarily that the labor pains are completely unexpected, but that the time of onset of labor cannot be precisely predicted. One thing is certain: when the woman's "water breaks," the birth will inevitably take place in a very short time. There is no escape and life will never be the same afterwards.

Believers no longer belong to the realm of darkness (1 Thess. 5:4-7)

  • BUT = Paul makes a direct contrast between the unbeliever's situation in 1 Thess. 5:3 and the believer's situation. Believers are not in darkness -- they do not belong to the realm of darkness, but to the realm of light. This is a common metaphor in the New Testament (see John 3:21; 8:12; 12:36; Acts 26:18; Eph. 5:8-9; 1 John 1:7; 1 Peter 2:9).
  • "THAT the Day would overtake you" = a purpose clause ("in order that, or for the purpose that"). Those in darkness are "purposed" for the Day of the Lord, but believers are not.
    So then = the logical conclusion from what has just been said. Since believers do not belong to the realm of darkness, how should they conduct themselves? Paul's exhortation has a NEGATIVE and a POSITIVE side: We are NOT to sleep, but we ARE to remain alert.
  • Paul mixes his metaphors a little bit here. In 1 Thess. 4:13-15 Paul used the word koimao to represent the sleep of death (1 Thess. 4:16 -- the dead will rise first). But here (1 Thess 5:6-7, 10) Paul uses the word katheudo to mean indifference to spiritual things. So here sleep and drunkenness for the believer represent lack of spiritual consciousness or spiritual dullness. Wicked unbelievers will be immersed in sinful indulgence, but believers ought not to behave that way (even though it is possible for them to do so).

Since believers are "of the day," how should we behave? (1 Thess. 5:8)

  • Believers ARE of the day = their very existence is in the realm of God's light. Because of this truth, believers should remain alert and sober rather than unconscious and dull.
  • Not only that, but believers should guard their ability to remain alert. The armor listed here is only protective or defensive. Our thinking should be kept from error, and our heart should be protected from the cravings of sin and the flesh. Here the hope of our salvation is the "blessed hope of His appearing" (see Titus 2:13). When we keep in mind that we could be called before the Judgment Seat of Christ at any moment, we will be more likely to be engaged in godly pursuits.

The reason for the Rapture: God has not destined believers to experience His wrath (1 Thess. 5:9-11)

  • FOR = Paul adds an explanation for the HOPE of our salvation: this hope is our deliverance from the coming wrath -- it is the resurrection or Rapture of believers that Paul had discussed in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. Church-age saints already will have been resurrected before the Day of the Lord's wrath begins.
  • This is the REASON for the RAPTURE = God has not destined us for wrath. It has not been assigned to us. Believers live in a completely different realm in which the wrath of God simply does not apply.
  • 1 Thess. 5:10 tells us what makes it impossible for believers to experience the wrath of God. The Lord Jesus Christ has already completely taken God's wrath upon Himself in our place. This is a clear statement of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin.
  • "Whether we are awake or asleep" = there are two possible interpretations of this phrase:
  1. Paul may be reverting to his previous meaning for "asleep" (death), meaning that whether believers have died or are still living when the Lord resurrects them, they will all live with the Lord (see 1 Thess. 4:17). This is certainly a true statement, but the problem with this view is that Paul uses the word katheudo for sleep rather than reverting to koimao as in 1 Thess. 4:13-15.
  2. Paul wants believers to be alert and self-controlled, to live unselfish and productive lives instead of constantly indulging in sensual pleasures. But whether believers behave this way or whether they do act like unbelievers (whether awake or asleep), they will live with Him. This interpretation is more consistent with the use of the word katheudo in the immediate context. Our life with Christ does not depend upon our behavior, but on Christ's finished work. Believers live in a different realm and have a distinct destiny. They are always safe in the arms of Jesus. This is a statement of the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.
  • Paul provides this explanation concerning future events because he wants believers to experience encouragement while living here in this world. We are to share the gospel with unbelievers, but we are also to be teachers who build up other believers in their faith.
  • Paul began 1 Thess. 4 addressing several issues regarding holiness in the believer's life, and 1 Thess. 5 fits in with this same theme. Because believers understand these truths, we should live in ways that are distinctively different from the world. Because we stand on the threshold of an event that will mean sudden destruction for some and sudden resurrection for others, believers should live lives of self-control, productivity, and holiness.

Extra Commentary - 1 Thess. 5:1-11

1 Thessalonians 5:1 "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you."

"But": Paul used familiar Greek words here to indicate a change of topics within the same general subject of prophecy (4:9, 13; 1 Cor. 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1). The expression here points to the idea that within the broader context of the end time coming of the Lord Jesus, the subject is changing from a discussion of the blessings of the rapture of believers to the judgment of unbelievers.

"Times" (Greek chromos), denotes "periods of time" as opposed to "seasons" (Greek kairos), which are specific points of time.

"Times and the seasons" These two terms mean the measurement of time and the character of the times respectively (Dan. 2:21; Acts 1:7). Many of them expected the Lord to come in their lifetime and were confused and grieved when their fellow believers died before His coming. They were concerned about the delay.

Apparently, the Thessalonians knew all the God intended believers to know about coming judgment, and Paul had taught them what they hadn't known about the Rapture (4:13-18), so Paul exhorted them to live godly lives in light of coming judgment on the world, rather than to be distracted by probing into issues of prophetic timing.

They could not know the timing of God's final judgment, but they knew well that it was coming unexpectedly (verse 2).

Paul had no more idea of when this would happen than you and I do. He was like us, in that he was to watch and be ready. The Lord comes in an hour when we think not. Paul had gone into detail about what they could expect at the coming of Christ. Now their part is to watch and be ready.

God did not intend for any of us to know the exact hour. We are, however, children of the light.

Ephesians 5:8 "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:"

These Thessalonians and all Christians of today should walk in the light, expecting that glorious coming of the Lord. We should live our lives, as if today were that day.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."

"Day of the Lord" is an all-encompassing term to describe the period that begins with the Great Tribulation, and includes the second coming of Christ and the millennial kingdom. This Old Testament expression is here identified with the parousia already introduced. It will begin unexpectedly (Matt. 24:37).

There are 19 indisputable uses of "the Day of the Lord" in the Old Testament and 4 in the New Testament (Acts 2:20; 2 Thess. 2:2; Peter 3:10).

The Old Testament prophets used "Day of the Lord" to describe near historical judgments (Isa. 13:6-22; Ezek. 30:2-19; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph. 1:14-18), or far eschatological divine judgments (see Joel 2:30-32; 3:14; Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:1, 5). It is also referred to as the "day of doom" and the "day of vengeance."

The New Testament calls it a day of "wrath," day of "visitation," and the "great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14). These are terrifying judgments from God (Joel 2:30-31; 2 Thess. 1:7-10), for the overwhelming sinfulness of the world. The future "Day of the Lord" which unleashes God's wrath falls into two parts:

(1) The end of the 7 year tribulation period, (Rev. 19:11-21); and

(2) The end of the millennium.

These two are actually 1,000 years apart and Peter refers to the end of the 1,000 year period in connection with the final "Day of the Lord" (2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 20:7-15). Here, Paul refers to the aspect of the Day of the Lord," which concludes the tribulation period.

"A thief in the night": This phrase is never used to refer to the rapture of the church. It is used of Christ's coming in judgment on the Day of the Lord at the end of the 7-year tribulation, which is distinct from the rapture of the church. And it is used of the judgment which concludes the Millennium (2 Peter 3:10).

As a thief comes unexpectedly and without warning, so will the Day of the Lord come in both its final phases.

Jesus explains in the following Scripture that no man knows the exact time of the return of Christ.

Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

If people knew the hour He was coming, they could be bad until just an hour or so before and then come to Christ. He does not want us to come to Him because we fear the wrath of God, but because we love Him and want to please Him. He has a purpose in this coming as a thief in the night. Of course, this has come for everyone at the end of their life on earth.

Those of one generation will not taste of death. He will come in the same manner that He went.

Acts 1:11 "Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

He went up with a cloud and will come back the same way.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

"Peace and safety" were slogans of the Roman Empire. Just as false prophets of old fraudulently forecast a bright future. In spite of the imminence of God's judgment (Jer. 6:14; 8:11; 14:13-14; Lam. 2:14; Ezek. 13:10, 16; Mica 3:5), so they will again in future days just before the final Day of the Lord destruction.

"As travail upon a woman": The Lord used this same illustration in the Olivet Discourse. It portrays the inevitability, suddenness, inescapable nature, and painfulness of the Day of the Lord.

When the unbelieving shall say, it is a time of peace, then shall be sudden destruction. We know the peace talks are going on all over the world today. This is one sure sign that the end is near.

We see in the comparison here of the woman having a child, the suddenness of the birth pains. Suddenly, unawares to her, the pains of birth begin. The world at peace has no idea that sudden destruction is upon them. The rain in the days of Noah came suddenly. It had never rained on the earth before. It was a surprise to the unbelieving world, but not to Noah.

Verses 4-9: But ye: In contrast to the wicked, for whom Christ's coming will be an hour of destruction, these believers are "Children of light" who will not face God's wrath, but will be saved at the time of the parousia.

"Not appointed to wrath": The wrath is the agony and tribulation occurring at the beginning of the day of the Lord. The believer is spared this, however (1:10; Rev. 6:16).

1 Thessalonians 5:4 "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."

"But ye, brethren": Paul dramatically shifts from the third person plural pronoun (3 times in verse 3), to the second person plural. Because the church is raptured before the judgment of the Day of the Lord, believers will not be present on earth to experience its terrors and destruction (verse 3).

"Not in darkness": Believers have no part in the Day of the Lord, because they have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light (Cor. 1:13). Jesus taught that to believe in Him would remove a person from spiritual darkness (John 8:12; 12:46).

The contrast between believers and the lost is emphatic, and Paul draws it out all the way through verse 7. Believers will not experience the wrath of God because they are different in nature.

Unbelievers are in darkness (verse 2; "in the night"), engulfed in mental moral, and spiritual darkness because of sin and unbelief (John 1:5; 3:19; 12; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 4:17-18; 5:8, 11). All these people are children of Satan (John 8:44), who is called "the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). The Day of the Lord will overtake them suddenly and with deadly results.

The Christians have the Light of Jesus to show the way. The Bible tells us of all sorts of signs that will be just before the destruction. (Matthew chapter 24), has a nice list of things that will happen. Most of them have already occurred. All true Christians have a sort of anticipation of this now.

1 Thessalonians 5:5 "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."

"Children of light": This is a Hebrew expression that characterizes believers as children of God. Their heavenly Father, who is light and in whom is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5-7; Luke 18:8; John 8:12; 12:36). Believers live in a completely different sphere of life than those who will be in the Day of the Lord.

Darkness obscures our view. The light makes manifest. We can see clearly in the Light. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. If we are Christians, we are of the Light. Satan is darkness to the utmost. Darkness is the absence of the Light. Children of darkness have not received the Light.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 "Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober."

"Let us not sleep": Because believers have been delivered from the domain of darkness, they are taken out of

the night of sin and ignorance and put into the light of God. Because Christians are in the light, they should not

sleep in spiritual indifference and comfort, but be alert to the spiritual issues around them.

They are not to live like the sleeping, darkened people who will be jolted out of their coma by the Day of the Lord (verse 7), but to live alert, balanced, godly lives under control of the truth.

This does not mean that we are not to rest in sleep. This is speaking of spiritual sleep. Do not be unaware. The watching and waking is learning all we can about the Light (Jesus). Let His Light shine so brightly within us that it will do away with all darkness. Sober (in verse 6 above), means to abstain from wine. In other words, don't be drunk when the Lord comes back.

1 Thessalonians 5:7 "For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night."

Most sins are committed at night. Whoever is sinning seems to think the darkness will cover the sin. In daytime, most people are working. The light of day keeps many sins from occurring.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation."

"Breastplate": Paul pictured the Christian life in military terms as being a life of soberness (alertness), and proper equipping. The "breastplate" covers the vital organs of the body. "Faith" is an essential protection against temptations, because it is trust in God's promise, plan, and truth.

It is unwavering belief in God's Word that protects us from temptation's arrows. Looking at it negatively, it is unbelief that characterizes all sin. When believers sin, they have believed Satan's lie. Love for God is essential, as perfect love from Him yields perfect obedience to Him.

Elsewhere the warrior's breastplate has been used to represent righteousness (Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:14). Faith elsewhere is represented by a soldier's shield (Eph. 6:16).

The "helmet" is always associated with salvation in its future aspects (Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:17). Our future salvation is guaranteed, nothing can take it away (Rom 13:11). Paul again combined faith, love, and hope (1:3).

Not only are we to be sober, but we are to be doing the things God would have us doing. The things mentioned here are part of the armor of God. The breastplate covers the heart. This is saying then, let faith and love be so full in your heart that it covers your chest. We know how important faith is, because without faith it is impossible to please God.

In (Romans 10:9), it speaks of believing in our heart. Then faith is a product of a heart of love stayed upon God. The brain is in the head. The logic of salvation is what is meant by the helmet. We believe in our heart, but the mind gets up in the logic of it all. Salvation is sensible to the thought of mankind. All people want the hope of salvation.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"

"Wrath": This is the same wrath referred to (in 1:10). In this context (note especially the contrast), it appears obvious that this wrath refers to God's eternal wrath, not His temporal wrath during the tribulation period (Rom 5:9).

We have discussed this before, but the wrath of God occurs in the 7 year tribulation period. God's wrath is saved for those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior. The thing that saves us is belief in our heart that Jesus is the Christ risen from the dead on the third day. We must confess Him with our mouth.

We obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Him. He is the door we must enter to reach the Father. When we enter Him, heaven is on the other side.

1 Thessalonians 5:10 "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."

"Wake or sleep": This analogy goes back to (4:13-15), and refers to being physically alive or dead with the promise that, in either case, we will one day live together (4:17; John 14:1-3). Forever with the Savior who died as the substitute for our sins (Rom. 4:9; Gal 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:15, 21).

Jesus died in our place. He was our Substitute. He paid our penalty for sin, which is death. He gave His body on the cross for our sin that we might obtain life through Him. This is just saying that the dead in Christ and the living in Christ at His coming will partake together of the life in Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

He is saying that we should take comfort in the knowledge that we will live in Him. We should build each other up, reminding those who have grown weary waiting. He says, why am I telling you this, you already do this?