With today’s devotional we conclude our brief study of Paul’s 1st Epistle to Thessalonica, and introduce his second letter which is believed to have been written soon after the first. The focus of today’s devotional is 1 Thessalonians 5.
The subject of the latter verses of chapter 4 was the anticipation of what would become of the saints who had died (“them which are asleep,” 4:14). Lest hopelessness take hold of those who buried their loved ones (4:14b), Paul assured, “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (4:14). What a wonderful, blessed promise! Yet, the promise did not end there!
Paul continued, “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (4:15-17). Persecution, rejection, afflictions, hardships were the immediate state of the saints. Nevertheless, Paul encouraged the 1st century believers “comfort one another with these words” (i.e., promises and assurances, 4:18). In the words of the old Gospel song, “Blessed Assurance…Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!”
With the promise of the Lord’s coming, and the assurance of the resurrection of the saints, Paul continued: “1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you” (5:1). In essence, Paul did not need to expound further on the coming of Christ; however, he warned when Jesus comes, it will be sudden and unexpected, for “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (5:2). Sadly, some have a false security, and say, “Peace and safety,” and Paul warned: “then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail [labor or birth pangs] upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (5:3).
The Believer’s Life in Light of the Imminent Return of Christ (5:4-7)
Knowing the revelation of Christ’s coming, believers are not to stumble about as though we are walking in darkness (5:4). After all, we have been enlightened by our salvation and the revelation of Jesus Christ, and are “the children of light, and the children of the day” (5:5). Knowing the Lord might come at any time, Paul urged believers, “watch and be sober” (ie., be wide awake, calm, and watchful, 5:6).
Tragically, there were some in the 1st century, even as there are many in the 21st century, who professed to be followers of Christ, but their behavior is contrary to their profession. They live like children of the darkness of this world, and their behavior is like the “drunken in the night” (5:7). (Unfortunately, there are many who profess to be believers today, whose life offer little evidence they are sincere in their profession of Christ as Savior.)
The Preparations and Duty of those Who Look for the Coming of Christ (5:8-9)
Including himself in the exhortation, Paul challenged, “let us, who are of the day [walking in the light of Truth], be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (5:8). Believers are to be “sober” (temperate; putting off liberty and strong drink), his heart guarded by “the breastplate of faith and love,” and his mind protected by “an helmet, the hope of salvation” (5:8; Ephesians 6:17). Though the unsaved will face the wrath of God, we have the assurance of “salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 Who died for us…that we should live together with Him” (5:9).
The Believer’s Relationship with Others (5:11-15).
Paul urged the saints to minister to other believers, comforting, encouraging, strengthening, and building them up in their faith (5:11; Romans 14:19). The believers are also to take time and effort to know those who are their pastors and ministers (5:12-13). Know and appreciate those whose lives are called by God and dedicated to serving the saints (5:12). Know the needs of those who are “over you in the Lord,” and called to “admonish you” (5:12). Cherish them for their calling (“in love for their work’s sake,” 5:13).
Closing thoughts (5:14-22) – Paul concluded his first letter to Thessalonica, with a rapid fire of brief commands (challenges) that need no explanation. After encouraging believers to cherish those who were their spiritual guides and teachers, Paul commanded: “warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (5:14). Don’t be vengeful (5:15a), “but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (5:15b). Rejoice (5:16), persevere in prayer (5:17), grateful for everything (5:18), never quenching the Spirit (5:19), nor despising “prophesyings” (warnings, preaching, 5:20). Hold fast to the truth, and test everything you hear (5:21). Avoid anything that has even the appearance of wrong (5:22).
Our study closes with my prayer for you, even as it was Paul’s prayer for the believers in Thessalonica: “23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 25Brethren, pray for us. 26Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. 27I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (5:23-28).
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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