1 Thessalonians 5

5:1 Now, brothers, about times [Gr. chronos] and dates [Gr. kairos: an epoch of time; an event that occupies a span of time] we do not need to write [but he did anyway; repeating foundational truths and doctrines is important] to you,

Note: What do these verses suggest about how we should respond to predictions about Christ’s return at a certain date or time?

5:2 for you know very well [cf. “we do not need to write to you” in 5:1] that the day of the Lord [the day associated with the ultimate overthrow of God’s enemies; cf. Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:15; Mal. 4:5; Rom. 2:5; 2 Pet. 2:9] will come like [comparison] a thief in the night [at an unknown time; unexpectedly; a threat to the unprepared; cf. Matt. 24:42-44; Mk. 13:32; Lk. 12:39].

Note: Are you prepared for His return? Remember, there will be no opportunity for last-minute repentance. What impact does knowing that Christ will return suddenly and unexpectedly have on how you use your time?

5:3 While people [unbelievers] are saying, “Peace [inward well-being] and safety [basic meaning: cannot be shaken], [a false cry that all is well; indicates they neither believe in nor expect a time of judgment]” destruction [Gr. olethpos: refers to separation from God; utter and hopeless ruin] will come on them suddenly [no forewarning at all], as labor pains [inevitable/unavoidable for a pregnant woman; cf. Mk. 13:8] on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape [no second chances].

5:4 But [contrast] you [as opposed to unbelievers], brothers [members of God’s family], are not in [preposition points to sphere in which unbelievers live out their lives] darkness [realm of existence for non-Christians; cf. Col. 1:13] so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

Note: What do you think would happen if we knew the exact day and hour of His return?

5:5 You are all [none are excluded] sons of [characterized by] the light [the sphere in which believers live out their lives] and sons of the day [used metaphorically in association with spiritual light (Lightfoot)]. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness [includes aspects such as ignorance, unbelief, evil].

5:6 So then [introduces consequence of being “sons of the light”], let us not be like others [those who “belong to the night” (5:5)], who are asleep [non-Christians who are not expecting the day of the Lord; not alert to what is going on], but let us be alert [contrast to being asleep; awake, like a watchman; spiritually and morally awake and alert] and self-controlled [a disciplined life].

5:7 For those who sleep [a nighttime behavior; Gr. katheudo: term refers to moral indifference], sleep at night, and those who get drunk [a nighttime behavior; opposite of “self-controlled” (5:8)], get drunk at night.

5:8 But [introduces a contrast] since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled [an antidote to many sins, especially those described in 4:3-8], putting on [having already put on] faith and love as a breastplate [protects the heart, a vital area of the body], and the hope of salvation as a helmet [protects the head, a vital area of the body].

5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:10 He died [the means by which He procured our salvation] for [“on behalf of” or “in place of”] us so that [points to the purpose of Christ’s death], whether [does not really matter whether…] we are awake [remain alive until Christ comes] or asleep [die in the Lord prior to His coming], we may live together with him.

5:11 Therefore [introduces logical/ practical outcome of his teaching about future events] encourage one another [cf. 4:18] and build each other up, just as in fact [Paul acknowledged their progress in doing so] you are doing.

5:12 Now we ask you [a mild appeal], brothers [an affectionate term], to respect [honor; cf. 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17] those [leaders/ those in positions of responsibility] who work hard among you, who are over you [responsibility for others] in the Lord and who admonish you.

Note: What are possible results if Christians fail to honor church leaders? How does showing regard and appreciation for leaders benefit the church?

5:13 Hold them in the highest [beyond measure] regard in love because of [on the basis of] their work [the tasks of ministry]. Live in peace [without contention or destructive conflict] with each other [mutual responsibility of leaders and members].

5:14 And we urge you, brothers [term refers to church membership as a whole], [1] warn [firmly admonish] those who are idle [lazy; loafers; those who had stopped working and had become dependent on the generosity of others (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6-13)], [2] encourage [Gr. paraklesis: to come alongside with helpful instruction and insight] the timid [fearful people who lack confidence; those intimidated by life’s stresses and burdens], [3] help [take tender care; embrace; extend a helping hand] the weak [struggling, needy, or immature believers], [4] be patient [Gr. makrothymia: long-suffering] with everyone.

Note: What spiritual needs do you have? What areas of your life are crying out for others to treat you with patience?

5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back [retaliation] wrong for wrong, but always try [eagerly pursue] to be kind [cf. Prov. 3:3-4 (NAS)] to each other [fellow church members] and to everyone else [included those outside the church and even enemies].

5:16 Be joyful [joy comes from relationship with Jesus; joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22); joy is divinely sustained and independent of external influences; result of knowing that God is in control] always [continual attitude];

Note: What is the difference between joy and happiness?

5:17 pray [we never outgrow the need to pray; prayer helps cultivate a joyful attitude in times of trial] continually [have a prayerful attitude at all times; never quit praying; cf. Lk. 18:1; without interruption; constantly; be constantly aware of God’s presence and the need to depend on Him];

5:18 give thanks [antidote to complaining] in [not “for”] all [even painful or perplexing situations; even in persecutions and trials; God can use all things as instruments for making us more Christlike (cf. Ps. 119:91b)] circumstances [cf. Rom. 8:28], for this [grammatically it could refer to “give thanks” but it is more likely that Paul means all three commands (5:16-18) to be regarded as a unity] is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Note: “No combination of happenings can be termed ‘bad’ for a Christian because of God’s constant superintendence (Rom. 8:29).” (Expositor’s, Vol. 11, p. 291)

5:19 Do not [stop: a command to cease what they were already doing] put out [quench or stifle thus forbidding or restraining His work] the Spirit’s fire [cf. Acts 2:3; 2 Tim. 1:6];

5:20 do not [stop: a command to cease what they were already doing] treat prophecies [messages from God delivered under the direction of the Holy Spirit to the body of believers by those with the gift (cf. 1 Cor. 12:10) of prophecy; the gift of speaking for God; forthtelling, not foretelling] with contempt [to consider as nothing, to downgrade, to despise; underrate; the Thessalonians were treating prophecies with contempt because some among them had misused this gift; perhaps Thessalonians guilty of doing this in regard to warning or corrections with which they disagreed].

5:21 Test [Scripture is standard of measure; check people’s words against the Bible (cf. Acts 17:11); cf. 1 Jn. 4:1-3; be receptive without being gullible] everything [not just prophecies (5:20); the exercise of spiritual gifts (5:19-20); perhaps the test was theological in nature (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Jn. 4:1-3)]. Hold [retain] on [after testing, hold fast to or take possession of] to the good [beneficial; implication: dismiss whatever does not pass the test].

Note: Test Questions
1. Does it violate Scripture?
2. Is it compatible with God’s revealed character?
3. Will it advance God’s revealed will and purpose?

5:22 Avoid [keep away from; abstain, hold one’s self from] every kind [species, class ; form or appearance; that which is essentially evil] of evil [that tries to parade as a genuine representation of the Spirit].

5:23 May God himself, the God of peace [cf. Rom. 15:33; 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:16], sanctify [separate to Himself ; sanctification is the process of moving toward Christlikeness] you through [with spiritual maturity as the goal] and through [in every area of life]. May your whole [no part of our lives should be kept from God] spirit, soul and body be kept [protecting, watching over, guarding] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ [the end of the sanctification process will occur when we “see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2); cf. Phil. 1:6; 3:20-21].

5:24 The one who calls you is faithful [can be relied on] and he will do it [cf. Phil. 1:6].

5:25 Brothers, pray for us [cf. Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; 2 Thess. 3:1].

5:26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss [normal way of greeting in Paul’s day; cf. Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Pet. 5:14].

5:27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read [in a public meeting] to all the brothers.

5:28 The grace [cf. 1 Thess. 1:1] of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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