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The Coming of the Lord.
1,2. Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
It was not necessary for Paul to write to the Thessalonians about the time of our Lord’s second coming, since they already knew that Christ will come unexpectedly and suddenly. Just as a thief does not announce his coming, so God will not reveal the time when Christ will come again. Matt 24:36 ; Lk 12:40. Since no one knows the time of our Lord's return we should ignore those who make predictions about it. (It is actually none of our business Acts 1:7).
3. When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!
This verse refers to the judgement of God which will be poured out on unbelievers at Christ’s coming. It will be like the days of Noah, when men ignored and mocked warnings of the flood and carried on living as normal, completely unaware of what was about to happen until the flood came suddenly and destroyed them all. Matt 24:37-39.The words used here "peace and safety" refer to the attitude of unbelievers immediately before Christ's coming. They will not consider themselves under threat of God’s judgement. The voice that had troubled their consciences will have been removed, for both the church and the Holy Spirit will have been taken away from the earth. 2 Thess 2:7. For a time they will think that they have achieved their aim of Psalm 2:1-3. Wickedness will be completely unrestrained and it will be a time of unprecedented evil. However, God will give his answer to this, by the pouring out of the vials of His wrath on the earth.While God's enemies are rejoicing in the supposed fact that they are "free" from God and any moral restraints, He will suddenly appear in the person of Jesus Christ to bring final judgement upon them. There will be no way of escape, for they have already rejected the way of salvation which God had offered them (1 Thess. 5:9-10). For them it will be like when a pregnant woman goes into labour - suddenly and not always at the time expected. From God's point of view, however, His judgement will arrive exactly on time - His appointed time. Acts 17:31.
4 -7. But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night.
Since unbelievers are dead in trespasses and sins, they are in darkness (ignorant of God and blind to spiritual truth). By their actions they prove that they are His enemies. As believers, we are not in darkness, for God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness (Col. 1:13). And has brought us into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2:9). Christians have received a knowledge of God through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Once, we were dead in sins, but God has made us alive together with Christ and saved us by his grace (Eph. 2:5). We were God's enemies, but were reconciled to God by Christ's death (Col. 1:21-22). In view of all this, we should be watchful, self controlled and ready for Christ's coming. Since God has revealed to us the truth, we are no longer in ignorance and must not to behave like those who are. God says we must not sleep as others (the ungodly) do. Those who sleep, sleep at night. Someone who is asleep is insensible to what is going on around them. Those who sleep spiritually are insensitive to truth and so do not put it into practise. As a result are not ready for the Lord's coming. Luke 12:43-46. Those in darkness behave as those in darkness. Those who get drunk and commit debauchery do so in the dark when no one can see them. They suppose that God will not see them, but of course, He does. If God judges those who sin in ignorance, how much more will he judge those who know the truth but act as if they do not (Luke 12:47).
8. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Since we are light, not darkness, we should not live as if we were darkness. To do so would deny the spiritual experience we’ve had and the knowledge of God we’ve received. In this way it is possible for a Christian to be "asleep." If you know the truth but you are living as if you don't - you are asleep. Christians must be separated from the world. 2 Cor 6.14-18. We are to stand firm in the faith, using the armour that God has provided for us to enable us to stand. We are to have a sincere faith in Christ, a love for God and each other as we hold on firmly to the hope of our salvation. This armour will enable us to withstand all the wiles of the enemy (Eph. 6:10-11).
9,10,11. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
For the believer, judgement for sin is passed, for it fell on Christ at the cross. The future does not hold any terrors for us. Instead we are waiting for the revelation of the full salvation God has appointed for us, when we shall be changed into the likeness of His Son. We are secure in Christ, whether we live or depart to be with the Lord. This fact should comfort and strengthen us in our faith and our trials. We should always seek to build each other up by reminding one another of these truths.
Right Attitudes and Behaviour in the Church.
12,13. But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Paul admonishes the church regarding their leaders. He urges them to "recognise them for what they are, acknowledge, appreciate and respect them all" AMPNT. Those whom God has set in authority over his people must be obeyed (Heb. 13:17). Their work is of a spiritual nature and is conducted through teaching and preaching God's word - warning, exhorting and reproving the believers (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We are to love our leaders and hold them in very high regard for the sake of their work, for it is we who benefit and are built up spiritually by their ministry. There should be no disorder in the church. We are to be at peace among ourselves.
14. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.
Those who refuse to tow the line and do not show respect for those to whom God has given authority are rebelling against God. They should be warned of the seriousness of their conduct. This is the responsibility of the whole church. If they continue to be disorderly, then they are to be put out of fellowship (2 Thess. 3:14; 1 Cor. 5:11). We should encourage those who are faint hearted and uphold the weak in faith, being patient with everyone (putting up with others and not losing our temper).
15. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
We must see to it that we do not repay someone with wrong when wrong has been done to us. Instead we should forgive each other and continue to love. By God's grace we must let go of all resentment and bitter feeling, leaving vengeance (getting our own back) with God to whom it belongs (Rom. 12:19). Whilst this applies within the church of God, the same attitude should be shown to outsiders, that we might be witnesses to the truth of the gospel.
16. Rejoice always.
In the light of all that Christ has done for us we should rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4).
17. Pray without ceasing.
We are to pray always and not give up, persevering with our prayers at set times each day and whenever occasion allows.
18. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Whatever our circumstances, we are still the Lord’s and so we should continue to give thanks to Him for all things. This is God's will for everyone in Christ.
19. Do not quench the Spirit.
We are not to suppress the Holy Spirit in our church meetings. This includes His manifestations through spiritual gifts. We are to stir up and use these gifts as often as possible and not criticise others who use the gifts, for this might put them off using them altogether.
20. Do not despise the words of prophets.
n particular, we are not to treat prophetic messages lightly, for this gift has been given by the Holy Spirit for the exhortation, edification and comfort of the church. We are not to deprecate the content of any such God given revelation, however well we know the speaker or however immature the utterance may be. To despise the gift is to despise the giver - the Holy Spirit.
21,22. But test everything; hold fast to what is good. abstain from every form of evil.
That does not mean that we are blindly to accept everything that is said as correct. We must weigh up all such utterances in the light of God's word. No revelation given by God will ever contradict his word. Having tested what has been said, we must hold on to the good we have received through the utterance. Anything which is evil or that is out of accordance with God's word must be rejected.
23. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's prayer for the Thessalonian believers is that they might be completely sanctified - wholly set apart for God in spirit, soul and body. As believers we are already perfectly sanctified by Christ’s death, but the practical outworking of this sanctification produces a change in our lives day by day. This is not something we do, but is done in us by the God of peace Himself. Paul also prays that the believers' whole being - spirit, soul and body - would be kept by God in a blameless condition until Christ's coming. This can only be so as we continue in Christ (Col. 1:22-23). We have committed our whole being into the hands of Christ and he is able to keep us (2 Tim. 1:12).
24. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do this.
God who called us to Himself is faithful to keep and sanctify us. When He has purposed to do a thing, He will carry it on to completion.
25. Beloved, pray for us.
Paul asks that he and his companions be remembered in prayer. Although he had a wealth of experience in his service for Christ, Paul always valued the prayers of his younger, less experienced converts.
26. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.
All Christians should be treated with love and respect and are to be greeted with a display of holy love and affection - the holy kiss.
27. I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.
Paul strictly commands in the name and authority of Jesus Christ that no one should be excluded from reading this letter, for its contents are a revelation of God's will for all Christians.
28. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Paul ends his letter in the same way he began, that all they needed - the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ - would be with them all. Amen.
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