1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 Paul continues his teaching around being ready for the return of Jesus. “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.” The Thessalonians were well taught about the return of Jesus and other prophetic matters. Paul had taught them well about the times and the seasons regarding His return. Even though he had only been with them a few weeks, he had made sure they understood the prophetic times and seasons. It is important for us to study the scriptures and be sure we understand the times and seasons too.

Hiebert explains “The first designates time in its duration, whether a longer or shorter period; the second draws attention to the characteristics of the period. The first deals with the measurement of time, the second with the suitable or critical nature of the time.” Paul makes clear that Jesus is coming back, but in His time. “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” The idea behind the phrase ‘the day of the Lord’ is that this will happen on Gods’ timeline. Man has his “day,” and the Lord has His “day”. In the ultimate sense, the day of the Lord is fulfilled with Jesus judging the earth and returning in glory.

The day of the Lord does not refer to a single day, but to a season when God rapidly advances His agenda to the end of the age. Hievert explains that the day of the Lord “Is a familiar Old Testament expression. It denotes the day when God intervenes in history to judge His enemies, deliver His people, and establish His kingdom.” The Thessalonians knew, as they had been taught, that they couldn’t know the day of Jesus’ return. That day would remain unknown, and come as a surprise, as a thief in the night. A thief does not announce the exact time of his arrival. No one will definitely know when that day will come.

Paul is clear that the  unexpected nature of that day will be a tragedy for the unbeliever. They will be lulled to sleep by political and economic conditions, but they will be rudely awakened. “While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” They will hear the frightening verdict “they shall not escape.” The phrase labor pains suggest both inevitability and unexpectedness. Trapp define these as coming with certainty, suddenly, irresistibly and inevitably. They are coming, we just don’t know when.

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