Study Notes

1Thessalonians 5:1-11


Remember that after seeing people saved and the church started in Thessalonica over the course of just about three weeks, Paul had been run out of town. He hadn't seen or heard how the Christians were doing. So he sent Timothy to them to find out what had become of the church and their faith.

Timothy found them in a good place: working in faith, laboring in love, and being steadfast in their hope. When Paul got the news, he, Timothy, and Silas wrote this letter of 1Thessalonians. This letter to the Thessalonians has reminded them of their past, encouraged and exhorted them in their present Christian walk, and has corrected a belief of theirs regarding the future rapture and those who died before it happened.

Now the focus shifts to the return of Christ to judge the earth.

5:1-2 No Need

Paul is saying, "Yes, you guys were a little off on your understanding of the rapture and what happened to the Christians that have died before Christ snatches up His church, so I needed to correct that misunderstanding. But as to the final judgment, Timothy tells me that you grasped that in full understanding - that you really don't need any correction or clarification there."

Times And Epochs

He says, "regarding the times and the epochs." This simply means that they are fully aware of the times and the seasons of Christ's return. Not the specific date, for Jesus taught,

Matt. 24:36 "...of that day and hour no one knows..."

They couldn't know the date that Christ was coming to judge the world. But they knew what to look for in the world - they were to recognize the season by looking around at the signs of the times.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the Sadducees for being unable to discern the season by looking around. He told them,

Matt. 16:2-3 ..."When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?"

We too have been educated on how to discern the signs of the times. The Bible has spelled it out for us. For example, we can look at the mindset of man to determine if we are in the last days.

2Tim. 3:1-4 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God....

We could spend hours looking at each one of these and how they have exponentially increased in society even in just the last thirty years. Our generation, more than any other, is permeated with loving self, loving money, disobedience, and hating good.

Another sign of the times is that the church itself becomes corrupted:

2Tim. 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Truly, this is what we've seen in our generation. Sound doctrine and Bible teaching isn't what most people in the church want to hear. They want feel-good messages, seeker-sensitivity, and acceptance of all "lifestyle choices." They want edification without rebuke. They want fellowship without accountability.

And when you contend for the faith, when you say, "This is ear candy - it's empty nonsense! It's not the Word of God!" You're told, "Don't cause division. God is love." When someone stands up and says, "This is heresy! It's unbiblical! You're being taught myths!" You're told, "Touch not the Lord's anointed! Judge not!"

Pick any other topic, and look at the season.

If the topic is weaponry, the Bible describes man-made destruction on a global scale. In the 1940s, it became a reality.

If the topic is geography, the Bible tells that the nation of Israel would be regathered together in the last days. In 1948, that happened.

If the topic is the economy, the Bible says that in the last days, the nations of Europe would gather together economically. In 1992, that happened.

If the topic is technology, the Bible describes that in the last days, mankind will take a mark without which no one can buy or sell. In 1999, that is a reality,tested regionally, and waiting to be implemented globally.

Jesus also told us that there would be plagues and famines.

Plagues? Tuberculosis is killing 3 million people a year around the world. 2 million people die of malaria each year. 12 million people have died from AIDS, and over 30 million people worldwide are infected with it.

Famines? More than 8 million children under five die each year from malnutrition.

Saints, looking at the seasons, it is so clear: We are in the last days.

The Day Of The Lord

What does this corruption signal? That the day of the Lord is coming soon. This term has caused some confusion. Understand that "the day of the Lord" is a generic term in the Bible for a time when divine judgment strikes.

For example, it was a term used by the prophets when God judged Israel for their sin. It describes the day when Christ will return at the end of the Great Tribulation. It also describes the time at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, when heaven and earth passes away, and a new heaven and a new earth are created.

The day of the Lord that 1Thessalonians is speaking of is the day of wrath that will come upon a Christ-rejecting world at the end of the Great Tribulation. Joel writes,

Joel 2:31 "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes."

In the book of Revelation, we read that at the breaking of the sixth seal,

Rev. 6:12 ...there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth {made} of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

Later, we read of the day of the Lord: Heaven opens, and Jesus Christ on a white horse leading a mighty army of angels and saints returns to earth.

Zech. 14:3-4 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

The kings of the world and their armies gather together to war against God Himself.

Rev. 16:14-16 ...spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame.") And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.

On the great and terrible day of the Lord, their armies will be slaughtered, and the world will be judged. There will be no escape.

5:3-5 Sudden Destruction

The world is going on about its business. They choose to ignore the signs of the times, and reassure themselves with the false notion of "peace and safety." Peace - they say "everything's okay on the inside." Safety - they say, "everything's okay on the outside." But it's not okay inside or out, and anyone who says it is is either lying or deceived. The Lord is going to bring destruction to this world, and when it happens, people are going to be totally unaware. Not because they weren't warned, but because they didn't listen.

Matt. 24:37-39 "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."

But we're not going to be caught like this. We know that the signs of the times indicate that this is coming soon. We know that God has called us to holiness and righteousness, and steadfastness of hope. And we know that the wrath of God will be poured out on the ungodliness of this earth in that great and terrible day of the Lord.

5:6-8 Sons Of Light

Because we know this is going to happen, let's be on the alert. Too many of us have gotten spiritually sleepy. Remember what Jesus said in Mark 13...

Mark 13:33-37 "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the {appointed} time is. It is like a man, away on a journey, {who} upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, {assigning} to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. Therefore, be on the alert - for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning - lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!'"

Because the Lord is coming soon, we must be alert and sober - busy in faith, hope, and love.

5:9-11 Not Destined For Wrath

If you are a Christian this morning, you are not destined for wrath. You will be on the winning side, because Christ has bought you with His blood. You will not die in judgment, but live together forever with Him.

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