1 Thessalonians Bible Study, Chapter 5

The day of the Lord, authority orientation, and other commandments

Tod Kennedy, January – February 10, 2010

Some observations from chapter 5

  1. Times and epochs, 1 Thessalonians 5:1.
  2. Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
  3. Apparently the Thessalonians had been taught about the times and epochs, 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
  4. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
  5. The unbeliever will be proclaiming “peace and safety,” 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
  6. The Day of the Lord will come suddenly, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
  7. The Day of the Lord will come like labor pains come to a woman, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
  8. Believers are not in darkness, 1 Thessalonians 5:4.
  9. Day of the Lord will not surprise believers,1 Thessalonians 5:4.
  10. Believers are all sons of light and day, not night or darkness, 1 Thessalonians 5:5.
  11. Be alert and sober, do not sleep, 1 Thessalonians 5:6.
  12. Sleepers and drinkers do it at night, 1 Thessalonians 5:7.
  13. Believers are of the day, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  14. Believers are to be sober, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  15. Believers have put on the breastplate of faith and love, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  16. Believers have put on the helmet, the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  17. God has not destined believers for wrath, 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
  18. God has destined believers for salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
  19. Salvation is through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
  20. Jesus died for us, 1 Thessalonians 5:10.
  21. We will live with him whether we are asleep or awake, 1 Thessalonians 5:10.
  22. We should encourage one another because of this truth, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
  23. We should build up one another because of this truth, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
  24. The Thessalonians are encouraging and building up one another, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
  25. Appreciate those who diligently labor over you, 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
  26. Appreciate those who have charge over you, 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
  27. They labor and have charge in the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
  28. They also give instruction, 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
  29. We are to esteem them highly in love, 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
  30. We do this because of their work, 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
  31. We are to live in peace with one another, 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
  32. Admonish the unruly, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  33. Encourage the fainthearted, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  34. Help the weak, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  35. Be patient with everyone, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  36. Do not repay evil for evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
  37. Always seek what is good for one another and all people, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
  38. Rejoice always, 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
  39. Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
  40. Give thanks in everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
  41. Giving thanks is God’s will, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
  42. God’s will in Christ Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
  43. Do not quench the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
  44. Do not despise prophetic utterances, 1 Thessalonians 5:20.
  45. Examine everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
  46. Hold fast to the good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
  47. Abstain from every form of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
  48. God is the God of peace, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
  49. May God sanctify you entirely, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
  50. We have spirit, soul, and body, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
  51. May God preserve all of these without blame, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
  52. When Jesus Christ comes back, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
  53. He who calls you is faithful, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
  54. He also will do this, 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
  55. Pray for us, 1 Thessalonians 5:25.
  56. Greet the brethren, 1 Thessalonians 5:26.
  57. Holy kiss, 1 Thessalonians 5:26.
  58. Read this letter to all the brethren, 1 Thessalonians 5:27.
  59. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, 1 Thessalonians 5:28.
  60. Jesus Christ is Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5:28.
  61. Jesus Christ owns grace, 1 Thessalonians 5:28.

Outline of 1 Thessalonians 5

  1. The day of the Lord is coming (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).
  2. The day of the Lord is not for church believers and we should live in light of that (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11).
  3. Commands and encouragements for the Thessalonian believers (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28).

Some main points or biblical principles to emphasize from chapter 5

  1. The day of the Lord, with all its sudden suffering, will not overtake church believers because it begins with Satan’s spiritual darkness and church believers are sons of light and day (1 Thessalonians 5.1-5). The day of the Lord will come suddenly and will surprise people. Satan will be the instigator and since his view is darkness and sin, and the believer’s world is lightness and day we will not be part of it.
  2. Since daylight is the time to be awake, alert, and active and you believers are a part of God’s kingdom of spiritual light (not a part of Satan’s kingdom of spiritual darkness) stay spiritually awake, alert, and active while you can (1 Thessalonians 5.6-11).
  3. Practice authority orientation because authority protects your day to day life so that you may learn doctrine, think love, live in peace, and correctly fill the right need (1 Thessalonians 5.12-15).
  4. Make it a practice to rejoice, pray, thank God, listen to the word and spiritual teaching, examine things, hold tight to truth, and abstain or stay out of trouble, don’t put yourselves in places where you will be in trouble (1 Thessalonians 5.16-22).
  5. God is getting you believers ready to meet your Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5.23-24). He is doing this through suffering, testing, blessing, teaching, service, etc.
  6. Pray for the absent spiritual Paul and his men; pass his greetings on to the church, and make his Bible teaching available (1 Thessalonians 5.25-28). Pray for those who are traveling, teaching, preaching, and making teaching available to others.

Exposition of 1 Thessalonians 5

  1. The day of the Lord is coming (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).
    • Verses 1-3. Paul had taught them about the day of the Lord and so he did not go into detail like he did in 1 Thessalonians 4 about the rapture. Times and epochs in this context has its primary reference to the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly. Earth dwellers will publicize peace and safety. They will feel secure in their world view.
    • Times (CHRONOS, time, period, season, a period in which some activity takes place) and epochs (KAIROS, time or exact or critical time, season, opportunity, a defined period for an event) is also found in Acts 1:7. In general CHRONOS is a broad period of time and KAIROS is more specific, though it could simply be like our “times and seasons.” Here Paul refers to the course of prophetic history with important events during this longer history. The dispersion and regathering of Israel would be included. Also the events leading to Jesus glorious return to earth.
    • The day of the Lord is what is in Paul’s mind. It is the second coming of Jesus to the earth (Joel 3:9–16; Zechariah 14:1–5; Revelation 16:12–16; 19:11–21). This is a period marked by the Lord working dramatically in history. It includes both wrath and blessing—the tribulation and the millennium (Isaiah 13:9–11; Joel 2:28–32; Zephaniah 1:14–18). The day of the Lord is a phrase used by God’s prophets in the Old Testament to identify an immediate or close in time judgment by God or a future (prophetic) judgment by God.
      • Historic Day of the Lord—God’s judgment soon to happen, and in our case past history. There were historic days of the Lord; they were judgments that Israel went through.
      • Prophetic Day of the Lord —God’s judgment in the tribulation period.
      • Prophetic Day of the Lord —God’s judgment at the end of the millennium and just before the new heavens and the new earth.
      • The context of   each Bible passage determines whether the day of the Lord is historical or prophetic.
    • Thief in the night means unexpectedly. See Matthew 24:43, Luke 12:39, 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up,” Revelation 16:15, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4. This is unexpected – a shock!
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 give some characteristics of the coming of the day of the Lord. It will come like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2). People will have a false sense of security (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Destruction will come suddenly like labor pains (1 Thessalonians 5:3). It is a period of spiritual darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). Furthermore, jumping to verse 9, God’s wrath will come to the earth dwellers. It is not for church age believers, but unbelievers. We will not go through this sudden destruction. The world will think that they are solving the problems of the world. They say peace and safety. They will feel secure in their world view.
    • The rapture of the church will not affect them. They will simply say that now we are finally able to solve the problems of the world. 
  2. The day of the Lord is not for church believers and we should live in light of that (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11).
    • We pick up the background for this in verses 4-5. We have characteristics of those upon whom this day will not come.
    • They are called brethren (1 Thessalonians 5:4). They are not in spiritual darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:4). The day will not suddenly overtake them (KATALAMBANO in the aorist active subjunctive, seize, catch, overtake, gain control of, grasp) like a thief would (4).
    • The brethren are sons of light and day, not darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5). In the context the image is of night when the thief comes. Darkness also brings to mind ignorance, sin, and evil (John 1:5, 3:19; Ephesians 5:8, 11; Colossians 1:13; and others). Colossians 1:13 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
    • Also in this section (4-8) Paul pleads with them.
      • They are not to sleep spiritually (KATHEUDO), to be alert (GREGOREO, to be watchful, alert), and to be sober (NEPHO, to be well balanced, self-controlled, 6). Sober does not refer here to not being drunk.
      • These words are used here in the figurative sense. Sleep in verses 5, 6, 7 means here to be spiritually idle, asleep, spiritually lazy, to be carnal (KATHEUDO, to be asleep physically, and figurative to be idle or even dead). Note that sleep in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14, and 15 refers to physical death (KOIMAO, literal sleep, and sleep of death). We cannot conclude that chapter 4 and KOIMAO refers to death and that chapter 5 and KATHEUDO refers to spiritual idleness from the words themselves. The context guides us. Chapter 4 is clear. Why would Paul change his word for sleep from a few sentences previous if he meant the same thing—physical death?
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:9. God has not destined believers for wrath. He has appointed us for deliverance from the day of the Lord wrath.
      • Destined (TITHEMI, aorist middle indicative, put place, set, design) brethren for wrath (ORGE, 1 Thessalonians 5:9).
      • Wrath in the context of this letter is the day of the Lord coming suddenly on those not expecting it. Brethren are destined for deliverance. Again, in the context this does not refer to the great white throne or hell. Wrath here refers to the day of the Lord wrath for people on earth in this time (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4).
      • The conclusion seems to be that in chapter 5 Paul is urging believers (brethren, 4) to live the active normal Christian life while there is time.
        • 1 Thessalonians 5:6 contrasts sleep with alertness and soberness.
        • 1 Thessalonians 5:7 compares sleeping at night with drunkenness at night. Both in context are illustrating an activity that is bad. Now, physical sleep at night is normal and good.
        • 1 Thessalonians 5:8 instructs believers to be sober (balanced) since believers have already put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation—reminiscent of Ephesians 6:13-17.
      • And the reason we can live this way is because God has not appointed us to his day of the Lord wrath. Christ’s sacrificial death also purchased our deliverance. He has appointed us to salvation or deliverance from that judgment.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11. Believers will live with the Lord whether they are spiritually awake believers (active Holy Spirit led believers) or spiritually idle believers (carnal, walking out of fellowship). With this great promise we have a reason to encourage each other and build each other up.
      • We are not destined for the day of the Lord wrath.
      • We will live with the Lord whether we are idle believers or awake believers.
  3. Commands and encouragements for the Thessalonian believers (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28). I have noted a few doctrines that these verses teach, imply, or relate to.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Appreciate and respect your spiritual teachers and leaders. This includes live in peace with each other—do not be a trouble maker in the church. See doctrines: deacon, pastor and teacher, teacher, spiritual gifts, authority.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15. Live together in such a way to keep the church body healthy. Some will need a warning, others encouragement, others help, and all need to be treated with patience. See doctrines: encouragement, relationships among believers, good works.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:16. Rejoice because we are believers and God is working in our lives. Doctrine: rejoice or inner happiness.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is vital. Do it often. Doctrine prayer.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Be thankful and give thanks no matter what comes because God is our protector, provider, and guide. Doctrines: divine attributes, thankfulness, testing and suffering, Rx for suffering and testing.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:19. Do not quench the Holy Spirit when he guides you through his word and through circumstances that correspond to the Bible. Quenching the Holy Spirit pushes us into living according to the flesh. Doctrines: spirituality, carnality, ministries of the Holy Spirit.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:20. Listen to your teachers. Today the gift of prophecy has stopped. Now the communication of the written word is the focus.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:21. When you do listen closely, follow what is said in your Bibles. Use biblical discernment. Sometimes Bible teachers can make mistakes. Sometimes they teach false doctrine. Doctrines: knowledge of the word, faith application, revelation, inspiration, illumination, communication.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Watch your life. Do not get into questionable practices. Doctrines: sin, doubtful things biblical principles
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Paul’s benediction. God’s sanctification is necessary for Christian living. Paul desires that we live so that we are ready for Jesus to come for us. This verse teaches that we are body, soul, and human spirit. Doctrines: sanctification, nature of man.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:24. God is faithful. He will keep us ready for Jesus’ coming. God’s faithfulness, eternal security.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:25.  Paul requests prayer. We have reminders daily from life and from the Scripture to pray for each other. Doctrines: Prayer.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:26. Paul passes on his apostolic greeting.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:27. This letter needs to be read to believers. The word of God is important. Doctrine: importance of God’s word, revelation, inspiration, illumination, communication.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:28. Paul wants God’s grace to be with them. He wants them to receive instruction and power for living the Christian life. Doctrine: grace.