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1 Thessalonians

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©Michael Player

Chapter 5:1-4 (ESV)

Posted on May 01, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 5:1-4 (ESV) -  Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 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. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 

Question to consider: What does Paul mean that the “day of the Lord” will come like a thief in the night?

Paul didn’t need to write to the Thessalonians about the details of Christ’s return, for they already knew them and were living in expectation of them. Tomorrow’s passage deals with how they could live expectantly and still be effective for the kingdom, but the Thessalonians were rightly anticipating the return of Christ.

The Thessalonians were under no illusion that destruction could come upon them suddenly, for they were already living under tremendous persecution from those in their city. Unlike the church in Laodicea which was made up of wealthy individuals who were living in comfort and ease, those in Thessalonica were already battle-hardened and looking forward to Christ’s return.

Those who lived in comfort and ease wouldn’t know how to deal with persecution. If their earthly wealth was threatened, their love of Christ would grow cold. Jesus called Laodicea “lukewarm” and was ready to spit them out of His mouth by the time Jesus had John write a letter to them. 

There are a number of different references throughout scripture to “the day of the Lord,” and though I believe it describes the day of God’s wrath upon a particular group, that day has played out in separate events. The whole earth experienced “the day of the Lord” at the time of Noah, and only Noah and his family were delivered from the resulting flood. The nation of Israel experienced “the day of the Lord” at the time of Ezekiel when God used Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem. The crucifixion of Christ was “the day of the Lord” in which God poured out His wrath against all of the sin of mankind which Jesus took upon Himself. The “day of the Lord” occurred once again upon the now desolate city and temple in AD 70. The final “day of the Lord” will occur when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.

Whether Paul referred to the immediate judgment or the final judgment (or even knew them to be separate events) is unclear. However, Paul’s word of warning and words of encouragement in this letter could apply to both. People have formulated a variety of different views regarding the final day of the Lord, but I would avoid any view which negates the hope of Christ’s return or its imminence. If you believe that Christ’s return is a long way off because the events haven’t unfolded to mark that day, you should rethink your view. There is nothing that prohibits Christ from returning at any time. If your view negates Christ’s return to fully and finally judge sin so that death will be no more, you have set aside the blessed hope which has been confessed by the church since Christ ascended to heaven.


Dear Lord, we long for the day in which You will return to put an end to sin and death. The world has gone its own way, and everything which You have called good has been called into question. Help us to remain fixed on Your word of truth so that we are not deceived by the world. Amen.