Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 Thessalonians 5

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD  4, 13 -- 5, 11 (continued)

5, 1-3:  Time Unknown.  The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly as a thief in the night.    1.  Paul in 2 gives the reason why it is unnecessary for him to write to them about the time of Christ's Second Coming.  When among them he had already informed them that it will occur suddenly and unexpectedly at a date which is uncertain.  The time is uncertain, because no man knows it.  Cf. Matt. 24, 36; Mark 13, 32.

5, 4-11:  Be Always Prepared.    4.  Since the day of the Lord is uncertain as to time, there remains the possibility that it may occur during the lifetime of the Thessalonians.  Paul neither asserts nor implies that it will.  He merely points out the practical conclusions to the Thessalonians should draw from such a possibility.  It should not terrify them, because their virtues render them ready to meet Christ.  It should prompt them always to live in a state of readiness.  Paul's admonition is the same as that of Christ: "Therefore you must also be ready, because at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come" (Matt. 24, 44).    8.  Cf. Eph. 6, 14-17.  Paul again stresses the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.    9.  Wrath: cf. 1, 10; 2, 16.    10.  Whether we wake or sleep: Paul says that it does not matter whether they be found among the living or the dead at Christ's Second Coming.  For both groups will enjoy immortal life with Christ.

Conclusion  5, 12-28

5, 12-22:  Obedience, Patience and Charity.  Paul exhorts them to practise obedience to lawful superiors, to be patient, to correct the idle, and to be charitable.    12.  The existence of a hierarchy is indicated.    13.  Be at peace with them: a variant reading has: "Have peace among yourselves."    14.  Irregular: i.e., the idle who refused to work because they thought the parousia near at hand.  These were a source of trouble, because their views alarmed others, and their failure to work made it necessary for others to support them.

16-22.  Various other recommendations.    19.  Make use of the charismatic gifts such as tongues and prophecy.  Cf. 1 Cor. 12-14.    20.  Prophecies: inspired instructions of those who had the gift of prophecy.    21.  They are to make certain that the gifts are genuine (cf. 1 Cor. 12, 1-3).

5, 23-24:  Final Blessing.  Spirit is the human soul as the principle of intelligence and will.  Soul is the human soul as the principle of animal and sensitive life, hence as the seat of the affections and feelings.  Spirit, soul, and body, are the terms in which Paul sums up man and his activities.  Cf. 1 Cor. 15, 44.46; Heb. 4, 12.  Consequently he prays that under God's grace they may be wholly sanctified.

5, 25-28:  Greeting.    26.  The kiss was a liturgical practice.

Confraternity Bible:

Time Unknown  1 But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that we write to you, 2 for you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord is to come as a thief in the night.  3 For when they shall say, "Peace and security," even then sudden destruction will come upon them, as birth pangs upon her who is with child, and they will not escape.

Be Always Prepared  4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief; 5 for you are all children of the light and children of the day.  We are not of night, nor of darkness.  6 Therefore, let us not sleep as do the rest, but let us be wakeful and sober.  7 For they who sleep, sleep at night, and they who are drunk, are drunk at night.  8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober.  Let us put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  9 For God has not destined us unto wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us in order that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.  11 Wherefore, comfort one another and edify one another, even as indeed you do.

Obedience, Patience and Charity  12 Now we beseech you, brethren, to appreciate those who labor among you, and who are over you in the Lord and admonish you.  13 Esteem them with a more abundant love on account of their work.  Be at peace with them.  14 And we exhort you, brethren, reprove the irregular, comfort the faint-hearted, support the weak, be patient towards all men.  15 See that no one renders evil for evil to any man; but always strive after good towards one another and towards all men.

16 Rejoice always.  17 Pray without ceasing.  18 In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus regarding you all.  19 Do not extinguish the Spirit.  20 Do not despise prophecies.  21 But test all things; hold fast that which is good.  22 Keep yourselves from every kind of evil.

Final Blessing and Greeting  23 And may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound, blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  24 He who called you is faithful and will do this.

25 Brethren, pray for us.  26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.  27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.  28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Amen.