As we look at the first eleven verses of this chapter, we need to remember that the Thessalonian church members were mostly Gentiles – Luke wrote that those first believers were both Jews and “…of the devout Greeks not a few…”. Paul also wrote of how they had “…turned to God from idols…”. These Gentiles, though, had been faithful in the synagogue of the Jews and would have learned from the Scriptures that the judgment of God was coming – which is what Paul was referring to when he wrote that they “…know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
God had revealed this truth through the prophets throughout the ages –
Daniel 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Amos 5:18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
Zephaniah 1:14-15 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
Zephaniah 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
They knew that the wrath of God was coming upon unbelievers, but the grace of God through the establishment of His church was unknown to them, something they were “…ignorant of…”. The Holy Spirit led Paul to enlighten them, and everyone else, of God’s plan for believers of this age. The Apostle Peter referred to the Lord’s leadership of Paul as he reminded the saints to be prepared for the coming of the Lord in –
2 Peter 3:7 (KJV) But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:14-16 (KJV) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
These things were hard to understand, nevertheless, they are true! As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul revealed God’s plan for His saints in this age of grace, this revelation being a comfort to the brethren. Can you imagine how much comfort Paul and the others received when they learned of this promise from God? They were just as the others until this time, knowing only of the judgment of God coming upon the world. Being comforted himself –
He continued to instruct them and build them up in the Lord –
A. He reminded them of the judgment of that which they knew – the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
“…peace and safety…” They knew of the lies the religious told King Ahab about going into battle, that he would win the victory – but instead of listening to the counsel of the prophet of God, he listened to the popular sayings and ended up being killed in the battle.
“…peace and safety…” They knew of the lies the religious leaders in Jeremiah’s day told Kings of Judah that they would not be destroyed by sword or famine, yet the Lord said “…the prophets prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them…”. They believed the lies and were destroyed by the Babylonians.
As the unbelieving Israel and Judah of old did not escape the judgment of God, neither would unbelievers be safe now when God’s judgment comes. The only way to be safe is to be saved!
B. He reassured them of their position in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
C. He revealed the reason for comfort. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
1. The Dead –
2 Corinthians 5:8-9 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
2. The Living –
1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
About four years after Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonian church explaining the plan of the Lord’s return, he corrected the Corinthian’s misunderstanding of the doctrine of the resurrection and the coming of Christ for His saints. In 1 Corinthians 15, he reasoned with them about
– the necessity of the resurrection, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…”,
– the nature of the resurrection, “…In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…”
– The wonderful comfort found in the Lord’s return –
1 Corinthians 15:55-58 (KJV) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
We know that the wrath of God is coming, but to the praise of His glory, we know that we will not be judged in wrath, because we are saved by grace!! The Lord is removing us, taking us out of the way before this judgment comes. Because of this, we can comfort one another and edify one another and we all can be looking forward to His coming –
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Where do you stand today. Are you able to rejoice in the Lord’s return because you are His child? –
Or are you fearful of His return because you know you will be judged because you did not believe on Him?
Be saved today! Move from fear to rejoicing.