1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5: Timing of the Second Coming and Final Instructions
Many of us are curious and confused by eschatology (i.e., the Second Coming, the last judgment or the end times). In that regard, we are not unlike the first-century Christians of Thessalonica, and we should probably take heed of Paul’s words and advice in chapter 5.
Paul refers to the Second Coming of the Lord to address questions and concerns of the Thessalonians who were faithful about the timing of Christ’s return, which they imminently expected. Paul admonishes them to be less concerned about the date and time and more concerned about living a godly life because no one knows when the day will come. That is why he uses the “thief in the night” metaphor.
“The Day of the Lord” is an Old Testament reference to the period when God acts in judgment to take back control of the earth from those who presently rule it. Paul refers to those in light and those in darkness, respectively, as those who follow Jesus and those who don’t. Most scholars believe there will be a period of tribulation or judgment against those in darkness. When Paul refers to “destruction,” he is not referring to annihilation of those in darkness but rather their exclusion from the presence of the Lord.
Some of his final instructions to the Thessalonians, in preparation for the Second Coming, are found in verses 14 through 18. He reminds them and appeals to them to encourage others, help the weak, be patient and do good while giving thanks and continually remaining prayerful in all circumstances.
A Moment to Reflect:
How do you respond to books or sermons about the end times or the Second Coming of Christ? Does it make you more motivated to live for Christ and to study the Bible more diligently? Or is it frustrating because you come away with more questions than answers?
Are you encouraged by Paul’s understanding of how those who have “fallen asleep” (or died before Christ’s return) will rise first to be with Jesus? For centuries, Christians have been comforted by this knowledge and, as Paul suggests, have focused more on living a godly life than on anxiously waiting and watching for His return.