1 Thessalonians 5
He’ll be back
Live in the daylight, not the darkness1 You don’t need us to tell you when this is going to happen, dear family. 2 You already know that we don’t know. The Lord will come as a surprise—like a thief in the night. 3 When everyone kicks back to relax, saying, “All is well. We’re safe, secure, and at peace,” that’s when disaster will strike. Sudden. Like the labor pains of a pregnant woman.
4 But you, dear family, are no longer in the dark about this. You won’t be surprised when the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 5 After all, we’re not children of darkness. The day belongs to you. You’re children of light. 6 So don’t go to sleep, like the others are doing. Stay awake. Stay alert. 7 As for those folks sleeping, they’re sleeping in the darkness of night. Same for the folks getting drunk. They’re getting drunk in the darkness. 8 But those of us who live in the light of day should stay sober and clearheaded. Strap on the body armor of faith and love. Pull on the helmet of hope—the confidence you have that you’re being saved.
9 God hasn’t scheduled us for punishment. For us, it’s salvation ahead, compliments of our leader Jesus, the Messiah. 10 He died for us. So whether we’re dead or alive, we will one day live with him. 11 So encourage and strengthen each other, as I know you’re already doing.
A few tips for Christian living12 Dear family, I want to ask you to respect the leaders among you. They work long and hard with you, teaching you and taking care of you. They represent the Leader. 13 For all the work they do, give them a lot of respect, a lot of love. And keep the peace.
14 Dear family, when people get out of line, call them on it. Comfort the discouraged. Lend a hand to the weak. Show your patience to everyone. 15 Don’t let anyone retaliate when someone does them wrong. Show your good behavior to each other and to everyone else. 16 Live in a spirit of joy. 17 Never stop talking to God. 18 Whatever happens, go ahead and thank God. This is what God wants for you in your relationship with Jesus the Messiah. 19 Don’t hit the brakes when the Spirit starts to move. 20 Don’t make fun of prophecies. 21 Don’t believe everything you hear. Instead, take a close look at the words. Latch onto whatever is good. 22 Stay away from evil.
Goodbye for now23 May the God of peace purify you from the inside out, and in every way—so that everything that makes you who you are, in spirit, soul, and body, will be kept safe and blame-free when our leader, Jesus the Messiah, comes. 24 The one who has invited you is someone you can count on. He will do this for you.
25 Dear family, please pray for us. 26 Send our greetings to all the family. 27 I’m asking on behalf of Jesus that you read this letter out loud to all believers there. 28 May the kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Leader is more literally “lord,” a word often used to describe a boss, a master, or a person of high status or respect.
The Greek word for “purify” is sometimes translated as “sanctify” or “make you pure.”
Paul more literally asks that they pass along his greeting with “a holy kiss.” It was custom to greet people with a kiss on the cheek instead of a handshake. That is still the custom in many parts of the Middle East and beyond.
It seems pretty obvious that the people in Thessalonica were focused on the Second Coming of Jesus, if not obsessed, given that Paul would have to address the topic again in the follow up letter 2 Thessalonians. What do you think causes Christians to get preoccupied with the return of Jesus when there’s so much other stuff to think about and do?
Paul told the people of Thessalonica that since Jesus will be coming back when no one expects it, they should “Stay awake. Stay alert” (5:6). What do you think he meant by that?
Paul offers several tips for how to live the Christian life, in 5:12-22. Which do you think is hardest for most Christians to do?
Paul ends his letter with a poetic blessing for the people: “May the God of peace purify you from the inside out, and in every way—so that everything that makes you who you are, in spirit, soul, and body, will be kept safe and blame-free when our leader, Jesus the Messiah, comes. The one who has invited you is someone you can count on. He will do this for you” (5:23-24). Can you put Paul’s blessing in your own words, in a sentence or two? What exactly do you think he’s saying?
LIFE APPLICATION. “Whatever happens, go ahead and thank God. This is what God wants for you in your relationship with Jesus the Messiah” (5:18). Really?