1 Thessalonians 5
-Paul drives home his constant running theme of the Lord Jesus Christ’s return in His coming (parousia) here in the last chapter. His indication is that they have been taught well already on this doctrine and should be fully aware, awake, and sober for His appearance. Christ will come like a thief in the night (by stealth, unannounced), while people of the world are saying peace and security. All of a sudden destruction will come upon them much like labor pains in childbirth, which are inescapable. The children of God are in the Light and will not be taken by surprise at these events of His coming. They will be on guard, waiting, watching, expecting His return in all soberness and anticipation with the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation, for God has not destined His people for wrath, but salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9). The author says that whether we are awake (living) or asleep (passed from this physical world) we will live with Him (Jesus Christ) and this should be an encouragement and building up concept to be disseminated among all (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11). Paul acknowledges that these believers are doing a good job of this. *Application* The coming of the Messiah is closer than ever and we should be ever vigilant as His prized possession for the Lord’s return. We see all the prophetic words of Scripture taking place and the birth pangs are ever increasing. We don’t know the day or hour, but the fig trees are getting more and more ripe (Song of Solomon 2:13, Matthew 24:32, Mark 13:28, Luke 21:29-31). Stay true in faith, hope, and love as we look forward to our great salvation and the return of the King!
-He then exhorts them to respect and honor those in authority over them who labor in Christ and admonish (instruct, reprove, caution, rebuke, reprimand, give a warning, reproach) them for their own good. These leaders are to be esteem highly in love because of their work, which lends to peace in the body of Christ and complete Christian unity with the same Spirit. *Application* Too often we are critical of those who work in the Lord’s Name day in and day out. Being in the ministry is a tough spiritual business and it is easy to get discouraged by people, people who should be supportive and on the same side as believers. We too often wound our own, especially those in leadership. Satan is attacking the churches of America with this assault. Unless the leaders are in sin (which would necessitate biblical correction, this is why the “in the Lord” phrase is key in this passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:12), we should always honor those in authority and speak well of them to others for the building up of the body of Christ in peace.
-Paul now gives some general admonitions, which include correction for the idle (lazy, irresponsible, and disorderly ones), encouragement (cheer up) for the fainthearted (discouraged, timid, cowardly, fearful), help with the weak (poor, physically hurting, orphans, widows, those who cannot care for themselves), and being patient with all with kindness (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14). He gives imperatives on doing good to one another (never repaying evil for evil), rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances (this is God’s will in everything), not quenching the Holy Spirit, not despising prophetic utterances, testing everything, holding fast to what is good, and abstaining from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:15-22). *Application* This is a power packed list of essentials for the Christian life. Routinely go down this checklist of exhortations with a pure heart and you will be well on your way to pleasing God in your walk. We can see from this list that the Spirit filled life is proactive and awake, which is Paul’s primary point here in the pericope.
-Paul’s final prayer is for complete sanctification in peace and grace for these beloved children of God so that their whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is faithful and He will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Paul exhorts them to pray for his team, greet all with a holy kiss, and he puts them under an oath to read his letter to all the brother for their edification before his final good bye in this particular letter (1 Thessalonians 5:25-28).
Verses to Memorize- 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 14, 16-22