By Diane Caston

We pick up our study this morning in the middle of Chapter 4. Paul makes a segue here with what is usually a conjunction. But… He has been talking about living a quiet life, being an example, lacking nothing. But he doesn’t want them to be ignorant.

Vs 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

So, Paul addresses their concerns in this letter. He does not want them to be ignorant or to suffer needlessly.

Paul mentions the dead. The believing dead are thought of as asleep. As we have learned already, Paul was only with these believers in Thessalonica for a few weeks, and we see he didn’t waste any time. He made sure to warn them and comfort them about the coming of the Lord, and they believed his words wholeheartedly. This may be why Paul was so blessed and complimented them on their eagerness to learn. Sometime after he left however, they became concerned about their friends and family who had already died. What would happen to them?

AT Robertson the Greek scholar – a phrase comes from Greek words ‘concerning those who are asleep, to put to sleep’. Present tense gives idea of repetition, ‘from time to time fall asleep’. Greeks and Romans used this figure of sleep for death as Jesus does in John 11:11 “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep”. Somehow the Thessalonians had a false notion about the dead in relation to the second coming. The ancient peoples thought of death as eternal sleep. Christians spoke of death as sleep but meant rest. Early Christians began to call their burial places “cemeteries,” which means, “dormitories” or “sleeping places.

Lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For the Christian dying is moving. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 So, as believers we have hope.

14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus .

For if we believeis the firstcondition, assuming the death and resurrection of Jesus to be true is necessary to give us hope, and when we believe this, we also have the assurance that we will be with Him. His resurrection is an example to us and a promise of our own. The Greek words for with Him, together with him are the connecting link for those who sleep and their resurrection.

15-16 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Paul emphasized that these words where from Jesus, they were not just the words of Paul, He wanted to make sure that they knew this was the truth from above. Paul wanted to reassure the believers that were alive that they had no advantage over those who were already dead. The dead in Christ would rise first! The Christians who were alive would not go to heaven before them. Both would share in the glory of God. Therefore, there was no ground for uneasiness about the dead in Christ.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout:When Jesus comes, he comes Himself, he doesn’t send someone for His bride. From the Greek, “to order, command, like a military command, or a stimulating cry, a loud summons.” Morris says, “Always there is a ring of authority and the note of urgency.” Christ will come as a Conqueror.

With the voice of the archangel This means that when Jesus comes, He will be accompanied by angels, specifically an archangel. The only archangel mentioned in the NT is Michael, so maybe he will be the one.

With the trump of God(εν σαλπιγγ θεου). Trumpet. See same reference in 1 Corinthians 15:52 .in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The dead in Christ shall rise first

Firsthere refers plainly to the fact that, so far from the dead in Christ having no share in the coming of the Lord, they will rise before those still alive are changed.

“It is only after the faithful departed have taken their place with the Lord that the saints on earth are caught up to be with Him, or more strictly, to be with them and meet Him.” (Morris)

“‘The order of the resurrection,’ he says, ‘will begin with them. We therefore shall not rise without them.’” (Calvin)

There is some confusion about how all of this happens. Will the dead come out of their graves as they did when Jesus rose, or will what is left of their bodies be changed, just as we are alive will be changed? One day at the Rapture, the dead will receive their resurrection bodies. But we are reassured that there is no such thing as soul sleep as some people profess. We know from scripture that when we die, we go to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:10 ; who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

Philippians 1:23 ; For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

2 Corinthians 5:8 ). We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

David Guzik states, Either the present dead in Christ are with the Lord in a spiritual body, awaiting their final resurrection body, or, because of the nature of timeless eternity, they have received their resurrection bodies already because they live in the eternal now.

Yes, this is a mystery.

Then we who 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.

Then ‘Thereafter, afterwards, the next step, not the identical time, but immediately afterwards.’

We who are alive and remain shall be caught up harpazo in Greek, rapturo in Latin. Definition “To seize, carry off by force, to claim for one’s self eagerly, to snatch out or away”

Together with them in the clouds. Note both αμα in the Greek (at the same time) and συν (together with) with the associative instrumental case (the risen saints). AT Robertson

To meet the Lord in the airThis rapture of the saints (both risen and changed) is a glorious climax to Paul's argument of consolation. There is no controversy in scripture about this event happening, but there is among the church in its timing. We here at Calvary Chapel AG strongly believe, per scripture, that this event will happen before the 7 year Tribulation period comes on the earth, or what is called the pre-Tribulation rapture. Many others believe different times for this event. We don’t have the time to explore this today, but we can point you in the right direction to explore this subject for yourselves. The main point is this is not an issue to argue about with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And so shall we ever be with the Lord.This is the outcome, to be forever with the Lord, to be with Christ is the chief hope of Paul's life.

“We shall be so with him as to have no sin to becloud our view of him: the understanding will be delivered from all the injury which sin has wrought in it, and we shall know him even as we are known.” (Spurgeon)

Therefore comfort one another with these words. To finish off this chapter Paul gives the exhortation, comfort one another with these words. They were a comfort to Paul and the believers of that day as they are to us today. It is the hope that fuels us to carry on somedays. It is the comfort to the troubled soul that we will be reunited with loved ones one day! The promise of His return to keep us from the time of trouble on the earth is a great source of comfort to us!

Chapter 5

Being ready for the Lord’s Return

Vs. 1-3But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

Vs. 1 But concerning the times and the seasonsin Greek, time or times ‘chronos’ is rather an extended period and ‘Kaiheeros’ seasons, a definite space of time.

The Thessalonians had been taught so well and had received Paul and the disciple’s instructions so well that he really didn’t need to explain it all to them. They were aware of the time they were living in and the events they fully expected to happen at any time. Paul didn’t waste any time in the three weeks he was there. He instructed them in the full explanation of the birth, substitutionary death, and resurrection of Jesus. He also warned them to be ready because the Lord’s return was imminent. He didn’t need to instruct them again, but he was reminding them of this truth as an exhortation.

The day of the Lord comes, Prophetic or futuristic present tense. This is an Old Testament idea. The day of the Lord is mentioned throughout scripture. It’s in His timing not man’s.

Hiebert “The day of the Lord is a familiar Old Testament expression. It denotes the day when God intervenes in history to judge His enemies, deliver His people, and establish His Kingdom.”

But this day comes as a thief. His coming is in God’s timing, not ours! It’s not for us to set dates or seasons. We wait for Him. He doesn’t want us to know the date. We are to live expectantly. If we knew the date, we could grow lazy, and think we could always get right before He comes. He wants us to be prepared for the unexpected! He did give us clues though, and we will see some of them as we proceed.

As a thief in the night, suddenly and unexpectedly. This is reminiscence of the word of Jesus inMatthew 24:43;Luke 12:39 ), “if the master knew what hour the thief was coming’ used also in 2 Peter 3:10 day of the Lord will come like a thief; to the church at Sardis -Revelation 3:3;'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Then if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

The sixth angel who pours out the bowls of wrath states Revelation 16:15 . "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."

Vs. 3 For when they are saying, Present active subjunctive picturing these false prophets of peace and safetylike Ezekiel 13:10 Peace, and there is no peace.

Notice the shift in pronouns here. Paul has been talking to the Thessalonians and using the pronoun, ‘You’. Now he shifts to the pronoun ‘they’. Those who are not watching expectantly, who do not know the prophetic scriptures and the warnings will be kicking back and thinking everything is peaceful and prosperous! Peace and safety! Things are good! And what happens, sudden destruction. I sure would not want to be ‘Them’! This day will be tragic for the unbeliever. Unconcerned, possibly during a time of renewed hope for the world. Possibly a time when the powers that be are lying to people as we see today. Whatever it is, these people are asleep, and think that all is well when they have a very rude awakening

Sudden destruction comes upon ‘them’ as labor pains or birth pangs on a pregnant woman (a woman with child) , and they shall not escape.

Trapp“1. Certainly; 2. Suddenly; 3. Irresistibly, inevitably.” There will be no escaping this calamity. Like the foolish virgins, it will be too late to do anything about this destruction.

Vs. 4-5 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

Thankfully, they were no longer sons of the darkness, those days were in the past and forgiven under the blood of Christ. They were now sons of light, sons of the day. Therefore, this day would not come upon them by surprise. This includes us. This is Paul speaking to us down through the ages. You don’t have to be afraid of this day. You are not them. You are not in darkness, so this day will not come upon you as a thief. You will be ready. You are already waiting!

Now a warning so that we do not become sons of darkness again!

6-8 Therefore, let us not sleep, (let us not go on sleeping) as others do,but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, andas a helmet the hope of salvation.

let us not sleep, (let us not go on sleeping) For those who sleep, sleep at night,

“The word sleep is here used metaphorically to denote indifference to spiritual realities on the part of believers. It is a different word than that in 4:13-15 for the sleep of death. It covers all sorts of moral and spiritual laxity or insensibility.” (Hiebert)

Let us watch;let us keep awake since we are no longer of the night, we should be wide awake and about our Father’s business. We should be active and looking to the things of God. Not caught up in worldly pursuits that have no eternal value. Be active and aware, sober and watchful.

In contrast ‘they’ that be drunken are drunken in the night,the favorite time for drunken revelries.

The obvious warning here is to not be drunk or under the influence of drugs. But it also means not to be frivolous or wasteful of the time the Lord has given us. Sober doesn’t mean to have a sour disposition. The children of the light are filled with joy and laughter and peace and happiness. Make a joyful noise to the Lord!

But let us who are of the day be sober

Paul has the remedies to any of us who might be tempted to be like them. How we strengthen ourselves in our most holy faith, how to guard against ever being of the darkness again or sleeping through this life and being awakened by sudden destruction.

Vs 8 Putting on the breastplate of faith and love This is not the same figure of breastplate as in Ephesians 6:14, there it is the breastplate "of righteousness." The breastplate gives us the idea of watchfulness, brings the picture of a sentry on guard and armed to Paul's mind as inRomans 13:12 "the weapons of light." The breastplate, a piece of armor, reminds us of soldiers who are be the ones who would be most watchful, waiting for any attack, being sober. This piece of armor, however, is unlike the example in Ephesians 6. This breastplate is faith and love, the things that protect our vital organs are a good illustration of Paul’s exhortation here. We are protected by our faith and the love of God to us and our love to others.

For a helmet, the hope of salvation,to protect our minds from fear of the future, from the lies of the devil, from our own vain thoughts, we have the hope of eternal life. This is not wishful thinking, but the firm expectation of the truth of all that we have been taught and experienced in the Word of God.

Vs. 9-10 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation:

Before we had the hope of salvation, we had an appointment with wrath. Hallelujah we now have that hope that cannot be shaken. Again, we see the emphasis of the pronoun. Us! God did not appoint Us to wrath. What a promise! All of the fear of judgement is removed once we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Guzik - Paul put two interesting ideas side-by-side here. Appoint emphasizes God’s sovereignty but obtain is a word that emphasizes human effort. Together, they show that the full scope of salvation involves both divine initiative and human effort.”

Vs. 10 But unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ We are to keep awake so as to fulfil God's purpose appointed in calling us. That is our hope of final victory.

God has appointed us to experience salvation through our faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the cross. All men are on a path to experience the wrath of God, but we have escaped that path when we chose the narrow road to Him. And He died for us that whether we sleep (die) or are awake we will live together with Him.

Vs.11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Console each other and build each other up. This is our job as participants in the family of God, the community of the saints. We are not to be looking for comfort, but looking to give comfort to those who are in need. As it is with our upside-down kingdom it is in giving that we receive and in pardoning that we find pardon. Francis of Assisi. As we comfort others we are edified. Paul acknowledged that they were already doing this. Keep up the good work!