God, we thank You that we can wait eagerly for Your coming because You did not appoint us to suffer wrath but instead to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Please help us live in light of Your coming. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5
1 Thessalonians 5 helps show how important it is that followers of Jesus think and live in light of the future.
In contrast to many other religions (including atheism), Christianity teaches that there is a definite end to the world. When Jesus comes again, unbelievers will be judged and punished, and believers will be saved to everlasting life. Christians should be those who both look forward to Christ’s coming and whose lives show they don’t live only for the present but are expectantly waiting for the End.
In Mark 13:32–37, during a long distopic on end times, Jesus pointed out that we don’t know when the End will come:
But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake. (ESV)
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul echoes Jesus’ emphasis in two main sections:
- Think rightly about Christ’s coming (5:1–11)
- Live rightly because Christ is coming (5:12–28)
Not only should we have a proper understanding of eternity, but those we teach should also know that Jesus is coming again—and that followers of Jesus should have a future orientation.
1 Thessalonians 5:5-9
5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Paul says the Thessalonians should be alert and self-controlled as they think about the Lord’s return, with faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet. How does your faith and love protect followers like a breastplate?
- Note the repeated emphasis on love in this book (2:8, 3:12, 4:9–10, 5:8, 5:13). Our love for others motivates us to pray, encourage, help, and admonish as well as reach out to the lost. The End will come, so now is the time to love others.
- The Thessalonians have hope and should be encouraged because they’ve been appointed to receive salvation they don’t deserve, not to suffer wrath they do deserve. What a wonderfully motivating truth from 5:9–11.
- The Thessalonians already know the gospel (1:4–10) but Paul mentions it again here. How is this a model for us in reminding other believers (i.e., not just unbelievers) of the good news? Note how Paul phrases the gospel in terms of a community (i.e., “we” and “us”). Paul writes to disciples in a local church community and often uses “we'”and “us” language. We should announce the gospel to one another again and again because the gospel refreshes followers in community (i.e., “Community Gospeling”)2.
- Review how Paul encourages the Thessalonians to live in light of Christ’s coming (5:12–28). Given Paul’s encouragements here, what challenges might they have been facing? How might a proper view of church leaders be important? What should be the role of leaders in a church (5:12–13)? What do we learn about how to disciple other believers (5:14)?
- Learn to “pray continually”(5:17). If that statement confuses you, here’s a 1-minute explanation.
- Paul ends with hope (5:23–24). How does the fact that God will accomplish our sanctification encourage us to obey Him?
WHERE DOES LOVE COME FROM?
‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God’ 1 John 4:7 ESV
Paul writes to disciples in a local church community and often uses ‘we’ and ‘us’ language. We should announce the gospel to one another again and again because the gospel refreshes followers in community.
Choose one of the following:
- God is coming again, and we must live in anticipation of the good future God has prepared for His people.
- Remind another believer of the gospel. Encourage him or her with verses that focus on how God has called them, is sanctifying them, and will one day present them blameless before Himself (5:23–24).
- Examine yourself using the below questions to better serve other believers according to their needs (5:12–15).
- Do you need to respect your leaders in the Lord?
- Is there someone idle whom you should admonish?
- Is there someone fainthearted whom you should encourage?
- Is there someone weak whom you should help?
- With whom can you be patient?
- Is there someone whom you should not be repaying evil for evil?
- Learn a new hymn or song that focuses on one or more areas: praising God, repentance, confession, or thanksgiving. Use the words to meet with God in prayer and praise. Here are a few examples: [Spiritual Disciplines]
- Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
- All Creatures Of Our God And King
- My Song Is Love Unknown
- The King of Love My Shepherd Is
- Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul
- Immovable Our Hope Remains