Living In The Light
Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit; Blessed Trinity, I come into Your presence.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1–11
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
New International Version (NIV)
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“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24:36).
Having mentioned Christ’s return, predictably Paul discusses its timing. We still hear false predictions today, so his words are as cogent now as they were then. As elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus’ coming is likened to that of a thief in the night (Matt. 24:43; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15). In other words, Jesus’ parousia is unpredictable, its timing unknown. The reference to “peace and safety” (2) is non-specific. It parodies the so-called eternal peace of the Pax Romana (peace of Rome). Such a peace is compelled; it is fake. Today, when similar claims are made by the world, we may recall Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives, that sudden inescapable destruction will come upon the lost (Mark 13; Matt. 24; Luke 21). As Ben Witherington says, “God in Christ is the one who will bring justice, peace, and security once and for all, not the emperor with his slogans.”
This should not lead us to presumptuous predictions, but should encourage us to live in light and not darkness; we are to be awake, sober and prepared. It also challenges the cult of the wine god, Dionysius, who celebrated drunkenness. It equally confronts our society’s dependence on alcohol and other drugs. Rather, God’s people, as good soldiers who are ever sober and vigilant, must be ready and fully armed (cf. Eph. 6:10–18).
Why? Because of the glorious promise that, although wrath must come, for God must ultimately extinguish evil because he loves us and his world, our destiny is not destruction but salvation.
In verse 11, as in 4:18, Paul urges the Thessalonians to encourage and build each other up. The date of the second coming is unknown, but that should not perplex us, frustrate us or cause us to seek to work it out. Rather, it is our great hope which impels us into service as comrades in arms.
Why not live today as if it were the last day? What would you do? What would you settle in your relationship with the Lord?
Risen and Returning Lord, I commit today to comforting and edifying my fellow believers with the assurance we have in Christ for the end times.