Chapter 5

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The day of the Lord {1 Thess. 5} would indeed come to the world as a thief in the night. When they say peace and safety then sudden destruction should come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they should not escape. But the brethren were not in darkness that that day should overtake them as a thief. They were all the children of the light and of the day; they were not of the night nor of the darkness. Therefore they were not to sleep as the others, but to be vigilant and sober, for they that slept, slept in the night, and drunkards were drunken in the night; but let those who were of the day be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation, for God had not appointed them to wrath, viz., the second stage of the Lord’s coming, but to obtain salvation [the first stage] through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for them that whether sleeping or watching, they might live together with Him. Wherefore they were to comfort themselves with this blessed hope of a full salvation, of being caught up to meet their Lord in the air, before even the day of the Lord came. They were to build up and stablish one another in this thought. Blessed hope for the saints of God.
The day of the Lord is a common expression in Old Testament Scripture, and invariably refers to the return of Messiah to the earth, to set up His kingdom. The Jewish hope was always connected with this, which went together with the destruction of their enemies (see Isa. 2:1212For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: (Isaiah 2:12) and 13:6-9, Joel 2:3131The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:31), Zech. 14:l-21, Matt. 24:29-3129Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29‑31)). The New Testament shows that the judgment of the living will take place then (Matt.25:31), as well as of all who have rejected Christ and followed Anti-christ, who still live in that day (Rev. 19 and 20). But before that day, as we have seen, the Church will be safely housed in the Father’s house by His returning Son, and completely saved as to their bodies by Jesus the Savior, who will descend into the air, as we have seen at the end of chapter 4, and catch up all His own to meet Him there. The world and professing church who have rejected Him will be left behind to the delusions of Anti-christ and to the judgment at the day of the Lord. But more of this in the 2nd Epistle.
The Apostle concludes by beseeching his dear Thessalonians to know those who laboured in the Lord amongst them, who were over them in Him, and who admonished them, and to esteem them very highly for their works sake.
The Spirit of God had already raised up such in the midst of the Assembly, and the young saints were to know them. At the same time they were to be at peace amongst themselves.
The disorderly were to be warned, the feeble-minded comforted, the weak supported, whilst patience was to be shown towards all. There is more instruction as to the disorderly in the 2nd Epistle.
See that none render evil for evil unto any, but ever follow that which is good, both amongst yourselves and all. Rejoice evermore. (Cp. Psa. 34, and the occasion of its being written; also Phil. 4:44Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4).) Pray without leaving an interval, not merely at stated times. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you. These were individual exhortations to them.
The next three exhortations refer to their corporate place in the Assembly. The Holy Ghost had come down from the ascended Christ, who had been crucified on the Cross, and had builded these disciples together to be part of God’s Assembly, to be locally expressed in the place. He was then present in the Assembly to guide it. The Thessalonians were not to quench His action, which was like fire and light. Brethren might be endued with the gift of prophecy (cp. as to this 1 Cor. 14). The saints were not to put an extinguisher on His workings, to despise them. At the same time they were to prove all things, try the spirits whether they were of God, and hold fast that which was good. What a picture of an individual saint! An ever-rejoicing ceaseless praying, in all things thanking saint! What a picture of an Assembly! Ever guided by the Spirit; never despising ministry, at the same time proving all things and holding fast only the good! Lastly, they were to avoid every form of evil.
He prays that the God of peace might sanctify them wholly, and that their whole spirit, soul, and body [the whole man in his component parts] might be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. God was faithful who had called them who also would do it (cp. instruction as to sanctification with ch. 3:12-13, 4:1-10). Blessed confidence for the servant of God in regard to his children in the faith. These blessed servants lastly ask the saints for their prayers. They were to greet the brethren with an holy (set apart) kiss. This letter was to be read to all the holy brethren, a needful word to young saints,