Paul’s Footsteps #101

Footsteps #101

In 1Thess5:1-11 the Second Coming is still the primary theme, but the focus shifts. Here Paul is not so much clarifying details about Jesus’ return, he is proclaiming the need for constant readiness for that return (and the judgment that it entails). The previous passage was encouraging; when the end comes, the outcome will be much more positive than they were expecting. Now that they understand better the nature of His return, the question is how to prepare for it.

The longer we are here, the easier it is to lose the sense of urgency. Hence our need to heed Paul’s words about, “The day of the Lord” (1Thess.5:2). This is a phrase found frequently in OT judgment passages. It describes a decisive, “end-time” intervention by God, with a strong emphasis on the negative consequences of disobedience (Isa.13:6-9, Jer.46:10, Ezek.30:2-12). In this passage, Paul combines this earlier concept with the thief analogy, which Jesus introduced (Matt.24:43).

The three-fold combination of the day of the Lord, a thief in the night, and contractions just before birth all illustrate the same point: The second coming of Jesus will be sudden, unexpected, and inescapable for the unsaved. The end time is not the time to prepare for the end. The time is now!

V4 makes it clear, however, that Paul is not scolding them. They already know that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. It is others, those who cry “peace and safety,” who will be surprised by the coming destruction.

In Acts.1:6,7 the disciples of Jesus are asking Him about the timing of the final events of earth’s history. But Jesus does not satisfy their curiosity about these things. The timing of the end is not for them to know. We can see that the phrase “times or seasons” concerns attempts to calculate the timing of the end. Such attempts attract attention, but they are spiritually counterproductive. They cause either disappointment when the calculated time passes or delay in preparation when the anticipated time is too far ahead. We are to live as if it will be tomorrow and prepare as if it won’t be.

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