Sermon Notes & References

His Glorious Appearing

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

February 4, 2018

A. The Subject in View

    1. The Parousia

    2. The Lesson

B. The Subject Continued . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5:1

    1. Christ’s Return Imminent

    2. The Time Unknown 1

C. His Sudden Coming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5:2-3

    1. Without Warning 2

    2. A Portent of Judgement 3

D. Two Groups of Mankind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5:3-8

    1. Unbelievers Surprised (v 3) 4

    2. Expectant Believers (vv 4-5) 5

    3. Prepared or Not (vv 5-8)

        a. Those of the Night

        b. Those of the Day 6

E. The Christian’s Destiny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5:9-10

    1. Assurance 7

    2. Its Foundation 8

F. The Application


1 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 . . . . . . . . . . . His Glorious Appearing

 

A. The Subject in View

    1. The Parousia

        a. this Greek word is used in the NT to refer to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and is simply translated “coming” or “presence”

            (A)    it is found in chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 of this book

            (B)    literally it means “being beside” or “being with”

            (C)   and it was commonly used to describe someone’s presence, or visit, and in the latter sense it was especially connected with the arrival of a royal or official personage 2

            (D)   the thought of the parousia underlies both of these letters by Paul to the church at Thessalonica – what we should know and how we should act in the light of the coming arrival of the Lord Jesus, Messiah, who as King of His Kingdom, is going to return to earth to reign

        b. there are many aspects to the parousia:

            (A)    two weeks ago, in the second half of chapter 4, we looked at the subject of the rapture, that aspect of the parousia in which believers, those resurrected from the dead along with those still alive, are gathered from off the earth to meet the Lord at his arrival

            (B)    the aspect in view in this first half of chapter 5 is the suddenness of this event, yet that as believers we should not be surprised by it, but rather that we expect what is unexpected by the world

            (C)   and these two sections are distinctly parallel

                 (1)    each first teaches some aspect of the parousia

                 (2)    then each give instructions based upon that aspect

                 (3)    Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

                 (4)    Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

    2. The Lesson

        a. the truth of the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth again gives to each of us an assignment

            (A)    an assignment in relation to those with whom we shall spend eternity, in the Presence of God

            (B)    it is to comfort or encourage one another (they are the same word in the Greek) – called alongside to support each other

            (C)   it is to build up each other as part of God’s household

        b. if we should learn nothing else from this passage, or we should find ourselves of differing opinions concerning it, then let us at least learn and apply this one truth: Christ’s second coming should impact us now in the care and concern we show for one another

 

B. The Subject Continued . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5:1

    1. Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.

 

    2. His Return Imminent

        a. I have no doubt, from the words written here, that Paul in his short time in Thessalonica – probably only a bit over three weeks

            (A)    had preached that Jesus might return at any instant

            (B)    for also in the preceding chapter, talking about the rapture, he speaks in this fashion, “... we who are alive … [we] shall not precede … then we who are alive ...” (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17)

            (C)   Paul included himself in that “we”

        b. that was the expectation of the early church

            (A)    it was only by revelation that Peter spoke of his coming death in his second epistle

            (B)    Paul had no further need to write of Jesus’ return being imminent

 

    3. The Time Unknown

        a. but there was another truth certainly held by the apostles

        b. which came from the words of Jesus Christ Himself at his ascension

        c. He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;”“ (Acts 1:7)

        d. which also was certainly part of Paul’s teaching to the Thessalonian church while he was there – since here he uses the same words as did Jesus Christ on this subject

        e. A Sunday school teacher tells how in 1990 he looked for a very popular book about the rapture. He went into a nearby Christian book store to see if he could get a copy. Not remembering the title, he explained to the salesperson the book’s subject. She said, “Oh, you must mean the book, Eighty-eight Reasons Why The Rapture Will Definitely Come in 1988.” “That sounds like it,” he said. She said, “That also came in a 1989 edition.” He tried to keep from laughing out loud. “We sent back our unsold copies last Spring,” the salesperson said apologetically. 3

 

C. His Sudden Coming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5:2-3

    1. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

 

    2. Without Warning

        a. some have interpreted the picture here of a thief as meaning that at the rapture Christ’s coming will be hidden and secret

            (A)    that is the basis of that religious fiction series, “Left Behind”

            (B)    but is contrary to the general thrust of the Scriptures

            (C)   For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:27)

        b. but the thief picture emphasises that His coming is without warning and sudden – when it comes, it is too late to prepare for it

            (A)    But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.” (Matthew 24:43)

            (B)    which says he could have seen the thief if he had been alert

        c. so it is also in the other picture presented

            (A)    the expectant mother has long known what is coming

            (B)    but the child’s announcement that it is ready for birth always seems to come suddenly notwithstanding the anxiety of the days before!

 

    3. Portent of Judgement

        a. judgement in Scripture is a two-sided event

            (A)    on the one hand, justice is meted out to the wronged – something to look forward to for the believer, even as the expectant mother looks forward to holding her child once the labour is over

            (B)    on the other hand, as we saw in the reading from Matthew 25, there is the punishment of those who rejected Jesus

        b. in this passage, it seems that the latter is more prominent, by its use of the phrase “the day of the Lord

            (A)    this is an OT phrase, as our brother Struve mentioned last week

            (B)    it is usually associated with God’s coming, against the heathen nations, or against the wicked in His own nation, not in deliverance but in the judgement of punishment

            (C)   in the prophet Amos, for example, who announced God’s wrath against the apostate nation of Israel – the ten northern tribes – he writes these words “18 Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light; 19 As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall, And a snake bites him. 20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20)

            (D)   what will be rapture for the believer will be terror for the lost

 

D. Two Groups of Mankind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5:3-8

    1. Unbelievers Surprised (v 3)

        a. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

        b. in the books of Jeremiah & Ezekiel, for example, the false prophets disregarded God’s message, even after some had been taken captive from Jerusalem into Babylon, saying “Peace, peace when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11; see also Ezekiel 13:10, 16)

        c. so mankind today has its prophets – some scientists, some educators, some politicians – who say “there is no need for Christianity, we know so much more now; trust us, we will work it out. Peace! Safety!”

        d. upon these the destruction of the day of the Lord will suddenly come

 

    2. Expectant Believers (vv 4-5)

        a. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;

        b. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

            (A)    if we be born again, indeed, into God’s family, His children

                 (1)    then as sons of God we should reflect His character

                 (2)    being sons of light describes our new nature

                 (3)    which is brought about by the Holy Spirit’s residence within

            (B)    as such, we live in the day-time, as it were, before God

        c. believers should be living in spiritual daylight

            (A)    no thief is going to break into God’s household and surprise them

            (B)    so neither will the day of the Lord do so!

            (C)   indeed, as we spend time

                 (1)    in God’s word

                 (2)    in communion with both God and His people

                 (3)    then more and more we will not only anticipate His coming

                 (4)    but will pray for it as John does in Revelation 22:20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus

 

    3. Prepared or Not? (vv 5-8)

        a. Those of the Night

            (A)    5 … We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, … 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.

            (B)    as Christians, let us be sure our lives contrast with unbelievers

            (C)   Carl Sandburg, persuaded to attend the dress rehearsal of a very serious play by a very serious young dramatist unfortunately slept through most of the performance. The dramatist was outraged. “How could you sleep when you knew how much I wanted your opinion?” “Sleep,” Sandburg reminded him, “is an opinion.” 4

            (D)   those who are spiritually asleep show their opinion of God

        b. Those of the Day

            (A)    5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. … 6 … but let us be alert and sober. 7 … 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

                 (1)    “sons of light” and “sons of day” are more or less stating the same truth about believers: their lives should be open reflection of Jesus Christ, His representatives

                 (2)    which means that our practices are not those of the night – spiritually asleep, morally self-indulgent or intemperate

            (B)    in Ephesians 6, both the offensive and defensive armour of God is listed

                 (1)    but here the armour is all defensive, protective

                     (a)    the breastplate which protects the heart

                     (b)    the helmet which protects the head

                 (2)    the heart is a metaphor in Scripture for a person’s innermost being and life, representing his nature, will and desires

                     (a)    in Ephesians, it is the breastplate of righteousness that is to protect the heart; that righteousness of Christ in us

                     (b)    here that protection

                         ¤  is first faith, the channel to that righteousness

                         ¤  and then love, the result from that righteousness

                         ¤  both these given, of course, by God’s grace

            (C)   while in Ephesians it is the ‘helmet of salvation’, here it is ‘the hope of salvation

                 (1)    the first refers to a concrete event in the past

                     (a)    there was a time when we came to faith, to salvation

                     (b)    that is a basis upon which we withstand Satan, the accuser

                 (2)    the second is a reference to the completion of that event

                     (a)    the time is coming when salvation will be in full measure

                     (b)    how many of you have struggled this week with sin, with doubt? that will not be forever!

                     (c)    so it is the expectation of that event – our great hope – which will keep our minds safe & ready for Christ’s return.

 

E. The Christian’s Destiny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5:9-10

    1. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.

 

    2. Assurance

        a. here is the assurance needed by every child of God

        b. for we live uncertain lives in an uncertain world, filled with uncertain events

        c. a madman with a bomb; a dictator with an army; a fool in power; market manipulators; and so on it has gone on and goes on

        d. but in all these things, God is still in control

            (A)    more specifically in control of our, His children’s, lives

            (B)    He is the One working things together for our good (Romans 8:28)

 

    3. Foundation

        a. this is not mere wishful thinking but is based upon the foundation of the Rock of Ages – Jesus, the Christ, and His saving work

        b. the cross was the turning point in our situation, laid hold of by faith

        c. and since He lives, His promise to us, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) holds true

        d. it holds true whether we are awake or asleep, alive or dead in Christ

 

F. The Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5:11

    1. Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

 

    2. the comments made earlier still stand

        a. if you and I should learn nothing else from this passage this morning

        b. let us learn this: the way to be prepared for the Lord’s coming

            (A)    is to stand beside our Christian brothers & sisters to support them

            (B)    is to seek to build them up in faith, love and hope; let us do so.


Footnotes

Endnotes

1

© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:

 

              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT              Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth


Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:


              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CP   -      Decision, July & August 1962, Open Your Bible, by Dr Sherwiood E. Wirt

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

                             1, 2 Thessalonians: Robert L. Thomas

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

                             1 & II Thessalonians, by James Moffatt

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site, www.holwick.com.

              NCBC –    The New Century Bible Commentary – 1 and 2 Thessalonians – I. Howard Marshall – Wm B. Erdmans

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.

2

Liddell & Scott, meaning 2.

3

Kerux illustrations # 1639

4

Kerux illustrations #13452