First Thessalonians: Living in newness of life as we await his coming by Peter Kreeft

From Peter Kreeft’s You Can Understand the Bible:

  • Thessalonica was a major city in Macedonia (northern Greece). It was near Mount Olympus, fabled home of the Greek gods. The city still stands today. It is called Salonica.
  • His letter is generally one of personal encouragement.
  • 1 important doctrinal passage (4:13-5:11) = one of the most important & explicit passages in the Bible about Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the world. The Thessalonians had apparently become distressed over the death of some of their members. Paul comforts them with the truth that all believers in Christ will be united & resurrected at the Second Coming.
    • 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

      Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 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.

      But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 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. 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.

  • Paul urges us to live now in newness of life in readiness and preparation for the Second Coming, when we will live again in the resurrected form. Life is a rehearsal for that great event.
  • Paul gives 8 practical consequences in the present life as we prepare for the 2nd Coming:
    1. Hope, encouragement, and comfort (4:18)
    2. Alertness, open-eyed expectation (5:4)
    3. Firmness, “stand fast in the Lord” (3:8)
    4. Critical questioning (5:21: “Test everything, hold fast to what is good”)
    5. Sobriety, both mental and physical (5:6)
    6. And with 3 universal responses in 5:16-18… “rejoice always”
    7. “pray constantly”
    8. “give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (see Rom 8:28).
  • The most practical way to discern good or evil is to ask: Would I want Jesus to find me doing this when He comes again?
  • No event in history is as important, as spectacular, or as final as that ultimate event, “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thess 1:7).

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