1 Thessalonians – Week 4
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Intro
This section, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, is the main section of content for this letter. Paul has obviously said a few chapter’s worth of things up till now, but addressing the Thessalonians’ questions about the Second Coming of Christ was the primary reason for his writing. You’ll note in 4:13 that Paul says he doesn’t want the Thessalonians to “grieve as other do who have no hope,” so apparently this was causing the Thessalonians some serious consternation.
We see through Paul’s response that the Thessalonians had specific questions about what happens to believers when they die and general questions about Jesus’ return (like, “when?”). So Paul addresses deceased believers first in 4:13-18 before getting to Jesus’ return and the implications in 5:1-11. This first, specific part was particularly important to the Thessalonians because they were bearing up under persecution (1 Thess. 1:6) and had likely lost friends and family members. We saw last week that some of the Thessalonians thought Jesus was coming back any day now, and so they were worried that their deceased loved ones were somehow going to miss out on Jesus’ return. So Paul addresses the source of our hope in Jesus’ resurrection (4:14), promising his return and deliverance from sin and death for all believers. So, while 4:13-18 is a source of hope for us now, especially in processing grief over the passing of believers in our lives, we’re going to focus on 5:1-11 for our discussion this week.
The main gist of this section is that one day Jesus is going to come back and that dictates the way we live today. We see throughout the New Testament, following Jesus’ ascension, that believers lived as though Jesus’ return was imminent (though not necessarily immediate), and that same disposition produces in us the obedience to Jesus that Paul addresses in 5:4-8, referring to it as living in the light and soberness. So why does Jesus’ eventual return produce soberness in us? Are we told to be watchful in case he comes back and catches us loafing around? Note that Paul roots this call to obedience in our identity; he says “you are all children of light…we belong to the day.” In pointing out that Jesus is coming back for us, Paul says our obedience to Jesus is rooted in the same reason for his return: because we belong to him. We have been adopted into the family of Jesus, the True Light (John 1:9-13). So, since we’re God’s children, Paul just tells us to act like it.
Questions for Discussion
• Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (note: this is slightly different from the sermon text)
• What stands out to you from the passage?
• What commands does Paul give us in these verses?
• How do you think these commands are related to Jesus’ eventual return?
• How do you think Jesus’ future return is meant to change the way we live today?
• Look at verse 11. How can Jesus’ second coming help us encourage one other?