What sources of light can you see around you? What difference do they make to where you are? If you can, light a candle to provide a focus as you come before God.
The day of the Lord
5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 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. 9 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 ends this passage with yet another imperative: to build each other up. This time, his exhortation is framed within the imagery of light and darkness (v 5), providing us with a clear visual comparison of what it means to live as children of God rather than in separation from him. What are some of the differences Paul identifies between living in the light and remaining in darkness (vs 4–8)?
Our confidence as Christians comes because we belong to the day (see also 2 Corinthians 5:17–20). Our default position, our identity and our behaviour, is now based on faith, love and hope (v 8). This light-giving and life-bringing armour is inextricable from the gospel message. Jesus didn’t die and rise again at a detached moment in history, but he died for us (v 10). It is intensely personal: Jesus had us in mind when he died. What does verse 10 say about why he did that? Just as for the Thessalonians, we are to encourage one another with this hope that Jesus died for us that we may live with him.
If we know that Jesus died for us, then we are fully in the light all the time. Do you know this to be true? Spend some time asking God to reveal more of what this means for your life.
Deeper Bible study
‘The Second Coming of Christ was thought of as “doomsday” preaching. Not any more. It is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever-brightening beam.’1
Paul’s major concern here is how the Thessalonian believers should live in the present, while awaiting the Lord’s return. He presses upon them certain contrasts – between day and night, being awake and sleeping, remaining sober and being drunk. This is to emphasise his earlier explanation that God’s will for his people is that we should be sanctified or set apart.2 The nearer comes the ‘day of the Lord’ (v 2), the greater becomes this imperative. The phrase ‘the times and the seasons’ (v 1, AV) served then, as now, the idea of the approaching end of the age. How different are the seasons where you live? In my part of the British Isles the four seasons are very clearly marked and their differences announce the march of time. Paul wants his readers to feel the passing of the age and the lateness of the hour. That sense of urgency should grip us even more today.
The day of the Lord reflects an Old Testament expectation that the Lord will deal with the enemies that confront his people. From its earliest mention3 this will be a time of judgement, although other scriptures make clear a positive perspective too.4 This day will arrive suddenly like a thief in the night5 and catch many unawares. When the birth of our son came close, we had a bag packed and a plan made for how we would get to the hospital, night and day. We were ready. How ready are you for the second coming of Christ?
We should not only be ready, we should expect a battle. Paul evokes the picture of the armour of God as in Ephesians 6. Faith, hope and love are key components of readiness. The cross of Christ gives us encouragement and something with which to build others up too.
In Paul’s famous trilogy of faith, hope and love,6 love is greatest. How should love change the way we live in our readiness to greet the returning Christ?
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Deuteronomy 17,18; Romans 3
Pray for Scripture Union
Please pray for Scripture Union in Southern Vietnam and the work they do in teacher training. They ask us to pray that all the teachers will be well-prepared physically, intellectually and spiritually.
Please also pray for Ian Gooding, the IT manager for SU England and Wales, as he helps his colleagues with the technical issues of working from home during this time.