Abstain

1Thessalonians 5:16-22 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.

‘Abstain from all appearance of evil.’ Twenty-two commands and admonitions: Do not sleep; be spiritually alive (5:6). Watch, and be alert for enemies. Let us be sober, not intoxicated (5:6-7). Put on the armour of God (5:8; Eph. 6:1-24). Comfort one another (5:11; 4:18). Edify or build up one another. Know or be kind to ministers (5:12). Esteem ministers highly in love (5:13). Live in peace among yourselves. Warn the unruly, the disorderly (5:14). Console the fainthearted. Sustain the weak, strengthless (5:14; 1Cor. 8:10). Be patient with all men. Render evil to no man (5:15). Follow that which is good. Rejoice always in all things (5:16). Pray always about all things (5:17). Give thanks always in all things (5:18). Quench not the Spirit (5:19). Despise not prophesyings (5:20). Test all things; retain the good (5:21). Abstain from all appearance of evil, not only from all evil (5:22).

Very Highly in Love

1Thessalonians 5:12-15 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 

‘Over’ [Greek: proistemi] to set over; be at the head of; be the chief. Translated be over (5:12); rule (Rom. 12:8; 1Tim. 3:4-5, 12; 5:17); and maintain (Tit. 3:8, 14). These were the apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors and other ministers (Eph. 4:11; 1Cor. 12:28).

‘Very highly in love for their work’s sake.’ These ministers were not only to be respected but esteemed superabundantly. The Greek word perissos is translated as beyond measure (Mark 6:51); exceedingly abundantly above (Eph. 3:20); exceedingly (3:10); very highly (5:13); more abundantly (John 10:10); more (Matt. 5:37, 47); superfluous (2Cor. 9:1); and advantage (Rom. 3:1). This was to be done in love and for their work’s sake.

‘Unruly’ [Greek: ataktos] means those who are out of step and not performing their duty as Christians.

‘Feebleminded’ [Greek: oligopsuchos] fainthearted. Those who lose heart in any battle.

‘Support’ [Greek: antechomai] to hold one’s hand; to shade one’s eyes; to be a help. Translated support (5:14); hold fast (Tit. 1:9); and hold to (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13).

Not Appointed Us to Wrath

1Thessalonians 5:9-11 For God had not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do. 

‘For God had not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.’ God has not appointed Christians to go through the tribulation wrath, the sudden destruction of 1Thessalonians 5:2-3; Revelation 6:1-19:21 and Matthew 24:15-21, or the wrath of eternal hell, but to be delivered by the rapture [resurrection] so that whether we live or die we should live together with Him forever (5:9-10; 4:13-18; 2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1).

‘Whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.’ This refers to the rapture of 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 and proves that all in Christ – dead or alive – will be raptured and live with Christ forever and that all will escape the wrath of 1Thessalonians 5:1-3, 9; Matthew 24:15-21 and Revelation 6:1-19:21.

‘Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another.’ This expression is used in 1Thessalonians 4:18 and here, and in each passage, it refers to comfort because of the rapture and escape of the wrath which will be poured out upon men after the rapture and before the second coming (Rev. 6:1 – 19:21).

Watch and Be Sober

1Thessalonians 5:6-8 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 

‘Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.’ Conditions of escape: Since we are children of the light and the day, and God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain deliverance from this day by rapture, let us meet the conditions of escape from that day of wrath and the sudden destruction of 1Thessalonians 5:6-11.

Four conditions of escape: [1] Not sleep (5:6-7) [Greek: katheudo] to repose one’s self in sleep. Used of the sleeping, indifferent, careless, and unfaithful virgins (Matt. 25:5); of the sleeping disciples who could not watch with Christ one hour (Matt. 26:45); and of indifferent and backsliding men (5:6-8; Eph. 5:14;). The warning here is that we do not go back into sin. [2] Watch (5:6). Be always alert and live godly in Christ; do not permit yourself to be overthrown by temptation (Matt. 24:42-51). [3] Be sober (5:6-8) [Greek: nepho] to drink no intoxicants; live soberly and righteously (Tit. 2:11-12). Translated as be sober (5:6, 8; 1Pet. 1:13; 5:8) and watch (2Tim. 4:5; 1Pet. 4:7). It was counted a disgrace even among the heathen to be drunk in the day, hence the admonition to live as children of light and the day (5:5-8). Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet – the hope of salvation (5:8; Eph. 6:10-18). We are not only to be sober and watch but we are called to fight the fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life (1Tim. 6:12; 1Cor. 9:24-27).

‘The hope of salvation.’ Salvation is a hope and not an unforfeitable possession until the next life (5:8; Rom. 8:20-25; 2Thess. 2:16; 1Pet. 1:5, 9, 13). Eternal life is also our hope now, even though we possess it (Tit. 1:2; 3:7; Heb. 3:6; 6:11, 11, 18-19; 1Pet. 1:3, 13). It will not be an unforfeitable and eternal possession until the next life and at the end of a life of sowing to the Spirit (Matt. 7:13-14; 18:8-9; 19:28-29; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Rom. 2:7; 6:21-23; Gal. 6:7-8; 1Tim. 1:16; 4:8; 6:12, 19; 1Pet. 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; 1Jn. 2:25; Jude 1:20-24; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29).

As a Thief

1Thessalonians 5:4-5 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 

‘Are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.’ Christians are not in ignorance and darkness about the day of the Lord (5:1-2, 4-5, 9). The rapture takes place at least seven years before the second coming (2Thess. 2:7). Therefore, they will not be here for that day to overtake them as a thief like it will the ungodly (5:2-5). The Jews had a tradition that God would judge the Gentiles at night when they were careless and asleep in sin, but would judge the Jews in the day when they would be keeping the law. But both Jews and Gentiles who miss the rapture will have the day of the Lord come upon them as a thief. It is only brethren who will be translated and escape this day (5:4-5, 9; Luke 21:36).

‘You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.’ We are all Christians and will escape that sudden destruction (5:4-5, 9). Since we are of light and of the day, not of the darkness and night, we will not suffer the destruction appointed to children of darkness. The reason is clear from this fact, as well as what is stated in 1Thessalonians 5:9 and 2Thessalonians 2:7.

Sudden Destruction Comes

1Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 

‘For when they shall say, Peace and safety.’ Time of sudden destruction: When Antichrist shall have conquered the 10 kingdoms inside the Roman Empire in the first 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 7:23-24; Rev. 13:1-18 and 17:1-18), and by these kingdoms shall have conquered Russia and the other nations north and east of the Roman empire in the last 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 11:40-45), it will be time for the world to be saying “Peace and safety.” They will think that getting rid of Israel (Zech. 14:1-21) will mean no further wars. They will then look forward to a period of peace and prosperity, but the Lord will come suddenly when Jerusalem is half taken and sudden destruction will be upon all the nations at Armageddon (Zech. 14:1-21; Joel 3:1-21; Rev. 19:11-21).

‘Destruction come upon them.’ [Greek: olethros] ruin, destruction, plague, pest (5:3; 2Thess. 1:9; 1Cor. 5:5; 1Tim. 6:9). This destruction did not kill the man. Whatever it was it was capable of bringing him to repentance (2Cor. 2:7).

‘As travail upon a woman with child.’ Just like a woman knows she must travail if she is with child but knows not the day or the hour, so it is with the sudden destruction. We know the times and seasons of it, but not the day or the hour. Since the second coming of Christ brings this sudden destruction, it means that men will not know the exact day or the hour of His coming. This will always be the case, as predicted by Christ in Matthew 24:36, 24:39, 42-51; 25:13. Jesus Christ and angels do not know the day or hour of the second coming (Mark 13:32).

‘They shall not escape.’ The destruction will be general among the nations. The cities of the nations will fall in a great earthquake. Hail will fall weighing 52 kg., and the armies of the nations at Armageddon will be destroyed except for the sixth part of them (Ezek. 39:2; Zech. 14:1-5, 16-21; Rev. 19:11-21). Many will be left alive to enter the Millennium (Zech. 14:16-21; Isa. 2:1-4; Matt. 25:31-46).

The Day of the Lord

1Thessalonians 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 

‘Times and the seasons.’ This refers to the times and seasons when the rapture (2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1) and the day of the Lord will take place.

‘The day of the Lord’ – The day of the Lord here is the Millennium, from the second coming to the rebellion of satan at the end of that period (Rev. 19:11 – 20:10). The day of the Lord cannot come until the Lord comes to reign (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; 61:2; 63:1-6; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Amos 5:18; Joel 2:1-32; Oba. 1:15; Zeph. 1:8, 18; 2:2-3; Zech. 14:1-21; Mal. 4:1-6; Mat. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; 1Thess. 5:2; 2Thess. 1:7-10; 2:1-12; Jude 1:14; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:1-10).

‘As a thief in the night.’ This expression is used only in 1Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2Peter 3:10 and Revelation 3:3; 16:15. Each time it refers to the day of the Lord coming as a thief, except Revelation 3:3 where it refers to judgment on the local congregation of Sardis. Christ’s coming is also referred to as a thief (Matt. 24:43).

Shall Be Caught Up Together – Part 3

1Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

‘To meet the Lord in the air.’ – Ten purposes of the rapture: To receive saints to Himself as promised (4:17; John 14:1-3; Eph. 5:27). To resurrect the dead in Christ from among the wicked dead (4:14, 16-17; Php. 3:11; Rev. 20:4-6). To take saints to heaven to live in the New Jerusalem and receive rewards (4:17; 3:13; John 14:1-3; 2Cor. 5:10; Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 19:1-10; 21:9-10). To change bodies of saints to immortality (4:16-17; 1Cor. 15:35-58; Php. 3:21). To present saints before God (4:17; 3:13; John 14:1-3; Jude 1:24; Rev. 19:1-10). To make saints whole in body, soul, and spirit (4:16-17; 5:23; Php. 3:21). To receive the fruit of the early and latter rain (Jas. 5:7; John 14:1-3). To cause the saints to escape the tribulation of Revelation 6:1-19:21 (4:16-17; 5:9; Luke 21:36; Rev. 4:1). To remove the hinderer of lawlessness (2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1). To permit the revelation of the Antichrist (2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1).

‘And so shall we ever be with the Lord.’ Saints will be with Christ in heaven during the tribulation (2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1); will accompany Christ to earth at Armageddon (Zech. 14:1-5; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Jude 1:14; Rev. 19:11-21); will live in the new Jerusalem in heaven but reign on earth with Christ during the Millennium (Rev. 20:4-10; 21:9-10; Heb. 12:22-23); will move with their residence, the New Jerusalem, to the earth to live on the New Earth forever (Rev. 21:1-27; 22:1-21).

Shall Be Caught Up Together – Part 2

1Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

‘Then we which are alive and remain.’ See the time of the rapture (2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1). The rapture and the second coming of Christ: [1] Christ and the many saints that were resurrected after His resurrection (1Cor. 15:20, 23; Matt. 27:52-53; Eph. 4:8-10). [2] “Afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (1Cor. 15:23, 51-54; John 14:1-3; Luke 21:34-36; 2Cor. 5:1-8; Eph. 5:27; Php. 3:11, 20-21; 1Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-17; 5:9, 23; 2Thess. 2:1, 7; Col. 3:4; Jas. 5:7-8; 1Jn. 2:28; 3:2; 1Pet. 5:4). Everyone in Christ, dead or alive, will be translated at this time. Not one person will be left on earth who is in Christ (4:16-17). [3] The 144,000 Jews will be saved in the first 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week (Rev. 7:1-8). They will be caught up as the manchild in the middle of this week or 3½ years before the second coming (Rev. 12:5; 14:1-5; Isa. 66:7-8; Dan. 12:1). [4] The great multitude of tribulation saints who are saved after the rapture 2, above and during the whole of Daniel’s 70th week (Rev. 6:1 – 19:21). The first martyrs of this period are told to rest until the rest of them are killed (Rev. 6:9-11) when vengeance will be taken and all raptured in time for the marriage supper (Rev. 7:9-17; 15:2-4; 20:4-6). Even those killed by the beast in the last 3½ years of this week have a part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6). This proves their rapture in time for the marriage supper (Rev. 19:1-10) and in time to come back with Christ (Rev. 19:11-21; Jude 1:14; Zech. 14:5). [5] The rapture of the two witnesses, ending the first resurrection which began with the resurrection of Christ (Rev. 11:7-11).

‘Caught up’ [Greek: harpazo] to carry off; grasp hastily; snatch up; to seize and overpower; to plunder (John 10:28). From this we get our word rapture, meaning the act of transporting, as harpazo is used in Matthew 13:19; Acts 8:39; 2Corinthians 12:2, 4; 1Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 12:5.

‘In the clouds’ – This no doubt refers to literal clouds instead of multitudes of people.

Shall Be Caught Up Together – Part 1

1Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 

‘Shout’ – Command [Greek: keleuma] a cry of incitement; an order; command in war; the call of preparation for action. Not the same word where shout is mentioned the only other time in the New Testament (Acts 12:22). Here it is the shout of command for the dead to arise, as in the case of Lazarus (John 11:43). This will be followed by the shout of the archangel (Jude 1:9), and the trump of God, whose great and terrible blasts – like those on Sinai – grew louder and louder until the heavens and the earth shook (Ex. 20:18-19; Heb. 12:18-21, 26).

‘Trump of God’ – This is not the same as the 7th trumpet of Revelation 11:15-13:18. One occurs at the rapture of true believers before Daniel’s 70th week (4:16; 2Thess. 2:7; Rev. 4:1), and the other occurs at the rapture of the manchild in the middle of the 70th week (Rev. 11:15 – 13:18). One is the trump of God (4:16), the other the trumpet of the 7th angel (Rev. 11:15). One is to herald an event that will take place in a moment (1Cor. 15:51-58), the other is to herald many events which are days in duration (Rev. 10:7; 11:15-13:18). One is a trumpet of blessing (4:16-17), the other a trumpet of woe to men (Rev. 8:13; 11:15; 12:12). One is before the 7 seals and first 6 trumpets of Revelation 6:1-9:21, the other is after these (Rev. 11:15).

‘And the dead in Christ shall rise first.’ Ten qualifications for the rapture: To be in Christ (4:14, 16; 2Cor. 5:17-18). To be Christ’s (1Cor. 15:23; Gal. 5:24). To be blessed and holy (Rev. 20:4-6; Heb. 12:14). To be good (John 5:28-29). To be worthy (Luke 21:36). To be part of the body of Christ (1Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:20-23; 4:4-6; 5:27; Col. 1:18, 24). To be pure (1Jn. 3:2-3). To be without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27). To live and walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-21). To walk in the light (1Jn. 1:7; Col. 2:6).