Southern Christian University

A Study of I Thessalonians, # 2

James A. Turner

Please read all the references. They will help you to get a fuller understanding.


When we ended the First Class Session, we were studying about the second advent of Christ as recorded in I Thessalonians 3:13 and 4:13 through 5:11. We were talking about how Christ will bring the spirits of the righteous dead with him as recorded in 3:13 and 4:14. I Corinthians 15:50-58 and Philippians 3:20‑21and I John 3:1-2; compliment I Thessalonians 4:14. I Corinthians 15:50-53 reads, "This I say brethren that flesh and blood shall not enter into the kingdom of God.  Behold I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."  Philippians 3:20‑21, "For our citizenship is from heaven; from whence we look for our savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory."  I John 3:1-2,  "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we shall be called the children of God.  It does not yet appear what we shall be.  But we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.”  So the Bible teaches that the righteous will be given glorious bodies likened to the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are not going to be raised with old worn out physical and diseased bodies, but will be given immortal and glorious bodies, likened to the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul is saying that when Christ comes in His second advent He is going to bring the spirits of the righteous with him.  In the resurrection, there will be the uniting of the spirit with the body that is raised.


“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep."  Again, some of the commentaries say that people of the first century believed that the coming of Christ was imminent, and that even the apostles thought that Christ was to come almost immediately.  Well, Paul surely did not.  For in chapter two of the next letter, he tells them not to be excited about the second advent of Christ because he is not coming until there has been a great falling away.  But the fact that he said, "We that are alive," they say that he was expecting to be alive when Christ comes.  Not so!  In I Corinthians 6:14, he puts himself with those that will be dead when Christ comes; and in II Corinthians 4:14 he does likewise.  So how could Paul put himself with those who will be alive when Christ comes and those who will be dead when Christ comes?  Well, in this passage don't you think he is using the word “we” in the editorial sense? Meaning that the righteous who are living when Christ comes, they are not going to precede those that are dead in Christ.  "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord that we that are alive that are left unto the coming of the Lord shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep."  In other words the living will not go into glory, and they will not receive those immortal glorious bodies before the dead righteous are raised. 


Verse sixteen, “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."  Put this with I Corinthians 15:50-53, it means that before the living are changed, “in a moment and a twinkling of an eye, at the last trump,” that the dead righteous and living righteous will go into heaven at the same time. "Then we that are alive that are left shall together with them be caught up 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." 


Now, some preachers try to get two bodily resurrections out of this, on the basis that the dead in Christ shall rise first.  But in the context it means that the righteous dead will arise with immortal glorious bodies before the living righteous are changed. Those who teach the false doctrine of two physical resurrections tie I Thessalonians 4:16 with Revelation 20:5-6. That doctrine is false from beginning to end! Please read the outline entitled, TWO GREAT RESURRECTIONS. The Bible does teach concerning two resurrections, but one is a resurrection in Christ, and the other is a resurrection of all the dead when Christ comes the second time (Hebrews 9:27-28). He is not coming three or four times as some teach. The Bible does not teach two bodily resurrections!  It does teach two resurrections.  One is a spiritual resurrection in Christ, which I tried to emphasize in that outline. Jesus talked about both of these resurrections in John 5: 24-28. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my words and believeth him that sent me hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.” (Meaning spiritual death, separated from God because of sin Isaiah 59:1-2,) "Verily, verily, I say unto you. The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:  And they that hear shall live."  Jesus was not talking about a bodily resurrection. 


When it comes time for that bodily resurrection, there will be no free moral agency involved in that one, but he is talking about a resurrection in Christ, that those who hear Christ, they that are dead in their sins shall live a spiritual life in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-6; Colossians 2:13).  And then in the same chapter, verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine, "Marvel not at this:  For the hour cometh, when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth."  All are going to hear whether they want to hear or not when that time comes, and they are going to come forth.  “They that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.”  Daniel 12:2 reads, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”. Are not those two references parallels? The Bible teaches a number of things plainly, and we need to understand what the Bible teaches.  There are some members of the church who have heard preachers preach and try to get two bodily resurrections, and they think there will be two bodily resurrections. Not so! The Bible absolutely does not teach such a doctrine. Again, such doctrine is a man made doctrine and not God’s doctrine 


Please look at all of 4: 16 again. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of the archangel with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first."  Meaning that they will rise first before the living are changed.  In other words they will be raised and then the living will be changed. “ Then we that are alive” And again he is using that "we" in that editorial sense meaning that those who are alive when Christ comes, "shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so shall we ever be with the Lord."  Well, those words deny that false doctrine that many premillennial preachers preach. According to the way most of them spin it, the righteous are going to be called up and the wicked left on the earth.  Then, according to them, there will be seven years of tribulations on the earth.  And then Christ will take those saints that have been called up and bring them to earth and reign on earth for a thousand years on the throne of David.  Such is false from beginning to end. Please read my short outline entitled, CHRIST IS NOW REIGNING ON THE THRONE OF DAVID.

Chapter Five

The Thessalonians knew from Paul’s teaching that the wicked and the righteous are going to be raised at the same time. “ But concerning the times and the season brethren, ye have no need that ought to be written unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (5:1-2).  So Paul had taught them  about Christ's coming, that he will come as a thief in the night.  No one knows when he is coming, (Matthew 24:36), but when he comes he will come as a thief in the night.  The devil’s crowd will not be expecting him! “When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” I reckon we can be assured of one thing when we have fellows like Harold Lindsey talking about the signs are here and Christ is coming back very soon for that reign.  He is not coming as long as those kinds of fellows are setting their dates.  This says that the wicked will be saying, “peace and safety.  Then sudden destruction cometh upon them like a woman ready to give birth to a child."  Well, in most cases that child is going to come when that time comes. 


Verse three "When they are saying peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, (the unprepared wicked Revelation 6:9-11) but ye, brethren, are not in darkness,  (meaning you are not living in sin) that that day should overtake you as a thief for you are sons of light, and sons of day, we are not of night; nor of darkness; (meaning we are not a part of the devil’s crowd) so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, (those who are earth bound in their thinking and in their living (Revelations 3:10, 6:9-11, 8:13, 11:10, 13:8, 17:1-2, 17:8; Colossians 3:1-3) but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breast -plate of faith and love, for a helmet, the hope of salvation” (5:4-8). In this reference Paul is teaching the same thing that Christ taught during the last week of his ministry. He taught that God’s children should live every day in a prepared state (Matthew 24:42-51).


Everyday Christian living is a continuous process of putting off those things that pertain to the way of the flesh and putting on those things that will make us more like God and Christ (I Peter 2:1-2, 2:21-25; Ephesians 4:22-23; Colossians 3:5-16). Please notice again Paul’s exhortation in 5:9 “putting on the breastplate of faith and love; (faith and love constitute great protection from any form of evil) and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” Please read Hebrews 6:18-20 and Romans 8: 24-25.


“For God appointed us not unto wrath but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:9).  God does not want any person to be lost! I Timothy 2:4 reads that God, “would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” II Peter 3: 9 reads, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promises, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” These two references are saying that God does not want none- Christians to be lost, and he surely does not want any child of God to be lost and receive God’s wrath at the end of the way. “Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep (meaning whether we are living or dead when Christ comes to judge all men ) we should live together with him.” He wants us to receive that eternal salvation that I Peter 1:9 speaks of  “ receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”  Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do” (5:11).  The writer is saying that if we are faithful we are going to live together with Christ in eternity and since this is the case we should exhort and encourage one another to be faithful. We can do this by always being a good example, and by proper use of the word of God to exhort and encourage one another.


Now, I want us to turn and read Matthew 24:29-35 and the parallels in Mark 13:24-31 and Luke 21:25-33. Some of our finest and best gospel preachers in the last thirty or forty years have been giving, especially Matthew 24:29-25 as a figurative and symbolic passage referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It looks like they have in part come to such an interpretation in an effort to show that the premillennial doctrine is a false doctrine. Well, it surely is false, but we need to be careful and not let the pendulum swing too far. Now, I have known some of these brethren for many years and they are just as sincere in their interpretation of these references as I am, but I very sincerely believe that their interpretation is a wrong interpretation. Let me say further that it is very doubtful if any of us will have to have perfect understanding of difficult references like these in order to receive an entrance into heaven at the end of the way! You can rightly say, “Why then do we even need to discuss the matter.” My answer is that I believe they are violating a basis rule of proper interpretation, and that rule is that we should not count any passage as figurative and symbolic unless there is something in the context of the passage that makes it very clear that it is figurative language, or other references on the same subject.


There are many references that are figurative and should be recognized as such, but let literal passages be literal! In my judgment there is nothing in these references that demands a figurative interpretation, and when they are given a literal meaning as being signs that will accompany the second advent of Christ they are in harmony with several other references about that event.


Adam Clark, a great Methodist scholar; published his Commentaries On The Whole Bible in the early 1800’s. In the main his commentaries are very good, and one of the very best, if not the best buy you can make if you do not have them. 


Clark came with a figurative interpretation of Matthew 24:29-35 very much like the interpretation that these brethren come with, although they may not have even read his comments. He says on Matthew 24:29 and I quote, “Commentators generally understand this, and what follows, of the end of the world and Christ’s coming judgment: but the word immediately shows that our Lord is not speaking of any distant event, but of something immediately consequent on calamities already predicted: and that must be destruction of Jerusalem.” Then he quotes from Lightfoot, “The Jewish heaven shall perish , and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness shall be darkened-  brought to nothing -----. Compare Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7-8.


And then Clark says, “The fall of Babylon is represented by the stars and constellations of heaven withdrawing their light, and the sun and moon being darkened. See Isaiah 13:9-10. The destruction of Egypt, by the heaven being covered, the sun enveloped with a cloud, and the moon withholding her light.”


These are the same references being used by some brethren as a basis for making Matthew 24:29 figurative. When you read all of Isaiah 13 it is very evident that Isaiah is using figurative language to describe God’s “in time” rather than “end of time” judgment on the nation of Babylon because of her terrible wickedness. So why the use of such figurative language? The answer is that all such drastic “in time” judgments on nations like Babylon and Egypt are a type of eternal judgment when it will be literal. Verse seven of Jude reads, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, ,having given them over to fornication (various kinds of sexual immoralities) and gone after strange flesh, (homosexuality (Genesis 19:1-11; Levites 20:13; Romans 1:24-27) are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.  Jude is saying that God’s destruction of these cities by fire is a type of eternal judgment (II Peter. 3:1-11).


If a figurative interpretation is the right interpretation of Matthew 24:29-35 and Mark 13:24-31 and Luke 21:25-33 why can we not by the same logic make II Peter 3:1-11 a figurative passage? Many could be easily convinced that such would be a correct interpretation! In my judgment this is the great danger of a figurative interpretation and why I am so concerned about it. It is not the right interpretation!


Let us now turn to Matthew twenty-four and begin the study of these references. As recorded in Matthew twenty-four and Mark thirteen and Luke twenty-one Jesus told his disciples Peter, James, John and Andrew (Mark 13:3), during that last week of his earthly ministry, that the time was coming when the magnificent temple in Jerusalem would be completely destroyed, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2) Those disciples asked him three questions, “When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world’” (Matthew 24:3). Now these disciples may have expected all three things to be fulfilled at the same time, but Jesus knew to the contrary, and he answered the questions in the order that they asked him. In Matthew 24:5-14 he tells about things that would happen before the destruction of the temple, and verse fourteen reads, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto the nations; and then shall the end come.”  Then shall the end come is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 A.D. as shown   by 24:15-22.


Matthew and Mark both say essentially the same thing about that destruction by the Roman armies. “When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet ( in Daniel 9:27, 12:11) standing in the holy place (Jerusalem) then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains” (24:15-16). So Matthew 24:15-21 is very definitely referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It will not do any good for people to run when Christ comes a second time (Hebrews 9:27-28) although many may try to escape his wrath at that time (Revelation 1:7; 6:12-17). Notice that Luke’s account gives the meaning of “abomination of desolation”. He says, “But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand’ (Luke 21:20). Matthew 24:27 “For as the lighting cometh forth from the east, and seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of men.” Is this verse not talking about the second advent of Christ that he will come to the whole world at the same time (Revelations 1:7)? 


Now let us give attention to the parallels of Matthew 24:29-35, and Mark 13:24-31 and Luke 21:25-33. I do not remember hearing, or reading, where one of these preachers that we have been referring to using all three parallels. It looks like they want to stay with only Matthew 24:29-35. Adam Clark had a problem with the word immediately in verse twenty-nine and reasoned that it could not refer to the second advent of Christ in part on that basis, but notice that Mark says, “But in those days, after that tribulation (the destruction of Jerusalem) the sun shall be darkened, and the moon, shall not give her light, and the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken” (Mark 13:24). Please remember that Jesus has already answered their question about the destruction of Jerusalem and he is now answering their second question concerning the signs that would accompany his coming. I remember a great man of God say, “Jesus did not even know when his coming would be (Matthew 24:36) so how could he know about any signs of his coming?” Well, in the same way that he knew that it would be like it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24: 37-39).


Does Mark 13:24 mean that Matthew’s use of the word immediately is wrong? Certainly not, but the word immediately may have reference to the thing that would be most important in God’s plan and that would be Christ’s second advent and eternal judgment. Would not such an interpretation be in harmony with (Revelation 6:12-17; II Peter 3:1-11 and Hebrew 1:10-13)?


And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall  all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 24:30). Now some like to talk more about the sign of the Son of man rather than “and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” Did any one see Jesus “Coming on the clouds of heaven” in the destruction of Jerusalem? And why, “then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn”? Brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr. in his comments on Revelations 1:7 said in substance that  all tribes” meant the Jewish tribes! What message was given to the apostles when Christ ascended back to heaven? “And while they (the apostles) were looking steadfastly into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by in white apparel; who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven” Acts 1:10-11.  Jesus also said to the Jewish Court that condemned him to death, “Hence forth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Was this reference fulfilled in 70 A.D.?


“And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:31). One of our preachers in a lecture on a lecture program entitled, Premillennialism True or False said concerning this verse and I quote, “ The angel means “message” or “messenger”, and it is our studied conviction that reference is here made to those teachers and preachers of the gospel who would be involved in getting the whole gospel to the whole world. The fall of Jerusalem and of the Jewish nation would contribute mightily (in the power and providence of God) to the spread of the gospel of Christ. The “great sound of a trumpet” is the sound of the gospel of the Christ. God’s only saving power” How strange, how strange, is such an interpretation of Matthew 24:31! Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto the nations; and then shall the end come”  (meaning before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (Matthew 24:14).


Paul wrote to the Colossians in about 62-63 A.D. in it he said, “the truth of the gospel, which is come unto you; even as it is also in the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also” ---(Colossians 1:5-6), and again he exhorted them not to “be moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; where of I Paul was made a minister” (Colossians 1:23). Where is the passage that says that the gospel was spread more rapidly after 70 A.D.?


We have studied I Thessalonians 4:16 that Christ, “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.”  I Corinthians 15:52 reads that the living will be changed, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” When Jesus interpreted the parable of the tares of the field Jesus said, “that the time of harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels, --- The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity;” ----( Matthew 13:36-43). And he also interpreted the parable of the net, “So shall it be in the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the righteous”. (Matthew 13:47-50, also II Thessalonians 1:7-10)


Do you see how that a literal interpretation of Matthew 24:31 is in harmony with all of these references while the figurative is nothing but speculation and conflict? On Matthew 24:34 some of these brethren find trouble with “This generation” They reason it means a single generation of a small number of years as set forth in many other Bible references. Adam Clark says that the Greek word means race, the race of the Jews being a distinct people till all the counsels of God relative to them and the Gentiles be fulfilled. To say the least they still surely hold their identity, but we see that this is a difficult verse. I Peter 2:9 in the King James Version, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation” ---. Was Peter’s generation the only generation of such people or does it mean that Christians, all Christians of every generation are of this category of “being a chosen  generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation”? The New King James reads “chosen generation”; The American Standard Version, “an elect race, a royal priesthood”, the New American Standard; “A Chosen Race, A Holy Nation”, The New International Version; “a chosen people, a royal priesthood,” The New Revised Standard Version, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood.”. The Contemporary English Version; “But you are God’s chosen and special people.” Are not Christians of all generations, “God’s chosen and special people”?


Let us now look at Luke’s parallel to Matthew’s 24:29-35 and Mark’s 13:24-31.

“And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations for the roaring of the sea and the billows; men fainting for fear, and far expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). The sun, moon, and stars being shaken would evidently cause the “roaring of the seas and the billows.”  “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great” (21:27). So Luke says like Matthew and Mark, “and then shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud “-----. Again the question, where is the account in the Bible or in secular history where any one saw Jesus “coming in a cloud” in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman armies?


Now notice very carefully the reading of Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to come to pass (referring to the signs given in verses twenty-five through twenty- seven) look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh.” There is no way that “your redemption draweth nigh” could be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. All obedient believers in Christ had had redemption and salvation in Christ since the gospel was first preached by the apostle Peter on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ.  Acts 2:36-41 shows that about three thousand received redemption through the cleansing blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7, 4:30; Colossian 1:13-14; Romans 3: 24-25) on that day, and for about forty years after that Pentecost when the gospel was first preached obedient believers had been receiving redemption and salvation by the cleansing blood of Christ.  What then is the redemption spoken of in Luke 21:28? It would have to be that eternal redemption in Christ! How could anyone properly reason that it would be redemption from the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.?


Now look carefully at Luke 21:31, “Even so also, when ye see these things coming to pass, (the signs referred to in Luke 21:25-27) know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh”. How on earth could this refer to 70A.D.? As already stated the doors of the kingdom were opened by Peter’s first sermon, and for about forty years obedient believers had been translated out of the power or kingdom of darkness “into the Son of his love; in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:” ---- (Colossians 1:13-14)”. What then is the meaning of Luke 21:31? It surely means that eternal salvation in that eternal kingdom for all faithful believers when Christ comes in His second advent! It means heaven for all the faithful! How could there be any other meaning?


Now, turn back to I Thessalonians chapter five.  Remember that all mankind can be put into four groups:  The righteous dead, and the righteous living, which the writer is talking about in 4:13-18, and the other category is the unrighteous dead, and the unrighteous living.  Now, he doesn't divide them up in chapter five, but he surely is talking about how that when Christ comes then it will be judgment for all, the righteous and the unrighteous.  Nowhere does the Bible teach two bodily resurrections, but one bodily resurrection.  "For concerning the times and the season brethren, ye have no need that ought be written unto you."  So Paul had taught them concerning the coming of Christ, they knew that he was to come unexpectedly.  "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  When they are saying peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them."  Here he is referring to Satan’s camp, unbelievers, those who are not a part of the family of God.  There may be a lot of good people, but they still will be among the number of unrighteous because they did not obey the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 5:8-9; II Thessalonians 1:7-10).  In other words the world will be going on as usual, and the unbelievers will not be expecting Christ to come.

Verse three "When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall in no wise escape.  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that day should overtake you as a thief."  When he says you are not in darkness, he means that they are not in the darkness of the world.  They are not in sin.  Remember Paul speaks of the Colossians as having been “translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear son” (Colossians 1:13).  So Christian people do not belong to that kingdom of darkness.  "But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake you as a thief.  For ye are sons of light and sons of the day."  For Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).   In the Sermon on the Mount he said to his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world”.  And so Christian people are sons of light rather than sons of darkness.  "For ye are sons of light, sons of the day:  we are not of the night, nor of darkness."  And he is speaking of the night as those belonging to Satan's camp.  "So then, let us not sleep as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober."  Again, verse six is somewhat symbolic in language.  He is not talking about physical sleep, but spiritual sleep.  Let us not be asleep, spiritually but let us be alert.  As Jesus said, "Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh” (Matthew 24:42).  And so Christians should be prepared for the coming of Christ at all times.  "So then let us not sleep as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that are drunken, are drunken in the night.  But let us, since we are of the day, be sober putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation."  I think we all understand the importance of a breastplate of faith and love and the importance of that helmet of salvation, the hope of salvation.  "For God appointed us not unto wrath."  In other words he does not want to loose a single child of God.  He wants every child of God to be saved eternally.  "For God appointed us not unto wrath but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us.  Whether we are awake or asleep, we should live together with him. 


Verse eleven,  “Wherefore exhort one another and build each other up even as also ye do."  Notice that verse eleven is a command to all of us, that all of us need to have a part in that process of exhorting and encouraging one another. "Exhort one another and build each other up even as ye do."  Anytime you have a strong congregation of the Lord's people, it means that there is a lot of building up from one member to another.  In other words each member is concerned about the other members of the church and each one tries to do his part in exhorting and encouraging.  "But we beseech you brethren, to know them that labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you."  This surely would especially fit the elders of the church.  They are the overseers of the church(Acts 20:28).  I'm not ready to say it would exclude possibly others on special occasions, but it would surely include the elders.   "Know them that labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them highly in love for their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (5:12-13).  The Lord does not want any division among us.  And when members of the church show their love for one another, exhorting and encouraging one another, I believe they are going to have that peace of God that passes all understanding. 


Peace and unity based on following God’s word will make a church grow. All of us have responsibility in keeping peace and unity in the church (Ephesians 4:1-7). “Be at peace among yourselves.  And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly."  Now, we will wait until we get to chapter three of II Thessalonians to go in detail, but the disorderly, were those in particular who were not working, “encourage the fainthearted.”  I believe the King James says, the feebleminded.  The American Standard says, fainthearted.  "Support the weak, be long suffering toward all.  See that none render to anyone evil for evil."  Surely, we should not want to render evil for evil or wrong for wrong to our brethren, but sometimes it is done, but this passage includes everybody.  "See that none render to anyone, evil for evil, but always follow after that which is good, one toward another and toward all."  That would include those outside the church.  


Verse sixteen,   "Rejoice always;” It means that regardless of circumstances, a child of God still has a lot to rejoice about. He is still a child of God, and God will not allow him to be tempted above that which he is able to bear (I Corinthians 10:13). He is still a child of the king (Romans 8:16-17). "Pray without ceasing."  We have already talked about that.  Prayer is not to be just for emergency situations, but we are to pray regularly unto God.  And I believe that is the primary meaning of passages like this one, pray without ceasing or continue steadfastly in prayer as we talked about in the last class session. 


Verse eighteen,   "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you."  Now, just exactly what does that mean?  If a man's wife leaves him for another man, is he to bow in prayer and say Lord, I thank thee that she left me!  Well, it just means that under every circumstance that  ‑‑ there are still many things for which we can be thankful. That is verse eighteen.  Verse sixteen, "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  That's the reading from the New Revised Standard Version.  Reading from the Contemporary English Version verse eighteen, "Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ."  The point is we still have plenty to be thankful for regardless of how difficult the circumstances may be at the time.  We still need to be thankful that we are a child of God, that we are a child of the king (Romans 8:16-18). 


Verse nineteen, "Quench not the spirit."  In other words don't put water on the fire of the spirit.  Do not quench out the fire of the spirit.  And, of course, this is during the miraculous age of the church, and they were given instruction by inspired men.  And, I think, it would have special reference.  And, of course, it applies to us, do not quench the power of the word, but let it have full meaning to us and with that desire of the heart to live according to the meaning.  "Quench not the spirit.  Despise not prophecies."  And that surely would have reference to spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12:1-11). 


Verse twenty-one,   "Prove all things."  It may be that there were some making out like they had the gift of prophecy when they did not, but there were those that the apostles had laid their hands on (Acts 8:14-24; II Timothy 1:6; I Corinthians 1:7, 9:2) and had given them the gift of prophesying or teaching (I Corinthians 14:1-5).  And so he says, "Prove all things.  Hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from every form of evil."  One of the great dangers that a lot of people take is trying to see how close they can get to evil without doing evil.  We need to follow this rule.  Abstain from every form of evil.”  Stay away from everything that has the appearance of evil. A good Old Testament passage is Proverbs 16:17, "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil.  He that keepeth his way shall preserve his soul."  So we need to stay on the right highway and depart from evil, instead of trying to see how close we can get to evil, see how far away we can get from evil.  "And the God of peace himself, sanctify you holy.;  and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."  I believe that would be the entire man.  So he is praying that they will be faithful to the Lord and be without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Faithful is he that calleth you who will also do it.  Brethren, pray for us." God will sanctify theentire personof every child of God whose life always balances in the way of right living. We talked about how the epistles of Paul show that he was a man of prayer, continually praying for his brethren, and he solicited the prayers of his brethren, and we need to follow that good example. 


"Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss."  Now, Paul did not institute kissing as a way of greeting, but that was the manner of greeting of the people of that day that he is writing to.  And, of course, a kiss can be everything but a holy kiss.  A kiss can be very lustful, and so Paul is seeking to regulate that greeting by a kiss.  Think how Judas greeted Jesus ‑‑ betrayed him with a kiss (Luke 22:47-49). 


"I adjure you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the brethren."  It looks like from verse twenty-seven that the epistle would have probably gone to the elders of the church and be presented to them, and then they were to see to it that the epistle was read to all the brethren.  I think I have a question with several references and when you put them together, they show very clearly that when the epistles were received they were to be read to the church.  Of course, they didn't have printing presses and copying machines and all the modern things that we have today, and the letters were written by hand. So when an epistle was sent to a church, it was to be read, in the assembly of the church and then it was sent on to other churches.  They were then to circulate to other churches.  "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."