Summary: As Paul continues to encourage and exhort the Thessalonian believers, he offers guidance regarding the Lord's return. His wise instruction reveals what to expect as we draw nearer to the Lord's coming.
The King is Coming
1 Thessalonians 5: 1-7
In our last study Paul dealt with the comfort and assurance of the rapture of the church that would include all of those who have been born again, living and dead alike. Now he turns his attention to the Day of the Lord. Apparently after Paul’s departure questions arose within the church concerning the Rapture and the Second Coming, the Day of the Lord. As we discovered in Chp.3, Paul sent Timothy to the church, and evidently upon his return to Paul, he shared those concerns with him. We know Paul had already addressed these issues with the church in Thessalonica because he again deals with it in the opening verses of 2 Thes.2, vv.1-5.
The words Paul sent to Thessalonica were not a complete theological examination of the Second Coming, but rather a pastoral address to settle and guide them as they looked toward that day. He is not dealing as much with the particular events of the Second Coming as he is the state of affairs upon the earth at that time.
Paul had dealt with the rapture in the previous chapter and he immediately begins to deal with the Day of the Lord. The rapture of the church will precede the Tribulation and after the church is taken away, the events of the Day of the Lord, or the Great Tribulation, will begin in rapid succession, culminating with the return of Christ to judge the world and Satan, establishing His throne for the Millennial Reign.
So, let’s take a few moments to consider the issues that Paul deals with as we think on the thought: The King is Coming.
I. The Return of the Savior (1-3) – In these verses Paul is dealing with the Second Coming of the Lord. This is a separate event from the rapture. During the rapture Jesus will appear in the clouds, but during the Day of the Lord, He will actually return bodily to the earth.
The Day of the Lord is spoken of many times in Scripture. It is referenced 19 times in the Old Testament: Is.2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezek.13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18 [two times], 20; Odad.15; Zeph.1:7, 14 [two times]; Zech.14:1; Mal.4:5. It is also referenced four times in the New Testament: Acts 2:20; here in v.2; 2 Thes.2:2; 2 Pet.3:10. What can we discover about His coming and how we are to anticipate it?
A. The Expectation of Jesus’ Return (1) – But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. Paul speaks of the times and seasons prior to the Lord’s return. He reveals there is no need for him to devote time to that; it has already been extensively dealt with in the Old Testament and even in the Gospels. No man knows the day or the hour anyway. It is foolish to seek signs and predictions.
He speaks of the times that men look toward. This is from the Greek word chronos and deals with “chronological time, clock or calendar time.” He also deals with seasons, from the Greek word kairos, and it deals with “events, eras, or seasons.” Two different and distinct indicators that men look toward to estimate the Lord’s coming. Paul declared there was no need to invest their time in such desires, but live each day in full expectation of His coming.
Clearly the church today ought to live in expectation and earnest anticipation of the Lord’s coming. It is not a fairy tale or myth. It isn’t something we hope will one day happen. The Lord will come for the church and rapture us out. Are we really living with that expectation? Did you wake this morning thinking this could be the day?
B. The Imminence of Jesus’ Return (2) – For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. Paul reminds them of a fact that Jesus spoke of Himself. The Lord will come as a thief in the night, at a time when no man knows or expects His coming. It could happen at any moment. The world will not be ready or prepared for that day when it comes.
As I looked at this, I was reminded of how close we really could be to the Lord’s coming for the church and the ushering in of the Great Tribulation upon the earth. In the prophetic calendar, there isn’t one thing that needs to happen prior to our Lord’s coming. When He comes the judgment will begin.
C. The Indifference toward Jesus’ Return (3) – Here we discover the attitude of mankind in that day. They will be indifferent to His coming and not looking for Him. Consider: