Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
January 18, 2015
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as [do
] others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 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.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
1901 ASV Translation
3 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.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief:
5 for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness;
6 so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that are drunken are drunken in the night.
8 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.
9 For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
- I. Paul's Expansion of His "Thief in the Night" Thesis.
- A. The issue is Paul's contention that the Thessalonians "know full well" that the Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night.
- 1. The point is that the underlying question of the "When?" of the Rapture is unanswerable for lack of divine revelation regarding that "time".
- a. As we already noted, the "When?" issue is an issue of curiosity, not morality. Jesus Himself taught that knowing the "when" can be extremely detrimental to morality so that God has restrained Himself from telling us for our own good.
- b. Also, it seems probable that Paul did not do a "Prophecy Conference" in Thessalonica in the short time of his stay in that place -- this letter is clear evidence that he did not reveal the details of the Rapture, but only the reality of the Hope: The Son of God is going to return. Jesus Himself said at one point that it is useless to speculate about the "when" of this because God, for good reason, has refused to share that information (Matthew 24:36). Given the shortness of his stay, Paul was restrained from side-issues and one of those was The Rapture.
- 2. The Day of the Lord concept may, or may not, have been a topic Paul developed in detail as a primary issue, but the clear truth is that the curiosity about the "When?" of The Rapture is off the table.
- a. Just a cursory reading of the entire paragraph in which Paul makes his case reveals that his "big" issue is the behavior of the Thessalonians and whether it will be "according to godliness".
- b. The straightforward implication of this focus is that the believers could be helped in their pursuit of godliness by the truths of The Rapture, but not by the unrevealed truth about its "timing".
- B. When "they should say"...
- 1. This is a fundamental "belief" (saying is legomen).
- 2. The "they" is undefined, but it is certainly not "we".
- a. If the "they" is a reference to the population of the world in general, the implications are for some kind of "world peace" accomplishment.
- b. If the "they" is a reference to apostate Jews within the nation of Israel, the implications are not that broad.
- C. Peace and Safety.
- 1. The word for "peace" is the standard term, indicating a wide range of "non-conflict" issues.
- 2. The word for "safety" is not widely used (3 times in the New Testament), but its meaning is adequately illustrated by Acts 5:23: everything securely locked and guarded.
- 3. The "saying" must have some visible support. No one "says" peace and safety if they do not feel relatively and significantly "safe". The implications are very large: something is going to happen in the world to eliminate the greatest, and somewhat lesser, causes of conflict and fear.
- a. Thus, if the "they" are those in the world at large, the text means muslims and communists are going to be decimated so that they have no way to generate fear and conflict. This may have implications for Ezekiel's prophecy of God's destruction of the enemies of Israel on the mountains of Israel.
- b. But, if the "they" are simply those in unbelieving Israel, the implications are more likely to be in regard to the Daniel 9:27 covenant with the devil's own personal representative on the earth, if, in fact, that covenant is some kind of "peace" guarantee. Something has to be in play to "force" Israel to make such a "covenant".
- 4. The appearance of the possibilities of "peace and safety" imply a very strong delusion.
- D. Then sudden destruction sets upon them.
- 1. The onset is likened to the onset of birth pangs; the sudden gripping pain in the belly.
- a. The "suddenness" is not so much "sudden" as it is "unexpected" (Luke 21:34; of the two uses of this term in the New Testament, this is the clearer one in terms of illustration of meaning).
- b. After the awesome work of God in bringing (Ezekiel), or allowing (Daniel) an appearance of "peace and safety" into play, the world (Ezekiel), or Israel (Daniel) is certainly not going to be expecting the roof to fall in.
- c. The unidentified "they" is not really all that ambiguous (the world at large, or the nation of Israel), because Paul's application of it to the (Gentile) Thessalonians heavily weights the identity in the direction of the world at large.
- 2. The problem in this case is that the ones to suffer do not know the creation is "pregnant" for the disasters that are coming.
- 3. "They" will in no way escape.
- a. The concept as illustrated by word use in the New Testament is "to get sufficiently far from the 'disaster' so that it does not affect the one attempting to escape".
- b. The problem is that the Day of the Lord encompasses all of the globe; there is no place to which to run.
- II. Paul's Point.
- A. There is, in the theology of the Scriptures, a certain stance wherein "the ungodly are permitted to pursue their ungodliness" and the "godly are exhorted to pursue their godliness" until the day of reckoning for both groups. Thus, the Day of the Lord is declared to be coming as a thief in the night and there will be no escape.
- B. Given this stance, the only thing men can do is to urge one another to forsake ungodliness so that that day does not come upon them unaware. In other words, evangelism is the obvious "ministry" regarding those walking in the darkness -- the Day is coming and there will be no escape that has not already been triggered by faith in the Gospel.
- C. Because misguided confidence in a certain "knowing" about the timing of the events involved strongly tends in the direction of ungodliness, the only thing Paul wants to make as clear as possible is this: that Day is coming as a thief and those who are unprepared will not escape. This is a strong motivation for the Thessalonians to continue to do what they have been doing in "sounding forth the Gospel in every place" (1:8-9).