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Those who are still alive (5:1-11)
Paul had already told the Thessalonians that no one knows when Christ will return. He will come as unexpectedly as a thief. His intervention in the affairs of the world will be as sudden as birth pains. His return will smash the non-Christian’s sense of security with a destruction that none will escape (5:1-3). The life of the non-Christian is likened to a dark night of moral laziness and ill-discipline. The life of the Christian is likened to a bright day of watchfulness and self-control. Therefore, Christians of the ‘day’ should not act like non-Christians of the ‘night’, otherwise they will be both surprised and ashamed when Christ returns (4-7).
Just as soldiers must always be prepared for any eventuality, so Christians must always be prepared for Christ’s return. They must be self-controlled in their behaviour, strong in faith and love, and confident in their salvation (8). Union with Christ means that they will escape God’s wrath and enjoy salvation in its fulness. This is a further reason why they should live in a way that pleases God and encourages fellow Christians (9-11).
5:12-28 ADVICE ON OTHER MATTERS
Minor difficulties had arisen in the Thessalonian church, and the church leaders had the responsibility to see that these matters were put right. Paul therefore reminds the church members to respect those who have the duty of guiding the church, and not to be offended when the church leaders find it necessary to give corrective instruction (12-13). The leaders, on their part, must always act with patience and understanding (14).
All Christians should live in a constant attitude of helpfulness, joy, prayer and thanks (15-18). In all matters they need the unhindered help of God’s Spirit. This is particularly so in being able to tell the difference between right and wrong, so that they do not despise Spirit-inspired messages as worldly, and do not exalt worldly attitudes as spiritual (19-22).
God alone can give the Thessalonians the necessary strength to put Paul’s advice into practice. God wants his people to progress constantly towards greater holiness in every part of their lives and being (23-24). To this end Paul reminds the church leaders to read the letter to the church and to make sure that the believers understand it fully (25-28).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26