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Summary —The Time of the Lord's Coming Unknown. Will Be Sudden. Hence, Let Us Not Be Asleep. Let Us Have Our Armor On. Mutual Duties of Shepherds and Flock. Christian Life. Benediction.
1–3. But of the times and the seasons. Especially the time of the Lord's coming, which is the subject in the conclusion of chapter 4. They had been instructed on this subject. 2. For yourselves know perfectly, etc. They had been fully taught that the time of the Lord's coming was unrevealed, and that it would be unexpected. Compare Matt. 24:43; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Joel 1:15. The day of the Lord. Not alone, the day of each individual's death, nor of the destruction of Jerusalem, not of the final coming of the Lord at the end of the world, but rather it may be applied to all of these. As a thief in the night. Without warning. Compare Luke 12:39; Rev. 3:3. 3. When they shall say. When the thoughtless are persuading themselves that there is no ground for apprehension, then destruction shall come as suddenly as the pangs of childbirth.
4–7. Ye, brethren, are not in darkness. The Christian has been fully instructed, is a child of 248the light, and knows that he must always be ready. He follows the Light of the World. 5. Ye are all the children of light. They are of the light, of the day, because they have come to Christ for light, and are taught of him. Hence on this subject they are fully informed. Those are of the night, who turn away from the light and refuse to accept it. 6. Therefore let us not sleep. Since Christians are of the day, they should be wide awake. Day is not the time for sleep. A sleep of the spiritual faculties, which renders one insensible to danger, is meant. Instead of sleeping, Christians should watch and be sober. For a comment declaring how we should obey this, turn to Luke 21:34, 36: “Take heed to yourselves, etc.” 7. They that sleep, sleep in the night. Hence, Christians who are of the day, should be wakeful and watching. They that be drunken, are drunken in the night. In most countries they are ashamed to be seen intoxicated, and hence choose the night. In the East it is so. Peter thought the fact that it was day, and only nine o'clock, was proof that the scenes of Pentecost were not due to wine (Acts 2:15).
8–11. Putting on the breastplate of faith and love. The exhortation to the soldierly duties of watchfulness and sobriety suggests the thought of a sentinel and his armor. Compare Eph. 6:11–17. There the shield of faith is spoken of; here the breastplate. Both were for the defense of the body. Nothing will better protect the heart from evil thoughts and keep us watching than faith and love. And for an helmet, the hope of salvation. See notes on Eph. 6:17. What a power to protect, a blessed hope of salvation through Christ! 9. God hath not appointed us to wrath. Hence it is our privilege to hope for salvation through Christ. 10. Who died for us. That we might secure salvation. Hence our salvation is so assured that even death cannot rob us of it. Whether we are alive, or sleep in death, we shall live together with Christ. 11. Wherefore. This assurance is ground for comfort, and especially for comfort for mourners. Edify one another. Build each other up; strengthen each other.
12, 13. Know them. Recognize and appreciate. Which labor among you. Your preachers and elders. The three duties of those over them are to labor among them, to rule over them, and to admonish them. 13. Esteem them. This esteem is due them on account of their work. Compare Heb. 13:17, and Phil. 1:22. Be at peace. Let there be no factious spirit.
14–16. Warn them that are unruly. The duties named in this section are those of the elders especially, but in a lesser sense the duty of all. Unruly. Those who are wayward, inconsistent, and 249disposed to follow their own will. Feeble-minded. Timid ones, who are easily discouraged by persecution, or cast down by trouble. Support the weak. Those weak in the faith. 15. See that none render evil for evil. See note on Rom. 12:21. This doctrine was subversive of the practice of the whole world. 16. Rejoice evermore. Religion is not sullen and sour, but full of joy; so full that the saint can even be joyous when all the world seems to frown. He has a hidden source of joy, a present Savior, a blessed hope.
17–22. Pray without ceasing. See notes on Luke 18:1, and Eph. 6:18. 18. In everything give thanks. Always be thankful for God's benefits, and always express your thanks. For scriptural examples, see Acts 27:35; 2 Cor. 1:11; Acts 28:15; Eph. 5:20. This is the will of God. The three duties just named are probably comprehended. 19. Quench not the Spirit. Do not resist it, or counteract its influence by sensual lives. He does who disobeys the word of God, or refuses to follow the exhortations of those led by the Spirit, or who stifles his own conscience. 20. Despise not prophesyings. Inspired teachings. The prophets were specially inspired men in the early church. They were needed, because as yet it did not have the New Testament Scriptures for a guide. This inspired preaching must not be despised. 21. Prove all things. What was spoken they must put to the test, and all that stood the test, they must hold fast to. There were those who could “discern spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10). There were also rules for testing (1 John 4:1–8). 22. Abstain from all appearance of evil. The meaning is to avoid evil in every form.
23–26. The God of peace. Who bestows peace of soul. Sanctify you wholly. Make you holy in every respect. Your whole spirit and soul and body. Let the whole man be preserved blameless. 24. Faithful is he. He who has called you is faithful, and if you trust him he will preserve you. 25. Pray for us. How often Paul requests this prayer! See Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3, and 2 Thess. 3:1. 26. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. See notes on Rom. 16:16, and 1 Cor. 16:20.
27, 28. I charge you by the Lord. His affectionate solicitude impels this solemn charge. Otherwise those in charge of the new church might think the letter was for them specially and that they were to teach its spirit and thoughts to the people. Read unto all. In the public assembly. 28. The grace of our Lord. The usual farewell benediction.
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