1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

1. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

1. Porro de temporibus et articulis temporum non opus habetis, ut vobis scribatur.

2. For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

2. Ipsi enim optime scitis, quod dies Domini tanquam fur in nocte sic veniet.

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.

3. Quando enim dixerint, Pax et securitas, tunc repentinus ipsis superveniet interitus, quasi dolor partus mulieri praegnanti, nec effugient.

4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

4. Vos autem, fratres, non estis in tenebris, ut dies ille vos quasi fur opprimat.

5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

5. Omnes vos filii lucis estis, et filii diei: non sumus noctis, neque tenebrarum.


1. But as to times. He now, in the third place, calls them back from a curious and unprofitable inquiry as to times, but in the mean time admonishes them to be constantly in a state of preparation for receiving Christ. 1 He speaks, however, by way of anticipation, saying, that they have no need that he should write as to those things which the curious desire to know. For it is an evidence of excessive incredulity not to believe what the Lord foretells, unless he marks out the day by certain circumstances, and as it were points it out with the finger. As, therefore, those waver between doubtful opinions who require that moments of time should be marked out for them, as if they would draw a conjecture 2 from some plausible demonstration, he accordingly says that discussions of this nature are not necessary for the pious. There is also another reason--that believers do not desire to know more than they are permitted to learn in God's school. Now Christ designed that the day of his coming should be hid from us, that, being in suspense, we might be as it were upon watch.

2. Ye know perfectly. He places exact knowledge in contrast with an anxious desire of investigation. But what is it that he says the Thessalonians know accurately? 3 It is, that the day of Christ will come suddenly and unexpectedly, so as to take unbelievers by surprise, as a thief does those that are asleep. This, however, is opposed to evident tokens, which might portend afar off his coming to the world. Hence it were foolish to wish to determine the time precisely from presages or prodigies.

3. For when they shall say. Here we have an explanation of the similitude, the day of the Lord will be like a thief in the night. Why so? because it will come suddenly to unbelievers, when not looked for, so that it will take them by surprise, as though they were asleep. But whence comes that sleep? Assuredly from deep contempt of God. The prophets frequently reprove the wicked on account of this supine negligence, and assuredly they await in a spirit of carelessness not merely that last judgment, but also such as are of daily occurrence. Though the Lord threatens destruction, 4 they do not hesitate to promise themselves peace and every kind of prosperity. And the reason why they fall into this destructive indolence 5 is, because they do not see those things immediately accomplished, which the Lord declares will take place, for they reckon that to be fabulous that does not immediately present itself before their eyes. For this reason the Lord, in order that he may avenge this carelessness, which is full of obstinacy, comes all on a sudden, and contrary to the expectation of all, precipitates the wicked from the summit of felicity. He sometimes furnishes tokens of this nature of a sudden advent, but that will be the principal one, when Christ will come down to judge the world, as he himself testifies, (Matthew 24:37) comparing that time to the age of Noe, inasmuch as all will give way to excess, as if in the profoundest repose.

As the pains of child-bearing. Here we have a most apt similitude, inasmuch as there is no evil that seizes more suddenly, and that presses more keenly and more violently on the very first attack; besides this, a woman that is with child carries in her womb occasion of grief without feeling it, until she is seized amidst feasting and laughter, or in the midst of sleep.

4. But ye, brethren. He now admonishes them as to what is the duty of believers, that they look forward in hope to that day, though it be remote. And this is what is intended in the metaphor of day and light. The coming of Christ will take by surprise those that are carelessly giving way to indulgence, because, being enveloped in darkness, they see nothing, for no darkness is more dense than ignorance of God. We, on the other hand, on whom Christ has shone by the faith of his gospel, differ much from them, for that saying of Isaiah is truly accomplished in us, that

while darkness covers the earth, the Lord arises upon us, and his glory is seen in us. (Isaiah 60:2)

He admonishes us, therefore, that it were an unseemly thing that we should be caught by Christ asleep, as it were, or seeing nothing, while the full blaze of light is shining forth upon us. He calls them children of light, in accordance with the Hebrew idiom, as meaning--furnished with light; as also children of the day, meaning--those who enjoy the light of day. 6 And this he again confirms, when he says that we are not of the night nor of darkness, because the Lord has rescued us from it. For it is as though he had said, that we have not been enlightened by the Lord with a view to our walking in darkness.

1 "Quand il viendra en iugement;"--"When he will come to judgment."

2 "De ce qu'ils en doyuent croire;"--"Of what they must believe."

3 "Plenement et certainement;"--"Fully and certainly."

4 "Leur denonce ruine et confusion;"--"Threatens them with ruin and confusion."

5 "Ceste paresse tant dangereuse et mortelle;"--"This indolence so dangerous and deadly."

6 "It is 'day' with them. It is not only 'day' round about them, (so it is wherever the gospel is afforded to men,) but God hath made it 'day' within."--Howe's Works, (Lond. 1822,) vol. 6:p. 294.--Ed.