#199 “What is the Day of the Lord?” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

Know the Time and Seasons (v. 1)

  • Now concerning the times (chronos, a period of time) and the seasons (dates—kairoi; a proper or appointed time), brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. Paul uses the plural times and the seasons because he is considering a number of incidents that will lead up to the Day of the Lord. Talking about future events was something Paul repeatedly taught the Thessalonians during his extended stay with them. There were open debates among Jews whether it was applicable to their beliefs to figure out the end of days.

A Thief in the Night (v. 2)

  • For you yourselves are fully aware (oida, to know; to possess information) that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. The term Day of the Lord describes the coming of Jesus to vindicate his people and bring judgment on the wicked (parousia; mentioned in 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15). This is separate from the rapture (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Yet Paul places the rapture and Day of the Lord together because of similar events and the sequential order of the events. Therefore, the Day of the Lord includes the rapture, the tribulation period, and the Millennial kingdom. Joel mentions that the Day of the Lord is included in the Great Tribulation (see 2:28-3:2). Ron Rhodes, The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy, “The New Testament writers generally use the term of the judgment that will climax in the future seven-year Tribulation period (2 Thessalonians 2:2; Revelation 16-18), as well as the judgment that will usher in the new earth in the end times (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 20:7- 21:1; see also Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:22; Revelation 21:1). It is this theme of judgment against sin that runs like a thread through the many references to the day of the Lord.”
    • Isa. 11:10-11, “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.”
    • Jer. 23:5-6, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”
    • Jl. 2:1, “Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!”
    • Am. 5:18, “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light…”
    • 1 Cor. 1:8, “who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    • Phil. 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
  • Thief in the night—No one knows when Christ will return. Paul uses the same metaphor as Jesus: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:43-44). The return of Jesus (the rapture mentioned in 4:13-18) is unexpected, and after the church is taken up to heaven, there will be great judgment that will fall upon those who rejected Jesus in the world.
    • John Walvoord, Every Prophecy in the Bible, “One of the important signs of the day of the Lord is the fact that the people will be saying, “Peace and safety,” when, as a matter of fact, “destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). The interpretation teaching that this is the period between the rapture and the second coming fits very naturally into this period. According to Daniel 9:27, there will be a seven-year period leading up to the second coming of Christ. The first half of this period will be a time of peace when a covenant of peace will be made with Israel, as indicated in Daniel 9:27. During this period people will hail peace as having been achieved as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Then suddenly the great tribulation will begin and they will not escape its judgment. The world-shaking judgments that precede the second coming are described graphically in Revelation 6–18.”
    • Warren Wiersbe, “But it does mean living in the light of His return, realizing that our works will be judged and that our opportunities for service on earth will end. It means to live “with eternity’s values in view.”