Times and Seasons
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
1 Thessalonians 5:1 (NKJV) 1But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
Time emphasizes the measurement and the passing of moments. Seasons represents the character of the current world around us. For example, the time is 7:00 a.m., and it will soon be 8:00 a.m. The season is Summer, so it is hot and muggy. Movement from seven to eight is the measurement of time, while the heat and humidity characterize the season. As the season changes to Fall, the temperature will change.
1 Thessalonians 5:1 speaks of times and seasons in reference to God’s plan for the world. God made known His plans through the Prophets and Apostles. The Old and New Testaments tell us much about what is to come. The Old Testament Scriptures foretold the coming of Christ into this world. Specific details were revealed. The time and place of His birth were clearly communicated. Simeon and Anna both understood the Day of His appearing and were in the temple to greet Him when He came to be circumcised. (See Luke 2:21-38 to read the full account.) All the seasons of God’s plan were revealed in the Old Testament through the Prophets. The New Testament expanded what was revealed in the Old Testament. For example, the book of Revelation adds details to the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and others.
One reason that 1 Thessalonians 5:1 says there was no need to write concerning the times and the seasons is the completeness of the Revelation of God’s plan for the ages revealed in the Old Testament. An additional reason that there was no need to write to the Thessalonians concerning the times and the seasons was the Thessalonians’ study of the Scriptures. Consider the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NKJV) 2For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
In this context, “perfectly” means “extremely accurate, very exact; “more (very) accurate” because researched down to the finest detail (“factually precise”).The Thessalonians’ perfect, or accurate, knowledge of these truths came from their careful study of the Scriptures. We have precedent for the study of Scriptures by the early Church in the example of the Bereans. They searched the Scriptures daily to verify the things that the Apostles taught them. (See Acts 17:11 for more details.)
Accurate knowledge about the times and the seasons of God’s plan for the ages profoundly affects our hope as Christians. God devotes much of the limited space in the Bible to this subject. Therefore, we understand that He considers it essential. In the limited space of 1 Thessalonians, the themes of the End Times and the return of Christ come up in every chapter. The Thessalonians studied the Scriptures for themselves. We must follow their example. Do not blindly accept what a teacher says, even if that teacher is the best. Search the Scriptures for yourself. Do not be discouraged by the many differing views. The believers in Thessalonica were able to have accurate knowledge, and so can we. I would caution you to spend more time in Scripture than watching YouTube videos and listening to internet teachers.
Thessalonians 5:2 says they had perfect knowledge that the “day of the Lord” would come like a “thief in the night.” As a prelude to studying the idea of a “thief in the night,” we need to consider verse four, which says that we are not in darkness so that this “Day” should take us by surprise.
The “Day” spoken of is described in verse three.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV) 3For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
The “Day” spoken of is a day of “sudden destruction” from which people will try to escape, but will not avoid. Please note that people will be saying, “Peace and safety!” Since verse four mentions that we will not be surprised, we understand that those saying peace and safety are unbelievers. When the world thinks it finally has peace will be the time that their destruction comes. In our war-torn world, a day is coming soon when a man will rise up who holds out the promise of peace, and he will have the power to bring about a brief time of peace. When the world starts saying “peace and safety,” we will know that the “day of the Lord” is upon us. This “peace and safety” in the world is a marker of the time. We know we are already in the “season” because the “climate” in the world today is signaling that the Day of the Lord is very, very near. However, the world does not accept this. Sadly, many Christians do not believe this. For those who do not believe, the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. This “Day” will seem to happen suddenly without warning. Jesus taught this truth when He said:
Matthew 24:37–39 (NLT) 37When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s Day. 38In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
Although the Scriptures clearly tell us what will happen, those who do not believe the Scriptures will be completely surprised by the events that unfold. However, no one needs to be surprised. Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6.
1 Thessalonians 5:4–6 (NKJV) 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
Believers can live as unbelievers. Christians can sleep as others do. For this reason, 1 Thessalonians warns us not to sleep. This passage reminds us that we are children of light and children of the Day. We are not in darkness. Therefore, we are not blind, nor are we to be taken by surprise.
Jesus told us that we would suffer persecution in this world. All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will experience hardship. The Thessalonians were experiencing difficulties and therefore questioned if it was not the Day of the Lord. Every generation of believers has faced the same question. For example, Martin Luther observed the hardships and politics of his Day and believed the Day of the Lord was to be during his lifetime. Although he made mistakes in his eschatology, he followed the command to be sober and watch. His spiritual life was advanced, and his ministry more effective because he took seriously the truth that Jesus is coming again.
Since Martin Luther’s Day, time has answered questions that Martin Luther did not even think to ask. For example, it never occurred to him that Israel would one day be a nation again. Therefore, he taught and believed that the Church is the New Israel. However, as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and others said would happen, Israel has been gathered from all the places she was scattered to and is once again a nation. The Scriptures are clear, but we all tend to see through our physical eyes rather than with the eyes of Scripture.
If we are awake and sober, we like Simeon and Anna will know the times and seasons that the Scriptures give. Disease, wars, and plagues should not shake our faith or cause us to think that the Day of the Lord has come already, and we somehow missed it. As 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, we who are of the day must put on the breastplate of faith and the helmet of the hope of salvation.
There are problems in the Church today that 1 Thessalonians 5:7 warns us about.
1 Thessalonians 5:7 (NKJV) 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
The problems are sleeping and getting drunk. Those who sleep ignore the warning signs and say, “Every generation has thought that Jesus would return in their day, and this generation is no different. Jesus will not return yet.” Having said this to themselves, they do not take time to understand the times and the seasons. Therefore they are easily deceived and led astray. Those who get drunk are those who live as friends of the world, satisfying the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. (See 1 John 2:15-17 for more details.) They have no concern for the Day of the Lord because they are too busy with the things of this world. They are intoxicated with success and happiness. These will be caught by surprise.
It has already been mentioned that wars, political upheaval, disasters, and the like cause many to wonder if we are not in the “Day of the Lord.” But we are given assurance in 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Verse 8 mentions the breastplate of faith, which protects our hearts and the hope of salvation, which protects our minds, then verses 9 and 10 give us a summary of our hope.
1 Thessalonians 5:9–10 (NKJV) 9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
As Christians, we suffer persecution and the Lord’s discipline, but never His wrath. The Day of the Lord is a day of wrath, and it is not meant for believers. Instead, our salvation guarantees that we will not suffer wrath.
Even after the Thessalonians received this letter, some were concerned lest the Day of the Lord had already come. Therefore, the subject is covered again with more detail in 2 Thessalonians.
2 Thessalonians 2:1–7 (NLT) 1Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the Day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that Day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call God and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
5Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? 6And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.
This passage says not to be deceived because the Day of the Lord cannot possibly have begun. How can it say this with such certainty? It is simple. We are reading it. Look at verse six. “And you know what is holding him back.” Verse seven tells us that when the one who is holding him back steps out of the way, then the man of lawlessness will be revealed. The revelation of the man of lawlessness marks the beginning of the Tribulation or Day of the Lord. But this cannot happen until the restrainer is removed. The restrainer is the Holy Spirit working through the Body of Christ, the Church. Everyone on Earth will know when the Church is removed, and then there will not be any question whether or not the Day of the Lord has come. Those who believe in Jesus after the Church is removed will not question whether they are in the Day of the Lord. They will read the book of Revelation carefully and without ceasing to see what will happen next.
We, as the Church, are not appointed to wrath. Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says,
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NKJV) 11Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
This verse tells us what we are to be doing while we wait. We are to comfort each other and edify (build up) each other. The Thessalonians were doing both of these things. Are we?