1 Thessalonians 5:1
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
V.

(1) But of the times.—The fourth subject of instruction; the bearing of the doctrine of the Advent upon the Christian’s own life. “Times and seasons” is a Hebraism, and in the original, the second word, not the first, is the more explicit: we should say, “About day and hour.” The plural seems to mean the different periods at which men might conceive the Advent likely to come.

Ye have no need.—The next verse shows that this paragraph is not so much intended for an answer to a false theory about the time of the Advent, as practically to cure the restlessness common at Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 5:1. The apostle having described the coming of Christ to raise the dead, judge the world, and carry the righteous with him to heaven, does not quit the awful subject, but proceeds in this chapter to foretel the terror which his appearance will occasion to the unrighteous, and the punishment which he will then inflict on them: a circumstance this which merits the reader’s attention, because it proves that, in describing Christ’s second coming, the apostle had some further end in view besides that of comforting the Thessalonians under the death of their relations. But of the times — As if he had said, I have been warning you that the solemn day of universal judgment will certainly come, and have been endeavouring to lead your minds to those views of it which must be consolatory to every true believer; but concerning the precise period of time when this grand event, which will close the economy of providence, shall take place; or of the seasons — Which God hath appointed for the accomplishment of his promises and predictions, preparatory thereto; you have no need that I write unto you — No occasion to know these things particularly, since the general knowledge thereof is sufficient to render you watchful, and to excite you to make preparation for them. It is probable that, when he was with them, he had repeated to them Christ’s injunction to watch, because at such an hour as men think not, the Son of man cometh, Matthew 24:44. By making this observation, the apostle represses that vain curiosity which is natural to mankind, who, not content with the knowledge of things useful, indulge an immoderate desire of searching into things which, because the discovery of them would be hurtful, God hath determined to conceal.

5:1-5 It is needless or useless to ask about the particular time of Christ's coming. Christ did not reveal this to the apostles. There are times and seasons for us to work in, and these are our duty and interest to know and observe; but as to the time when we must give up our account, we know it not, nor is it needful that we should. The coming of Christ will be a great surprise to men. Our Lord himself said so. As the hour of death is the same to each person that the judgment will be to mankind in general, so the same remarks answer for both. Christ's coming will be terrible to the ungodly. Their destruction will overtake them while they dream of happiness, and please themselves with vain amusements. There will be no means to escape the terror or the punishment of that day. This day will be a happy day to the righteous. They are not in darkness; they are the children of the light. It is the happy condition of all true Christians. But how many are speaking peace and safety to themselves, over whose heads utter destruction is hovering! Let us endeavour to awaken ourselves and each other, and guard against our spiritual enemies.But of the times and the seasons - See the notes, Acts 1:7. The reference here is to the coming of the Lord Jesus, and to the various events connected with his advent; see the close of 1 Thessalonians 4.

Ye have no need that I write unto you - That is, they had received all the information on the particular point to which he refers, which it was necessary they should have. He seems to refer particularly to the suddenness of his coming. It is evident from this, as well as from other parts of this Epistle, that this had been, from some cause, a prominent topic which he had dwelt on when he was with them; see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

CHAPTER 5

1Th 5:1-28. The Suddenness of Christ's Coming a Motive for Watchfulness; Various Precepts: Prayer for Their Being Found Blameless, Body, Soul, and Spirit, at Christ's Coming: Conclusion.

1. times—the general and indefinite term for chronological periods.

seasons—the opportune times (Da 7:12; Ac 1:7). Time denotes quantity; season, quality. Seasons are parts of times.

ye have no need—those who watch do not need to be told when the hour will come, for they are always ready [Bengel].

cometh—present: expressing its speedy and awful certainty.1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 The apostle proceedeth to show that Christ’s coming

will be sudden, exhorting Christians to watch and be

sober, so as not to be taken by surprise.

1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 He beseecheth them to respect their spiritual guides,

1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 and giveth, divers other precepts,

1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 concluding with a prayer and salutations.

But when shall these things be? Might some say, as the disciples asked Christ, Matthew 24:3,36 Ac 1:6. He tells them:

It is not for you to know the times or the seasons; not that they knew them in particular already, but there was no need they should know them. It may be some among them were too curious to inquire. He doth not say they could not be known, as being put into God’s own power, as Acts 1:7; but,

ye have no need that I write of them. The apostle, as in his preaching, so in his writing, had respect to what was most needful and profitable for the people: as when the disciples asked: Are there few that be saved? Christ answered them in that which was most needful to them, Luke 13:24: and so doth the apostle here; instead of acquainting them with the times and seasons, he puts them upon watchfulness, that they might not be surprised, as in the following verses; and to improve the knowledge they had already, which was this, that Christ’s coming would be sudden.

But of the times and the seasons, brethren,.... Of the coming of Christ, his "appointed time" and "his day", as the Ethiopic version renders it; of the resurrection of the dead in Christ first, and of the rapture of all the saints in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, things treated of in the preceding chapter: and which might excite a curiosity to know the times and seasons of them; as in what year they would come to pass; in what season of the year, whether winter or summer; in what month, and on what day of the month; and whether in the night season, or in the daytime; and in what hour, whether at midnight, cockcrowing, morning, or noonday: to repress which the apostle observes,

ye have no need that I write unto you; to write to them concerning the things themselves was necessary and useful, to stir up and encourage their faith, hope, and expectation of them; to allay their grief for departed friends, and to comfort one another under the various trials and exercises of life; but to write to them about the time of these things would be trifling and unnecessary, would be an idle speculation, and an indulging a vain curiosity; and, besides, was impracticable: for of that day and hour knows no man; the times and seasons the Father hath put in his own power; for these things are equally true of Christ's second coming, as of the kingdom of Christ coming with power and glory, and of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24:36. The Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions read, "ye have no need that we write unto you"; the reason follows;

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

(1) The day that God has appointed for this judgment we do not know. But this is sure, that it will come upon men when they are not expecting it.

(a) See Ac 1:7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 5:1. Περὶ δὲ τῶν χρόνων καὶ τῶν καιρῶν] but concerning the times and periods, i.e. concerning the time and hour, sc. of the advent. The conjunction of these two words frequently occurs; comp. e.g. Acts 1:7; Daniel 2:21; Ecclesiastes 3:1. χρόνος denotes time in general; καίρος, the definite point of time (therefore usually the favourable moment for a transaction). See Tittmann, de synonym. I. p. 39 ff. Paul puts the plural, because he thinks on a plurality of acts or incidents, in which partly preparation is made for the advent (2 Thessalonians 2:3 ff.), and partly it is accomplished. That, moreover, the apostle, although he has not treated of the advent in itself, but only of an entirely special objection regarding it, feels necessitated also to make the commencement of the advent a subject of explanation, is an evident intimation that this point also formed the subject of frequent discussion among the Thessalonians. Yet on account of the relation of the second Epistle to the first, the opinion that the return of Christ was immediately to be expected was not yet diffused.

οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε] a praeteritio, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:9. The reason why the readers did not require instruction on the time and hour of the advent, is neither because instruction concerning it would not be useful to them (Oecumenius: ὡς ἀσύμφορον· ὁ δέ γε Παῦλος ἴσως ᾔδει αὐτό, ἐκ τῶν ἀῤῥήτων καὶ τοῦτο καθών, Theophylact, and others), nor also because no instruction can be given concerning it (Zwingli, Hunnius, Estius, Fromond., Flatt, Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius, Koch, and others), but because the Thessalonians were already sufficiently acquainted with it from the oral instruction of the apostle. Accordingly the apostle adds—

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. περὶ τῶν χρόνων καὶ τῶν καιρῶν.

1. But of the times and the seasons] Better, concerning the times and the seasons. The Greek word for “times” denotes stretches of time, that for seasons particular times; the question as to the former was, “How long before the Lord comes? what periods will elapse before the final establishment of His kingdom?” as to the second, “What events will transpire meanwhile? how will the course of history shape itself?” These enquiries our Lord put aside. “It is not for you,” said He, “to know times or seasons, which the Father has put within His own province” (Acts 1:7); and previously Jesus had declared respecting the end of the world, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son,—only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Such knowledge, it appears, is outside the province of human thought. Speculations of this nature have been repeatedly ventured on since the Apostle’s day; they have proved invariably worthless, and afford so many confirmations of the Lord’s warning. Chrysostom remarks on this passage somewhat severely: “Our nature is officious and greedy for the knowledge of things invisible and hidden from us. This comes of our conceit, and from having nothing to do. Often therefore is the mind in haste to learn and understand these things before the time.”

ye have no need that I write unto you] Lit., that aught he written to you (R. V.). The phrase is a repetition of that of ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:9, except that there the emphasis lies on you as persons not needing this instruction, here upon the writing as a thing in itself needless. On the topic of the last paragraph, viz. the position of Christians dying before the Lord’s return, it was needful that something should be written; as to the “times and seasons” nothing need be written, for the readers already knew so much as could be known (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

Section VI. (continued): 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

The first part of this Chapter stands in close connection with the last six verses of ch. 4. Together they form the most distinctive and the weightiest section of the Epistle. The two paragraphs of the section touch upon two different aspects of our Lord’s Coming, viewed first as it concerns departed Christians, and then in its relation to men living on the earth. The former passage supplies comfort respecting the dead in Christ, the latter enjoins watchfulness and preparedness upon the living. See note introductory to ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

From 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 it appears likely that the Thessalonians had been enquiring from St Paul “about the times and the seasons” of Christ’s return and the Day of Judgement.

1 Thessalonians 5:1. Περὶ τῶν χρόνων, of the times) When these things shall happen, which I have mentioned. Καιροί, seasons, are parts χρόνων, of the times.[24]—Οὐ ΧΡΕΊΑΝ ἜΧΕΤΕ, ye have no need) Those who watch do not require to be told when the hour will come; for they are always ready.

[24] Χρόνος gives the notion of indefinite time; Καιρός, the time, the opportune point of time, when a thing should be done. Ammonius says well, ὁ καιρός indicates quality (ποιότητα) of time; and χρόνος, quantity (ποσότητα).—ED.

Verse 1. - This verse is connected with what precedes. The apostle was comforting the Thessalonians under the loss of their deceased friends by the assurance that both the living and the dead would be gathered together at the advent. The question would naturally arise, "When shall these things be?" (Luke 21:7); and it would appear that the Thessalonians expected an immediate advent. The apostle represses their curiosity on this point by reminding them of the uncertainty of the time of the Lord's coming. But of the times and the seasons, brethren; that is, of the time and the precise period of the Lord's advent. "Times" and "seasons" are elsewhere united together (Ecclesiastes 3; Daniel 2:21; Acts 1:7). The word translated "times" denotes time absolutely without regard to circumstances; and the word rendered "seasons" denotes a definite point of time; not merely the day, but the hour (Mark 13:32). Ye have no need that I write unto you; literally, that ought be written unto you (R.V.); comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:9. The reason why it was not needful for the apostle to write unto them was, not because he regarded the information unprofitable or superfluous, or because he knew it to be impossible, but because he had already informed them when at Thessalonica that the time of the advent was beyond the sphere of his teaching. The apostle mentions this to repress that vain curiosity which is natural to man, and which was the occasion of so much disorder among the Thessalonians. Our duty is, not to pry into the times and seasons which the Father hath put in his own power (Acts 1:7), but to exercise constant watchfulness. 1 Thessalonians 5:1Times - seasons (χρόνων - καιρῶν)

See on Acts 1:7. With special reference to the Lord's coming. The plural is used because Paul is thinking of a number of incidents attending the preparation and accomplishment of the second advent, and occurring at different times. The collocation times and seasons only here and Acts 1:7. Καιρός is the suitable time, χρόνος the time measured by duration. Hence καιρός a juncture, an occasion, as Matthew 16:3. The distinction is so well marked that have the phrases χρόνου καιρός the right moment of the time, and εὔκαιρος χρόνος the opportune moment. See Soph. Elec. 1292.

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