1 Thessalonians 5:10
The apostle is now led to illustrate the hope of salvation.

I. ITS SOURCE. "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation."

1. The calling is according to the purpose. "Whom he predestinates, them he also calls." The security of the believer depends, not upon himself, but upon God's unchangeable and loving purpose.

2. The purpose is not to wrath, but to salvation. Though believers were once '"children of wrath," they are now reconciled to God, and saved from wrath to come.

3. God's purpose of mercy toward us does not free us from the necessity of being watchful concerning the means of salvation.

II. THE CHANNEL OF SALVATION. "By our Lord Jesus Christ."

1. The covenant was "ordained in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19.)

2. His death, not his doctrine or example merely, was necessary to our salvation. Who died for us."

3. His death was substitutionary. It was "for us."

III. THE END OF THIS SALVATION. "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live with him together." This was "the joy set before him" for which "he endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2) that we might live to him in order to our living with him.

1. It is life with Christ. Not merely life in him, but life with him in glory. "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:23). It is the greatest joy and glory of heaven (Romans 14:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 5:9).

2. It is life with all believers. They are to live with him, unsevered from one another; for whether they "are alive and remain," or whether they are of those who "have fallen asleep," they will be together, in Christ's society. Thus the great salvation is the "common salvation."

IV. THE CONSOLATORY ASPECT OF THESE TRUTHS. "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. These truths afforded a grand basis for mutual comfort and edification. The Thessalonians ought, therefore, to dismiss their despondency and alarm, and encourage each other with the blessed hopes of the gospel. - T.C.







But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you
As when we ascend a winding river some well-known landmark appears to alter its position seeming now distant, now near, so at different points on the circuitous stream of life the coming of Christ reveals itself as a near or remote event. "It is plain," says Archer Butler, "that that period which is distant in one scheme of things may be near in another, where events are on a vaster scale, and move in a mightier orbit. That which is a whole life to the ephemera, is but a day to a man; that which in the brief succession of human history is counted as remote, is but a single page in the volume of the heavenly records. The coming of Christ may be distant as measured on the scale of human life, but may be near when the interval of the two advents is compared, not merely with the four thousand years which were but its preparation, but with the line of infinite ages which it is itself preparing." The uncertainty of the time of the Second Advent and its stupendous issues define the attitude of the Church.

I. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF EXPECTANCY.

1. The time of the Second Coming is uncertain (ver. 1) — a gentle hint that all questions on that subject were unnecessary, as there was nothing more to be revealed. The curiosity and daring of man tempt him to pry into secrets with which he has nothing to do, and to dogmatize on subjects of which he knows the least. Many have been fanatical enough to fix the day of the Lord's coming (Mark 13:32). This uncertainty is a perpetual stimulant to the people of God to exercise the ennobling virtues of hope, watchfulness, fidelity, humility, inquiry, and reverence.

2. The Second Coming will be sudden (vers. 2, 3). The thief not only gives no notice of his approach, but takes every possible care to conceal his designs: the discovery of the mischief takes place when it is too late. The prudent will take every precaution to avoid surprise, and to baffle the marauder.

3. The Second Coming will be terrible to the wicked. "They shall not escape" (ver. 3). Wicked men are never more secure than when destruction is nearest. The swearer may be seized with the oath on his tongue: the drunkard while the cup is trembling on his lips. The destruction of the wicked and all they prized most in life will be sudden, painful, inevitable. Now there is place for mercy, but not then (Romans 2:8, 9).

II. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF VIGILANCE.

1. This vigilance is enforced on the ground of a moral transformation (vers. 4, 5). Believers are translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. They are "children of the day," when the sun shines the brightest when privileges are more abundant, when opportunities multiply and responsibility is therefore increased.

2. This vigilance must be constant (vers. 6, 7). Let us not, like the drunkard steeped in sottish slumber, be immersed in the sleep of sin and unconcern, neglecting duty, and never thinking of judgment; but let us watch, and, to do so effectually, be sober. We are day people, not night people; therefore our work ought to be day work; our conduct such as will bear the eye of day, the veil of night. A strict sobriety is essential to a sleepless vigilance.

III. IT IS ATTITUDE OF MILITANT COURAGE (ver. 8). The Christian has to fight the enemy, as well as to watch against him. He is a soldier on sentry. The Christian life is not one of luxurious ease. The graces of faith, love, and hope constitute the most complete armour of the soul. The breastplate and helmet protect the two most vital parts — the head and the heart. Let us keep the head from error, and the heart from sin, and we are safe. The best guards against both are — faith, hope, and charity; these are the virtues that inspire the most enterprising bravery.

IV. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF CONFIDENCE AS TO THE FUTURE BLESSEDNESS OF THE CHURCH.

1. This blessedness is divinely provided.

2. This blessedness consists in a constant fellowship with Christ. "That whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (ver. 10). The happiest moments on earth are those spent in the company of the good; so will it be in heaven.

3. The confidence of inheriting this blessedness encourages edification (ver. 11).Lessons:

1. The great event of the future will be the Second Coming of Christ.

2. That event should be looked for in a spirit of sobriety and vigilance.

3. That event will bring unspeakable felicity to the good, and dismay and misery to the wicked.

(G. Barlow.)

are often found together, but always in the plural in the New Testament (Acts 1:7), and not unfrequently in the LXX, and the Apocrypha (Wisd. 7:18 Wisd. 8:8), both instructive passages, and Daniel 2:21): and in the singular (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Daniel 7:12). Grotius conceives the difference between them to consist merely in the greater length of the former. But this is insufficient, and fails to reach the heart of the matter. Chronos is time simply as such; the succession of moments (Matthew 25:19; Revelation 10:6; Hebrews 4:7). Keiros is time as it brings forth its several births; thus "time of harvest" (Matthew 13:30); "time of figs" (Mark 11:13); "due time" (Romans 5:6); and, above all, compare, as constituting a miniature essay on the word (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Time, it will thus appear, embraces all possible seasons, and being the larger, more inclusive word, may be often used where season would have been equally suitable, though not the converse; thus "full time" (Luke 1:57), "fulness of time" (Galatians 4:4), where we should rather have expected "season," which phrase does actually occur in Ephesians 1:10. So we may confidently say that the "times of restitution" (Acts 3:21) are identical with the "seasons of refreshing" (Acts 3:19). Here, then, and in Acts 1:6, 7, "times" are spaces of time, and these contemplated under the aspect of their duration, over which the Church's history should extend; but the "seasons" are the joints and articulations in this time, the critical epoch-making periods foreordained of God (Acts 17:26); when all that has been slowly and without observation ripening through long ages is mature and comes to birth in grand decisive events, which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another. Such, e.g., was the passing away with a great noise of the old Jewish dispensation; such again the recognition of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire; such the conversion of the Germanic tribes settled within the limits of the Empire; such the great revival which went along with the first institution of the mendicant orders; such, by better right, the Reformation; such, above all others, the Second Coming of the Lord in glory (Daniel 7:22).

(Abp. Trench.)

Of this true advent season of eternity, though much is known, much too is hidden. There are secrets the Divine Bridegroom whispers not; that the "Spirit and the Bride" may still "say, Come." Between the Church and the Church's Head there still subsists, even in this intimate union, a mysterious separation; and on the period of that separation a holy reserve. It has already lasted for ages, and we cannot dare to predict at what epoch it is to close. The veil that hangs before the celestial sanctuary is still undrawn; and it is vain for us to "marvel" as of old the expectants of Zacharias, that the High Priest of our profession "tarrieth so long in the temple." He has willed it that, certain of His eventual arrival, we should remain in uncertainty as to its destined moment. This mingling of ignorance and knowledge on the part of Christ's people is best suited to keep alive in their breasts the hope whose breathed utterance is "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." The Thessalonians knew that the time could not be known, hence there was no need for Paul to write about it.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

I. THE APOSTLE TELLS THE THESSALONIANS IT WAS USELESS TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE PARTICULAR TIME OF CHRIST'S COMING (ver. 1). The event is certain — Christ will come, and there is a certain time divinely appointed for Christ's coming; but there was no need that St. Paul should write about that specially, and he had no revelation from heaven concerning it. Nor should we inquire into this secret "which the Father hath reserved in His own power." Christ Himself did not reveal "that day and hour" while on earth; for it was not included in His commission as the great Prophet of the Church; nor is it in that of His apostles. A vain curiosity desireth to know many things which there is no need soever of our knowing, and which if we knew them thoroughly would do us no good, but perhaps harm.

II. THE APOSTLE TELLS THEM THE COMING OF CHRIST WOULD BE A GREAT SURPRISE TO MOST MEN (ver. 2). And this is what they knew perfectly, or might know, because the Lord Himself had so said (Matthew 24:44). As the thief usually cometh in the dead time of the night, when he is least expected, such a surprise will the day of the Lord be — so sudden and surprising His appearance. And the knowledge of this fact will prove more useful than to know the exact time, because this will lead us to watch, that we may be ready whenever He cometh.

III. THE APOSTLE TELLS THEM HOW TERRIBLE WILL BE THE COMING OF CHRIST TO THE UNGODLY (ver. 3). It will be to their destruction. It will overtake and fall upon them in the midst of their carnal security and jollity; when they dream of felicity, and please themselves with vain amusements of their fancies or their senses, and think not of it. And it will be unavoidable destruction, too. "They shall not escape:" there will be no means possible for them to avoid the terror or the punishment of that day; no shelter from the storm, nor shadow from the burning heat that shall consume the wicked.

IV. THE APOSTLE TELLS THEM HOW COMFORTABLE THE COMING OF CHRIST WILL BE TO THE GODLY (vers. 4, 5). And here he sketches their character and privilege. They are "children of light." They were "sometime darkness, but were made light in the Lord." They were "the children of the day," for "the Sun of Righteousness had risen upon them with healing in His beams." They were not under the dark shadows of the law, but under the bright sunshine of the gospel, which brings life and immortality to light. But this, great as it is, is not all: the day of Christ will not overtake them as a thief, but will be "a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." They "look for Him, and His appearance to them will be their full salvation."

(R. Fergusson.)

Mark what Paul saith, "Ye have no need that I write unto you of times and seasons"; and that our Saviour saith, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons." What may we think then of them that write books and almanacks, and say, "Such a year, and at such a time, Christ shall come"; and with these speeches frighten and mock the world? Paul was the apostle of Christ, an elect vessel of the Holy Ghost: he said, I have no need to write of it; you cannot know it. What need is there now that such books and pamphlets should be written? Why should the world be troubled with such vanities? Spare me your patience, and give me leave a little to deal with these wizards. Tell me, thou that dost measure and behold the compass of heaven, and markest the conjunctions, and oppositions, and aspects of the stars; and by that wisdom canst foretell the things that shall be done hereafter: where learnest thou this skill? how comest thou by this deep knowledge? Paul was taken up into the third heaven, and heard words which cannot be spoken, which are not lawful for man to utter: yet he knew not this secret, nor might not know it. What art thou then? art thou greater than the apostle of Christ? hast thou been taken up into some place higher than the third heaven? has thou heard such words, as are not lawful to utter? If this be so, why dost thou utter them? Wilt thou take that upon thee, which the holy apostle dareth not? Art thou of God's privy council? The angels and archangels know not hereof: and shall we think that thou knowest it? art thou wiser than an angel? Consider thyself: thou art a miserable man; thy breath fadeth as the smoke; thou art nothing but dust and ashes: thou canst not attain to the knowledge hereof.

(Bp. Jewell.)

A Government vessel was about to leave the dock, to sail away for some port. No one knew her destination, whether it was to be near by or far away. Those who had loved ones on board felt sad and anxious; were they to be within reach of cheering words, of letters full of love and encouragement, or were they to be sent afar to some foreign port from which no word could come in weary weeks and months? They could ask the question many and many a time, but there was no echo to the words, no answer to be had. The ship was to sail under sealed orders; orders from the Navy Department that were sealed by Government zeal, which could not be opened until the ship was far out at sea, and away from all possible communication with land. The Captain of our salvation sends us away on sealed instructions. Whither? You do not need to know. You might not like your destination; you might object to the buffeting waves, the billows of trouble might threaten to wreck your soul; the harbour might be hard to reach and the rocks of danger might lie between you and it. Do you caret Does it matter to you if the passage is a stormy one when you know that safety is at the end? that there is a harbour that leads to the Eternal City? and (most comforting thought) when the Father is at the helm, and that He neither slumbers nor sleeps? Let go your moorings, spread the canvas, and in storm or sunshine, by day or by night, go forth with "sealed orders."

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