The Day of the Lord

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:11

So, this is the passage that brought me to 1 Thessalonians after reading Joel. The Day of the Lord is God’s just wrath poured over the evil of the world (Joel 2). The Thessalonians knew about it, and worried about when it would happen and whether their fellow believers who had died would miss it.

Paul first reassured them that even in their grief, they had hope because Jesus was with them even in death.

This part of the letter has been interpreted and taught in dozens of ways, but the heart of the message is this: Jesus is coming back and the Day of the Lord is yet to come. We don’t need to know exactly when; we should live as though it is any minute.

Matthew 24 records what Jesus said about what would precede that day: wars, natural disasters, false teachers, and all sorts of evil doing. We seem to be in that pattern of society now, but Paul added another detail: people be saying “There is peace and security” (5:3). We are most certainly NOT hearing that now.

However, that time will come and as believers, we need to remember that it is a false security led by the anti-Christ (Matthew 24:15, Revelation 13). We can be sure of this: Jesus has saved us out of that day of wrath, whether we are alive or not when the Day of the Lord comes.

Consistent conviction

1 Thessalonians 1

The church of Thessalonica was made up of people who were consistent in their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope, so much so that their reputation spread well beyond the borders of their city. They lived out their conviction without compromise.

Thessalonica was a port city influenced by both Greek and Roman cultures.

The city itself was not an easy place to be a Jesus follower. Acts 17:1-9 describes the trouble that Paul got into at Thessalonica. He taught in the synagogue, as was his custom, and people believed. There were also converts to Judaism who believed. Men and women both turned to Christ, and then people in the community started believing.

Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Thessalonica was a port city with a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious population. Archaeologists estimate the city housed temples to more than 25 Roman and Greek gods ( Being a port city, it was fairly wealthy, educated, and above all, tolerant. A religion that claimed Jesus was the only way to God was NOT welcome. Anti-Christian mobs forced Paul and Timothy out of town and threw church leaders into prison.

A wealthy, pluralistic society does not appreciate claims of Truth, particularly when those claims are reasonable ones based on evidence. Christianity is tolerated as long as it stays inside the church building. It is not generally welcomed in a secular or pluralistic culture.

The Thessalonians are examples of how to live in an unfriendly culture without compromise. They lived in relationships, caring for the needy, joyfully serving others while keeping their eyes on the eternal. Their lived out lives preached more convincingly than words, and as their reputations spread, so did the Church.

Bos, Carole “Map Depicting Thessalonica” Oct 07, 2013. Feb 06, 2020.
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