What does 1 Thessalonians 5 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
This final chapter of 1 Thessalonians continues to discuss the day of the Lord, assuring Christians that it will not overtake them. It is associated with what Paul calls the night, in this passage, and it will overtake those who are children of the night. The day of the Lord will arrive like a thief in the night, which is not a welcome event. Also, it brings God's wrath upon unbelievers, whereas Christians—children of the light—will experience full salvation at the rapture. This prospect of receiving final salvation motivates Christians to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11).

While waiting for final salvation, Christians ought to lead a righteous life. This involves proper respect for church leaders. The Lord has placed them in positions of authority and trust over the church. Church members ought to hold them in high regard because of the ministry they perform. Christians also have a responsibility to be at peace with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13).

Paul instructs believers to warn those who are lazy busybodies, encourage those who are easily discouraged, assist those whose faith is weak. And exercise patience with everyone. Furthermore, Christians should not try to get even with those who offend them. On a positive note Christians should keep on doing good to everyone and rejoice. They should keep on praying and offer thanks in every situation (1 Thessalonians 5:14–18).

Also, Paul instructs believers not to ignore or reject what the Spirit wants them to do, nor take a dim view of prophesying. Instead of rejecting messages delivered by alleged prophets, they should put those messages to the test. This testing allows believers to accept that which agrees with the Word of God, and reject anything which does not. Finally, Christians should stay clear of every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22).

Lastly, Paul prays that God will make the Thessalonians completely holy and faultless at the rapture. He concludes with a prayer request and a benediction (1 Thessalonians 5:23–28).
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 5:1–11 informs believers about the day of the Lord. This phrase refers both to the moment of the rapture as well as the seven-year tribulation period that follows the rapture. The passage assures us that believers will not experience the tribulation. The day of the Lord will commence unexpectedly, like the arrival of a thief at night. It is described as a time of darkness with dreadful consequences. Unbelievers, identified as those who belong to the night, will be overtaken by destruction. But believers are, symbolically, of the day not the night. They are not the objects of God's wrath, but are destined to receive a full rescue from the day of God's wrath. In view of their exemption from the day of the Lord, believers ought to encourage and edify one another.
First Thessalonians 5:12–22 gives the Thessalonian believers a series of exhortations. As children of the day, who were anticipating the Lord's return, they needed to live righteously. As a church, they needed to relate well to their leadership. Paul calls upon them to treat all their fellow believers kindly and patiently and to do good to one another. Paul admonishes the believers to be joyful at all times and to keep on praying. Constant thanksgiving was to mark their lives. Further, Paul tells his readers not to quench the Holy Spirit or to have a negative attitude toward prophetic ministries. However, they were supposed to keep a firm grasp on teachings that they tested and found to be true. Lastly, Paul directs his readers to avoid every kind of evil.
First Thessalonians 5:23–28 concludes Paul's initial letter to the Thessalonians. He pronounces a benediction of peace and prays that God will make the Thessalonians completely holy. He prays that this holiness would extend to their spirit, soul, and body and that they would be preserved free of every legitimate accusation at the rapture. He expresses confidence that God would make this happen. Paul's final instructions include a request for the Thessalonians to pray for him, a command to greet one another cordially, and a command to read aloud this very letter to the entire church. Finally, he invokes God's grace to be with his readers.
Chapter Summary:
First Thessalonians chapter 5 reiterates that the rapture will occur quickly, catching the unbelieving world unprepared. In contrast, Paul presents faithful Christians as those who are aware and ready for this event. This passage uses the contrast of day versus night to highlight those differences. Paul also completes his letter by offering various practical instructions. These include the need to be peaceful, hardworking, and forgiving. He also commends constant prayer and an attitude of joyfulness, before closing his letter with a command for this letter to be read aloud.
Chapter Context:
The end of chapter 4 discussed the nature of the rapture: a sudden, physical ''taking away'' of believers from the earth. Here, Paul continues to refer to this event's sudden and dramatic nature. A key analogy used in this passage is that of daytime versus darkness, and the concept of being awake and alert. As with many of Paul's letters, practical instructions make up the bulk of his closing statements. In particular, Paul adds a command that this letter be read aloud among all of the people of the Thessalonian church.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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