Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Surprise! He's Coming!

Popular Translation

1 Brothers and sister, you don't need me to write you about the general time or the exact moment when Jesus will return. 2 You surely know that the Day of the Lord will come without warning, like a thief does in the night. 3 When people say, "Everything is safe and peaceful," that's when disaster strikes! A pregnant woman feels the same surprising jolt when she first goes into labor. 4 But, brothers ans sisters, you are not in the dark so the Day of the Lord will catch you off guard. You are all children of God's light. All of us do not live dark lives or hide like we come out only at night. 6, So, we should not act like we were asleep. We should be alert and level-headed as we wait for Jesus to return.

Literal Translation

1 Concerning the time span and the exact moment (of the end time), brothers, you do not have need (for anything) to be written to you, 2 for you yourselves surely know that the Day of the Lord comes thus as a thief in the night. 3 When (people) say, "Peace and security," then sudden destruction rises upon them, just like the (sudden) birth pang in the (pregnant) womb. 4 But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that the day should overtake you as a thief. 5 For you are all sons of light, sons of the day. We are neither of the night, nor of the dark. 6 So then, we should not fall asleep, but we should remain awake and sober.

5:1 "the time span and the exact moment" is "chronos" and "kairos" in Greek. "Chronos" is the flow of time (as in "chronological time"). "Kairos" is the exact moment (as in "the right time"). Paul echoed Jesus' warning in Acts 1:7 about speculation over the end times.

After Paul reassured the Thessalonians about the fate of those who died before the return of Jesus, he turned his attention to the favorite hobby of many Christians: speculating about the end times. He reminded his audience that trying to pinpoint the time frame of Jesus' return was futile. In fact, the Day of the Lord will come as a shock! Paul echoed a favorite image of Israel's prophets for the arrival of the Lord: the rushing onset of labor (Jer. 6:24; 22:23; Mic. 4:9). Notice that Paul implicitly saw this as God's work alone. This belief contradicted that of many Jews who believed that revolution or a righteous life would hasten the coming of the Lord. Paul inferred this was God's work alone, not man's.

Faith, however, empowered the Christian. He or she certainly knew that the Lord would return; they just didn't know when. This anticipation was not merely to be felt, but to be lived in a Christian lifestyle. Notice the qualities Paul used for the Christian who looked to the coming of Jesus. Living as children of the light, of the day. Living sober, alert lives. Paul would compare these qualities to those who lived shamefully in the shadows or in a stupor, like the sleepy or the drunk (see 5:7, not translated).

How we live reflects how seriously take the Christian message. We should live like we are ready for the coming of the Lord.

Are you ready for the coming of Jesus? How can you get ready for his return?