1 Thessalonians 5:1-28 open_in_new
The Need of Watchfulness. Final Injunctions
1. Times and seasons] St. Paul always lays stress on the uncertainty as to the time of the Advent (2 Thessalonians 2:2 cp. 2 Peter 3:3-4).
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When they shall say] i.e. when people are saying.
4, 5. Thief] better, 'as thieves.' Thieves work in darkness. You are all children of light. Live up to your birthright.
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Let us not sleep] i.e. in carelessness and sin. Others] better, 'the others.'
8-10. Mason paraphrases, 'Let us arm ourselves with a brave hope of our salvation, for it will be against God's will if we perish. He means us to save ourselves by union with Him who put an end to death for us by dying, and made all who wait for His coming to live, whether they be in the world's sense dead or alive.'
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A new metaphor (cp. Ephesians 6:13-17; Isaiah 59:17), but suggested by the idea of watchfulness.
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To obtain salvation] (Philippians 2:12-13) or, perhaps, 'for the adoption which consists in salvation': cp. 2 Thessalonians 2:14.
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Whether we wake or sleep] i.e. whether we are alive or dead at the Advent.
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Edify] better, 'build up.' As also ye do] St. Paul always praises and encourages where he can.
12-28. Exhortations to respect for their clergy, orderly living, prayer and other spiritual duties, and conclusion.
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Know] better, 'value.' The probable reference is to the presbyters sometimes called (in allusion to their duties) 'overseers' (1 Timothy 5:17).
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Feebleminded] better, 'fainthearted.'
The weak] i.e. in faith, Romans 15:1.
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Evermore] better, 'always.' Joy is a necessary part of the Christian character (Romans 14:17; Philippians 2:18; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4), and a Christian duty.
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Cp. Ephesians 5:20. Prayer is put between joy and thanksgiving, because it is only by constant prayer that we are enabled to feel true joy or gratitude. God's will towards us is that we should be always joyful, prayerful, grateful, and (1 Thessalonians 3:3) pure in life.
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The Christian prophets were an order of men specially inspired to reveal the will of God to others ('mission-preachers'), who might sometimes (Acts 11:27-28; Acts 21:10-11) be charged to foretell the future: see 1 Corinthians 11:4-5; 1 Corinthians 14:5; Ephesians 4:11; Ephesians 3:5; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14. 'Prophets' are also mentioned in the early Christian tract known as the 'Didache,' or 'Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.' The Thessalonians seem to have been disposed to check enthusiasm.
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Prove] better, 'test.' You must test all these thoughts by spiritual standards, since there is an inspiration which is false (1 John 4:1).
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All appearance] better, 'every form.' Good is one; evil is manifold.
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May your spirit (by which man maintains communion with God) and soul (the feelings and emotions) and body (which is to rise again) be preserved entire and without blame, and be so found at the Advent.
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Will do it] i.e. will preserve your spirit, soul, and body.
25, 26. The duty of intercessory prayer (? especially at the Eucharist, where the holy kiss was a part of the rites from very early times).
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I charge] better, 'I adjure.' The reading was probably to be at the Eucharist (Justin Martyr, 'Apol.'
1. 65-67). St. Paul wishes his earliest letter to be read to all without any suppression or omissions, otherwise a wrong use might be made of his authority.