1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Sim Kay Tee
No country is exempt from terrorism. Terrorist attacks can happen anytime and anywhere, suddenly and without warning. Governments, however, can do their best to be prepared so that they would be better able to respond if attacks occur.
Similarly, Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers to be prepared for the imminent return of the Lord. Continuing the analogy of the day of the Lord coming like a thief in the night, Paul notes that his hearers are ″not in darkness″ (1 Thessalonians 5:4). They were well aware of the imminence and certainty of Jesus' return because Paul himself had taught them about it. Spiritually, they also did not ″belong to the night or to the darkness″, for God had rescued them from the dominion of darkness and placed them in the kingdom of light (v. 5; see also Colossians 1:12-13).
Paul proceeds to remind the Thessalonian believers about who they are and how they should conduct themselves. As ″children of the light and children of the day″, they must behave like people who are awake in the daytime-watchful, clear-headed, not acting in secrecy or under the cover of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5-7). The apostle Peter, too, discusses being prepared for Jesus' return. ″What kind of people ought you to be [in the light of Christ's return]?″ he asks. Peter's response resonates with Paul's: ″You ought to live holy and godly lives″ (2 Peter 3:11).
Paul then offers a military metaphor of a soldier armed and ready for battle, urging the Thessalonians to be disciplined and self-controlled. They are to ″be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation″ (1 Thessalonians 5:8, NLT). The military image is one of Paul's favourite analogies for the Christian life (see Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
The Lord's people need to be protected by spiritual armour because they will face greater evil and increasing opposition as the Lord's return draws near (see Matthew 24:7-13). Commenting on the elements of this armour, Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe observes: ″Faith and love are like a breastplate that covers the heart: faith toward God, and love toward God's people. Hope is a sturdy helmet that protects the mind. The unsaved fix their minds on the things of this world, while dedicated believers set their attention on things above.″12
These three virtues-faith, love, and hope-form the familiar triad that characterises the ″model″ church (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; see Day 2). Let us put aside sin, put on the armour of light, and be ready to receive the Lord!
What does the phrase ″children of the light and children of the day″ (1 Thessalonians 5:5) say about believers and how we are to live?
Reflect on Paul's analogy of spiritual armour-faith and love as a ″breastplate″, and salvation as a ″helmet″ (v. 8). How do faith, love, and hope protect us? Why do we need to protect ourselves in this way as we wait for Jesus' return?