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Like a Thief in the Night

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Text:  1 Thess. 5:1-11


            What are some indications that people have an insatiable thirst for knowledge of the future?  Discussion.

            Next to books on marriage and the family, books on prophecy are the next best selling items in the Christian book store.  When preachers preach on the sayings of Jesus, the church is half-full; when they preach on the end times and the second coming of the Lord, the church fills up.  Why is that?

            Do you think this saying is true?  “If you knew everything about tomorrow, you would handle today all right.”

            Why are we so curious about what is going to happen before it actually does?  Eccl. 3:10-11

            Interest in the things of the end time is not a new curiosity.  Acts 1:6-8  Jesus must have thought that the disciples had all the details about the future that they needed, so He turned their attention from the yet-to-come, to the here-and-now.  Specifically, from prophetic date-setting, to the tasks of evangelism and missions.  Some things about the future God informs us, but other things remain a mystery until God unfolds them.  (Thelma, what’s your favorite scripture that fits here?) 

            Read Text!

1.      What does verse 1 seem to indicate about Paul’s teaching prior to this letter? 

2.      What are the characteristics of how a thief in the night comes that applies to the day of the Lord?  Matt. 24:42-44

3.      Notice Paul makes a change in his letter between verse 2 and 3.  In verse three he changes from using the personal pronoun “you” to “they.”  What do you think this means?
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4.      What are the nonchristians going to be saying at the time of the day of the Lord?     Will they escape the catastrophes God will bring to the earth at that time?

5.      Notice Paul switches the subject once again in verse 4 to addressing the Christians once again.  Why are Christians not in the dark concerning the coming of Jesus like a thief?  Matt. 24:32-44

6.      What is Paul trying to convey when he contrasts Christians as being in the light and nonchristians as being in the dark?

7.      Put verse 7 into your own words.

8.      Are Christians to nonchalantly yawn through this life?     How many days out of the week do you spend thinking this could be the day that Jesus comes back?     Would it change your daily walk if you thought of that every day?     How?

9.      Paul says we will do something if we live each day as if this were the day Jesus would return.  What is it?     Does living sober mean you walk around with a scowl on your face?     What then?

10.  What does it mean to put on the breastplate of faith and love?     What does it mean to put on the helmet of the hope of salvation?

11.  What does verse 9 say is the destiny of Christians?     What is the destiny of nonchristians?  2 Thess. 1:5-10; 1 Pet. 4:17-18

12.  Will death keep us from being saved when Jesus returns?  4:14; 5:10

13.  What does Paul mean in verse 6 when he tells us to be alert and sober?

14.  Why is verse 11 a fitting conclusion to this section of Scripture?


            Without a doubt, this text is permeated with a sense of urgency.  There is a strong word to both the Christians and nonchristians.  We are to carry that message with us with a sense of urgency since no one other than God knows exactly when these prophetic events will occur.

A balanced view of the future should bring us an intense concern to become more Christ-like and to present the good news of salvation to the lost.  So if you are a Christian, get to work!  There’s no time to delay!

2.      To unbelievers:  DON’T BE FOOLED BECAUSE TODAY SEEMS CALM!  There is a storm on the horizon.  It could break through at any moment.  So if you are a nonchristian, don’t slip into complacency simply because your life may be running smoothly.  You will not escape the coming judgment unless you place your life in Christ’s hands.  Do it now.  Don’t be caught unprepared and asleep.

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