1 Thessalonians 5 | What Is the Day of the Lord?

As Jesus’ return draws closer, we will hear more about a certain “day.” This day is called the “day of the Lord” It is mentioned throughout the Old and New Testaments. But what is the day of the Lord? What does the Bible say about this coming day? And why does the day of the Lord even matter? In short, it is a 7 year time period when God’s judgment is poured out on the wickedness in this world, and His purposes are finally fulfilled. But there is also good news about this day! 

Paul taught the church in Thessalonica about the day of the Lord and the prophetic times in which they lived in just a matter of a few weeks. 

Some shy away from learning or studying about the end times and the day of the Lord because it seems overwhelming. However, we can look at the church of Thessalonica and see that there is much we can learn about this coming day in a short amount of time. Paul only was with them for a few weeks and taught them much about this coming day.

Though we don’t know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return for the Church(Matthew 24:36),–which kicks off the day of the Lord–Paul did tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5 that we can be informed about the times and the seasons (much of which is described in Daniel). 

Let’s discover the significance of the church in Thessalonica, how it relates to us today, and more about the Day of the Lord.  

Other Names for the Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord is a series of events that occur at the end of human history. It is described in detail in the books of Daniel and Revelation and is also known as… 

  • The great tribulation (Matthew 24:21)
  • The day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2)
  • Trouble or tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30)
  • The time of Jacob’s troubles (Jeremiah 30:7)

The day of the Lord is a 7-year time period when Satan will make one final attempt to steal God’s throne just before he is overthrown by King Jesus.  

What Is the Significance of the Church of Thessalonica and Its Connection to the Day of the Lord?

Thessalonica had a major seaport on the Aegean Sea, making it a prominent city in Macedonia, modern-day Greece. Paul went to Thessalonica on his second missionary trip to preach the gospel, though this wasn’t his first choice. The Holy Spirit actually prevented him from going to Turkey, which was where he wanted to preach. But the Holy Spirit stopped him, and he ended up going to Thessalonica.

He only spent a few weeks there, but many Greeks, a few leading women, and some Jews accepted the good news, and the church started (Acts 17:3). 

However, many unbelieving Jews in the area were stirred up in anger against the new believers, creating a hostile environment. Fortunately, the church of Thessalonica stayed grounded in the words Paul taught them about the message of Jesus, and they began to thrive

The increased hostility cut Paul’s mission trip short, so he had some concerns the church didn’t quite get all the information they needed to grow spiritually. He sent Timothy to check in on the newfound church and returned with a good report. So then, Paul wrote letters to strengthen and encourage and to further explain the day of the Lord

What Can We Learn from Paul’s Letters to the Church of Thessalonica?

  1. Allow the Holy Spirit to Open and Close Doors

As the day of the Lord approaches, you might have a plan to reach out to someone and share the good news. Yet, if something continuously “gets in the way,” don’t lose heart. Pay attention to who God is placing in your path. 

This could be the Spirit closing and opening doors in your life and someone else’s. Trust that as the day of the Lord grows closer, God puts people in your path for a reason. Praise God and continue to encourage them. 

  1. Pray and Encourage New Christians

Paul knew the hostility against Christians in Thessalonica. He was concerned about the maturity of the newfound church’s leadership and wanted to provide continual counsel and discipleship. So he prayed and sent missionaries (Timothy) and letters. His letters expressed his love for the church and instructions as they looked forward to Jesus’ return.  

As you go through doors of opportunities to share the love of Jesus, pray for the ones you share with to have a soft heart ready to be discipled. 

A Cross made of flames, standing on a hill on a cloudy evening.

Get Ready for the Day of the Lord

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul told the Thessalonians, and he tells us, to be…

  • Ready for Jesus’ return

Paul’s words to the Thessalonians tell us that we must be ready for the return of Jesus and seek to understand other prophetic matters and events. We are instructed to be ready because the day of the Lord will come “as a thief in the night.” The day itself is unknown, but it will come at once, and we can count on its arrival. 

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”—1 Thessalonians 5:1-2

  • Sons of light, not of darkness

God makes us sons of the light and the day through Jesus. We were rescued from the darkness and brought into the light. Therefore, we must agree and act in accordance with the light. We’ve been given a new nature and a new life. Let us be living proof of the newness we’ve been given. 

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.”—1 Thessalonians 5:4-5

  • Awake, sober, and watchful

Don’t be lulled to sleep by political, economic, or social conditions, which leave us exposed to the enemy. There will be no “peace and safety” in these worldly things. Rather they are indicators of His coming. Instead, we are to put on the breastplate and helmet, which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”—1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul told the Thessalonians, and he tells us, to … 

  • Have security in the future

As Christians, we can have security in our future that we are saved and not appointed to the wrath that will be poured out on the Day of the Lord. 

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”—1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

  • Comfort one another

We are to remind each other of the “good and perfect gifts” that come from the Father, encourage each other to stay in the Word, and fellowship in biblical community. These will bring us comfort and edify us. 

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:11

  • Recognize and encourage our spiritual leaders

Our spiritual leaders aren’t leaders because of a specific title but rather because of their service. If someone encourages or counsels us according to God’s Word, let us praise God for them. We all need spiritual leadership in our lives so that we can grow. Spiritual leaders disciple others through brotherly love, gently cautioning, correcting, and encouraging. 

“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”—1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

God’s Sanctifying You as the Day of the Lord Approaches

Why did Paul tell the church of Thessalonica to be and do these things? He wanted them to be “set apart” for God as the day of the Lord approached. 

This is God’s Word for the Church today. We are to come out of agreement with old ways of thinking and be transformed by renewing our minds in Jesus. We must understand that as Jesus’ return grows closer, we will need His strength and grace to endure these last days. 

This is Paul’s message—to be sanctified for God’s glorious purposes in these last days. 

This is the process of sanctification—to be set apart for a purpose. 

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 

  • “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.(emphasis added)

The word “completely” is a compound word in the Greek of “holos,” meaning whole and entire, and “telos,” meaning end. In other words, Paul is saying God will sanctify us “entirely and wholly attaining the end goal.” There will be no part of us left untouched or unreached by His Spirit. 

He who will do this thing is faithful! Isn’t this a beautiful promise?

The day of the Lord—the 7-year tribulation—will be a time of great judgment and wrath. But Paul wanted the church in Thessalonica and the church today to understand the times and seasons and take heart because “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). 

We are to ready ourselves, be living proof of a loving God to a watching world, be watchful, and not be lulled to sleep by the antichrist spirit that lurks in the darkness of this world. 

We can be secure in our salvation, comfort each other, and welcome the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit into our lives, preserving and completing us at the coming of our Lord Jesus on the day of the Lord! Want to find out more about how to escape the wrath that has been assigned to be poured out during the day of the Lord? Go deeper with our FREE Daniel Bible Study and get a better understanding of today’s current events through a biblical lens.