There are really two parts to this Scripture. Actually, we are probably going to look at three different sections. Let’s start with vss. 1-8. We can call this the purity code section of this chapter. Paul reminds the church, not that they need reminding he says, that they are to live their lives in purity. They are not to pursue sexual immorality. So, why this topic? Thessalonica was the center of many idol worshiping cults and some of them involved some pretty twisted and deviant sexual practices. Paul wants to remind the church that they are not to act like the gentiles in these matters. They are not to act as if they do not know God. But again, he stresses that it has not been a problem for this church, but since you are surrounded by it, it doesn’t hurt to send out a reminder.
The second part of this passage goes from vss. 9-12 and speaks to the importance of hard work and being seen in a positive light by outsiders. Paul speaks about being able to work with your hands so that you are not reliant upon anyone for your livelihood. This comes from a tent maker who spent his entire life working side jobs so that he would not have to rely upon anyone. While at the same time, however, he did receive help from incredibly generous benefactors. I love how Paul states that it is important for us to act properly toward “outsiders”.
The last section deals with the end times. This is the Scripture which is primary in formulating the idea of the rapture. I think I covered this in another 90 Day Challenge, but I need to cover it here again. Read vss. 15-17 and you will find the premise upon which people have crafted and created a whole theology of rapture. Some people believe that there will be a time before Jesus comes back that believers will be raptured, or taken up into heaven to meet a partially descended Jesus, before the second coming. When that happens then there will be people who are left on earth who do not believe. Do you get all that from these three verses? No, neither do I. But it does speak to what humans feel is a need to know exactly when Jesus is coming back and exactly how Jesus is coming back. Let me give you a spoiler alert that in the next chapter vs. 2 we find our answer. Jesus will come like a thief in the night. We do not know the times nor the seasons. We simply do not know.
So here is my recommendation for this Scripture. Instead of focusing on the rapture which is a mystery if it is even going to happen, focus on what we know which is seen in vss.13-14. Paul tells us that we should not grieve as those without hope. We have hope, Paul states. Our hope is found in the fact that we will be raised with Jesus in the resurrection. We don’t know when that is or how it will take place, we just know that it will happen. This is crucial. It is a great verse for us to focus on. Let us not live our lives as those without hope. Our lives have to be beacons of hope for those around us.