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1 Thessalonians 4:13--5:11

Context
The Lord Returns for Believers

4:13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, 1  brothers and sisters, 2  about those who are asleep, 3  so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that 4  God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. 5  4:15 For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, 6  that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, 7  and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, 8  will be suddenly caught up 9  together 10  with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The Day of the Lord

5:1 Now on the topic of times and seasons, 11  brothers and sisters, 12  you have no need for anything to be written to you. 5:2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord 13  will come in the same way as a thief in the night. 14  5:3 Now when 15  they are saying, “There is peace and security,” 16  then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains 17  on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. 5:4 But you, brothers and sisters, 18  are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. 5:5 For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. 5:6 So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober. 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 5:8 But since we are of the day, we must stay sober by putting on the breastplate 19  of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation. 20  5:9 For God did not destine us for wrath 21  but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 5:10 He died 22  for us so that whether we are alert or asleep 23  we will come to life together with him. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.

1 tn Grk “ignorant.”

2 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:4.

3 tn The verb κοιμάω (koimaw) literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for death when speaking of believers. This metaphorical usage by its very nature emphasizes the hope of resurrection: Believers will one day “wake up” out of death. Here the term refers to death, but “sleep” was used in the translation to emphasize the metaphorical, rhetorical usage of the term. This word also occurs in vv. 14 and 15.

4 tn “we believe that” is understood from the first clause of the verse, which is parallel. Grk “so also God will bring.”

5 tn Grk “those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.” It is possible that “through Jesus” describes “bring,” but this gives the unlikely double reference, “through Jesus God will bring them with Jesus.” Instead it describes their “falling sleep,” since through him their death is only sleep and not the threat it once was. Also Christians are those whose total existence – life and death – is in and through and for Christ (1 Cor 8:6).

6 sn The word of the Lord is a technical expression in OT literature, often referring to a divine prophetic utterance (e.g., Gen 15:1, Isa 1:10, Jonah 1:1). In the NT it occurs 15 times: 3 times as ῥῆμα τοῦ κυρίου (rJhma tou kuriou; Luke 22:61, Acts 11:16, 1 Pet 1:25) and 12 times as λόγος τοῦ κυρίου (logo" tou kuriou; here and in Acts 8:25; 13:44, 48, 49; 15:35, 36; 16:32; 19:10, 20; 1 Thess 1:8; 2 Thess 3:1). As in the OT, this phrase focuses on the prophetic nature and divine origin of what has been said.

7 tn Neither noun in this phrase (ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου, ejn fwnh ajrcangelou, “with the voice of the archangel”) has the article in keeping with Apollonius’ Canon. Since ἀρχάγγελος (ajrcangelo") is most likely monadic, both nouns are translated as definite in keeping with Apollonius’ Corollary (see ExSyn 250-51).

8 tc The words οἱ περιλειπόμενοι (Joi perileipomenoi, “[the ones] who are left”) are lacking in F G {0226vid} ar b as well as a few fathers, but the rest of the textual tradition has the words. Most likely, the Western mss omitted the words because of perceived redundancy with οἱ ζῶντες (Joi zwnte", “[the ones] who are alive”).

9 tn Or “snatched up.” The Greek verb ἁρπάζω implies that the action is quick or forceful, so the translation supplied the adverb “suddenly” to make this implicit notion clear.

10 tn Or “simultaneously,” but this meaning does not fit as well in the parallel in 5:10.

11 tn Grk “concerning the times and the seasons,” a reference to future periods of eschatological fulfillment (cf. Acts 1:7).

12 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:4.

13 sn The day of the Lord is the period of time in the future when the Lord will intervene in the events of this earth to consummate his redemption and his judgment (Isa 2:11-12; 13:6-13; Ezek 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:32; 3:18; Amos 5:18-20; Obad 15-17; Zeph 1:7-18; 2:2-3; Zech 14:1, 13, 20-21; Mal 4:1, 5; 1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; 2 Thess 2:2; 2 Pet 3:10). It includes both blessings and curses, though the latter is emphasized here.

14 sn Jesus used a thief coming at night as an illustration of the unexpected and hostile nature of the coming of God’s judgment in the future. This is repeated in various ways in v. 4; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15.

15 tcδέ (de, “now”) is found in א2 B D 0226 6 1505 1739 1881 al, but lacking in א* A F G 33 it. γάρ (gar, “for”) is the reading of the Byzantine text and a few other witnesses (Ψ 0278 Ï). Although normally the shorter reading is to be preferred, the external evidence is superior for δέ (being found in the somewhat better Alexandrian and Western witnesses). What, then, is to explain the γάρ? Scribes were prone to replace δέ with γάρ, especially in sentences suggesting a causal or explanatory idea, thus making the point more explicit. Internally, the omission of δέ looks unintentional, a case of homoioarcton (otandelegwsin). Although a decision is difficult, in this instance δέ has the best credentials for authenticity.

16 tn Grk “peace and security,” with “there is” understood in the Greek construction.

17 tn Grk a singular “birth pain.”

18 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:4.

19 sn An allusion to Isa 59:17.

20 tn Grk “hope of salvation” (“a helmet…for salvation” is an allusion to Isa 59:17).

21 sn God did not destine us for wrath. In context this refers to the outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth in the day of the Lord (1 Thess 5:2-4).

22 tn Grk “the one who died,” describing Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:9). Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started at the beginning of v. 10 in the translation.

23 sn The phrases alert or asleep may be understood (1) of moral alertness (living in faith, love, and hope as vv. 6, 8 call for, versus being unresponsive to God) or (2) of physical life and death (whether alive or dead). The first fits better with the context of 5:1-9, while the second returns to the point Paul started with in 4:13-18 (no disadvantage for the believing dead).



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