Common Misconception Within the Church
"Christ will return like a Thief in the night"
One of the mistakes I see believers make today is taking scripture and quoting it out of context.
For example, we can all quote John 3:16. How God loves the whole "world", therefore everyone must be on their way to heaven. Everyone can live any type of way not caring about sin or repentance. This mistake can be made if we don't look at the surrounding verses (context) . If you were to take the time and look at the context, you would see that the verses that follow John 3:16 are John 3:19-21. Those scriptures explains to us how people love darkness rather than the light therefore they don't come to the light because of how much they love darkness (sin).
The same mistake seems to be made here in 1 Thessalonians. Let's look at the main verse used, "For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV. At first glance it would seem to indicate that the second advent of the lord or second coming can come at any moment, but the question that needs to be asked is, "is this what the author is trying to convey to us behind writing this verse" ? You may ask, well how do we know the authors intent or purpose? The simple answer is context! Let's look at this verse in relationship to the context it's written in. "Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness." 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 ESV
Now let's take timeout to look at some key words and context.
For starters in verse one look at the context "Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you." 1 Thessalonians 5:1 ESV
- Paul was addressing here to the members of this church about the second coming of the Lord because they too, like most Christians today, thought the Lord's return was near.
- Many of them even stopped working because of the urgency to be ready for the Lord's return.
- Many of them expected the Lord to come in their lifetime and were confused and sad when their fellow believers died before his coming.
- They were all concerned about the delay. Apparently, the Thessalonians knew that God intended believers to know about coming judgment, and they also even knew what Paul previously taught them about the rapture in chapter 4.
Verse 3, "While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them. Who is the them used here? Is it the church -that is ,Spiritual Israel of God ,or the body of all believers living in this time period? The answer is no. The context let's us know who the "them" is here. Verse 4-5, but "you" are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise "you" like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. The "them" here are those who are in darkness that is people who are unbelievers, spiritual blind , dead in sin and deny Jesus as lord.
Notice how the day of the lord surprises "them" the people that are of darkness but not those of light , the "you" here are the people who are In Christ. Paul tells us clearly in plain writing that day will not surprised you as a thief in night.