Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28

May 18, 2021

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

For a moment the sanctuary was absolutely black. The electricity had gone out during the church service, but then the emergency lights came on around the room, showing us the way out. In that total darkness, the small “Exit” signs shone brightly — there would have been no reason why each person could not have exited from the building, if it had been necessary. Although the wattage of these lights was low, no one could miss their crucial message in the total darkness.

Our lives as Christians are “emergency lights” pointing people to Jesus in this world of darkness. Even though we may feel insignificant — not at all like a floodlight — the glimmer of each little lamp can direct others to Jesus, the One who can forever dispel their darkness. 

Many people around us are in spiritual “night,” groping around for the right way through life. Perhaps they have not come into contact with any source of God’s light, and are unable to locate the door. Some have gone down countless “dead-end” corridors, looking for truth or happiness. They may have met some who professed to be Christians, but who produced no visible light to guide others.

Our lamps must be unhampered by shades or coverings. When a weary wayfarer comes our way, we are challenged to be sure we have power, and to let nothing obscure our light. An unpleasant attitude might cloud the illumination. Behavior that is not consistent with a follower of Jesus could disguise or destroy our radiance, extinguishing any possibility of helping the poor traveler. Neglecting to communicate with God and read His Word regularly will run our batteries down. It is needful to check our spiritual lives and be sure we illuminate the pathway for those around us.

The light shines forth as we practice Paul’s admonition to edify one another; support the weak, be patient toward all men, rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, hold fast that which is good, abstain from all appearance of evil, etc. This chapter is full of fatherly counsel for the Christian life. 

We know the way out of this dark world. We have found the True Light, and our desire is to let Christ shine through us to others.


Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia, a city of commerce conveniently located at the northwestern extreme of the Aegean Sea. The city was originally named Therma after the many hot springs in the area. In 315 B.C. one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Cassander, laid the foundation for this new city near the original city of Therma. He named it Thessalonica after his wife, who was Alexander’s half-sister.

In A.D.49, fourteen years after his conversion, Paul set off on the second of three great missionary journeys. This tour took him to several cities including Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and Philippi: in essence through Asia Minor, and then around the Aegean Sea. You may read the account of this trip in Acts 15:40 — 18:22.

It was after Paul had been forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia that he went to Troas on the east side of the Aegean Sea. While there, a vision appeared to Paul entreating him to “come over into Macedonia and help us.” The next day he sailed to Macedonia, and spent time in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, all cities of Macedonia. 

After preaching in the synagogue in Thessalonica for three sabbaths and witnessing the Lord’s power at work, unbelieving Jews were sent against the missionaries, so they left the city at night, traveling to nearby Berea. When the Thessalonian rabble-rousers heard that Paul was in Berea, they followed him there, so he went on to Athens alone. His helpers, Silas and Timothy, came to Paul at Athens, and then Timothy journeyed back to Thessalonica to encourage the believers. When Timothy brought back a report to Paul at Corinth, Paul wrote these two letters to strengthen the fledgling group. 

Paul was greatly encouraged by the growth this new church had shown since their introduction to Christ. He was anxious to help them continue in their Christian walk. This book refers to the Lord’s Second Coming often, each chapter closing with mention of that great event. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III.   Paul’s instruction for the Thessalonians
      C.   Concerning the Day of the Lord (5:1-11)
            1.   The suddenness of it (5:1-2)
            2.   The time and certainty of it (5:3)
            3.   The knowledge of it (5:4-5)
            4.   The exhortation from it (5:6-11)
      D.   Concerning Christian duties (5:12-22)
            1.   In relation to teachers (5:12-13)
            2.   In relation to others (5:14-15)
            3.   In relation to self (5:16-22)
                  a.   Be happy (5:16)
                  b.   Be prayerful (5:17)
                  c.   Be thankful (5:18)
                  d.   Be discerning (5:19-21)
                  e.   Be separate (5:22)
IV.   Conclusion (5:23-28)
      A.   The prayer (5:23-24)
      B.   The request (5:25)
      C.   The instruction (5:26)
      D.   The charge (5:27)
      E.   The benediction (5:28)

A Closer Look

  1. How does Paul say we are to treat those who are over us in the Lord?
  2. Why are Christians referred to as being “of the day,” and not “of the night”?
  3. In what way can you better put into practice Paul’s exhortations in this chapter in your own life?


Paul was exhorting the believers at Thessalonica to be lights to the world, and to be prepared for the return of the Lord. Each of us can take this advice to heart, putting Paul’s counsel into practice and thereby living ready for Christ’s imminent return.

Reference Materials