Vigilance. 1Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you.a 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.b 3When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.c 5For all of you are children of the light* and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. 6Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.d 7Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation.e 9For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him.* 11Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.f
Church Order. 12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, 13and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
14We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.g 16Rejoice always. 17Pray without ceasing. 18In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.h 19* Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophetic utterances. 21Test everything; retain what is good. 22Refrain from every kind of evil.
Concluding Prayer. 23* May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.i 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it. 25Brothers, pray for us [too].
IV. Final Greeting
26Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.* 27I adjure you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers. 28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
* [5:5] Children of the light: that is, belonging to the daylight of God’s personal revelation and expected to achieve it (an analogous development of imagery that appears in Jn 12:36).
* [5:10] Characteristically, Paul plays on words suggesting ultimate and anticipated death and life. Union with the crucified and risen Lord at his parousia is anticipated in some measure in contrasted states of our temporal life. The essential element he urges is our indestructible personal union in Christ’s own life (see Rom 5:1–10).
* [5:19–21] Paul’s buoyant encouragement of charismatic freedom sometimes occasioned excesses that he or others had to remedy (see 1 Cor 14; 2 Thes 2:1–15; 2 Pt 3:1–16).
* [5:23] Another possible translation is, “May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and sanctify your spirit fully, and may both soul and body be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In either case, Paul is not offering an anthropological or philosophical analysis of human nature. Rather, he looks to the wholeness of what may be called the supernatural and natural aspects of a person’s service of God.
* [5:26] Kiss: the holy embrace (see Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Pt 5:14) was a greeting of respect and affection, perhaps given during a liturgy at which Paul’s letter would have been read.
d. [5:6] Mt 24:42; Rom 13:12–13; 1 Pt 5:8.
e. [5:8] Is 59:17; Rom 13:11–14; Eph 6:11, 14–17.
f. [5:11] Rom 15:2; 1 Cor 8:1; 14:12, 26; Eph 4:29.
g. [5:15] Prv 20:22; Mt 5:38–42; Rom 12:17.
i. [5:23] 2 Thes 3:16.