Christian Watchfulness with Reference to the Last Day.
The unexpected coming of the last day:
v. 1. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
v. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
v. 3. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
The same enthusiasm which looked forward to the coming of the Lord with eager impatience was apt to lead into an unhealthy state of mind, to a morbid anxiety which tried to penetrate into the secrets which the Lord had hidden from the eyes of men. The apostle, therefore, reminds the Christians of Thessalonica of the doctrine which they had learned: Concerning the times and periods, brethren, you are not in need that we should write to you. Paul here corrects both impatient expectancy and drowsy security, choosing such words as may convey the idea of length and repeated alternation of periods as well as of crises which might be expected very soon. It was a most effective way of urging them to maintain a well-balanced judgment and Christian sanity. They should never forget the words of the Lord which they had been taught, Mat_24:44; Mat_25:13 : For yourselves know exactly that the day of the Lord, as a thief in the night, so it comes. This saying of the Lord had been given them, they had received instruction concerning the last things, they had exact knowledge to that extent to which the Lord had revealed the truth for all times. The day of the Lord, the last day of this present world, the Day of Judgment, is coming, as a day of terrible doom to the unbelievers, as a day of inexpressible joy to the believers. That is a precise, a definite knowledge. At the same time, however, the date is not known; the day will be a surprise to the whole world. The signs of the times will, in general, indicate when it is due, but the exact date cannot be determined by men, and every attempt to do so must result in disgraceful failure. Unexpectedly, as a thief in the night, this day will come upon the world. See 2Pe_3:10. Such is the manner of its coming, without any definite regard to the time.
This unexpectedness of the last day's coming is aptly illustrated by the apostle: For when they are saying, Peace and security, then suddenly will come upon them destruction, just as travail to her with child, and they will not escape. This is the attitude taken by the unbelievers, by the scoffers, whom Peter also pictures, 2Pe_3:3-4. Their constant cry is: All's well; Everything is all right; All is safe; The world was never so secure as today. But at the very moment when they will sometime be crying so loudly, and with great suddenness, the destruction which they considered impossible will be upon them, will lay hold of them. Even as a woman with child knows the approximate time when her delivery may be expected, but cannot tell the day and the hour when labor will set in, being therefore often taken quite unawares, so the destruction of the last Judgment will strike the scoffers, and all escape will then be shut off: it will be too late to repent. There is a solemn warning in these words which needs to be heeded most seriously in our day.