“For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night“
Someone told the Thessalonians that they were in the Tribulation because they suffered such persecution. Paul writes chapter 5 to clarify this point.
For you yourselves know perfectly
The Thessalonians knew “perfectly” that the Day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night. The word “perfectly” indicates that they gained knowledge of the Day of the Lord from the accurate teaching of the Old Testament by Paul. Paul was careful in his interpretation of the Old Testament. The root for “perfectly” means pointed. Paul accurately, exactly, pointedly, and precisely expounded the Bible. He paid close attention to details when he read the Bible. He conformed strictly to norms and standards of detail when it came to the Word. Since Paul taught the Bible accurately, the Thessalonians understood it “perfectly,” or better, precisely.
that the day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord refers to both the Tribulation period of seven years and the Millennium (1000 years) thus; the Day of the Lord covers 1007 years. This is the time when the Lord will sovereignly and directly intervene in the affairs of man. Old Testament prophets expounded this day (Isaiah 13:9-11; Joel 2:28-32; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 3:14-15). This time will commence after the Rapture.
The Day of the Lord does not necessarily come immediately after the Rapture, but it follows as the next event in God’s prophetic plan. We know the Day of the Lord occurs after the Rapture because, sequentially, chapter 5 follows chapter 4.
so comes as a thief
Every time the New Testament refers to the Lord’s coming as a thief, it refers to the Day of the Lord or the Second Coming, not the Rapture. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief who does not send an engraved invitation that he is coming. We do not say, “I understand that a thief is coming tomorrow at 2:00 am. We better prepare ourselves.” A thief is different from a robber. A robber openly takes what he wants by brute force. A thief steals in secret or by fraud. The thief does not openly announce his designs. He comes unexpectedly when his victim is totally unprepared. Paul adds shock to the unforeseen.
in the night
A thief comes when people are asleep. This day will be both a surprise and sudden to those living at that time. The New Testament describes both the Rapture and the Day of the Lord as sudden comings.
Paul does not concern himself with what happens in the Day of the Lord as such over this period of 1007 years. His sole interest is how it begins. That is why he refers to this period as beginning in the same manner as a thief in the night. The way it will come is very important for its manner of coming determines what sort of day it is. The way it comes also tells what it has to do with the church if anything!
The church will not enter the Tribulation period.
The arrival of the Day of the Lord is quite different from the Rapture. In the Day of the Lord, a hostile, unknown thief comes to destroy. In the Rapture, the Lord Himself comes to deliver the church.
No one ever gains by the call of a thief. There is only loss and grief. The Bible flatly contradicts any notion that the Lord Jesus will come to the true believer as a pillaging thief (5:4). The Rapture will be eternal gain, not a loss. However, when the Day of the Lord comes, unbelievers stand to lose everything they hold dear. All their material gains will be lost (Revelation 17,18).