|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-5 It is needless or useless to ask about the particular time of Christ's coming. Christ did not reveal this to the apostles. There are times and seasons for us to work in, and these are our duty and interest to know and observe; but as to the time when we must give up our account, we know it not, nor is it needful that we should. The coming of Christ will be a great surprise to men. Our Lord himself said so. As the hour of death is the same to each person that the judgment will be to mankind in general, so the same remarks answer for both. Christ's coming will be terrible to the ungodly. Their destruction will overtake them while they dream of happiness, and please themselves with vain amusements. There will be no means to escape the terror or the punishment of that day. This day will be a happy day to the righteous. They are not in darkness; they are the children of the light. It is the happy condition of all true Christians. But how many are speaking peace and safety to themselves, over whose heads utter destruction is hovering! Let us endeavour to awaken ourselves and each other, and guard against our spiritual enemies.
Verse 3. - For; the best manuscripts omit this conjunction; the description is continuous. When they shall say; namely, the unbelieving world. Peace and safety; peace denoting internal rest, and safety external security. Sudden destruction cometh upon them. When they thought themselves most secure, they were then in the greatest danger; when they were most off their guard, then the crisis came. As travail upon a woman with child. The primary point of resemblance is certainly the suddenness and unexpectedness of the event; as labor comes upon a woman suddenly, so sudden destruction cometh upon the ungodly world. Still, however, the unavoidableness of the judgment may also be here intimated; there is no possibility of escape: this is implied in the last clause, and they shall not escape.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For when they shall say,.... Or men shall say, that is, wicked and ungodly men, persons in a state of unregeneracy:
peace and safety; when they shall sing a requiem, to themselves, promise themselves much ease and peace for years to come, and imagine their persons and property to be very secure from enemies and oppressors, and shall flatter themselves with much and long temporal happiness:
then sudden destruction cometh upon them; as on the men of the old world in the times of Noah, and on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Lot; for as these, will be the days of the Son of man, as at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, so at the last day; see Luke 17:26 and as was the destruction of literal Babylon, so of Babylon in a mystical sense, or antichrist and his followers: and which will be
as travail upon a woman with child; whose anguish and pains are very sharp, the cause of which is within herself, and which come suddenly upon her, and are unavoidable; and so the metaphor expresses the sharpness and severity of the destruction of the wicked, thus the calamities on the Jewish nation are expressed by a word which signifies the sorrows, pangs, and birth throes of a woman in travail, Matthew 24:8, and likewise that the cause of it is from themselves, their own sins and transgressions; and also the suddenness of it, which will come upon them in the midst of all their mirth, jollity, and security; and moreover, the inevitableness of it, it will certainly come at the full and appointed time, though that is not known:
and they shall not escape; the righteous judgment of God, the wrath of the Lamb, or falling into his hands; to escape is impossible, rocks, hills, and mountains will not cover and hide them; before the judgment seat of Christ they must stand, and into everlasting punishment must they go.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. they—the men of the world. 1Th 5:5, 6; 1Th 4:13, "others," all the rest of the world save Christians.
Peace—(Jud 18:7, 9, 27, 28; Jer 6:14; Eze 13:10).
then—at the very moment when they least expect it. Compare the case of Belshazzar, Da 5:1-5, 6, 9, 26-28; Herod, Ac 12:21-23.
sudden—"unawares" (Lu 21:34).
as travail—"As the labor pang" comes in an instant on the woman when otherwise engaged (Ps 48:6; Isa 13:8).
shall not escape—Greek, "shall not at all escape." Another awful feature of their ruin: there shall be then no possibility of shunning it however they desire it (Am 9:2, 3; Re 6:15, 16).
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