1 Thessalonians 5:3
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
When they may say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon her that is with child; and they shall in no wise escape.

World English Bible
For when they are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape.

Young's Literal Translation
for when they may say, Peace and surety, then sudden destruction doth stand by them, as the travail doth her who is with child, and they shall not escape;

1 Thessalonians 5:3 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

For when they shall say, Peace and safety - That is, when the wicked shall say this, for the apostle here refers only to those on whom "sudden destruction" will come; compare Matthew 24:36-42 notes; 2 Peter 3:3-4 notes. It is clear from this:

(1) that when the Lord Jesus shall come the world will not all be converted. There will be some to be "destroyed." How large this proportion will be, it is impossible now to ascertain. This supposition, however, is not inconsistent with the belief that there will be a general prevalence of the gospel before that period.

(2) the impenitent and wicked world will be sunk in carnal security when he comes. They will regard themselves as safe. They will see no danger. They will give no heed to warning. They will be unprepared for his advent. So it has always been. it seems to be a universal truth in regard to all the visitations of God to wicked people for punishment, that he comes upon them at a time when they are not expecting him, and that they have no faith in the predictions of his advent. So it was in the time of the flood; in the destruction of Sodom Gomorrah, and Jerusalem; in the overthrow of Babylon: so it is when the sinner dies, and so it will be when the Lord Jesus shall return to judge the world. One of the most remarkable facts about the history of man is, that he takes no warning from his Maker; he never changes his plans, or feels any emotion, because his Creator "thunders damnation along his path," and threatens to destroy him in hell.

Sudden destruction - Destruction that was unforeseen (αἰφνίδιος aiphnidios) or unexpected. The word here rendered "sudden," occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Luke 21:34, "Lest that day come upon you unawares." The word rendered "destruction" - ὄλεθρος olethros - occurs in the New Testament only here and in 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Timothy 6:9, in all of which places it is correctly translated destruction. The word destruction is familiar to us. It means, properly, demolition; pulling down; the annihilation of the form of anything, or that form of parts which constitutes it what it is; as the destruction of grass by eating; of a forest by cutting down the trees; of life by murder; of the soul by consigning it to misery. It does not necessarily mean annihilation - for a house or city is not annihilated which is pulled down or burnt; a forest is not annihilated which is cut down; and a man is not annihilated whose character and happiness are destroyed. In regard to the destruction here referred to, we may remark:

(1) it will be after the return of the Lord Jesus to judgment; and hence it is not true that the wicked experience all the punishment which they ever will in the present life;

(2) that it seems fairly implied that the destruction which they will then suffer will not be annihilation, but will be connected with conscious existence; and,

(3) that they will then be cut off from life and hope and salvation.

How can the solemn affirmation that they will be "destroyed suddenly," be consistent with the belief that all people will be saved? Is it the same thing to be destroyed and to be saved? Does the Lord Jesus, when he speaks of the salvation of his people, say that he comes to destroy them?

As travail upon a woman with child - This expression is sometimes used to denote great consternation, as in Psalm 48:6; Jeremiah 6:24; Micah 4:9-10; great pain, as Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 4:31; John 16:21; or the suddenness with which anything occurs; Jeremiah 13:21. It seems here to be used to denote two things; first, that the coming of the Lord to a wicked world will be sudden; and, secondly, that it will be an event of the most distressing and overwhelming nature.

And they shall not escape - That is, the destruction, or punishment. They calculated on impunity, but now the time will have come when none of these refuges will avail them, and no rocks will cover them from the "wrath to come."

1 Thessalonians 5:3 Parallel Commentaries

Awake! Awake!
"Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep." Sleep God hath selected as the very figure for the repose of the blessed. "They that sleep in Jesus," saith the Scripture. David puts it amongst the peculiar gift's of grace: "So he giveth his beloved sleep." But alas! sin could not let even this alone. Sin did over-ride even this celestial metaphor; and though God himself had employed sleep to express the excellence of the state of the blessed, yet sin must have even this profaned, ere itself can be
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

Thirty-First Lesson. Pray Without Ceasing;'
Pray without ceasing;' Or, A Life of Prayer. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.--I Thess. v. 16, 17, 18. OUR Lord spake the parable of the widow and the unjust judge to teach us that men ought to pray always and not faint. As the widow persevered in seeking one definite thing, the parable appears to have reference to persevering prayer for some one blessing, when God delays or appears to refuse. The words in the Epistles, which speak of continuing instant in
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Even as Your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect. Matthew 5:48.
In the 43rd verse, the Savior says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward
Charles G. Finney—Lectures to Professing Christians

Concerning Peaceableness
Blessed are the peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 This is the seventh step of the golden ladder which leads to blessedness. The name of peace is sweet, and the work of peace is a blessed work. Blessed are the peacemakers'. Observe the connection. The Scripture links these two together, pureness of heart and peaceableness of spirit. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable' (James 3:17). Follow peace and holiness' (Hebrews 12:14). And here Christ joins them together pure in heart, and peacemakers',
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Cross References
Job 15:21
"Sounds of terror are in his ears; While at peace the destroyer comes upon him.

Psalm 35:8
Let destruction come upon him unawares, And let the net which he hid catch himself; Into that very destruction let him fall.

Psalm 55:15
Let death come deceitfully upon them; Let them go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.

Psalm 69:22
May their table before them become a snare; And when they are in peace, may it become a trap.

Isaiah 20:6
"So the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, 'Behold, such is our hope, where we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and we, how shall we escape?'"

Isaiah 21:3
For this reason my loins are full of anguish; Pains have seized me like the pains of a woman in labor. I am so bewildered I cannot hear, so terrified I cannot see.

Isaiah 29:5
But the multitude of your enemies will become like fine dust, And the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff which blows away; And it will happen instantly, suddenly.

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