A Study in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5

Like A Thief

We continue our study in the Not Destined for Wrath series as we look through scriptures that contain "like a thief."

Pre-tribbers insist when scripture describes passages of "like a thief" or "a thief in the night," they refer to Jesus' "secret coming" at the pre-trib rapture. The Following are verses that refer to "the thief."

In Matthew 24, Jesus was telling His disciples to watch for the signs of His coming. And He told them His coming is after the tribulation. Jesus gives further instruction of His coming:


Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Matthew 24:42-44

He said if the house owner would have known what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been prepared! He told his disciples to keep watch because they don't know what time of the day He will come. 

In the book of Revelation, Jesus had this warning for the church in Sardis:


Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Revelation 3:2-3



Jesus warned them about their deeds. He told them to "be watchful" and strengthen what remains, obey what they heard and received and repent or He will come upon them "like a thief," and they will not know what time He comes to them.

In Peter's second letter, he describes the day of the Lord:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

2 Peter 3:10-14                                                                                                                

Peter said the day of the Lord will come like a thief. And at that day, the Heavens will pass away and the elements will melt with fervent heat, and the earth will be burned up. This is another indication "like a thief" is after the tribulation. 


As we look further in Revelation John describes the bowls of wrath. At the sixth bowl:

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.


Revelation 16:12-16 NIV

The angel pours out the sixth bowl which dries up the Euphrates River in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. Spirits of demons who perform miraculous signs come out of Satan, the Anti-christ and his false prophet in order to gather them (the kings) for battle on that great day of God Almighty. They gather them for the battle at Armageddon, which comes after the tribulation. Notice, Jesus says He will come "like a thief," during the time which is clearly after the tribulation!


As we end this section, these references of "a thief" occur after the tribulation and not before!



Articles in this study

Not Destined For Wrath

The Day of the Lord

Wrath (of God)



Twinkling of an Eye