It was used in a speech that closely followed the 9/11 attacks by then President Bush, when he mentioned the phrase three times. The president used it several more times during the rest of his administration; then Candidate Obama also used the phrase three times in a post-election speech in 2008. Since then the phrase “peace and security” has been used repeatedly by the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who used the terms twenty-three times each in a twenty-minute speech several months ago), Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, and other world leaders. With the increasing use of that phrase, found in the end-times verse of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, we can see that we are approaching the fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, where the phrase “peace and security” is found, the apostle Paul (who wrote it) presents a stark contrast. In verse 2 of that chapter, Paul proclaims that the world will be caught off guard by “the day of the Lord” (verse 3), as he announces that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night”. Certainly, the success of a thief is based on catching his victim by surprise, which means, of course, that the victim does not expect the thief to come.
The use of “the day of the Lord” and its connection with the coming “wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9; compare, also, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 with 5:1-11) shows that Paul is referring to the future era in which God will pour out His judgment upon an unbelieving world (see Isaiah 13:6-13; Zephaniah 1:14-15; etc.). In putting other Biblical clues together, we can see that, more specifically, this refers to a future seven-year period which will begin with the initiation of a seven-year treaty with Israel and will culminate with the return of Christ to the earth.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul elaborates on his warning of the world being caught off guard by the day of the Lord as a “thief in the night.” For example, in verse 3 he states: “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them,.. And they shall not escape.” The Greek word translated as “safety” in this verse is also the word for “security,” which would be a better translation here. Thus, this verse reveals that a time is coming when world leaders will proclaim that they have finally achieved “peace and security.”
Yet, when they proclaim, “peace and security,” “sudden destruction comes upon them… and they shall not escape.” Based on verse 2 (the word “for” [the Greek word gar] in verse 3 shows that it is an elaboration of verse 2), the world will be completely caught off guard by this “sudden destruction [that] comes upon them”.
The greatest way for the world to be caught off guard by the “sudden destruction” that comes upon it is by being lulled into the belief it has achieved “peace and security”. If the world was still experiencing rising terrorism at that point, there would be an expectation of an attack that could bring “sudden destruction”; and with that expectation, there would be preparation. However, the scenario presented in verses 2 and 3 indicate that the world will believe, at that point, that terrorism has been defeated.
To get to that point, something dramatic will need to occur to “eliminate” terrorism. For example, if Israel were to attack Iran, the Iranian opposition movement might use the resulting chaos of that strike to topple the Iranian regime. This would then remove the world’s greatest threat and the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world and could very well prepare the environment for a treaty with Israel. Then, when the world sees serious progress toward a treaty with the Jewish nation, then the world will believe it has finally achieved peace and security. In fact, there are many world leaders today (particularly European and Arab leaders) who believe that a Middle East treaty with Israel will solve the world’s terrorism problems.
This statement of peace and security in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 is similar to the statement of “peace” by the religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day in these verses: ” ‘… and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely…. saying, “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:13-14); “… from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely… saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:10-11).
Notice in these verses that Israel’s religious leaders were proclaiming peace though there was no real peace. But they were not just talking about its possibility, they were proclaiming its reality. They were saying that Israel had achieved peace with its enemies, and the people bought into it, being lulled into a false sense of peace. A similar scenario will occur when world leaders will proclaim “peace and security.” But then, destruction will hit suddenly, “and they will not escape.”
That the phrase “peace and security” is falling from the lips of world leaders with ever-increasing intensity tells us we may not be far away from the time in which leaders believe they have achieved “peace and security” at long last. This should also be a signal to Christians that the appearing of Christ may be sooner than we may think.