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1st Thessalonians: Chapter 4

 

By: Steve Shirley

(4:1) "we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you... to walk and to please God, so ye would abound (increase) more and more"
Also, (4:10) "we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more"

     "Walk" in a way that pleases God, and do it "more and more" (4:1). "Increase" in love "more and more." The primary goal of Christians should always be to become "more and more" like Jesus (Eph 4:13,15)(Phil 3:12-14)(2 Cor 3:17-18)(Rom 8:29). This implies day by day growing in our "walk" with Jesus.

     Paul uses this term "walk" (or a form of walk) (Gr: "peripateo") in 32 places in his letters! Looking at all of these together is "fascinating," however, let's look at just a few for the sake of time.

(Rom 6:4) __________________________________

(Rom 8:1,4) ________________________________

(Rom 13:13) ________________________________

(1 Cor 3:3) __________________________________

(2 Cor 5:7) __________________________________

(Gal 5:16,25) _______________________________

For future study, here are the rest: (Rom 14:15)(1 Cor 7:17)(1 Cor 10:2,3)(2 Cor 4:2)(2 Cor 12:18 [2])(Gal 6:16)(Eph 2:2)(Eph 4:1,17)(Eph 5:2,8,15)(Phil 3:16,17,18)(Col 1:10)(Col 2:6)(Col 3:7)(Col 4:5)(1 Th 2:12)(1 Th 4:12)(2 Th 3:6,11)

 

"Please God" What are some things that "please God?" (Mt:3:17)(Mt 17:5)(1 Cor 1:21)(Gal 1:15)(Col 1:19)(Col 3:20)(Heb 11:5-6)(Heb 13:16)(1 Jn 3:22)

     Do not become "lukewarm" (Rev 3:15-16)! How would you define "lukewarm?"

 

     "Believer's Bible Commentary" by William MacDonald notes the parallel in (4:1) with "Enoch:"

(Gen 5:24) ________________________________

(Heb 11:5) ________________________________

(Gen 5:24)(Heb 11:5) ______________________

 

(4:2) "commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus" The commandments Paul gave them were by the authority of Jesus. Paul uses a similar phrase in several other places in 1 & 2 Thessalonians: (1 Th 4:15)(1 Th 5:27)(2 Th 3:6,12).

(4:3) "this is the will of God" This phrase "the will of God" is used in 22 verses in the New Testament. Let's look at a few other things that are "the will of God."

(Rom 8:27)(Gal 1:4)(1 Th 5:18)(1 Pet 2:15)(1 Pet 3:17)(1 Jn 2:17)

 

"your sanctification" What is "sanctification?" How does this apply here?

 

     The word "sanctification" comes from the Greek word "hagiazo," which means "to make holy" or "to set apart for God."

     Who helps to "sanctify us?

(2 Th 2:13)(1 Pet 1:2) ____________________

(1 Cor 1:2)(Acts 26:18)(Heb 2:11)(Heb 10:10) ____________________

(Jude 1:1) ____________________

 

"abstain from sexual immorality" (KJV uses "fornication") What is "sexual immorality / fornication?" Here are a few related verses: (Mt 15:18-20)(1 Cor 5:1-2,11)(1 Cor 6:12-7:2).

 

(4:4) "how to possess his own vessel" There are two opinions on what this means. His own vessel could mean:

"wife" (1 Pet 3:7)(1 Cor 7:2,3,9)

"body" (2 Cor 4:7)(2 Tim 2:21)(1 Cor 9:27)

     When we look at this verse along with verses 5 and 6, it seems to point to "wife."

 

(4:5) "passion of lust" What is "lust?" Here is my simple definition:

"Lust is a strong desire or preoccupation with obtaining something that you want so badly that you cannot be happy unless you get it."

     Here is a chart I made to show some of the differences I see between "lust" and "love:"

LOVE ISLUST IS
A commitmentA feeling
Is God-directedIs self-directed
Is patientExpects immediate satisfaction
A commandmentAn emotion
A decision we makeA desire we have
Wants to giveWants to get
Dying to selfLiving for self
Looks at God for total completionLooks at people or things for total completion

     Let's look at a few verses on "lust" in the Bible: (James 1:14-15)(James 4:3)(Mt 5:28)(1 Jn 2:16-17)(1 Pet 2:11)(Rom 13:14).

     Contrast these with some verses on "love:" (1 Cor 13:4-7)(1 Pet 4:8)(Jn 13:34)(Rom 13:10)(Rom 12:9)(1 Jn 4:19).

 

(4:6) "that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter"

     Combined with verses 4 & 5, this seems to point to the "vessel" as "wife."

Here is how a few commentaries explain this verse:

"Liberty Bible Commentary" - "The sense of the passage is then that when a man does not live with his own wife as he should, but instead commits adultery with someone else's, he must know that he has violated, or "robbed" his brother by doing so."

"Believer's Bible Commentary" - "A Christian man must not go beyond the bounds of marriage and defraud a brother by stealing the affections of the brother's wife."

"the Lord is the avenger" Let's look at (Ps 91:4). This is not a sin to be taken lightly! God will "avenge" or punish those who commit such sins (Col 3:4-7)(Heb 13:4).

 

(4:7) We are called to "holiness." (Related words: "sanctification" and "sanctify.") Baker's Encyclopedia of the Bible says, "The primary Old Testament word for holiness means 'to cut or to separate.' Fundamentally, holiness is a cutting off or separation from what is unclean, and a consecration to what is pure."

     Let's look at some of many verses on holiness: (Lev 19:2)(1 Pet 1:14-16)(1 Pet 2:5,9-12)(1 Cor 3:16)(2 Cor 7:1)(Rom 6:19-22)(Eph 1:3-4)(Heb 12:10,14).

 

(4:8) "God, who has given us His Holy Spirit" The Holy Spirit is given by the Father (Lk 11:13)(Jn 14:16-17,26)(Jn 15:26), and the Son (Jesus) (Jn 16:7)(Mt 3:11)(Jn 20:22).

(4:9) "brotherly love" The Greek word used here is "philadelphia." This is love for fellow Christians. This word is also used in (Rom 12:10)(Heb 13:1)(1 Pet 1:22).

(4:9-10) Paul commends the Thessalonians for showing "brotherly love.... toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia." However, he encourages them to "increase more and more."

(4:11) Paul gives them 3 "commands" here:

1. "lead a quiet life" - A few related verses: (1 Tim 2:1-3)(1 Pet 3:4).

2. "Mind your own business" - A few related verses: (1 Pet 4:15)(1 Tim 5:13-15)(2 Th 3:11).

3. "work with your own hands" - A few related verses: (Eph 4:28)(2 Th 3:6-12). The Greek culture looked down on manual labor. They considered it menial work, that should be done by slaves. However, Paul refutes this, and commends it. He set the example by doing it himself (Acts 18:1-3)(Acts 20:33-35)(1 Cor 4:12).

 

(4:12) "who are outside" (Non-Christians). The (NIV) version states this verse like this: "So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders." Similar verses: (1 Tim 3:7)(Col 4:5).

 

(4:13-18) Heading: (KJV) - "The sudden coming of the Lord" / (NASB)  - "Those who died in Christ"

(4:13) "I do not want you to be ignorant" Paul uses a similar phrase in other places too (Rom 1:13)(Rom 11:25)(1 Cor 10:1)(1 Cor 12:1)(2 Cor 1:8)(2 Cor 2:11).

 

(4:13-14) "others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again" The "hope" for all Christians is the "resurrection" of Jesus (Rom 1:4)(Rom 4:25)(Rom 8:11,35)(Jn 14:19)(1 Cor 6:14)(Phil 3:21)(1 Cor 15:20)! Without the "resurrection," our faith is useless. (1 Cor 15:17)!

 

"fallen asleep" The Greek word used for "asleep," here is "koimao." While this word is used for literal sleep sometimes, it is also used for "died/dead." There are some verses in the Bible that use the word "sleep or asleep" for when a person dies. This verse is one example. However, there are those who falsely believe that when a person dies, they actually "go to sleep." The term for this is called "soul sleep" (called "psychopannychia" by Calvin). Those who teach this believe that when we die, we do not go to Heaven, but instead, our soul goes to sleep until Jesus returns, and we are resurrected. This belief is clearly, and easily refuted in the Bible.

     First, let's look at a few verses using the word "koimao" as "died / dead."

The best is found in (Jn 11:11-14): "These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth (koimao); but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. (12) Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep (koimao), he shall do well. (13) Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep (Gr: hupnos, actual sleep). (14) Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." (Note: Jesus used koimao to speak of death. The disciples thought he used koimao to mean he was actually asleep. Then Jesus plainly says, (No, I mean) "Lazarus is dead" (not asleep).

(Acts 7:60) And he (Stephen) kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (koimao). (Obviously, Stephen didn't just "fall asleep.")

(1 Cor 11:30) talks about people who have died for taking the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (koimao)."

For a few others, see: (Acts 13:36)(2 Pet 3:4)

     In addition, what is "sleeping" when we die is our BODIES, and not our soul or spirit. The moment a believer dies, his soul (Gen 35:18)(Rev 20:4) and spirit (Eccl 12:7)(Eccl 3:20-21) leave his body and go to be with the Lord. Our soul will remain with the Lord in a "disembodied" (for lack of a better term) state until Jesus returns, at which time body and soul will be reunited.

     Paul clearly expected to be with the Lord the moment he died. Let's look at five verses: (2 Cor 5:8)(Phil 1:21-24).

     We also have a number of examples showing that people have consciousness after death, and are clearly not "sleeping." Let's look at some verses:

(Lk 16:19-31)(Mt 17:1,3-4)(1 Pet 3:18-20)(Jude 1:7)(Eph 3:14-15)(Rev 6:9-10)(Lk 23:43)

"will God bring with Him"  In regards to "soul sleep," ask yourself this question: From where is God "bringing with Him those who sleep in Jesus?" Wouldn't they have to have been with Him previously (in Heaven) in order for Him to "bring" (or return with) them?" In other words, how could God bring them with Him if they are sleeping? (Again, the word "sleep" in verse 14 is the Greek word koimao, which can also mean "died/dead.")

 

(4:15) "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord" It appears that Paul had direct revelation about this from the Lord. It had not been previously mentioned before. Let's look at two more places like this: (2 Cor 12:1)(Gal 1:12,16).

"we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep"

     Exactly when this event will happen is a matter of contention that depends on one's eschatological point of view. Most agree that this is the rapture ("caught up" 1 Th 4:17 = Latin word "raptus") (a "mystery" not previously revealed in the Old Testament 1 Cor 15:51), but disagree on when the rapture takes place. We are not going to go into that whole debate here. Regardless of the view one has, this event will take place somewhere within a 7 year time frame called the Tribulation: either at the beginning, midpoint, or end of it.

     However, in relation to this verse, most agree that when Jesus returns, and the rapture occurs, "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (verse 16) (those who are "asleep") to be with the Lord, then those "which are alive and remain on the earth" (verse 17) at the time of Jesus' return will follow the rise of the dead.

***Note: Again, remember that what is occurring here is that our soul / spirit, which has been with the Lord in Heaven, is being reunited with our dead body. We will then receive a new, "glorified body." (More below)

 

(4:16) "For the Lord Himself shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God"

     This gives us a picture of what Jesus' return will look like. Again, I would like to quote from the "Believer's Bible Commentary" on this.

1. Some feel that the shout is the voice of Jesus Himself which raises the dead (John 5:25; 11:43,44) and changes the living. Others, like Hogg and Vine, say the shout is the archangel's voice.

2. The voice of Michael, the archangel, is commonly understood as an assembling command for the OT saints, since he is so closely associated with Israel (Dan. 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:4-7). Others think its purpose is to revive Israel nationally. And still others suggest the voice of an archangel summons the angels as a military escort to accompany the Lord and His saints through enemy territory back to Heaven (cf. Luke 16:22).

3. The trumpet of God is the same as the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52, which has to do with the resurrection of believers at the time of the Rapture. It calls the saints to eternal blessing. It is not to be confused with the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15-18, which signals the final outpouring of judgment on the world during the Tribulation. The last trumpet here is the last for the church. The seventh trumpet of Revelation is the last for the unbelieving world (though it is never specifically called the "last trumpet").

(4:17) "and so we shall always be with the Lord" Heaven is ETERNAL! (2 Cor 4:17-18)(Jn 3:16,36)(Mt 25:46)(Rom 6:23)

(4:18) "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." In the previous 5 verses, we should find great comfort in the Resurrection of Jesus, as well as our future Resurrection, which will be for eternity.

 

     In closing, let's go back to the new "glorified body" we will receive one day, and look at some things we know about this.

     The Bible tells us that our bodies will be like the body Jesus had after His resurrection (Phil 3:21)(1 Cor 15:48-49)(1 Jn 3:2). This being the case, we can look at several examples of things He did in His resurrection body, that we should also be able to do.

Jesus:
(Lk 24:15) ______________________________
(Lk 24:19,25-27,36-39) _________________
(Lk 24:42-43)(Jn 21:12-15) _____________
(Lk 24:31) _______________________________
(Lk 24:36) ______________________________
(Jn 20:19,26) ___________________________

     In addition, these new bodies will:
(Lk 24:39) ______________________________
(1 Cor 15:43) ___________________________
(1 Cor 15:42) ___________________________
(1 Cor 15:54)(Lk 20:36) _________________
(Rev 19:9)(Rev 22:2) ___________________
(Mt 26:29)(Lk 22:30) ____________________

     Jesus' resurrected body looked nearly identical to the body He had before His resurrection. His disciples knew who He was, and I believe we will also have the same basic recognizable features minus the ravages of sickness or disease. We will have the perfect body for us. This is a moment that Paul eagerly anticipated (Rom 8:23)(2 Cor 5:1-7) and that should be a great comfort for each of us.