1 Thessalonians Chapter Four
1 Thessalonians 4
Exhortations to purity and holiness. (1-8) To brotherly love, peaceable behaviour, and diligence. (9-12) Not to sorrow unduly for the death of godly relations and friends, considering the glorious resurrection of their bodies at Christ's second coming. (13-18)
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
(Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
To abide in the faith of the gospel is not enough, we must abound in the work of faith. The rule according to which all ought to walk and act, is the commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification, in the renewal of their souls under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and attention to appointed duties, constituted the will of God respecting them. In aspiring after this renewal of the soul unto holiness, strict restraint must be put upon the appetites and senses of the body, and on the thoughts and inclinations of the will, which lead to wrong uses of them. The Lord calls none into his family to live unholy lives, but that they may be taught and enabled to walk before him in holiness. Some make light of the precepts of holiness, because they hear them from men; but they are God's commands, and to break them is to despise God.
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
(Read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)
We should notice in others what is good, to their praise, that we may engage them to abound therein more and more. All who are savingly taught of God, are taught to love one another. The teaching of the Spirit exceeds the teachings of men; and men's teaching is vain and useless, unless God teach. Those remarkable for this or any other grace, need to increase therein, as well as to persevere to the end. It is very desirable to have a calm and quiet temper, and to be of a peaceable and quiet behaviour. Satan is busy to trouble us; and we have in our hearts what disposes us to be unquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men's matters, have little quiet in their own minds, and cause great disturbances among their neighbours. They seldom mind the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands. Christianity does not take us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein. People often by slothfulness reduce themselves to great straits, and are liable to many wants; while such as are diligent in their own business, earn their own bread, and have great pleasure in so doing.
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
(Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Here is comfort for the relations and friends of those who die in the Lord. Grief for the death of friends is lawful; we may weep for our own loss, though it may be their gain. Christianity does not forbid, and grace does not do away, our natural affections. Yet we must not be excessive in our sorrows; this is too much like those who have no hope of a better life. Death is an unknown thing, and we know little about the state after death; yet the doctrines of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, are a remedy against the fear of death, and undue sorrow for the death of our Christian friends; and of these doctrines we have full assurance. It will be some happiness that all the saints shall meet, and remain together for ever; but the principal happiness of heaven is to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him for ever. We should support one another in times sorrow; not deaden one another's spirits, or weaken one another's hands. And this may be done by the many lessons to be learned from the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ. What! comfort a man by telling him he is going to appear before the judgment-seat of God! Who can feel comfort from those words? That man alone with whose spirit the Spirit of God bears witness that his sins are blotted out, and the thoughts of whose heart are purified by the Holy Spirit, so that he can love God, and worthily magnify his name. We are not in a safe state unless it is thus with us, or we are desiring to be so.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on 1 Thessalonians》
1 Thessalonians 4
 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
More and more — It is not enough to have faith, even so as to please God, unless we abound more and more therein.
 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
Sanctification — Entire holiness of heart and life: particular branches of it are subjoined.
That ye abstain from fornication — A beautiful transition from sanctification to a single branch of the contrary; and this shows that nothing is so seemingly distant, or below our thoughts, but we have need to guard against it.
 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
That every one know — For this requires knowledge, as well as chastity.
To possess his vessel — His wife.
In sanctification and honour — So as neither to dishonour God or himself, nor to obstruct, but further, holiness; remembering, marriage is not designed to inflame, but to conquer, natural desires.
 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
Not in passionate desire — Which had no place in man when in a state of innocence.
Who know not God — And so may naturally seek happiness in a creature. What seemingly accidental words slide in; and yet how fine, and how vastly important!
 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
In this matter — By violating his bed. The things forbidden, here are three: fornication, 1 Thessalonians 4:3; the passion of desire, or inordinate affection in the married state, 1 Thessalonians 4:5; and the breach of the marriage contract.
 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
He that despiseth — The commandments we gave.
Despiseth God — Himself.
Who hath also given you his Holy Spirit — To convince you of the truth, and enable you to be holy. What naked majesty of words! How oratorical, and yet with what great simplicity!-a simplicity that does not impair, but improve, the understanding to the utmost; that, like the rays of heat through a glass, collects all the powers of reason into one orderly point, from being scattered abroad in utter confusion.
 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
We need not write — Largely.
For ye are taught of God — By his Spirit.
 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
That ye study — Literally, that ye be ambitious: an ambition worthy a Christian.
To work with your hands — Not a needless caution; for temporal concerns are often a cross to them who are newly filled with the love of God.
 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
Decently — That they may have no pretence to say, (but they will say it still,) "This religion makes men idle, and brings them to beggary." And may want nothing - Needful for life and godliness. What Christian desires more?
 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Now — Herein the efficacy of Christianity greatly appears, - that it neither takes away nor embitters, but sweetly tempers, that most refined of all affections, our desire of or love to the dead.
 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
So — As God raised him.
With him — With their living head.
 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
By the word of the Lord — By a particular revelation.
We who are left — This intimates the fewness of those who will be then alive, compared to the multitude of the dead. Believers of all ages and nations make up, as it were, one body; in consideration of which, the believers of that age might put themselves in the place, and speak in the person, of them who were to live till the coming of the Lord. Not that St. Paul hereby asserted (though some seem to have imagined so) that the day of the Lord was at hand.
 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
With a shout — Properly, a proclamation made to a great multitude. Above this is, the voice of the archangel; above both, the trumpet of God; the voice of God, somewhat analogous to the sound of a trumpet.
 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Together — In the same moment.
In the air — The wicked will remain beneath, while the righteous, being absolved, shall be assessors with their Lord in the judgment.
With the Lord — In heaven.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on 1 Thessalonians》
Chapter 4. The Resurrection of Coming Again
Avoid Sexual Immorality
I. Control Your Own Body
II. Taught by God
III. Comfort Those Who Grieve
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Four General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To understand how the Christian should increase more and more in
such matters as obedience, holiness, love, and diligence
2) To appreciate the precious hope and comfort we have for those who
have died in Christ
With this chapter Paul begins a series of apostolic instructions
related to the Christian's walk in holiness, especially in view of the
coming of Christ. Urging them to abound more and more so that they
might please God, he first focuses on their sanctification and the need
to abstain from sexual immorality (1-8). He then urges them to
increase more and more in brotherly love, even though they had been
taught by God to love another and did so toward all the brethren
(9-10). That they might walk properly toward Macedonia
outsiders, he urges them to lead quiet lives, mind their own business,
and to work with their own hands (11-12).
Paul then addresses the matter of those who have fallen asleep in
Jesus. He did not want the Thessalonians to sorrow over them as others
who have no hope. For just as God raised Jesus from the dead, even so
He would bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (13-14). This leads
to a description of the Lord's coming, especially as it relates to how
those who are alive and remain until His coming will in no way precede
those who have died. Indeed, when the Lord comes from heaven, the dead
in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive and remain will at that
time be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, to be
with Him forever. Christians should therefore comfort one another with
these words (15-18).
I. WALK IN HOLINESS (1-8)
A. TO PLEASE GOD (1-2)
1. An exhortation in the Lord Jesus to abound more and more (1)
2. According to the commandments Paul gave them through the Lord
B. TO ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY (3-8)
1. For this is the will of God, their sanctification (3)
2. That each one know how to posses his own vessel (4-5)
a. In sanctification and honor (4)
b. Not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know
3. That no one take advantage of and defraud his brother in this
a. Because the Lord is the avenger of such things (
b. As Paul forewarned and testified (6b)
4. For God called us in holiness, not to uncleanness (7)
5. To reject this is to reject God, who has also given us His
Holy Spirit (8)
II. WALK IN LOVE (9-10)
A. AS TAUGHT BY GOD (9)
1. Concerning brotherly love, Paul really did not need to write
2. For they were taught by God to love one another (9b)
B. TO INCREASE MORE AND MORE (10)
1. Indeed, their love was manifest toward all the brethren
( Macedonia 10a)
2. Yet Paul urges them to increase in their love even more (10b)
III. WALK IN DILIGENCE (11-12)
A. TO WORK WITH THEIR HANDS (11)
1. They should aspire to lead quiet lives, to mind their own
2. Working with their own hands, as Paul commanded them (11b)
B. TO WALK PROPERLY TOWARD OUTSIDERS (12)
1. Conducting themselves properly toward those outside (
2. So that they may lack nothing (12b)
IV. WALK IN HOPE (13-18)
A. WITH NO SORROW CONCERNING THOSE WHO HAVE DIED (13-14)
1. Paul does not want them to be ignorant (13)
a. Concerning those who have fallen asleep (
b. Lest they sorrow as others who have no hope (13b)
2. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God
will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (14)
B. FOR WE SHALL BE REJOINED WITH THEM WHEN CHRIST RETURNS (15-18)
1. Those who are alive when Christ comes will not precede those
who are asleep (15)
a. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven (16)
1) With a shout
2) With the voice of an archangel
3) With the trumpet of God
b. And the dead in Christ will rise first (16b)
2. Then we who are alive and remain... (17)
a. Shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet
the Lord (
b. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (17b)
3. Therefore comfort one another with these words (18)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- Walk in holiness (1-8)
- Walk in love (9-10)
- Walk in diligence (11-12)
- Walk in hope (13-18)
2) What did Paul urge and exhort them in the Lord Jesus to do? (1)
- To abound more and more
3) What is the will of God regarding our sanctification? (3)
- To abstain from sexual immorality
4) What should each person do regarding "his own vessel"? (4-5)
- Possess it in sanctification and honor
- Not in passion of lust, like Gentiles who do not know God
5) Why should we be careful not to defraud our brother in this matter?
- Because the Lord is the avenger of all such things
- For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness
6) If we reject Paul's warning, who is it we are really rejecting? (8)
- God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit
7) Why did Paul not need to write to the Thessalonians about brotherly
love? Yet what does he urge them? (9-10)
- Because they were taught by God to love one another
- Because they showed love toward all the brethren throughout
- To increase more and more
8) What three things does Paul encourage them to do in order to walk
properly toward outsiders and be lacking in nothing? (11-12)
- Aspire to lead quite lives
- Mind their own business
- Work with their own hands
9) Why did Paul not want them to be ignorant concerning those who have
fallen asleep? (13)
- Lest they sorrow as those who have no hope
10) Who will God bring with Jesus? (14)
- Those who sleep in Jesus
11) What is said of those who are alive and remain until the coming of
the Lord? (15)
- They will by no means precede those who are asleep
12) List the order of events that will occur when Jesus comes again
- The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the
voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God
- The dead in Christ will rise first
- We who are alive shall be caught up together with them in the
clouds to meet the Lord in the air
- Thus we shall always be with the Lord
13) In view of these coming events, what we should we do? (18)
- Comfort one another with these words
An Exhortation To Walk In Holiness (4:1-8)
1. As we saw in our previous study, Paul concluded his "apostolic
reflections" with a prayer...
a. In which he expressed his desire for his brethren - 1 Th 3:11-12
b. In particular, that their hearts be established blameless in
holiness - 1 Th 3:13
2. In the second half of this epistle, Paul gives "apostolic
a. In other words, exhortations, commands, urgings, etc.
b. All designed to help answer his own prayer!
1) That they increase and abound in love
2) That they be blameless in holiness at the coming of the Lord
[His first "apostolic instruction" could be called "An Exhortation To
Walk In Holiness". It begins with a general exhortation on how we
ought to walk and please God...]
I. ABOUNDING MORE AND MORE (1-2)
A. NOTE THE FORCEFULNESS OF THIS EXHORTATION...
1. Paul "urges" and "exhorts" them
2. He reminds them this is:
a. What they received from him on how they "ought to walk" and
"to please God"
b. In keeping with "commandments" given to them
3. Twice he appeals to the name of Jesus (which adds to the force
of his appeal)
a. Urging and exhorting "in the Lord Jesus"
b. Commandments given "through the Lord Jesus"
4. These "instructions" are not suggestions; they carry the force
of commands necessary to keep in order to please God!
a. Which Jesus expected His apostles to teach - Mt 28:20
b. Which Paul certainly stressed - 1 Co 7:19
B. A COMMAND FOR INCREASING SERVICE...
1. They should "abound more and more"
a. As he prayed earlier - 1 Th 3:12
b. As he will urge them again later - 1 Th 4:10
2. This aspect of Christian living is taught throughout the
a. By Jesus in His parables
1) The Talents - cf. Mt 25:14-30
2) The Vine and The Branches - cf. Jn 15:1-2
b. By Peter in defining what it means to grow in the knowledge
of Christ - cf. 2 Pe 1:5-8
c. By Paul in his writing to other Christians
1) The Corinthians - 1 Co 15:58
2) The Philippians - Ph 1:9; 3:13-14
[The Christian "walk" or life is to be one where we abound more and
more, never resting on our laurels, always pressing on to increasing
levels of service. This is especially true when it comes to living
morally pure lives...]
II. SANCTIFICATION THROUGH ABSTINENCE (3-8)
A. GOD'S WILL IS OUR SANCTIFICATION...
1. The words "sanctification" and "holiness" come from the same
Greek word meaning to be "set apart"
a. Through the Word of God, we are to be "sanctified" - Jn
b. With the aid of the Spirit, we can be "sanctified" - 1 Co
2. Sanctification is an on-going process...
a. It began at our conversion - 1 Co 6:11; Ep 5:26
b. It continues throughout our Christian life - He 2:11; 10:14
c. It will be completed at the coming of Christ - 1 Th 5:23
B. SANCTIFICATION INVOLVES ABSTINENCE...
1. Abstaining from "sexual immorality"
a. The Greek word (porneia) is commonly translated
b. It is a "general word for unlawful and immoral sexual
intercourse and relationships" (Barclay)
1) Thus it includes pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex
2) I.e., any sexual activity outside a lawful, marital
relationship between husband and wife
2. Possessing one's own vessel (body, or wife) in sanctification
a. Not in passion of lust, like those who do not know God
- cf. Ep 4:17-19
b. Something we should know how to do - in case one doesn't,
1) Being transformed by the renewing of the mind - Ro 12:
2) Not making provision for fulfilling the lusts of the
flesh - Ro 13:13-14
3. So we will not be take advantage of and defraud our brother
a. I.e., commit adultery (perhaps the highest form of fraud
- cf. Pro 6:30-35)
b. Which is what happens when we do not possess our bodies in
sanctification and honor
C. WHY SANCTIFICATION (ESP. ABSTINENCE) IS NECESSARY...
1. It is God's will - 1 Th 4:3
2. God will avenge those who defraud their brethren - 1 Th 4:6;
cf. He 13:4
3. God has called us to holiness, not (moral) uncleanness - 1 Th
4. Otherwise we reject God, who has given us His Holy Spirit
- 1 Th 4:8
a. Given to us when we became His sons - Ga 4:6
b. Our bodies are to be temples for the Holy Spirit - 1 Co
-- Dare we grieve the Spirit by defiling His temple?
1. To be blameless in holiness at the Lord's coming requires we walk in
a. Abounding more and more in our service to God
b. Abstaining from sexual immorality by possessing our bodies in
sanctification and honor
2. Through the grace of God, such holy living is possible...
a. We have the blood of Christ to forgive us of the guilt of sin
b. We have the help of the Spirit to free us from the power of sin
-- But we must do our part, thus the need for "An Exhortation To
Walk In Holiness"
In view of our morally lax society, this is a much needed exhortation!
God has not called us to (sexual) uncleanness, but in holiness (1 Th
4:7). Are we living in a way becoming of our calling?
An Exhortation To Walk In Love (4:9-10)
1. In his prayer for the Thessalonians (1 Th 3:11-13), Paul asked the
a. Make them increase and abound in love
b. To one another and to all
2. As Paul continues with his "apostolic instructions", he proceeds to
help answer his own prayer by exhorting the brethren regarding
a. Though not really necessary in their case - 1 Th 4:9
1) For they have been taught by God to love one another
2) And they love the brethren throughout
b. Yet he urges them to increase more and more in their love - 1 Th
1) Note yet again the emphasis on an ever increasing service
- cf. 1 Th 3:12; 4:1
2) So they were to increase in this grace as well
[What is it about "brotherly love" that would prompt Paul to first pray
for and then to urge the church at Thessalonica to increase in this
virtue? As we consider Paul's "Exhortation To Walk In Love" let's
I. THE DEFINITION OF BROTHERLY LOVE
A. THE GREEK WORD...
1. The Greek word is transliterated "
2. It is a compound involving two words: "phileo" (love) and
3. It literally means "the love of brothers"
B. AS USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
" describes the love which Christians cherish for philadelphia
each other as brethren (Thayer)
2. Ro 12:10 reveals that it is through brotherly kindness we can
have "kind affection" toward one another
[Brotherly kindness is what provides a true sense of family in our
association as members of the Lord's body. Now let's consider why this
virtue is so necessary...
II. THE DEMAND OF BROTHERLY LOVE
A. IT IS EVIDENCE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE...
1. It is one way we know that we have truly passed from death to
life - 1 Jn 3:14
2. If we do not have brotherly love, we remain in a state of
spiritual death - 1 Jn 3:14-15
B. IT IS EVIDENCE OF A TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD...
1. It is one way that we demonstrate we have truly come to know
God - 1 Jn 4:7-8
2. Without brotherly love, any claim to know God or love Him is a
lie - 1 Jn 4:20-21
C. IT IS EVIDENCE OF TRUE DISCIPLESHIP...
1. It is an identifying mark by which the world can know we are
Jesus' disciples - Jn 13:34-35
2. Right doctrine is certainly important (2 Jn 9), but the world
pays little attention to what they may perceive as minor
a. What people do notice is love in a world filled with hate,
especially when such love is observed among individuals who
come from various social, economic, and racial backgrounds
b. Any attempt to proclaim New Testament Christianity,
therefore, will fail to appeal to those in the world unless
it is accompanied by a visible demonstration of true
brotherly kindness among Christians
D. IT IS EVIDENCE OF CONCERN FOR UNITY...
1. Unity among brethren is very important to Jesus - Jn 17:20-23
2. Through His death on the cross, Jesus attained unity - Ep 2:
3. This unity is maintained through diligent endeavor - Ep 4:3
4. Crucial to this endeavor is "bearing with one another in love"
- Ep 4:2
a. There will be times when brethren sin against one another
b. Where brotherly love prevails...
1) There will be forbearance and forgiveness
2) There will time for repentance and opportunities for
c. Unless we develop brotherly love, churches will be prone to
split at the earliest sign of conflict
[Can we appreciate why Paul was concerned that the Thessalonians
increase in brotherly love? Do we see why we ought to excel in this
grace as well? Presuming that we do, here are some thoughts related
III. THE DEVELOPMENT OF BROTHERLY LOVE
A. THE HELP GOD PROVIDES...
1. When we first obey the gospel, our souls are purified so that
sincere and fervent love of the brethren is now possible
- 1 Pe 1:22-23
2. We are then "taught by God" how to love one another - cf. 1 Th
a. The Father teaches the meaning of love by the manner in
which He offered His Son as the propitiation for our sins
- 1 Jn 4:9-10
b. The Son demonstrated true love by freely offering His life
- 1 Jn 3:16
B. THE THINGS WE CAN DO...
1. As Peter implied, brotherly love is a virtue that must be
developed - cf. 2 Pe 1:5-8
2. One thing we can do is reflect often upon the love and
sacrifice of Jesus
a. The more we do so, we come to understand the true meaning
of brotherly kindness
b. As Jesus said, "as I have loved you, that you also love one
another" - Jn 13:34
3. I find two other things helpful in developing brotherly love
a. Spend time with your brethren
1) The more I am around people, the more I come to know
them personally, the more I share experiences (both good
and bad), the easier I find it to "fall in love" with
2) It is not much different than with one's own physical
a) I had no choice who my three physical brothers would
b) But as we experience life together our love and
appreciation for one another deepens
c) I find it to be the same with my brethren in Christ
b. Pray fervently for your brethren, especially those whom you
1) It is hard to remain angry or maintain a strong dislike
for someone when you spend time praying for them
2) As you pray seeking God's love and forgiveness for
yourself, it becomes so much easier to love and forgive
[Finally, a thought or two about our relationships as brethren in
IV. THE DISPLAY OF BROTHERLY LOVE
A. WHEN BRETHREN DIFFER...
1. A brother who is strong in faith must be considerate of his
brother who may be weak - Ro 15:1
2. A brother with liberty in Christ must be willing to limit that
freedom if it is beneficial to the spiritual well-being of
his weaker brother - 1 Co 8:13; Ga 5:13
3. It is brotherly kindness that makes one cautious about judging
a brother, or what they say about them - cf. Ja 4:11-12
B. WHEN BRETHREN ARE WEAK...
1. It is brotherly kindness that leads Christians to truly care
for one another - 1 Th 5:14
a. To warn the unruly
b. To comfort the faint-hearted
c. To uphold the weak
d. To be patient with all
2. It is brotherly kindness that will prompt us to pursue the
things that make for peace and the things by which we may
build up one another - Ro 14:19
1. The importance of developing the spirit of brotherly love cannot be
stressed too highly...
a. It is evidence of spiritual life
b. It is evidence of a true knowledge of God
c. It is evidence of true discipleship
d. It is evidence of concern for unity
2. Even if we excel in brotherly love like the Thessalonians...
a. We need to pray that the Lord make us increase and abound in love
- 1 Th 3:11-13
b. We need to urge one another to increase more and more - 1 Th 4:
It is evident the Thessalonians heeded Paul's exhortation to walk in
love, for in his second epistle he wrote:
"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is
fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of
every one of you all abounds toward each other" (2 Th 1:3)
May the same be true of us as well!
An Exhortation To Walk In Diligence (4:11-12)
1. In his "apostolic instructions", we have seen Paul exhort the church
a. To walk in holiness - 1 Th 4:1-8
b. To walk in love - 1 Th 4:9-10
2. His next instruction (1 Th 4:11-12) is an exhortation to "diligence",
to ensure that...
a. They walk properly toward those who are outside - cf. 1 Pe 2:12
b. They lack nothing - cf. Ro 13:8
3. That this requires diligence is evident from the word "aspire"
(study, KJV) in verse 11...
a. A word meaning "to be ambitious"
b. As translated in the NASB (to make it your ambition)
[In three particular areas does Paul want them to be ambitious, the
I. TO LEAD A QUIET LIFE
A. AN APPARENT PARADOX...
1. For the phrase "quiet life" suggests a calmness, a serenity
2. Yet for this we are to be "ambitious", apply diligent effort,
which seems to be contrary to the idea of quietness, calm
-- The "quiet life", like many good things, does not come without
B. AN ADMIRABLE GOAL...
1. As much as possible, to live peaceably with all men - Ro 12:18;
14:19; He 12:14
a. Though such is not always the case
b. As Paul found out even in Thessalonica - cf. Ac 17:1-6
2. For which we are to diligently pray - 1 Ti 2:1-2
a. That we might live quiet and peaceful lives
b. That we might live such in all godliness and honesty
3. A quiet and peaceful life is more likely if we:
a. Seek first the kingdom of God - Mt 6:25-34
1) Which requires setting our priorities
2) Which requires saying no to many distractions
b. Learn contentment in Christ - Ph 4:11-13; 1 Ti 6:6-10
c. Overcome anxiety through prayer - Ph 4:6-7
-- The search for "simplicity" is a popular trend today; for the
Christian, it is to be more than just a trend, but a way of
life conducive to godliness and honesty
[As we "aspire" to lead a quiet life, we cannot do so unless we also
II. TO MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS
A. THERE IS A PLACE FOR LOVING CONCERN...
1. As we watch out for one another's welfare - Ph 2:4
2. As we seek to help each other overcome our weaknesses - Ga 6:
-- Therefore we should not construe the words in our text to mean
that we should not seek to reprove, rebuke, or to restore an
erring brother - cf. Ja 5:19-20
B. THERE IS NO PLACE FOR NOSY INTERFERENCE...
1. Paul is warning against becoming "busybodies", people who have
nothing to do but interfere in the affairs of others
2. A problem that often existed in the early church
a. Even at Thessalonica - 2 Th 3:11-12
b. Which Peter lumped together with murderers, thieves, etc.
- 1 Pe 4:15
3. A danger especially when one is not focused on their own
a. Which is why Paul refused to let churches support younger
widows - 1 Ti 5:11-14
b. Which is why Paul instructed the older women to properly
teach the younger women their responsibilities - Ti 2:3-5
-- The peace and quiet we desire in our lives and in our churches
cannot exist unless we maintain a proper distinction between
brotherly concern and becoming "busybodies"
[It certainly helps to maintain that distinction if we "aspire"...]
III. TO WORK WITH OUR OWN HANDS
A. THE PURPOSE OF THIS COMMAND...
1. To provide for our families - cf. 1 Ti 5:8
2. To help the less fortunate - Ep 4:28; Ac 20:34-35
-- Through example and precept, Paul taught the early Christians
to support themselves and not be dependent upon others
B. THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS COMMAND...
1. Failing to provide for our families makes us worse than
unbelievers - 1 Ti 5:8
2. Refusing to work was grounds for church discipline, just like
adultery, extortion, etc. - 2 Th 3:10-14; 1 Co 5:11
-- While we may occasionally need assistance from our brethren
(even our government), we are not to make it a practice to
"live off welfare"
1. With diligence, therefore, we are to "aspire"...
a. To lead a quiet life
b. To mind our own business
c. To work with our own hands
2. Again, the purpose behind these instructions is two-fold...
a. That we might walk properly toward those who are outside - 1 Th
b. That we might lack nothing - 1 Th 4:12b
For the sake of our reputation as Christians, as well as for own well-
being while we sojourn here on earth, we must heed this exhortation to
walk in diligence!
The Comfort Of Christ's Coming (4:13-18)
1. In previous studies we've noted that Paul makes frequent mention of
the second coming of Christ in this epistle to the Thessalonians...
a. In every chapter there is some reference to this great event
b. So far we have seen the following references: 1 Th 1:10; 2:19;
2. In our text for this lesson, Paul discusses "The Comfort Of Christ's
a. How we ought to be comforted by the "fact" of His coming
b. How we should be comforted by the "events" of His coming
[Our text is 1 Th 4:13-18, a well-known passage often read at funerals.
And rightly so, for it deals with...]
I. THE PROBLEM OF SORROW (13)
A. THE LOSS OF LOVED ONES IS GREAT...
1. The sorrow is great, the grief is so hard to bear
2. It is the most stressful event that one can endure
B. THE CHRISTIAN IS NOT IMMUNE TO SORROW...
1. We experience the sorrow of separation - e.g., Ac 20:37-38
2. But we need not experience the sorrow of desperation
a. The despair of having no hope
b. The despair of not ever seeing a loved one again
[What can alleviate the problem of sorrow? It is knowledge concerning
the events of Christ's coming; and so Paul does not want them to be
II. THE PROMISE FOR THOSE ASLEEP (14-15)
A. GOD WILL BRING THEM WITH JESUS...
1. Just as He raised Jesus from the dead, so He will bring those
who "sleep in Jesus"!
a. In this text, he limits his discussion to the righteous dead
b. Elsewhere, we read of the of resurrection of the wicked
- e.g., Jn 5:28-29
2. What do the terms "fallen asleep" and "sleep in Jesus" mean?
a. The scriptures often speak of death as a "sleep"
1) Mt 27:52 - ...bodies of the saints who had "fallen
2) Jn 11:11-14 - Jesus says of dead Lazarus, "our friend
3) Ac 7:60 - As Stephen is stoned to death, it is said "he
b. Some believe these passages support the doctrine of "soul
1) That souls are unconscious between death and the
2) Not to be confused with the doctrine held by JW's, who
teach there is no consciousness until the resurrection
because the dead cease to exist
c. Yet the following points should be carefully noted:
1) Nowhere do the Scriptures say that the soul of the
departed one fell asleep
a) It was the person who "fell asleep"
b) Thus it can have reference to the body, not the soul
2) The term "sleep" is a figurative reference, and a very
a) For sleep implies REST...
1) When one sleeps literally, there is rest from
2) So it is that the dead also "rest from their
labors" - cf. Re 14:13
b) For sleep implies a CEASING OF PARTICIPATION...
1) In literal sleep, one ceases in the activities
pertaining to the sphere in which one has been busy
during the hours of wakefulness
2) So it is with the dead, they are no longer active
in the world which they left
c) For sleep is generally a PRELUDE TO AN AWAKENING...
1) In literal sleep, it is followed by an "awakening"
2) So it is with death:
a/ Though the souls may be conscious during the
b/ ...at the resurrection there will be the
"awakening" of the glorified and transformed
bodies in which to house our souls
3) The term "sleep" became a euphemism for death because of
the sleep-like appearance of the body
3. That God will bring "them with Jesus" implies they are with
a. As stated later in this epistle - 1 Th 5:10
b. As stated elsewhere in the Scriptures - 2 Co 5:8; Lk 23:43;
B. THEY WILL PRECEDE THOSE WHO ARE ALIVE...
1. It seems some in Thessalonica feared those who had died would
miss out on the blessings of Christ's coming
2. Paul reassures them (and us) that such is not the case...
a. God will bring them with Jesus! - 1 Th 4:14; cf. also 3:13
b. Therefore, "by no means" will those alive precede those who
are dead! - 1 Th 4:15
c. This assurance we have "by the word of the Lord" - 1 Th 4:15
1) The same "word" which foretold and brought about the
flood - 2 Pe 3:3-6
2) The same "word" now tells of Christ's coming - 2 Pe 3:
3) This "word" lives and abides forever! - 1 Pe 1:23-25
[To reinforce the promise for those asleep in Christ, Paul next
III. THE PROCEDURE FOR CHRIST'S COMING (16-17)
A. THE LORD WILL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN...
1. Note what is said about His coming - 1 Th 4:16
a. It will be with a "shout"
b. It will be with the "voice of an archangel"
c. It will be with the "trumpet of God"
2. This is not describing some silent rapture!
a. This very passage is used to teach the premillenial concept
of the rapture
b. Yet Paul ties the coming of the Lord and our gathering
together into one event - cf. 2 Th 2:1-2
1) In which Jesus comes for His saints - 1 Th 4:13-18
2) In which Jesus brings judgment upon the wicked - 1 Th 5:
1-3; cf. 2 Th 1:7-8
B. THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST...
1. Their souls will be coming with Jesus - 1 Th 4:14
2. But their bodies will be raised from the grave - 1 Th 4:16; cf.
-- This will happen first, so we who are alive will not precede
those who are dead
C. THOSE LIVING WILL BE CAUGHT UP WITH THEM...
1. Those alive will be transformed - cf. 1 Co 15:51-53
a. Their mortal bodies will put on immortality
b. Their corruptible bodies will put on incorruption
2. The righteous living will then join the righteous dead - cf.
1 Th 4:17
3. Together in the clouds we will meet the Lord in the air - cf.
[In this wonderful way we shall come to be with the Lord forever (1 Th
4:17)! As Jesus said, "that where I am, there you may be also" (Jn
14:3). What a blessed hope! As we consider our final point, it should
be obvious what is...]
IV. THE PURPOSE FOR THESE WORDS (18)
A. TO BE COMFORTED...
1. The wonderful promise in our text certainly provides comfort
2. Comfort that can sustain us in times of great loss
-- While we may sorrow when a fellow-Christian dies, it is not the
sorrow of those who have no hope!
B. TO COMFORT ONE ANOTHER...
1. Comforting others in their loss of a loved one is a common
human trait - cf. Jn 11:19
2. Certainly Christians are to "weep with those who weep" - Ro
3. But for those who are fellow Christians, we can do more - we
can provide comfort!
a. Comfort them with the comfort we have in Christ - 2 Co 1:3-4
b. Especially the comfort provided by the hope we have in
Christ - 1 Th 4:18; 5:10-11
1. Paul will have more to say about the coming of Christ in the next
a. In which he writes about the timing of Christ's coming
b. In which he writes about the preparation for Christ's coming
2. But in a passage that addresses...
a. The problem of sorrow
b. The promise for those asleep
c. The procedure for Christ's coming
d. The purpose for these words
-- We are reminded that death need not be "good bye", but only "good
night" (relate the story of the father who on his death bed told
all his children "good night" except the one unfaithful son to
whom he said "good bye")
When the time comes for our loved ones pass on, will we be able to find
comfort in this passage? Will those who survive us be comforted by its
promise when they grieve over our death?
The resurrection of coming again
Avoid sexual immorality
I. Control your own body
1. Holy and honorable
2. No passionate lust
3. No trespassing
II.Taught by God
1. Lead a quiet life
2. Mind your own business
3. Work with your hands
III. Comfort those who grieve
1. Those who fall asleep
2. Rise again first
3. Meet in the air
－－ Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Rapture of the Saints (1 Thess.4:13~18)
1 The Event—
11 The Fulfillment of Christ’s Promise (John 14:2~3)
12 The Display of Christ’s Power (1 Thess.4:16)
13 The Realization of Christ’s Presence (1 Thess.4:17)
2 The Accompaniment—
21 the Shout of a King (1 Thess.4:16)
22 the Voice of the Chief messenger (1 Thess.4:16)
23 the Trump of God (1 Thess.4:16)
(The Lord Himself as Prophet, Priest and King)
3 The Fulfillment—
31 Resurrection of sleeping saints (1 Thess.4:16)
32 Rapture of living saints (1 Thess.4:17)