Thursday, June 14, 2012

1 Thessalonians 4


1 Th 4:1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
After giving his personal letter for 3 chapters Paul now turns to giving them some practical sanctification to work with. “finally” means more, “as for the rest I want to say”.  It is a note of encouragement to keep on what they have been doing. Paul wants to tell them how to please God in terms of death, sex, and work. New life, new lifestyle.  Our actions must change because of our beliefs.

1Th 4:2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
The instructions Paul gives were from God. It’s a word that means a military order

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
God’s will for us is our sanctification. Heaven is a done deal for Christians, but it’s through sanctification.  Paul will give 2 commands and then clarify them but they are to leave the concerns of the world behind. To be set apart.
Not surprisingly sexual immorality was running rampant in the city. This sin is unique by being against all three members of the Trinity at the same time

1Th 4:4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
The second command is much like the first: control yourself. Your friend is out of town for the weekend and has let you live in the house, keep it clean for goodness sake.  It’s on loan to you for you to be holy and honorable.

1Th 4:5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Connected to that last thought: your body is to be possessed in struggle, in devotion, in dedication. It must be deliberate, a choice. It will be work, it will be hard, but your passion must not rule you like the Gentiles. Passions and lusts and instincts are for slaves, you are to make them slaves to you, not vice versa, you have been redeemed.

1Th 4:6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
The third command is that we must take to heart is not to injure one another. We are to be gentle, meek, like Christ. In quoting Isaiah 42 Matthew 12:20 says “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory”.  God has always been on the side of the injured party, because God is just.

1Th 4:7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
The reason attached to do not harm is that that behavior is not pure, peaceable, not kind, as described in Gal 5:22. He wants holiness from us

1Th 4:8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Do you have regard for God? Then pay careful attention to Him, because He greatly desires our corporate holiness inasmuch as our individual holiness. God was enabling them to see His will, do His will

1Th 4:9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
Can man love apart from God? No.  God must first teach us to love 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us”. Therefore Paul is not first instructing them on how to love, but reinforcing their learning, as is more evident by the next verse

1Th 4:10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,
As the church in the capital city they are a very big beacon to the smaller regions.  If the church can succeed in San Francisco then it surely can succeed here.

1Th 4:11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
3 commands in rapid succession: shut your mouth, mind your own business, and don’t be a sponge.  Aspire means to long for, to set your sights on.  Earnestly desire to live a life free of sin and problems. Elijah heard the small whisper in the wind, because he lived a quiet life. If you work you will have things of value.  Being a busybody, sticking your nose into other people’s business is off limits as a Christian. The more direct reason is in the next verse

1Th 4:12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Outsiders don’t appreciate people who mooch. If you are not even as holy as they are, you have no value to God for testimony.   If your religion cannot motivate you to feed yourself then you are surely worthless

1Th 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
Paul now transitions.  The reason for this coming explanation is so that they will not grieve, or will stop grieving like the worldly Gentiles. What bothers them so much, is apparently they believed those who have already died will not go on to see salvation.  Paul reminds them to let your mourning be tempered by the resurrection, for Christians don’t cease like die, they wait like sleep.

1Th 4:14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Fallen asleep means died believing. See John 11:11 with Lazareth 1 Cor 15:51 when speaking of the resurrected body, or when talking about Stephen dying Acts 7:60.  For since tells us that we need to follow through with the consequences of our beliefs.  Through Jesus tells us that it’s by the power of the cross that this happens, and since it’s God doing this thing, we may have confidence in it.  Early Christians would inscribe Ps 4:8 on their tomb, in reference to death.

1Th 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
Paul and the Apostles declare for certain that God will take everyone of His believers to heaven with Him. This is not negotiable, this must be believed or it is a sin, we are not merely witnesses, we are passing down the very words of God. 
They had the erroneous belief that unless you were alive when He came back you were not saved. Paul means to correct that.

1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
The angel will shout, he will summon everyone to come before God and face the judgment. But notice this: the dead will be first, contrary to the Thessalonian error.  The word command was used of soldiers, or shipmasters telling their rowers something.

1Th 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Our life, our real life begins at death.  We will always be with God after we cross that threshold. The second coming of Christ is certain.  We get the word rapture from this verse, the idea of being caught up. When we get to the end of the road be we amellennialist or dispensationalist or pre or post mellennialist will have this same end, that Christ has come to end it all.
It looks like I’m going to be doing 2 Thess 2 as well, so I will go into these views in depth then
*Brief discussion of the terms*

1Th 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This is another command, when people grieve, remind them. Theology answers their most deepest felt needs. 

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