Reminder to apply Bible doctrine daily

Tod Kennedy, December 2 and 9, 2009

Some observations from chapter 4

  1. Paul had already taught them to live right to please God (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
  2. The Thessalonians are doing a good job in their Christian lives (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
  3. Paul wants them to continue to improve their Christian living (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
  4. The Lord Jesus gave Paul instructions for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:2).
  5. God wants them to have experiential (Christian life) sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
  6. One important area of this sanctification is sexual morality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
  7. Each is to honorably control his own body or possibly his wife (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5).
  8. Do not harm another believer by sex outside of one’s own marriage (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
  9. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions harm other people (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
  10. Experiential sanctification is God’s will (1 Thessalonians 4:7).
  11. One who rejects Paul’s instructions about day to day sanctification is rejecting God’s commands (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
  12. God gives the Holy Spirit to live in all believers, even immoral believers (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
  13. The Thessalonians practice God’s love toward believers in Macedonia (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
  14. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to excel (over and above) in love (1 Thessalonians 4:10).
  15. Aspire to live a quiet life and do your own work (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
  16. This gives a good witness to unbelievers and prevents poverty (1 Thessalonians 4:12).
  17. Paul wants them to understand about Christian death (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
  18. Understanding Christian death helps us not grieve like unbelievers grieve (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
  19. Christian death is called sleeping (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
  20. Unbelievers have no hope in death (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
  21. Jesus died and then rose from death (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
  22. Believers who have died will return to earth with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
  23. The Lord said that we, if alive when Jesus appears, will not go with Jesus ahead of those who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
  24. The Lord Jesus will come down from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
  25. He will be accompanied with a shout (command or summons), the voice of the archangel, and God’s trumpet call (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
  26. The believers who are already dead will rise first to meet Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
  27. Believers living on earth will then be caught up to meet the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
  28. Both groups of believers will join in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
  29. The meeting will be in the air—somewhere above earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
  30. Both groups of believers will from then on always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
  31. We are to comfort each other by retelling what Paul has just said (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
  32. God’s word brings comfort when believers think about death (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Main points to emphasize in 1 Thessalonians 4

  1. Believers should live in such a way that they please God. This means that we do His will, live by His standards and power, and so honor Him (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
  2. Christian life sanctification is important. An important part of sanctification is sexual morality. Sexual morality requires self control. Sexual immorality harms people—themselves, family, and others. Believers who reject Paul’s teaching about sexual morality are rejecting God (1 Thessalonians 4:2-8).
  3. God commands all believers to love one another with his kind of love. It is so important that even though the Thessalonians were fulfilling this command, Paul encouraged them to love over and above their present love—to make it more evident. This kind of love is also the foundation for “brotherly love,” the camaraderie and affection that believers can have with each other (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). Paul encourages them to “excel” still more in verses 1 and 10. They are growing, but Paul wants them to excel further.
  4. Seek to live an orderly life, to refrain from disorderly conduct, to pay attention to our responsibilities, and to do our jobs. The outcome will be stability, prosperity, and a good witness (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
  5. Christian death is not the end. All believers, those who have already died and those alive when the Lord returns in the air, will rejoin each other and meet the Lord when He returns to call us to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
  6. Confident understanding about believers’ death is a great comfort to all believers (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4

  1. Believers should live in such a way that they please God. This means that we do His will, live by His standards and power, and so honor Him (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
    • Paul had already taught them to live right to please God (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
      • Walk is peripateo used many times for living day to day one step at a time. For example, Galatians 5:16 “Walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord.” Romans 6:4 “so we too might walk in newness of life” and 8:4, and 2 Corinthians 5:7 “Walk by faith not by sight.” See the doctrine of walking. It is talking about advancement – speed is not an issue.
      • Please God is the verb aresko. This is also used a number of times in this kind of context. For example, Romans 8:8 “and those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” Philippians 4:18 “But I have received everything in full and have a abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God,” and Colossians 1:10 “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
    • The Thessalonians are doing a good job in their Christian lives (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
    • Paul wants them to continue to improve their Christian living (1 Thessalonians 4:1). Excel still more is also in verse 10. Verse 1 refers to walking and pleasing God. Verse 10 refers to loving believers. HINA plus abound or overflow.
  2. Christian life sanctification is important. An important part of sanctification is sexual morality. Sexual morality requires self control. Sexual immorality harms people—themselves, family, and others. Believers who reject Paul’s teaching about sexual morality are not actually rejecting Paul. They are rejecting God. He sets the right standard. He gives the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer. According to 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, sexual immorality is also a sin against one’s own body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and a place from which to glorify God (1 Thessalonians 4:2-8).
    • The Lord Jesus gave Paul instructions for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:2). God is giving the information through Paul.
    • God wants them to have experiential (Christian life) sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). See the doctrine of Sanctification. There are three types of sanctification – positional, experiential (ongoing day to day life), and ultimate.
      • Sanctification is hagiasmos. This word means set apartness for God’s use. Sanctification emphasizes the set apart and prepared readiness at any point in time. There are 3 kinds of sanctification.
        • Position (Acts 26.18; 1 Corinthians 1.2 “to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus,” 1 Corinthians 1:30 “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;” 1 Corinthians 6.11; Ephesians 1.1; 2 Thessalonians 2.13; Hebrews 10.10; 1 Peter 1.2 “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure”). This occurs at salvation.
        • Experience – ongoing day to day life (John 17.17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth;” [This is the one thing that will give us guidance for the day to day Christian life.] Romans 6.19, 22; 12.1; 2 Corinthians 7.1; 1 Thessalonians 4.3-7; 5.23; Hebrews 12.10, 14; 1 Peter 1.15). This is the expected Christian life.
        • Ultimate (Philippians 3.21 “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself;” 1 John 3.1-2 “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure;” Jude 24-25). This occurs when we gain our resurrection body and live forever.
    • One important area of this sanctification is sexual morality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Each is to honorably control his own body or possibly his wife (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5). If this refers to the wife, then 1 Peter 3:7 informs us further. Vessel, skeuos, is used for one’s body in 2 Corinthians 4:7 and Romans 9:22-23.
    • Do not harm another believer by sex outside of one’s own marriage. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions harm other people (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
    • Experiential sanctification is God’s will (1 Thessalonians 4:7). See above on sanctification.
    • One who rejects Paul’s instructions about day to day sanctification is rejecting God’s commands (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
    • Verse 8 teaches us that God gives the Holy Spirit to live in all believers, even immoral believers. At faith in Christ each believer is regenerated by the Holy Spirit,  baptized with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30; 1 Corinthians 6:18-19).
  3. God commands all believers to love one another with his kind of love. It is so important that even though the Thessalonians were fulfilling this command, Paul encouraged them to love over and above their present love—to make it more evident. This kind of love is also the foundation for “brotherly love”, the camaraderie and affection that believers can have with each other (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
    • The Thessalonians practice brotherly love with believers in Macedonia (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). The noun philadelphia is “love of the brethren.” This word is also used in Romans 12:10 and Hebrews 3:1 and others. This is a fond affection for believers because we have Jesus Christ in common (1 Thessalonians 4:9).
    • God had previously taught them (“taught by God” is theodidaktos) to love (agapao) one another.  This is a stronger and more reliable kind of love. It comes from God through the Holy Spirit. God taught this through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and through Paul. Based upon this love foundation they also have a fond affection for one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9).
    • In verse 9 the verb agapao is used in “to love one another.” This is different than “brotherly love.” Agape love is God’s love produced in believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:8 and Galatians 5:23). It is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Because of the “taught by God” sacrificial love, they can solve and even prevent interpersonal problems, protect others, and serve one another (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 1 Peter 4:8; Galatians 5:13).
    • Paul encourages the Thessalonians to excel (over and above) in agape kind of love to one another (1 Thessalonians 4:10). Excel is perisseuo, to abound, to cause to abound, to overflow.
    • God taught love (agapao) is the basis for brotherly love (philadelphia).
  4. Seek to live an orderly life, to refrain from disorderly conduct, to pay attention to our responsibilities, and to do our jobs. The outcome will be stability, prosperity, and a good witness (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
    • “Make it your ambition” is philotimeomai, to be ambitious, to strive eagerly, to seek. Believers are to make this a goal of life (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
      • Quiet life is an orderly life. The verb is hesuchazo, to be quiet, to be at rest, and then to refrain from disturbing activity. The contextual meaning is to live orderly or organized.
      • “Attend to your own business and work…” is as it says.
      • Those who organize their lives
        • Do not disrupt others
        • Enjoy their lives more
        • Do not interfere or meddle in the lives of others
        • Do not put a burden on others
        • Gain a sense of stability and purpose.
        • This gives a good witness to unbelievers and prevents poverty (1 Thessalonians 4:12).
  5. Christian death is not the end. All believers, those who have already died and those alive when the Lord returns in the air, will rejoin each other and meet the Lord when he returns to call us to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
    • Paul wants them to understand about Christian death (1 Thessalonians 4:4:13). Paul and his team do not want them to be ignorant (agnoeo) about those who are sleeping—meaning died as believers. Christian death is called sleeping because the body will awake, arise, and be changed into a resurrection body. Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
    • Understanding Christian death helps us not grieve (lupeo) like unbelievers grieve (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Grief is a normal human emotion that comes with the loss of a friend, family member, or someone you respect. It is a good emotion when guided by God’s word. Lazarus’ family and even Jesus showed grief at the death of Lazarus and its effect on the family and friends (John 11:33-35).
    • Unbelievers have no hope in death (1 Thessalonians 4:13). The best they can do is wish that maybe something is beyond death. Some have false hope from false doctrines. Others think death is simply the end of existence. Only believers with a strong faith and love relationship with God are able to deal with death and combine it with joy, confidence, and praise of God (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Timothy 4:6-8)).
      • Apparently the Thessalonians were confused about when the “sleeping” believers would be raised. They may have thought that only living believers would be changed when Jesus came in the air. Paul corrects this.
    • Jesus died and then rose from death (1 Thessalonians 4:14). This is a statement of truth. It is foundational Christology. Jesus arose from physical death. See the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus.
    • Believers who have died will return to earth with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
      • “If we believe” (ei gar pisteuo) has a first class “if.” This should better be translated “since we believe.” Paul believes it. Silas and Timothy believe it. The Thessalonians believe it. What they believe dictates how they live.
      • What they believe is that Jesus died and arose. This makes the resurrection of believers possible and certain. Since Jesus died and arose, when Jesus returns for believers God the Father will bring (ago) with him (Jesus), those who have fallen asleep, referring to those who have already died (koimao, aorist passive participle, to fall asleep or go to bed). Every church age believer will then get his individual resurrection body.
        • Paul refers to only those who die in Jesus. This indicates that only church saints will be raptured. Old Testament believers were not in Jesus.
    • The Lord said that we, if alive when Jesus appears, will not go with Jesus ahead of those who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:15). The authority of Jesus stands behind this statement. The living will not go ahead (phthano) of those who have died. The dead will not be left behind. All will be resurrected together.
      • Remember that Christian death does not mean cessation of existence or soul sleep. At physical death a believer goes directly to heaven to be with the Lord. Between this time and resurrection each believer has some kind of temporary body. We do not know the nature of this body. We just know that there must be something to be “present with the Lord” and Paul looks forward to it (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:22-23).
    • The Lord Jesus will come down (katabaino, future middle indicative) from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The order of events will be
      • He will be accompanied with a shout (keleusma, command or summons),
      • The voice of the archangel,
      • And God’s trumpet call.
    • The believers who are already dead will rise first to meet Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The dead in Christ (en christo) will arise (anhistmi, stand up, raise up, rise from the dead, future middle indicative) first.
    • Believers living on earth will then be caught up to meet the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
      • Together (ama, at the same time, at once, together). Living believers will, together with the sleeping believers, be snatched up (arpazo, snatch away, carry off, seize hastily, grab suddenly; future passive indicative). Arpazo is the Greek word behind the “rapture.”
      • Both living and dead believers will be snatched up in the clouds. Clouds probably mean that a cloud cover will prevent earth dwellers from seeing much of this.
      • Both groups of believers will join in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
      • The meeting will be in the air—somewhere above earth (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The great snatch is for a meeting with the Lord in the air. The words “to meet the Lord” have the preposition “eis” plus the word apantesis (This is the action of going out to meet someone).
      • Both groups of believers will from then on always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
  6. Confident understanding about believers’ death is a great comfort to all believers (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
    1. We are to comfort each other by retelling what Paul has just said. “Comfort” is parakaleo in the present active imperative, second person plural. All of us are told to comfort or encourage others with the truth that physical death for believers is not the end. We all have had or will have opportunities to comfort ourselves and others about Christian death.
    2. It is a comfort because believers who have already died and believers who are alive at the time will be resurrected and reunited when Jesus returns to take the church to heaven. This anticipated coming event known as the rapture or the great snatch.
    3. God’s word brings comfort when believers think about death.

Some Central Doctrines in Chapter 4

  1. Walking (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
  2. Pleasing God (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
  3. Sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:2, 7)
  4. Morality (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
  5. Indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8)
  6. Importance of God’s word (1 Thessalonians 4:2, 8, 9, 15, 18)
  7. Love (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)
  8. Orderly and purposeful living (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
  9. Death (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
  10. Rapture or the great snatch, harpazw (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
  11. Comfort from God’s word (1 Thessalonians 4:18)