I Thesssalonians 4



Paul teaches the Thessalonians about practical Christianity – God had

called them to holiness and to renounce their heathen practices –

especially, they must be on their guard against impurity.


Amid the evil surroundings of a heathen town, living in an atmosphere

of depraved public opinion, new converts were exposed to constant

and great dangers and remember that they didn’t have TV, VCR’s

and x-rated movies in those days.


Paul reminds them that holiness, without which is no salvation, is

impossible without chastity!


v. 1 – “how ye ought to walk and to please God”


The walking was the means of pleasing  - compare what the

Scriptures says of Enoch in Genesis 6:24 and Hebrews 11:5


“so ye would abound more and more”  - that is, Spiritual Progress!



The following in brown is an excerpt from I Thessalonians chapter 1:3

and is a supplement to the idea of circle of graces in the above excerpt.


v. 3 – We have here the three cardinal virtues – faith, love and hope –

            (I Corinthians 13) - Elsewhere these graces are combined.   In

            ch. 5:8 – “Putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for

            an helmet, the hope of salvation” – In Colossians 1:4-5 –“Since

            we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye

            have to all saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven”.


“Faith” -  active, energetic and living, productive of good works.


“Labor of Love”  - love which manifests itself in acts of kindness toward

                                our fellow-Christians and toward the human race.


“Patience of Hope”  - that constancy which remains unconquered by trials

                                      and persecutions.


Faith manifests itself by works – its active exertion; Love by its toils – its

works of self-denial; and Hope by its patience – its endurance amid trials

and discouragements.


Faith is the commencement of the spiritual life.  It is the foundation  -

it refers to the past.


Love is its progress and continuance.  Love is the structure.  Love is present.


Hope is its completion.  It is the top-stone of God’s spiritual temple in the

soul.  It is future.


As the three principal colors of the rainbow, red, yellow and blue

representing respectively heat, light and purifying power, supply in their

combination all the other colors, by a sort of moral comparison, faith,

hope and love make up the composition of all other Christian graces.


They are three abiding principles – I Corinthians 13:13 – They do

not die with death.



The great advance is to be in the walk and conversation of life  -

the daily, normal conduct.  The grace of God supplies the power,

the love of Christ brings the obligation.


v. 2 – “what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus”


They came from Christ and not Paul


v. 3 – “For this is the will of God”

This phrase has two significations in Scripture – (1) the determination

of God – His decree (2) the other is His desire, that in which He delights.

It is in this latter sense that it is employed here.


This will, can and often, is frustrated by His creatures. 


“even your sanctification” – complete consecration – set aside for

God’s use and purposes – this implies consecration of all our

faculties and powers, both of body and mind, to God’s service.

It implies personal purity in heart and life.



Sanctifcation is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are

renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled

more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.


We are to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and

spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”  - II Corinthians 7:1


Our holiness is God’s great design and His revealed will!


To this end Christ died “that He might redeem us from all

iniquity, and purify to Himself a peculiar people, zealous of

good works” – Titus 2:14


“be ye holy for I am holy” – Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2


God has chosen us in Christ “before the foundation of the world,

that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” –

Ephesians 1:4


He takes pleasure in His people – Psalm 149:4,  35:27b, and

Zephaniah 3:17 – He sings about us.


“that ye should abstain from fornication”



The root of the word pornography – a modern term which

designates our culture much like that of the heathen of Paul’s



Fornication (illicit sexual intercourse) was a vice fearfully

prevalent among the heathen and I fear that its extent in

our culture would put the western world in that class.


(the recent co-ed statement – on the collegiate level it is

like shaking hands)


In I Corinthians 7:2, marriage is put forth as the remedy for



The heathen did not regard it as wrong – it was the great sin

of Corinth.


The goddess of that city was Venus.


Remember the song in early rock and roll days Venus in Blue Jeans

and from my interest in early man, the cave men of Ice Age Europe

had figurines made from ivory which modern man calls Venus.


When I was a child, it was a time when fornication was

walking in darkness, Christianity, having driven it there.


John 3:19-20


Fornication cuts a soul away from God and fills the heart with

impure images and unholy desires.  It drives out of the heart the

thought of God, it cannot pray, cannot endure the thought of

God and His Presence in awful purity.


Think of the effects of pornography! 


Ps. 51:7-12


v. 5 – “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel”


One’s own body – it may well be compared to a vessel as it contains

the soul – the teaching is “to have mastery over” – to have control

of one’s libido, among other things – I remember the cartoon – I wish

I still had it to picture here but I will try to tell it in words – an obvious

pregnant woman was standing before the judge and asking for an

abortion and she said “But Judge, all I want is control of my body” – when

from within the womb came the unheard reply of the soon to be aborted

child – “I wish she had thought of that six months ago”.


There is some very safe and wise instruction about human sexuality in

Proverbs  - especially chapters 5-7 - ( I would also like to recommend

a diligent study of Proverbs 3 Lesson on Abortion – The Wisdom of Protecting Human  Life – this web site)


“in sanctification and honor” – to do this one must, with God’s help,

have control over his/her body.  See Romans 6:19


* The body is “wonderfully and fearfully made” – Psalm 139:14

* It is “the temple of the Holy Ghost”  - I Corinthians 6:19

* The body is to be “a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s

    use” – II Timothy 2:21


Christ is our sanctification.  (I Corinthians 1:30)



Their mores resembled those of brute beasts – (See Proverbs 30:18-20 –

examples of leaving no trail – except with the human example – in a

few weeks the woman starts showing the evidence – Abortion wants

to have its cake and eat it too – sacrificing the fruit of one’s body for

the sin of one’s soul – ( Micah 6:7)


How interesting that God who is Omniscient (knows everything)

confesses that the thought had never entered His mind as a

solution to sin (talking about abortion – see Jeremiah 19:5)


(see Hally’s notes on this)


You can trace what happens when lives are rebellious against God’s

requirements of purity – All you have to do is read Romans 1:19:32


v. 6 – “That no man go beyond; and defraud his brother”


Proverbs 6:34-35 says “For jealousy is the rage of a man:  therefore

he will not spare in the day of vengeance.  He will not regard any

ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts”


I remember one time a man ran in our Wednesday night service

and said – “Help me, I about killed a man”as if the modern church

had something in common with the Old Testament “cities of refuge”

 and it was over such a problem as this. 


“That no man go beyond; and defraud his brother” is a prohibition

against impurity – it is a major cause of the modern break-up of the

family – adopting different sexual mores than God’s commandments.


The corruption of the word “agape” by “eros”.


Uncleanness usurps & degrades the sacred name of love.




The sensual man ruins in body and in soul those whom he

professes to love.  He uses words of tenderness.  He is the

most cruel, the deadliest enemy in his wicked selfishness.

He cares not for the nearest and holiest ties.  He sins

against the sanctity of matrimony.  He brings misery upon

families.  Seeking only the gratification of his own wicked

lust, he transgresses and wrongs  his brethren.


Therefore “flee fornication” - I Cor. 6:18

“escape for thy life” - Gen. 19:17


“Because the Lord is the Avenger of all such” – If the vengeance

does not reach men in this world, it will in the next, where they

will have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and

brimstone.  They shall “not inherit the kingdom of God  - I Cor. 6:9


 Man has inhibitions – as a car has its brakes, so does a man have

inhibitions – the supreme inhibition is the Holy Spirit – (see I Cor. 10:13)

(example of jumping off the Empire State Building – me jumping

off the pulpit on my head, etc.  – I would have to really desire

attention to do that or perhaps under the influence of alcohol or

drugs I might – in an oral report in class one day at HHS – a girl

mentioned the effects of alcohol on sex – it increases the desire

but hinders the performance – the point I am getting to is:


Why do we not have inhibitions against sexual sin?

What if God immediately destroyed a person when they committed

sexual immorality?  Would it curb the practice?  It is not without



Remember the account of Phinehas in Numbers 25 and God’s

comments about it.


“as we have forewarned you and testified” –


Hebrews 13:4 – “Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled

                        but whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge”













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The Holy Spirit was given them for the express purpose of

producing holiness within them and giving them/us help in such







“holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” – Hebrews 12:14


To please God is the highest Christian ambition and the

consciousness of pleasing Him is the highest joy!


Those who honor holiness honor God.  He is the most holy One,

the one Fountain of holiness.


The spirit of purity cannot abide in an impure heart.  He will

depart as he once departed from Samson – Judges 16:20.  There are

awful things in Holy Scripture said of those who resist the Holy Ghost,

who will not listen to His still small voice speaking in the  heart,

but continue to vex Him by willful and persistent disobedience.


v. 9  - Christianity introduced a new word in the speech of mankind.


Philadelphia” – brotherly love




We share the same Father, the same blessings, enjoy the same

redemption, walk in the same pilgrimage, and are traveling

towards the same home.


- the love of Christians to Christians – that

            special affection which believers bear to each other; a virtue

            carried to such perfection in the primitive church as to call

            forth the admiration of their heathen adversaries – “O,  how

            they love one another!”


“ye yourselves are taught of God” – the influence of the Holy Spirit

on hearts and consciences which produces love to one another.


Jesus taught “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one

another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this

shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to
another” – John 13:34-35


“walk in love as Christ also hath loved us and given Himself for us” –

                                                                        Ephesians 5:2


v. 10 – “we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more”


That ye make progress in brotherly love, increasing in purity,

warmth and in extent.




  as I have loved you.”


Our lives are wasted if we have not learned that holiest lesson

before we die; for heaven is the home of love!


Love is a debt which is never fully paid – “Owe no man anything

but to love one another” – Romans 13:8


The Lord Jesus is our example – “as I have loved you”


It is fitting that He who has made our minds, and retains sovereign

power over them, should teach us!


The great obstacle to love is selfishness, or exorbitant fondness for

our own interests. 



It also would appear that the Thessalonians were excited by the idea of Christ’s

immediate advent and many were neglecting their daily responsibilities.



vs. 11-12  - “…..do your own business and to work….that ye may have lack of

nothing” – idleness involves poverty and dependence on others.


A true Christian performs his worldly duties.  Christians should be too

busy with their own work to have time to judge others.  We are workmen,

not judges.


It is a blessing that a man can “eat his bread in the sweat of his face”




They were to guard against meddling and pragmatical spirit – “do

our own business” – the key is to have these tempting forces so placed

under Divine restraints, so moderated by reason, justice and charity,

modesty and sobriety, that we can do our own business without fanfare.


Those who meddle with the business of others are wont to neglect their

own; they that are much abroad can seldom be at home; they that know

others most are least acquainted with themselves.


They were to guard against idleness – idleness has its peculiar temptations –

Remember the old saying “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”




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“walk honestly toward them that are without” – the unbelieving

            world, whether Jews or Gentiles.


Colossians 4:5 says “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without”


By industry and honesty we shall commend our religion to them that

are not Christians.


We are to remember that the eye of the world is upon us, and that we

are subjected to its judgment.



One glaring instance of misconduct in secular affairs by the Christian,

does more to hinder the progress of religion than volumes of sermons

can do to advance it.


v. 13 – “concerning them which are asleep” – the death of believers in

            the New Testament is frequently called “sleep”



         their relatives.


Christ said of the daughter of Jairus “she is not dead but sleepeth”


“Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:

yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their

works do follow them”  - Revelation 14:13


“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem

them from death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy

destruction:    Hosea 13:14


Christ came to abolish death – He did this by overcoming death

with His own resurrection – Having in His death made full atonement

for sin, He could not be holden of death!  CHRIST LIFTED THE



Sorrow is instinctive and is not forbidden for Jesus wept at the death

of Lazarus.  The friends of Stephen made “great lamentation for him” –

Acts 8:2


“even as others which have no hope” – the unsaved have no hope of

immortalitybeyond death – no hope of the resurrection!



“hope”  - “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most

                 miserable” – I Corinthians 15:19


Death should teach us the vanity of world and the necessity to prepare for

our own death.


v. 14 – “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again” – the resurrection

            and a future state is founded on Christ:


I Corinthians 15:12-20           John 5:24-29               Acts 17:31


It is through Jesus that believers fall asleep; it is He who changes

the nature of death from the king of terrors into a quiet and gentle

sleep from which we will awaken into eternal life.



The dead saints sleep in Jesus.  They “die in the Lord” – “they are

present with the Lord” – They are associated with Him both in life and

death – they will accompany Jesus at His Second Coming!


“He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus” – II Cor. 4:14


v. 15 – “by the word of the Lord” – a direct revelation – (see Galatians 1:11-12)


This scripture teaches that there will be Christians alive at the Second Coming

of Jesus Christ – that “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”  -

I Corinthians 15:51.


Paul represses the curiosity of the Thessalonians about the precise time of the

advent by telling them it is beyond the sphere of his teaching – ch. 5:1-2.

It must be remembered that the time of Christ coming was said to be

expressly concealed – Matthew 24:36, Acts 1:7, that it might occur anytime



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v. 16 – “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven”  - He is to

            come in person  - He does not forget the world for which

            He died - He is now seated on the right hand of the

            Father awaiting His command to come – when He comes

            no one will say “Is the Lord among us or not” – “every

            eye shall see Him” – Revelation 1:7


The angels at Christ’s ascension said “this same Jesus, which is

taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as

ye have seen Him go into heaven” – Acts 1:11


“with a shout”  - a commanding shout as a leader to his host

when he leads them into battle.


The angels are an ORDERLY multitude.


“when the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the

holy angels with Him”  - Matthew 25:31


“when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy

angels”  - Mark 8:38


“when He shall come in His OWN GLORY, and in His

Father’s, and of the holy angels” – Luke 9:26


An army associated with royalty gives an impression of power

and grandeur.  So how mighty and glorious a Personage must

He be, in whose honor all the legions of angels are marshaled!


They are mighty angels and holy angels, and especially are they

in sympathy with the work of honoring Christ.  As they sang

over His birth on earth, so do they accompany Him in His

triumphant descent to earth, having this to rejoice their hearts,

that they also are to share in the GLORIOUS CONSUMATION!




  rise first –


There is no allusion to the resurrection of the wicked – they

shall be processed at the time of the “second death”.


The Biblical formula is:   Born once, die twice!

                                            Born twice, die once!


See Revelation 20:4-6


The priority of the resurrection is God’s people!


v. 17 – “then we which are alive shall be caught up” – the expression

            describes the irresistible power with which the saints shall

            be caught up, perhaps by the ministry of angels.


The Christian living at the time of the return of Christ are to be

swiftly, irresistibly caught up – “in a moment, in the twinkling

of an eye” – I Corinthians 15:52


The dead and the living will form one blessed company.


“together with them” – that is the dead in Christ – the remains of

our Christian friends which we lay in the grave soon mingle with

dust.  One day they shall hear the trumpet call and hearing they

shall start up as once they were, and yet how changed! 


(See John 5:24-25, 28-29)


Not only shall they rise but “THEY SHALL RISE FIRST”.


The Christian dead now in the resurrection body and the

Christian living, will be on earth at the same time, equally

ready for the approach of Christ!


“in the clouds” – Our Lord is described as coming in the clouds

of heaven  -     Matthew 24:30           Revelation 1:7


Caught up in the enveloping upbearing clouds in one body, they

are to meet their descending Lord with the marshaled army of

angels in the air.


As persons of distinction go forth to meet their prince, so they

now, all of them glorified persons, are caught up to meet their

Lord in His triumphal descent!


“and so shall we ever be with the Lord” – we shall share a

blessed eternity in participation of His glory!  It is a perpetual

enjoyment of the society of Christ!


It will be a meeting without a parting!


Paul does not deal with the solemnities of the Judgment because

his object was to comfort the Thessalonians under bereavement.


be impossible.


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v. 18 – “Wherefore comfort one another with these words”


Knowing what comfort is, let us not selfishly allow our fellow Christian

brethren to be ignorant of it.


As Shakespeare has said it:



Psalm 17:15


Job 14:12-15


II Timothy 1:10 – “Jesus Christ….brought life and immortality

                        to light through the gospel”




The Second Coming of Christ will be more glorious than His

birth and His resurrection because all that have trusted Him

shall be resurrected!


Points to Ponder:


Outside of Christ there is no hope!  The mourner turns his eyes

in vain to nature for comfort.


Man’s life, being imperfectly developed here, the Divine idea of

humanity would be vain and futile without a larger world for

realizing it.  As someone said – if there is to be no life elsewhere

in the universe, “What a waste of space!”


A father would not mock his child by creating him so that he has

a great hunger for a future which is unattainable!  Ecclesiastes 3:11

basically says that God has set “eternity in our hearts”


Grief over death is a softening, subduing and purifying force and is

one of the best means of helping us receive Divine truth!


The hope in Christ removes the despair from sorrow by depriving it

of hopelessness!


The resurrection is the Divine authentication of the claims

and mission of Christ.  Acts 17:31