1 Thessalonians Chapter 4

1Th 4:1 KJV  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.

1Th 4:1 TPT  And now, beloved brothers and sisters, since you have been mentored by us with respect to living for God and pleasing him, I appeal to you in the name of the Lord Jesus with this request: keep faithfully growing through our teachings even more and more.

1Th 4:1 Weymouth  Moreover, brethren, as you learnt from our lips the lives which you ought to live, and do live, so as to please God, we beg and exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live them more and more truly.

JFB: 1Th_4:1-18. Exhortations to chastity; brotherly love; quiet industry; abstinence from undue sorrow for departed friends, for at Christ’s coming all His saints shall be glorified.

FurthermoreGreek, “As to what remains.” Generally used towards the close of his Epistles (Eph_6:10; Php_4:8).

then — with a view to the love and holiness (1Th_3:12, 1Th_3:13) which we have just prayed for in your behalf, we now give you exhortation.

beseech — “ask” as if it were a personal favor.

by, etc. — rather as Greek, “IN the Lord Jesus”; in communion with the Lord Jesus, as Christian ministers dealing with Christian people [Edmunds].

as ye … received — when we were with you (1Th_2:13).

howGreek, the “how,” that is, the manner.

walk and … please God — that is, “and so please God,” namely, by your walk; in contrast to the Jews who “please not God” (1Th_2:15). The oldest manuscripts add a clause here, “even as also ye do walk” (compare 1Th_4:10; 1Th_5:11). These words, which he was able to say of them with truth, conciliate a favorable hearing for the precepts which follow. Also the expression, “abound more and more,” implies that there had gone before a recognition of their already in some measure walking so.

Guzik: Instructions regarding sexual purity.

1. (1Th_4:1-2) How to walk and to please God.

a. Finally then: Paul’s use of finally does not mean he is finished. It means he now began the closing section of the letter, with practical instruction on how God wants His people to live.

i. “The word rendered ‘finally’ (loipon) is an adverbial accusative, ‘as for the rest,’ and serves to mark a transition rather than a conclusion.” (Hiebert)

b. That you should abound more and more: Paul was thankful for the growth he saw in the Thessalonians, but still looked for them to abound more and more in a walk that would please God.

i. Abound more and more: This means that Christian maturity is never finished on this side of eternity. No matter how far a Christian has come in love and holiness, they can still abound more and more.

c. Just as you received from us: What Paul wrote in the following verses was nothing new to the Thessalonians. In the few weeks he was with them, he instructed them in these basic matters of Christian morality. Paul knew it was important to instruct new believers in these things.

d. How you ought to walk and to please God: Paul took it for granted that the Thessalonians understood that the purpose of their walk – their manner of living – was to please God and not themselves. When the Christian has this basic understanding, the following instruction regarding Biblical morality makes sense.

i. “When a man is saved by the work of Christ for him it does not like open before him as a matter for his completely free decision whether he will serve God or not. He has been bought with a price (1Co_6:20). He has become the slave of Christ.” (Morris)

1Th 4:2 KJV  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

1Th 4:2 TPT  For you already know the instructions we’ve shared with you through the Lord Jesus.

Guzik: For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus: These were not suggestions from the pen of Paul. These are commandments from the Lord Jesus, and must be received that way.

i. Morris on the word translated commandments: “It is more at home in a military environment, being a usual word for the commands given by the officer to his men (cf. its use in Act_5:28; Act_16:24). It is thus a word with a ring of authority.”

JFB: by the Lord Jesus — by His authority and direction, not by our own. He uses the strong term, “commandments,” in writing to this Church not long founded, knowing that they would take it in a right spirit, and feeling it desirable that they should understand he spake with divine authority. He seldom uses the term in writing subsequently, when his authority was established, to other churches. 1Co_7:10; 1Co_11:17; and 1Ti_1:5 (1Th_4:18, where the subject accounts for the strong expression) are the exceptions. “The Lord” marks His paramount authority, requiring implicit obedience.

1Th 4:3 KJV  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

1Th 4:3 TPT  God’s will is for you to be set apart for him in holiness and that you keep yourselves unpolluted from sexual defilement.

PNT: For this. The reason why the precepts had been given and were to be kept, was that God desired their sanctification.

The will of God. It is this which God desires and intends when He calls you by the Gospel. What God wills and intends, He also makes provision for: hence the encouragement the Christian has in knowing that all his efforts after holiness are in accordance with that will which accomplishes all it designs.

That ye abstain from fornication. This is the particular virtue in which their sanctification was to be manifested. And here and elsewhere emphasis is laid upon purity of life, because licentiousness was bred in the bone of the converts from heathenism, and fornication was in Greece considered a venial transgression.

Clarke: This is the will of God, even your sanctification – God has called you to holiness; he requires that you should be holy; for without holiness none can see the Lord. This is the general calling, but in it many particulars are included. Some of these he proceeds to mention; and it is very likely that these had been points on which he gave them particular instructions while among them.

That ye should abstain from fornication – The word πορνεια, as we have seen in other places, includes all sorts of uncleanness; and it was probably this consideration that induced several MSS., some versions and fathers, to add here πασης, all. Directions of this kind were peculiarly necessary among the Greeks, and indeed heathens in general, who were strongly addicted to such vices.

CTR: The will of God — Thus our personal salvation comes first in God’s order. We then inquire, What is the next step?

The great work is not for others, but a work in ourselves; subduing, conquering, ruling self.  
Heart loyalty; our first duty, continual duty, and the end of our duty.

The acceptance of us by the Father is only the beginning of the sanctifying work. It is his will that this work should continue and progress in us, to its full completion.

Sanctification — The complete devotion of your will to God. Full setting apart from the world to himself and his service. Progresses throughout the Christian course until the character is fully developed and ripened, and it must then be maintained until the end of the way.

This work should affect our minds, our hands, our eyes, our ears, our tongues, our all, that we may be fully used of the Lord. Walking after the Spirit, which leads to everlasting life with our great Redeemer.

There are two parts to sanctification; the first is our own, the second belongs to God. “Sanctify yourselves,” and “I will sanctify you.” If God’s will is really our will, we have a clearly marked pathway.

Our sanctification is effected not when we are “called,” nor when we begin to turn from sin, but when we come to the point of full consecration.

Guzik: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: Paul gave these commands to a first-century Roman culture that was marked by sexual immorality. At this time in the Roman Empire, chastity and sexual purity were almost unknown virtues. Nevertheless, Christians were to take their standards of sexual morality from God and not from the culture.

i. Paul said this was a commandment (1Th_4:2). That word was a military term describing an order from an officer to a subordinate, and the order came from Jesus and not from Paul.

ii. The ancient writer Demosthenes expressed the view of sex in the ancient Roman Empire: “We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body; we keep wives for the faithful guardianship of our homes.”

b. The will of God, your sanctification: Paul made it very clear what the will of God was for the Christian. The idea behind sanctification is to be set apart, and God wants us set apart from a godless culture and their sexual immorality. If our sexual behavior is no different than the Gentiles who do not know God, then we are not sanctified – set apart – in the way God wants us to be.

Those who do not know God do not have the spiritual resources to walk pure before the Lord; but Christians do. Therefore, Christians should live differently than those who do not know God.

c. That you should abstain from sexual immorality: We live differently than the world when we abstain from sexual immorality. The ancient Greek word translated sexual immorality (porneia) is a broad word, referring to any sexual relationship outside of the marriage covenant.

i. The older King James Version translates sexual immorality as fornication. “Fornication is used here in its comprehensive meaning to denote every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.” (Hiebert) “The word requires broad definition here as including all types of sexual sins between male and female.” (Thomas)

ii. The broad nature of the word porneia shows that it isn’t enough to just say that you have not had sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. All sexual behavior outside of the marriage covenant is sin.

iii. God grants great sexual liberty in the marriage relationship (Heb_13:4). But Satan’s not-very-subtle strategy is often to do all he can to encourage sex outside of marriage and to discourage sex in marriage.

1Th 4:4 KJV  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

1Th 4:5 KJV  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

1Th 4:4 TPT  Yes, each of you must guard your sexual purity with holiness and dignity,

1Th 4:5 TPT  not yielding to lustful passions like those who don’t know God.

1Th 4:4 Weymouth  that each man among you shall know how to procure a wife who shall be his own in purity and honour;

1Th 4:5 Weymouth  that you be not overmastered by lustful cravings, like the Gentiles who have no knowledge of God;

Guzik: That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor: We live differently than the world when we possess our body in sanctification and in honor. Immorality is the opposite of honor because it degrades and debases the self. Those who do not restrain their sexual desires act more like animals than humans, following every impulse without restraint.

i. The phrase, that each of you should know “Indicates that the demand being made applies to each individual member of the church. The same moral standards hold for all.” (Hiebert)

ii. Some interpret this passage so that the vessel each one should possess is a wife, and that Paul here encouraged Christians to get married and express their sexuality in marriage instead of immorally. Yet it seems that instead, Paul meant to encourage each Christian to possess or hold his own body (vessel) in a way that honored God. Sexual immorality is a sin against one’s own body (1Co_6:18).

d. Not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God: This plainly means that the sexual conduct of the Christian should be different than the prevailing permissiveness of the day.

i. “The Gentiles knew gods who were the personification of their own ambitions and lusts but they did not know the true God, the God who is Himself holy and wills the sanctification of His followers.” (Hiebert)

Clarke; How to possess his vessel – Let every man use his wife for the purpose alone for which God created her, and instituted marriage. The word σκευοςanswers to the Hebrew כלי keli, which, though it signifies vessel in general, has several other meanings. That the rabbins frequently express wife by it, Schoettgen largely proves; and to me it appears very probable that the apostle uses it in that sense here. St. Peter calls the wife the weaker Vessel, 1Pe_3:7. Others think that the body is meant, which is the vessel in which the soul dwells. In this sense St. Paul uses it, 2Co_4:7 : We have this treasure in earthen Vessels; and in this sense it is used by both Greek and Roman authors. There is a third sense which interpreters have put on the word, which I forbear to name. The general sense is plain; purity and continency are most obviously intended, whether the word be understood as referring to the wife or the husband, as the following verse sufficiently proves.

PNT: Not in the lost of concupiscence. Marriage is to be contracted not for mere bodily gratification, but to gratify purer feelings and yearnings. Married people are so to live that they may be mutually conscious that with them marriage is an honourable estate, with nothing in it that makes them ashamed, and that it promotes their sanctification.

Who know not God. Those who know not God cannot be expected to have the same ideal of holiness and purity. They have not heard the words, ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy;’ neither have they become acquainted with perfect holiness in the incarnate God. Every Christian, therefore, must feel how much more is required of him than of the heathen. Increased knowledge is increased responsibility.

JFB: in the lustGreek, “passion”; which implies that such a one is unconsciously the passive slave of lust.

which know not God — and so know no better. Ignorance of true religion is the parent of unchastity (Eph_4:18, Eph_4:19). A people’s morals are like the objects of their worship (Deu_7:26; Psa_115:8; Rom_1:23, Rom_1:24).

1Th 4:6 KJV  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.

1Th 4:7 KJV  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

1Th 4:6 TPT  Never take selfish advantage of a brother or sister in this matter, for we’ve already told you and solemnly warned you that the Lord is the avenger in all these things.

1Th 4:7 TPT  For God’s call on our lives is not to a life of compromise and perversion but to a life surrounded in holiness.

1Th 4:6 Weymouth  and that in this matter there be no encroaching on the rights of a brother Christian and no overreaching him. For the Lord is an avenger in all such cases, as we have already taught you and solemnly warned you.

1Th 4:7 Weymouth  God has not called us to an unclean life, but to one of purity.

Guzik: That no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter: When we are sexually immoral, we take advantage of and defraud others and we cheat them in greater ways than we can imagine. The adulterer defrauds his mate and children. The fornicator defrauds his future mate and children, and both defraud their illicit partner.

i. “Adultery is an obvious violation of the rights of another. But promiscuity before marriage represents the robbing of the other that virginity which ought to be brought to a marriage. The future partner of such a one has been defrauded.” (Morris)

ii. Repeatedly in Leviticus 18 – a chapter where God instructed Israel on the matter of sexual morality – the idea is given that one may not uncover the nakedness of another not their spouse. The idea is that the nakedness of an individual belongs to their spouse and no one else, and it is a violation of God’s law to give that nakedness to anyone else, or for anyone else to take it.

3. (1Th_4:6-8) Reasons for the command.

a. Because the Lord is the avenger of all such: This is the first of four reasons for sexual purity. We can trust that God will punish sexual immorality, and that no one gets away with this sin – even if it is undiscovered.

b. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness: This is the second reason why Christians should be sexually pure – because of our call. That call is not to uncleanness, but to holiness; therefore, sexual immorality is simply inconsistent with who we are in Jesus Christ.

i. Paul developed this same line of thought in 1Co_6:9-11; 1Co_6:15-20, concluding with the idea that we should glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

JFB: go beyond — transgress the bounds of rectitude in respect to his “brother.”

defraud — “overreach” [Alford]; “take advantage of” [Edmunds].

in any matter — rather as Greek, “in the matter”; a decorous expression for the matter now in question; the conjugal honor of his neighbor as a husband, 1Th_4:4; 1Th_4:7 also confirms this view; the word “brother” enhances the enormity of the crime. It is your brother whom you wrong (compare Pro_6:27-33).

the Lord — the coming Judge (2Th_1:7, 2Th_1:8).

avenger — the Righter.

of all suchGreek, “concerning all these things;” in all such cases of wrongs against a neighbor’s conjugal honor.

testifiedGreek,constantly testified [Alford].

1Th 4:8 KJV  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

1Th 4:8 TPT  Therefore, whoever rejects this instruction isn’t rejecting human authority but God himself, who gives us his precious gift—his Spirit of holiness.

Guzik: c. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God: The third reason for sexual purity is because to reject God’s call to sexual purity is not rejecting man, but God Himself. Despite the petty ways many rationalize sexual immorality, we still reject God when we sin in this way.

i. Paul’s strong command here did not seem to come because the Thessalonians were deep in sin. No specific sin is mentioned; it seems that this was meant to prevent sin rather than to rebuke sin, in light of the prevailing low standards in their society and because of the seductive strength of sexual immorality.

d. Who has also given us His Holy Spirit: This is the fourth of four reasons for sexual purity given in this passage. We have been given the Holy Spirit, who empowers the willing, trusting Christian to overcome sexual sin. By His Spirit, God has given us the resources for victory; we are responsible to use those resources.

JFB: despiseth, etc.Greek, “setteth at naught” such engagements imposed on him in his calling, 1Th_4:7; in relation to his “brother,” 1Th_4:6. He who doth so, “sets at naught not man (as for instance his brother), but God” (Psa_51:4) is used of despising or rejecting God’s minister, it may mean here, “He who despiseth” or “rejecteth” these our ministerial precepts.

who hath also given unto us — So some oldest manuscripts read, but most oldest manuscripts read, “Who (without ‘also’) giveth (present) unto you” (not “us”).

his SpiritGreek, “His own Spirit, the Holy (One)”; thus emphatically marking “holiness” (1Th_4:7) as the end for which the Holy (One) is being given. “Unto you,” in the Greek, implies that the Spirit is being given unto, into (put “into” your hearts), and among you (compare 1Th_2:9; Eph_4:30). “Giveth” implies that sanctification is not merely a work once for all accomplished in the past, but a present progressive work. So the Church of England Catechism, “sanctifieth (present) all the elect people of God.” “His own” implies that as He gives you that which is essentially identical with Himself, He expects you should become like Himself (1Pe_1:16; 2Pe_1:4).

Clarke: He therefore that despiseth – He who will not receive these teachings, and is led either to undervalue or despise them, despises not us but God, from whom we have received our commission, and by whose Spirit we give these directions. See Clarke’s note on 1Th_4:15.

Hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit  It is one thing to receive a revelation from the Spirit of God; it is another thing to receive that Spirit to enable a man to live according to that revelation. In the first sense the apostles alone received this Holy Spirit; in the latter sense all true Christians, as well as the Thessalonians, receive it. I think ὑμας, you, is the true reading, and that it is confirmed by the following verse: For ye yourselves are Taught of God to love one another.

1Th 4:9 KJV  But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

1Th 4:10 KJV  And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

1Th 4:9 TPT  There’s no need for anyone to say much to you about loving your fellow believers, for God is continually teaching you to unselfishly love one another.

1Th 4:10 TPT  Indeed, your love is what you’re known for throughout Macedonia. We urge you, beloved ones, to let this unselfish love increase and flow through you more and more.

Guzik: a. But concerning brotherly love you had no need that I should write to you: These principles are so basic that Paul knew they were obvious to the Thessalonian Christians. The Thessalonians were taught by God about the importance of love, yet we must all be reminded.

b. And indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in Macedonia: It wasn’t that they Thessalonians were without love; their love toward all the brethren was well known, but they had to increase more and more in their love.

CTR: More and more — In love and service one for the other, which implies a growth in all the graces of the spirit.

PNT: For indeed ye do it. Proof of the preceding clause.

All the brethren who are in all Macedonia. ‘Which implies a lively intercourse with the Christians in Philippi, Berœa, and perhaps at small scattered stations, offshoots from the central churches.’

1Th 4:11 KJV  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

1Th 4:11 TPT  Aspire to lead a calm and peaceful life as you mind your own business and earn your living, just as we’ve taught you.

1Th 4:11 Weymouth  and to vie with one another in eagerness for peace, every one minding his own business and working with his hands, as we ordered you to do:

PNT: Make it your ambition to be quiet. The Greeks were naturally restless and ambitious. Juvenal in a well-known passage (iii. 76) satirizes their unsteadiness, their flying from one pursuit to another, their readiness to engage in anything which promised remuneration without hard work, ‘to open schools for grammar, or rhetoric, or geometry, or drawing, or wrestling; to tell the will of heaven, or to dance upon the tight-rope; to administer medicines or charms.’ They were especially ambitious of municipal offices, in which their ready tongue might save them from hard labour, and give them an opportunity of intermeddling with other men’s affairs. This natural excitability and idleness of the Greeks had found nourishment in the expectation which the Thessalonians had apparently formed regarding the speedy approach of the end of the world; and probably also in the circumstance that they were called to a heavenly citizenship which might seem to exonerate them from earthly drudgery, and to a brotherhood from which they might expect to receive support. That some of the Thessalonians were ‘walking disorderly’ and refusing to work, and acting as ‘busybodies,’ we read in the Second Epistle. These were in all probability persons who wished to be regarded as spiritual, eager for the Lord’s coming, capable advisers and instructors of other men. To these Paul says, Let your ambition lead you not to a flighty, excited, bustling, indolent life, assuming to be superior to, but in reality dependent on, the labour of other men, but to a tranquil, steady, unostentatious engagement in your own ordinary occupations.

Work with your own hands. From this it may probably be inferred that the bulk of the Thessalonian converts were labouring men or mechanics.

As we commanded you. Even while yet with them, Paul had seen symptoms of the restlessness which afterwards developed into what he could only call disorderly conduct-symptoms so significant that the same injunctions to a quiet demeanour and industrious pursuance of their ordinary callings were even then necessary.

CTR: Study to be quiet — Might be rendered literally “that ye be ambitious to be quiet,” or that ye have a quiet ambition, not a restless zeal for notoriety and great exploits, but a quiet, earnest perseverance in well-doing.
The Lord’s people are to study to have a mind that is well balanced; this is not natural to the majority of people, and is, therefore, something to be studied and attained. Quietness that appertains to peace–a composure which is the opposite of nervousness, giddiness and childishness. This desirable quietness represents the graces of the holy Spirit; meekness, gentleness, patience and brotherly kindness.

Your own business — “Let none of you suffer as a busybody in other men’s matters.” (1Pe_4:15)

A busybody is a person who meddles with the affairs of others with which he properly has nothing whatever to do. One who spends considerable time in correcting others is prone to forget himself.

With your own hands — Not to be dependent upon charity, so far as possible.
Home and family duties were not to be neglected

Clarke: That ye study to be quiet – Though in general the Church at Thessalonica was pure and exemplary, yet there seem to have been some idle, tattling people among them, who disturbed the peace of others; persons who, under the pretense of religion, gadded about from house to house; did not work, but were burdensome to others; and were continually meddling with other people’s business, making parties, and procuring their bread by religious gossiping. To these the apostle gives those directions which the whole Church of God should enforce wherever such troublesome and dangerous people are found; viz.: That they should study to be quiet, ἡσυχαζειν, to hold their peace, as their religious cant will never promote true religion; that they should do their own business, and let that of others alone; and that they should work with their own hands, and not be a burden to the Church of God, or to those well meaning but weak and inconsiderate people who entertain them, being imposed on by their apparent sanctity and glozing conversation. An idle person, though able to discourse like an angel, or pray like an apostle, cannot be a Christian; all such are hypocrites and deceivers; the true members of the Church of Christ walk, work, and labor.

Robertson: To do your own business (prassein ta idia). Present infinitive like the others, to have the habit of attending to their own affairs (ta idia). This restless meddlesomeness here condemned Paul alludes to again in 2Th_3:11 in plainer terms. It is amazing how much wisdom people have about other people’s affairs and so little interest in their own.

To work with your own hands (ergazesthai tais chersin humōn). Instrumental case (chersin). Paul gave a new dignity to manual labour by precept and example. There were “pious” idlers in the church in Thessalonica who were promoting trouble. He had commanded them when with them.

Guzik: (1Th_4:11) We should live a life of work.

That you also aspire to lead a quiet life: This means that we should have an aspiration or ambition in life, and that we should aspire to lead a quiet life.

i. Aspire has the thought of ambition, and is translated that way in several versions of the Bible. Quiet has the thought of peace, calm, rest and satisfaction.

ii. The quiet life contradicts the hugely successful modern attraction to entertainment and excitement. This addiction to entertainment and excitement is damaging both spiritually and culturally. We might say that excitement and entertainment are like a religion for many people today.

• This religion has a god: The self.

• This religion has priests: Celebrities.

• This religion has a prophet: Music video channels.

• This religion has scriptures: Tabloids and entertainment news and information programs.

• This religion has places of worship: Amusement parks, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas; and we could say that ever television is a little chapel.

iii. The religion of excitement and entertainment seduces people into living their lives for one thing – the thrill of the moment. But these thrills are quickly over and forgotten, and all that is important is the next fun thing. This religion conditions its followers to only ask one question: “Is it fun?” It never wants us to ask more important questions such as, “Is it true?” “Is it right?” “Is it good?” “Is it godly?”

iv. We need to live the quiet life so that we can really take the time and give the attention to listen to God. When we live the quiet life we can listen to God and get to know Him better.

b. To mind your own business: This means that the Christian must focus on their own life and matters instead of meddling in the lives of others. “Mind your own business” is a Biblical idea.

i. “There is a great difference between the Christian duty of putting the interests of others first and the busybody’s compulsive itch to put other people right.” (Bruce)

ii. “Paul, however, does not mean that every individual is to mind his own business in such a way that all are to live apart from one another and have no concern for others, but simply wants to correct the idle triviality which makes men open disturbers of the peace, when they ought to lead a quiet life at home.” (Clarke)

c. Work with your own hands: We must recognize the dignity and honor of work. Work is God’s plan for the progress of society and the church. We fall into Satan’ snare when we expect things to always come easily, or regard God’s blessing as an opportunity for laziness.

i. Manual labor was despised by ancient Greek culture. They thought that the better a man was, the less he should work. In contrast, God gave us a carpenter King, fisherman apostles, and tent-making missionaries.

ii. “There is nothing more disgraceful than an idle good-for-nothing who is of no use either to himself or to others, and seems to have been born merely to eat and drink.” (Clarke)

Barnes: And that ye study to be quiet – Orderly, peaceful; living in the practice of the calm virtues of life. The duty to which he would exhort them was that of being subordinate to the laws; of avoiding all tumult and disorder; of calmly pursuing their regular avocations, and of keeping themselves from all the assemblages of the idle, the restless, and the dissatisfied. No Christian should be engaged in a mob; none should be identified with the popular excitements which lead to disorder and to the disregard of the laws. The word rendered “ye study” (φιλοτιμέομαι philotimeomai), means properly, “to love honor, to be ambitious;” and here means the same as when we say “to make it a point of honor to do so and so. Robinson, Lex. It is to be regarded as a sacred duty; a thing in which our honor is concerned. Every man should regard himself as disgraced who is concerned in a mob.

And to do your own business – To attend to their own concerns, without interfering with the affairs of others; see the notes on Php_2:4; compare 2Th_3:11; 1Ti_5:13; 1Pe_4:13. The injunction here is one of the beautiful precepts of Christianity so well adapted to promote the good order and the happiness of society. It would prevent the impertinent and unauthorized prying into the affairs of others, to which many are so prone, and produce that careful attention to what properly belongs to our calling in life, which leads to thrift, order, and competence. Religion teaches no man to neglect his business. It requires no one to give up an honest calling and to be idle. It asks no one to forsake a useful occupation; unless he can exchange it for one more useful. It demands, indeed, that we shall be willing so far to suspend our ordinary labors as to observe the Sabbath; to maintain habits of devotion; to improve our minds and hearts by the study of truth, to cultivate the social affections, and to do good to others as we have an opportunity; but it makes no one idle, and it countenances idleness in no one. A man who is habitually idle can have very slender pretensions to piety. There is enough in this world for every one to do, and the Saviour set such an example of untiring industry in his vocation as to give each one occasion to doubt whether he is his true follower if he is not disposed to be employed.

And to work with your own hands, as we commanded you – This command is not referred to in the history Acts 17, but it is probable that the apostle saw that many of those residing in Thessalonica were disposed to spend their time in indolence, and hence insisted strongly on the necessity of being engaged in some useful occupation; compare Act_17:21. Idleness is one of the great evils of the pagan world in almost every country, and the parent of no small part of their vices. The effect of religion everywhere is to make people industrious; and every man, who is able, should feel himself under sacred obligation to be employed. God made man to work (compare Gen_2:15; Gen_3:19), and there is no more benevolent arrangement of his government than this. No one who has already enough for himself and family, but who can make money to do good to others, has a right to retire from business and to live in idleness (compare Act_20:34; Eph_4:27); no one has a right to live in such a relation as to be wholly dependent on others, if he can support himself; and no one has a right to compel others to labor for him, and to exact their unrequited toil, in order that he may be supported in indolence and ease. The application of this rule to all mankind would speedily put an end to slavery, and would convert multitudes, even in the church, from useless to useful people. If a man has no necessity to labor for himself and family, he should regard it as an inestimable privilege to be permitted to aid those who cannot work – the sick, the aged, the infirm. If a man has no need to add to what he has for his own temporal comfort, what a privilege it is for him to toil in promoting public improvements: in founding colleges, libraries, hospitals, and asylums; and in sending the gospel to those who are sunk in wretchedness and want! No man understands fully the blessings which God has bestowed on him, if he has hands to work and will not work.

1Th 4:12 KJV  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

1Th 4:12 TPT  By doing this you will live an honorable life, influencing others and commanding respect of even the unbelievers. Then you’ll be in need of nothing and not dependent upon others.

Guzik: (1Th_4:12) We should live a life that is an example, lacking nothing.

That you may walk properly toward those who are outside: When we combine the love of our brothers with work, we walk properly. People who are not yet Christians (those who are outside) will see our example and be influenced to become followers of Jesus.

i. Hiebert on properly: “Means, ‘in good form, decorously, in an honorable manner, so as to cause no offense.’ Believers can never be indifferent to the impact produced by their example.”

b. And that you may lack nothing: Paul completes the thought he began in 1Th_3:10 (that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith). If they followed his teaching and example, they would lack nothing and come to the place of genuine Christian maturity.

Barnes: That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without – Out of the church; comp notes on Col_4:5. The word rendered honestly, means “becomingly, decorously, in a proper manner;” Rom_13:13; 1Co_14:40. It does not refer here to mere honesty in the transaction of business, but to their general treatment of those who were not professing Christians. They were to conduct themselves toward them in all respects in a becoming manner – to be honest with them; to be faithful to their engagements; to be kind and courteous in their conversation; to show respect where it was due, and to endeavor in every way to do them good. There are few precepts of religion more important than those which enjoin upon Christians the duty of a proper treatment of those who are not connected with the church.

And that ye may have lack of nothing – Margin, no man. The Greek will bear either construction, but the translation in the text is probably the correct one. The phrase is to be taken in connection not merely with that which immediately precedes it – as if “their walking honestly toward those who were without” would preserve them from want – but as meaning that their industrious and quiet habits; their patient attention to their own business, and upright dealing with every man, would do it. They would, in this way, have a competence, and would not be beholden to others. Learn hence, that it is the duty of a Christian so to live as not to be dependent on others, unless he is made so by events of divine Providence which he cannot foresee or control. No man should be dependent on others as the result of idle habits; of extravagance and improvidence; of the neglect of his own business, and of intermeddling with that of others. If by age, losses, infirmities, sickness, he is made dependent, he cannot be blamed, and he should not repine at his lot. One of the ways in which a Christian may always do good in society, and honor his religion, is by quiet and patient industry, and by showing that religion prompts to those habits of economy on which the happiness of society so much depends.

Clarke: That ye may walk honestly – Ευσχημονως· Becomingly, decently, respectably; as is consistent with the purity, holiness, gravity, and usefulness of your Christian calling.

Them that are without – The unconverted Gentiles and Jews. See this expression explained at large on Col_4:5.

That ye may have lack of nothing – That ye may be able to get your bread by honest labor, which God will ever bless; and be chargeable to no man. He that is dependent on another is necessarily in bondage; and he who is able to get his own bread by the sweat of his brow, should not be under obligation even to a king.

1Th 4:13 KJV  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.

1Th 4:13 TPT  Beloved brothers and sisters, we want you to be quite certain about the truth concerning those who have passed away, so that you won’t be overwhelmed with grief like many others who have no hope.

1Th 4:13 Weymouth  Now, concerning those who from time to time pass away, we would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, lest you should mourn as others do who have no hope.

1Th 4:13 Williams  Also we do not want you to have any misunderstanding, brothers, about those who are falling asleep, so as to keep you from grieving over them as others do who have no hope.

Guzik:  Concerning Christians who have died.

1. (1Th_4:13) The believing dead are thought of as being “asleep.”

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep: In the few weeks Paul was with the Thessalonians, he emphasized the soon return of Jesus, and the Thessalonians believed it earnestly. This was part of the reason that they were the kind of church Paul complimented so highly. Yet after Paul left, they wondered about those Christians who died before Jesus came back. They were troubled by the idea that these Christians might miss out on that great event and that they might miss the victory and blessing of Jesus’ coming.

i. It is with some interest we note that four times in his letters, Paul asked Christians to not be ignorant about something:

• Don’t be ignorant about God’s plan for Israel (Rom_11:25).

• Don’t be ignorant about spiritual gifts (1Co_12:1).

• Don’t be ignorant about suffering and trials in the Christian life (2Co_1:8).

• Don’t be ignorant about the rapture and the second coming of Jesus (1Th_4:13).

ii. Remarkably, these are areas where ignorance is still common in the Christian world.

b. Who have fallen asleep: Sleep was a common way to express death in the ancient world, but among pagans it was almost always seen as an eternal sleep.

ii. Christians called death sleep, but they emphasized the idea of rest. Early Christians began to call their burial places “cemeteries,” which means, “dormitories” or “sleeping places.”

c. Lest you sorrow as others who have no hope: As Christians, we may mourn the death of other Christians; but not as others who have no hope. Our sorrow is like the sadness of seeing someone off on a long trip, knowing you will see them again, but not for a long time.

Clarke: This was probably one of the points which were lacking in their faith, that he wished to go to Thessalonica to instruct them in.

Them which are asleep – That is, those who are dead. It is supposed that the apostle had heard that the Thessalonians continued to lament over their dead, as the heathens did in general who had no hope of the resurrection of the body; and that they had been puzzled concerning the doctrine of the resurrection. To set them right on this important subject, he delivers three important truths:

1. He asserts, as he had done before, that they who died in the Lord should have, in virtue of Christ’s resurrection, a resurrection unto eternal life and blessedness.

2. He makes a new discovery, that the last generation should not sleep in death at all, but be in a moment changed to immortals.

3. He adds another new discovery, that, though the living should not die, but be transformed, yet the dead should first be raised, and be made glorious.

JFB: The leading topic of Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Act_17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects (compare 1Th_5:10).

I would not — All the oldest manuscripts and versions have “we would not.” My fellow laborers (Silas and Timothy) and myself desire that ye should not be ignorant.

them which are asleep — The oldest manuscripts read present tense, “them which are sleeping”; the same as “the dead in Christ” (1Th_4:16), … death is a calm and holy sleep, from which the resurrection shall waken them to glory. The word “cemetery” means a sleeping-place. Observe, the glory and chief hope of the Church are not to be realized at death, but at the Lord’s coming; one is not to anticipate the other, but all are to be glorified together at Christ’s coming (Col_3:4; Heb_11:40). … As this is offered as a consolation to mourning relatives, the mutual recognition of the saints at Christ’s coming is hereby implied.

that ye sorrow not, even as othersGreek, “the rest”; all the rest of the world besides Christians. Not all natural mourning for dead friends is forbidden: for the Lord Jesus and Paul sinlessly gave way to it (Joh_11:31, Joh_11:33, Joh_11:35; Php_2:27); but sorrow as though there were “no hope,” which indeed the heathen had not (Eph_2:12): the Christian hope here meant is that of the resurrection.

1Th 4:14 KJV  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

1Th 4:14 TPT  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who died while believing in him.

PNT: For if we believe. Paul goes on to explain the reason of the hope which should be entertained regarding departed Christians. It is founded on the universal and fundamental Christian belief that Jesus died but rose again. The argument is more fully drawn out in 1 Corinthians 15, in which passage, as here, Paul proceeds upon the fact of Christ’s resurrection, and from it infers the certainty of that of His people. In this argument is involved the important principle that Jesus Christ is the Head and Representative of His people, in such a sense that in His human history we see the history and experience of each Christian acted out in all its essential parts. The members cannot be separated from the Head in any important part of His destiny. In His triumphant return they must share.

Guzik: 2. (1Th_4:14) There is full assurance that Christians who have died yet live.

If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep: We have more than a wishful hope of resurrection. In the resurrection of Jesus we have an amazing example of it and a promise of our own.

i. For the Thessalonian Christians, their troubled minds were answered by the statement, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. “It is best to understand the words to mean that Jesus will bring the faithful departed with Him when He comes back. Their death does not mean that they will miss their share in the Parousia.” (Morris)

We believe that Jesus died and rose again: This was the confident belief of the Apostle Paul and the early Christians. We will certainly live, because Jesus lives and our union with Him is stronger than death. This is why we do not sorrow as those who have no hope and why we have more than a wishful hope.

Or one can visit the murky catacombs and read glorious inscriptions. One of the most common Christian epitaphs from the catacombs was IN PEACE, quoting Psa_4:8 : I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. We should look at death the same way those early Christians did.

iii. Sadly, not all Christians are at this placed of confidence and peace. Even Christians have, in unbelief, had the same fear and hopelessness about death.

CTR: That Jesus died — For us; a ransom for all. The Adamic death penalty was to perish; but it has been cancelled by Christ’s ransom.

And rose again — To be the Deliverer of the race from the bonds of sin and death. That he might be Lord and life-giver to all. Our faith is built upon this fact; it is an evidence that his sacrifice was acceptable.

Which sleep — Not which have gone to heaven. Whose death through Jesus’ merit has been changed to a sleep. By reason of his death our souls do not die in the full sense of the word, but are Scripturally said to fall asleep.

In Jesus — In the sense that the hope of an awakening centers in him. The word Jesus means “Savior.” It is through Jesus that the race previously extinct in Adam has hope of an awakening.

Will God bring — From the sleep of death. All who sleep in Jesus will God bring from the dead through him. This was the comfort the Apostle set before the early Church.

With him — By. Through, his instrumentality.

1Th 4:15 KJV  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.

1Th 4:15 TPT  This is the word of the Lord: we who are alive in him and remain on earth when the Lord appears will by no means have an advantage over those who have already died, for both will rise together.

1Th 4:15 Weymouth  For this we declare to you on the Lord’s own authority–that we who are alive and continue on earth until the Coming of the Lord, shall certainly not forestall those who shall have previously passed away.

(EMTV)  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall by no means precede those who are dead.

(MKJV)  For we say this to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep.

(Williams)  For on the Lord’s own authority we say that those of us who may be left behind and are still living when the Lord comes back, will have no advantage at all over those who have fallen asleep.

CTR: The coming — Greek: parousia; presence.

Of the Lord — If Jesus can be present, and not seen, the dead in Christ could be raised and not seen, because when raised they will be like Jesus.

Prevent — Precede; go before. Hinder.

Them — The saints, the Church.

Which are asleep — Those of the Church already dead.

Guzik: 3. (1Th_4:15-16) Those asleep in Jesus are not at a disadvantage.

By the word of the Lord: Paul emphasizes that this was an authoritative command, though we do not know whether Paul received this by direct revelation or if it was an unrecorded saying of Jesus. One way or another, this came from Jesus and did not originate with Paul.

i. “In no place does the apostle speak more confidently and positively of his inspiration than here; and we should prepare ourselves to receive some momentous and interesting truth.” (Clarke)

We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep: Paul wanted the Thessalonians to know that those who are asleep – Christians who have died before Jesus returns – will by no means be at a disadvantage. Those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede them. God will allow those who are asleep to share in the glory of the coming of the Lord.

  1. “The living will have no advantage over those fallen asleep; they will not meet the returning Christ ahead of the dead, nor will they have any precedence in the blessedness at His coming.” (Hiebert)

Barnes: Shall not prevent them which are asleep – Shall not precede; anticipate; go before. The word prevent with us is now commonly used in the sense of hinder, but this is never its meaning in the Scriptures. The word, in the time of the translators of the Bible, was used in its primitive and proper sense (praevenio), meaning to precede, or anticipate. Job_3:12,” why did the knees prevent me?” That is, why did they anticipate me, so that I did not perish, Psa_79:8, “Let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us;” that is, go before us in danger. Psa_119:147, “I prevented the dawning of the morning and cried;” that is, I anticipated it, or I prayed before the morning dawned. Mat_17:25,” Jesus prevented him, saying;” that is, Jesus anticipated him; he commenced speaking before Peter had told him what he had said; compare Psa_17:13; Psa_59:10; Psa_88:13; Psa_95:2; 2Sa_22:6, 2Sa_22:19; Job_30:27; Job_41:11 The meaning here is, that they who would be alive at the coming of the Lord Jesus, would not be “changed” and received up into glory before those who were in their graves were raised up. The object seems to be to correct an opinion which prevailed among the Thessalonians that they who should survive to the coming of the Lord Jesus would have great advantages over those who had died. What they supposed those advantages would be – whether the privilege of seeing him come, or that they would be raised to higher honors in heaven, or that they who had died would not rise at all, does not appear, nor is the origin of this sentiment known. It is clear, however, that it was producing an increase of their sorrow on the death of their pious friends, and hence it was very important to correct the error. The apostle, therefore, states that no such disadvantage could follow, for the matter of fact was, that the dead would rise first.

PNT: Shall in no wise precede, i.e. shall not anticipate or be beforehand with; ‘shall not arrive into the presence of the Lord, and share the blessings and glories of His advent, before others’ (Ellicott).

Question: Does this scripture and the next one teach that there will be a considerable time when the dead are raised before the living are changed?

1Th 4:16 KJV  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:

1Th 4:16 TPT  For the Lord himself will appear with the declaration of victory, the shout of an archangel, and the trumpet blast of God. He will descend from the heavenly realm and command those who are dead in Christ to rise first.

1Th 4:16 Weymouth  For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a loud word of command, and with an archangel’s voice and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

CTR: Descend from heaven — “If I go I will come again.” (Joh_14:3)  

With — In, or during.
A shout — Greek: keleusma; a shout of encouragement to all men to wake up to a sense of their rights and privileges.

The shout of encouragement should be understood to be the people’s response to the Jubilee trumpets blown by the priests.

With the voice — With the authority and command.  

Of the archangel — Michael. The chief messenger, “The Messenger of the Covenant,” (Mal_3:1) Christ.

The trump of God — The seventh trumpet, the last trump, covering the entire Millennial age; typified by the Jubilee trump.

Paul’s “shout” and “trumpet” corresponds in every way with those used by John (Rev_11:15), and the same event in Daniel’s prophecy (12:1) is called the standing up of the archangel Michael.

The dead in Christ — Applicable only to the elect Church. They are reckoned as dying with Christ their Redeemer. They will receive new bodies like unto the Lord’s glorious body.

The scene described here is the same event of 1Co_15:51, 52 of our change to a spiritual, immortal, powerful, heavenly body.

Shall rise first — The faithful sleeping in death will be resurrected, reckoned with, rewarded; before the reckoning with and rewarding of the living members of the Church begins. ???

We will from that instant be as invisible to fleshly beings as he is, and as angels are.

Guzik: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout: When Jesus comes, He will come personally. The Lord Himself will descend, and come with a shout. The ancient Greek word for shout here is the same word used for a ship’s master command to his rowers, or a commander speaking to his soldiers. “Always there is the ring of authority and the note of urgency.” (Morris)

i. Apparently, there will be some audible signal that prompts this remarkable event. It may be all three descriptions (shout, voice, and trumpet) refer to the same sound, or there may be three distinct sounds. The rapture will not be silent or secret, though the vast majority of people may not understand the sound or its meaning.

ii. When Paul heard the heavenly voice on the road to Damascus (Act_9:7; Act_22:9) his companions heard the sound of a voice, but they did not hear articulate words. They heard a sound but did not understand its meaning. It may well be that the shout/voice/trumpet sound that accompanies the rapture will have the same effect. The entire world will hear this heavenly sound but will have no idea what its meaning is.

With the trumpet of God: Believers are gathered with the trumpet of God. In the Old Testament, trumpets sounded the alarm for war, and threw the enemy into a panic, in the sense of the seven trumpets described in Num_10:9 and Revelation 8-9. Trumpets also sounded an assembly of God’s people, as in Lev_23:24 and Num_10:2. Here, the trumpet of God gathers together God’s people.

i. “It was by the sound of the trumpet that the solemn assemblies, under the law, were convoked; and to such convocations there appears to be here an allusion.” (Clarke)

ii. There are three other associations of trumpets and end-times events. One is the last trump of 1Co_15:52, which seems clearly to be connected with this same trumpet of 1 Thessalonians 4. The others are the seven trumpets which culminate at Rev_11:15 and the trumpet gathering the elect of Israel at the end of the age in Mat_24:31.

iii. Hiebert compares this trumpet of 1 Thessalonians 4 and the seventh trumpet of Rev_11:15 : “The subjects are different: here it is the church; there a wicked world. The results are different: here it is the glorious catching up of the church to be with the Lord; there it is further judgment upon a godless world. Here ‘the last trump’ signals the close of the life the church on earth; there the ‘seventh’ trumpet marks a climax in a progressive series of apocalyptic judgments upon the living on earth.”

iv. As to the trumpet of 1 Thessalonians 4 and the one mentioned in Mat_24:31, we can also observe:

• The subjects are different: Matthew refers to Jewish believers during the great tribulation; Thessalonians refers to the church.

• The circumstances are different: Matthew refers to a regathering of the elect scattered over the earth, with no mention of resurrection; Thessalonians refers to the raising of the believing dead.

• The results are different: Matthew refers to living believers regathered from all over the earth at the command of their Lord who has returned to earth in open glory; Thessalonians refers to the uniting of the raised dead with the living believers to meet the Lord in the air.

f. And the dead in Christ will rise first: Paul’s point to the Thessalonians is clear. The prior dead in Christ will not be left out of either the resurrection or the return of Jesus. In fact, they will experience it first.

i. “It is only after the faithful departed have taken their place with the Lord that the saints on earth are caught up to be with Him, or more strictly, to be with them and meet Him.” (Morris)

ii. “ ‘The order of the resurrection,’ he says, ‘will begin with them. We therefore shall not rise without them.’” (Calvin)

JFB: himself — in all the Majesty of His presence in person, not by deputy.

descend — even as He ascended (Act_1:11).

withGreek, “in,” implying one concomitant circumstance attending His appearing.

shoutGreek, “signal shout,” “war shout.” Jesus is represented as a victorious King, giving the word of command to the hosts of heaven in His train for the last onslaught, at His final triumph over sin, death, and Satan (Rev_19:11-21).

the voice of … archangel — distinct from the “signal shout.” Michael is perhaps meant (Jud_1:9; Rev_12:7), to whom especially is committed the guardianship of the people of God (Dan_10:13).

trump of God — the trumpet blast which usually accompanies God’s manifestation in glory (Exo_19:16; Psa_47:5); here the last of the three accompaniments of His appearing: as the trumpet was used to convene God’s people to their solemn convocations (Num_10:2, Num_10:10; Num_31:6), so here to summon God’s elect together, preparatory to their glorification with Christ (Psa_50:1-5; Mat_24:31; 1Co_15:52).

shall rise first — previously to the living being “caught up.” The “first” here has no reference to the first resurrection, as contrasted with that of “the rest of the dead.” That reference occurs elsewhere (Mat_13:41, Mat_13:42, Mat_13:50; Joh_5:29; 1Co_15:23, 1Co_15:24; Rev_20:5, Rev_20:6); it simply stands in opposition to “then,” 1Th_4:17. FIRST, “the dead in Christ” shall rise, THEN the living shall be caught up. The Lord’s people alone are spoken of here.

1Th 4:17 KJV  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.

1Th 4:17 TPT  Then we who are alive will join them, transported together in clouds to have an encounter with the Lord in the air, and we will be forever joined with the Lord

1Th 4:17 Weymouth  Afterwards we who are alive and are still on earth will be caught up in their company amid clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

CTR: Which are alive — The Lord’s people still on the earth after the time of the beginning of the first resurrection.

Shall be caught up — Caught away, changed in the moment of death. Their taking will be unseen by the world.

This change will take place in the end of the Gospel age, at or during the sounding of the seventh trump.

As the type of the Passover night in Egypt, without the tasting of death.

Together — Or also. As a class, not separately as each may die.

In the clouds — In the time of trouble. Into obscurity.

To meet the Lord — During the gathering of the trouble, before the storm bursts.

That will be the first meeting of the Church with her Lord.

In the air — In the spiritual rulership of the world, now controlled by the present “prince of the power of the air.” (Eph_2:2)

In the realm of spiritual control of the earth–in kingdom power and great glory. Symbol of the spiritual throne from which Satan is to be deposed, and to which our Lord and his joint-heirs are to come.

Some expect to meet in the immediate presence of God, and others associate the meeting with earthly conditions, while we believe the meeting will be in a condition midway between the other two.

Be with the Lord — “Whom he hath appointed heir of all things.” (Heb_1:2)

Barnes: Then we which are alive – Those who shall then be alive; see 1Th_4:15. The word here rendered “then” (ἔπειτα epeita), does not necessarily mean that this would occur immediately. It properly marks succession in time, and means “afterward, next, next in the order of events;” Luk_16:7; Gal_1:21; Jas_4:14. … The proper meaning of the word, however, denotes a succession so close as to exclude the idea of a long interval in which other important transactions would occur, … The word demands this interpretation – that the next thing in order after the resurrection of the righteous, will be their being caught up with the living, with an appropriate change, into the air – though, as has been remarked, it will admit of the supposition of such a brief, momentary interval ἐν ἄτομος ἐν ῥιπη ὀφθαλμου en atomos en rhipē ophthalmou, 1Co_15:51-52) as shall be necessary to prepare for it.

Shall be caught up – Compare the use of the word ἁρπάζω harpazō in Mat_11:12, “the violent take it by force;” Mat_13:19, “then cometh the wicked one and snatcheth away;” Joh_6:15, “that they would come and take him by force; Joh_10:12, “the wolf catcheth them;” Act_8:39, “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; 2Co_12:2, “such an one caught up to the third heaven;” also, Joh_12:28-29; Act_23:10; Jud_1:23; Rev_12:5. The verb does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament In all these instances there is the idea of either foreign force or violence effecting that which is done. What force or power is to be applied in causing the living and the dead to ascend, is not expressed.

To meet the Lord in the air – In the regions of the atmosphere – above the earth. It would seem from this, that the Lord Jesus, in his coming, would not descend to the earth, but would remain at a distance from it in the air, where the great transactions of the judgment will occur. It is, indeed, nowhere said that the transactions of the judgment will occur upon the earth.

And so shall we ever be with the Lord – This does not mean that they will always remain with him in the air – for their final home will be heaven – and after the trial they will accompany him to the realms of glory; Mat_25:34, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom,” etc. The time during which they will remain with him “in the air” is nowhere mentioned in the Bible.

JFB: together with them — all together: the raised dead, and changed living, forming one joint body.

in the cloudsGreek, “in clouds.” The same honor is conferred on them as on their Lord. As He was taken in a cloud at His ascension (Act_1:9), so at His return with clouds (Rev_1:7), they shall be caught up in clouds. The clouds are His and their triumphal chariot (Psa_104:3; Dan_7:13). Ellicott explains the Greek, “robed round by upbearing clouds” [Aids to Faith].

in the air — rather, “into the air”; caught up into the region just above the earth, where the meeting (compare Mat_25:1, Mat_25:6) shall take place between them ascending, and their Lord descending towards the earth. Not that the air is to be the place of their lasting abode with Him.

and so shall we ever be with the Lord — no more parting, and no more going out (Rev_3:12). His point being established, that the dead in Christ shall be on terms of equal advantage with those found alive at Christ’s coming, he leaves undefined here the other events foretold elsewhere (as not being necessary to his discussion), Christ’s reign on earth with His saints (1Co_6:2, 1Co_6:3), the final judgment and glorification of His saints in the new heaven and earth.

Guzik: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them: Those alive and remaining until this coming of Jesus are caught up to meet Jesus in the air, together with the dead in Jesus who have already risen.

i. The verb translated caught up here means to seize, or to carry off by force. “There is often the notion of a sudden swoop, and usually that of a force which cannot be resisted” (Morris). In the ancient Greek, the phrase to meet was used as a technical term to describe the official welcoming of honored guests.

ii. This passage is the basis for the New Testament doctrine of the rapture, the catching away of believers to be with Jesus. The word rapture is not in the ancient Greek text, but comes from the Latin Vulgate, which translates the phrase caught up with rapturus, from which we get our English word rapture.

iii. Paul’s statement, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is both dramatic and fantastic. He speaks of Christians being, caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

Shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: Paul’s plain language leaves no doubt regarding the certainty of this event. Yet the timing of this event in the chronology of God’s prophetic plan is a matter of significant debate among Christians.

c. And thus we shall always be with the Lord: The manner in which Jesus will gather us to Himself is impressive. But the main point is that whatever the state of the Christians (dead or alive) at the Lord’s coming, they will always be with the Lord. This is the great reward of heaven – to be with Jesus. Death can’t break our unity with Jesus or with other Christians.

 We shall always be with the Lord is an important truth with many implications.

• It implies continuation; it assumes you are already with the Lord.

• It implies hope for the dying; in death we shall still be with the Lord.

• It implies future confidence; after death we are with the Lord.

• It implies advancement; we will one day always be with the Lord.

ii. “We shall be so with him as to have no sin to becloud our view of him: the understanding will be delivered from all the injury which sin has wrought in it, and we shall know him even as we are known.” (Spurgeon)

1Th 4:18 KJV  Wherefore comfort one another with these words..

1Th 4:18 TPT  So encourage one another with these truths.

1Th 4:18 Weymouth  And so we shall be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Guzik: 5. (1Th_4:18) The exhortation: comfort one another.

Therefore comfort one another: Paul did not tell them to take comfort, but to give comfort. In the way God works, we always receive comfort as we give it.

i. “Paul does not himself seek to comfort or encourage his readers but rather bids them actively to comfort or encourage ‘one another.’ The present imperative places upon them the continuing duty to do so, both in private conversation and in the public services.” (Hiebert)

b. With these words: The truth of the return of Jesus for His people, and the eternal union of Jesus and His people is to be a source of comfort for Christians.

CTR: Comfort — Of the Father, through the Son, by the holy Spirit, communicated through the Scriptures; also communicated by the members of the Body of Christ one to another.

Barnes: Wherefore comfort one another – Margin, “exhort.” The word comfort probably best expresses the meaning. They were to bring these glorious truths and these bright prospects before their minds, in order to alleviate, the sorrows of bereavement. The topics of consolation are these: first, that those who had died in the faith would not always lie in the grave; second, that when they rose they would not occupy an inferior condition because they were cut off before the coming of the Lord; and third, that all Christians, living and dead, would be received to heaven and dwell forever with the Lord.

With these words – That is, with these truths.

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