Summary: A plea for purity, a brotherly and orderly life, and the comfort of Christ’s coming.
1 Thessalonians 4- B’gate, 16/10/97
Section 1: A Plea for Purity (vv. 1-8)
1. "Finally"- we see that, as in Paul’s other letters, the Apostle selects matters of behaviour to be the last things that ring in the Thessalonians minds. But ironically, the most ’final’ thing about these last two chapters is his description of the very end of this world!
"In the Lord Jesus"- if we only ever exhort people ’in Christ’, then it is hard to push our own desires into that equation.
"more and more"- God is easy to please but difficult to satisfy. We are being "transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Although God is happy0to take us as we are (we can come no other way)- He isn’t conte~t to leave us as we are. He wants to ’fit us for heaven0to live0with Thee there’.
"received from us"- wisdom comes both from lystening to others and, in verse 9, from God Himself. We need other Christians, the Bible and the Holy Spirit speaking within us0all to guide us along the narrow way.
"to please God"- is why we are here! "For Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
2. "through the Lord Jesus"- again, if we exhort others, we must do it ’through Christ’ so that our own self doesn’t get into the motive.
3. "Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, and to which their sole title is the death of Christ...Sanctification is also used in NT of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer" (Hogg and Vine).
Praise God that one of the most important things to Him is the ’setting apart’ of us to Him!
"Fornication" is sexual immorality, sex outside of marriage. This Greek word, porneia, includes adultery, but in some places a separate word is used for that (mocheia). In Revelation 14-19, fornication is "the association of pagan idolatry with doctrines of, and professed adherence to, the Christian faith" (Vine). God feels just the same sense of betrayal at our syncretistic (merging all religions together) practices as a husband would at his wife’s adultery (compare Hosea, and Jeremiah 2-5). So as a wife ’sets herself apart’ for her husband, so should we, the Bride of Christ, set ourselves apart for our Lord.
4. "honour"- according to Vine, there are 19 different senses to this Greek word, time! In this place, the honour is "the husband’s use of the wife, in contrast to the exercise of the passion of lust"...
5. Knowing God and sexual fidelity go close together. Job’s covenant with his eyes also corroborates this, Job 31:1.
6. The sense here is of going beyond, of greedily taking more than what one has a right to. The principle applies to pre-marital purity as well as marital. Someone coming to a marriage defiled has defrauded their spouse. If someone fornicates, then gets married, they have in a sense committed adultery (only retroactively). But we praise God that, though "such were some of you...but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). If someone makes love to a woman, she may not be somebody else’s wife, but she maybe someone else’s future wife.
God will judge the fornicator and adulterer (Hebrews 13:4). And before we get too smug, remember Jesus said that anyone who looks on a woman in lust commits adultery (Matthew 5:28). Proverbs says there is not wrath like that of a jealous husband- think of God’s wrath towards the unbeliever in that light.
7. God chose us to be blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4). He took the initiative, and will do it (1 Thess.5:24) faithfully.
8. When David had committed adultery, he cried "against you, and you only have I sinned" (Psalm 51). In our sexual and volitional (acts of the will) misbehaviour we principally reject God who made us to be temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:18,19). Our sin against our fellows is mainly that we defile their vessels from being sanctified to Him, not even that we have defrauded another human.
Part 2- A brotherly and orderly life
9. "Brotherly love"- philadelphia. Here Paul stresses the inner resources of the believer- the Holy Spirit who will "guide you into all truth" (John 16:12). Contrast v.2. If there is no need for Paul to write, why is he?!
10. Notice that the love of the Thessalonians extends beyond their own immediate church and city. Those words ’more and more’ again.
11. "Quiet" here has the sense of not only tranquility within, but also "causing no disturbance to others" (Vine). How can we be quiet and warn men of their fate without Christ (Jude 22, 23)?