1 Thessalonians 4
Having addressed issues affecting the Thessalonians’ relationship with Paul in chapters 2-3, Paul now deals with several problems they had. Chapter four looks at three problems: sexual purity (vv. 1-8), their conduct with each other and the outside world (vv. 9-12), and the state of Christians who died (vv. 13-18).
God’s clear will for Christians is sexual purity (vv. 1-8). Christians must be controlled by Jesus’ commands (vv. 1-3); this means they must control their bodies with honor and holiness (v. 4), not passionate lust (v. 5). Why? Because God called Christians to be holy, not to be impure (v. 7).
Christians must love one another (vv. 9-10), working hard in their homes and at their jobs so their needs will be met and they will have a good testimony to unbelievers (vv. 11-12).
Evidently some Thessalonian Christians were concerned about the eternal state of Christians who died before Jesus came (v. 13). They so anticipated Christ’s return they never thought about Christians dying before then! Paul teaches that when Jesus returns to the clouds Christians who died will be raised from the dead, and then living Christians will be “caught up” (the Latin word for this phrase is rapturo, so this is often called the “rapture”) with their resurrected brethren to meet the Lord in the air (vv. 16-17).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Jesus wants Christians to continually grow more like him by obeying his commands (vv. 1-2, 10). Note, Jesus is pleased when Christians obey his commands. That’s why Jesus gave such! It is sad that some professing Christians downplay “commands” and “obedience.” Jesus didn’t! To be sure, no one is saved because they obey, but no one is saved who doesn’t obey.
- Christ’s coming to the clouds to gather his church to himself (the “rapture”) can and will happen at any moment (vv. 13-18). Jesus didn’t give this truth to cause divisions in churches! Jesus didn’t put this in the Bible to ignore it or treat it as unimportant! Jesus gave this truth to encourage godly living and give godly comfort (v. 18).