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.
1. Furthermore—Greek, "As to what
remains." Generally used towards the close of his Epistles (Eph 6:10;
then—with a view to the love
and holiness (1Th 3:12, 13) which we have just prayed for in your
behalf, we now give you exhortation.
beseech—"ask" as if it were a personal
by, &c.—rather as Greek,
"IN the Lord Jesus"; in communion with
the Lord Jesus, as Christian ministers dealing with Christian people
as ye … received—when we were
with you (1Th 2:13).
how—Greek, the "how," that is,
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; 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.
2. 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; 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.
3. For—enforcing the assertion that his
"commandments" were "by (the authority of) the Lord Jesus" (1Th 4:2). Since "this is the will of God,"
let it be your will also.
fornication—not regarded as a sin at
all among the heathen, and so needing the more to be denounced (Ac 15:20).
4. know—by moral self-control.
how to possess his vessel—rather as
Greek, "how to acquire (get for himself) his own
vessel," that is, that each should have his own wife so as to
avoid fornication (1Th 4:3; 1Co 7:2). The emphatical position of "his own"
in the Greek, and the use of "vessel" for wife, in 1Pe 3:7, and in common Jewish phraseology,
and the correct translation "acquire," all justify this rendering.
in sanctification—(Ro 6:19; 1Co
6:15, 18). Thus, "his own"
stands in opposition to dishonoring his brother by lusting after
his wife (1Th 4:6).
honour—(Heb 13:4) contrasted with "dishonor their
own bodies" (Ro 1:24).
5. in the lust—Greek, "passion";
which implies that such a one is unconsciously the passive slave
which know not God—and so know no
better. Ignorance of true religion is the parent of unchastity (Eph 4:18,
19). A people's morals are
like the objects of their worship (De 7:26; Ps 115:8; Ro
6. 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 Pr 6:27-33).
the Lord—the coming Judge (2Th 1:7, 8).
of all such—Greek, "concerning
all these things;" in all such cases of wrongs against a
neighbor's conjugal honor.
"constantly testified [Alford].
7. unto uncleanness—Greek, "for
the purpose of."
unto—rather as Greek, "in";
marking that "holiness" is the element in which our calling has place;
in a sphere of holiness. Saint is another name for
8. despiseth, &c.—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" (Ps 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
his Spirit—Greek, "His own
Spirit, the Holy (One)"; thus emphatically marking "holiness"
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
9. brotherly love, &c.—referring
here to acts of brotherly kindness in relieving distressed brethren.
Some oldest manuscripts support English Version reading, "YE have"; others, and those the weightiest,
read, "WE have." We need not
write, as ye yourselves are taught, and that by God:
namely, in the heart by the Holy Spirit (Joh 6:45; Heb 8:11;
1Jo 2:20, 27).
to love—Greek, "with a view
to," or "to the end of your loving one another." Divine teachings have
their confluence in love [Bengel].
10. And indeed—Greek, "For
11. study to be quiet—Greek,
"make it your ambition to be quiet, and to do your own
business." In direct contrast to the world's ambition, which
is, "to make a great stir," and "to be busybodies" (2Th 3:11, 12).
work with your own hands—The
Thessalonian converts were, it thus seems, chiefly of the
working classes. Their expectation of the immediate coming of
Christ led some enthusiasts among them to neglect their daily work and
be dependent on the bounty of others. See end of 1Th 4:12. The expectation was right in so far as
that the Church should be always looking for Him; but they were wrong
in making it a ground for neglecting their daily work. The evil, as it
subsequently became worse, is more strongly reproved in 2Th 3:6-12.
12. honestly—in the Old English
sense, "becomingly," as becomes your Christian profession; not bringing
discredit on it in the eyes of the outer world, as if Christianity led
to sloth and poverty (Ro 13:13; 1Pe 2:12).
them … without—outside the
Christian Church (Mr 4:11).
have lack of nothing—not have to beg
from others for the supply of your wants (compare Eph 4:28). So far from needing to beg from
others, we ought to work and get the means of supplying the need of
others. Freedom from pecuniary embarrassment is to be desired by the
Christian on account of the liberty which it bestows.
13. The leading topic of Paul's preaching at
Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Ac 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 labourers (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), to whose bodies (Da 12:2, not their souls; Ec 12:7; 2Co
5:8) 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). Death affects the mere individual; but
the coming of Jesus the whole Church; at death our souls are invisibly
and individually with the Lord; at Christ's coming the whole Church,
with all its members, in body and soul, shall be visibly and
collectively with Him. 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
others—Greek, "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, 33, 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. Ps 16:9, 11; 17:15;
73:24; Pr 14:32, show that
the Old Testament Church, though not having the hope so bright
38:18, 19), yet had
this hope. Contrast Catullus
[Carmina 5.4], "When once our brief day has set, we must sleep
one everlasting night." The sepulchral inscriptions of heathen
Thessalonica express the hopeless view taken as to those once dead: as
Aeschylus writes, "Of one once dead
there is no resurrection." Whatever glimpses some heathen philosophers,
had of the existence of the soul after death, they had none whatever of
the body (Ac 17:18, 20, 32).
14. For if—confirmation of his
statement, 1Th 4:13,
that the removal of ignorance as to the sleeping believers would
remove undue grief respecting them. See 1Th 4:13, "hope." Hence it appears our
hope rests on our faith ("if we believe"). "As surely as
we all believe that Christ died and rose again (the very doctrine
specified as taught at Thessalonica, Ac 17:3), so also will God bring those
laid to sleep by Jesus with Him (Jesus)." (So the order and balance
of the members of the Greek sentence require us to translate).
Believers are laid in sleep by Jesus, and so will be brought back from
sleep with Jesus in His train when He comes. The disembodied souls are
not here spoken of; the reference is to the sleeping bodies. The
facts of Christ's experience are repeated in the believer's. He died
and then rose: so believers shall die and then rise with Him. But in
His case death is the term used, 1Co 15:3, 6, &c.; in theirs, sleep;
because His death has taken for them the sting from death. The same
Hand that shall raise them is that which laid them to sleep.
"Laid to sleep by Jesus," answers to "dead in Christ" (1Th 4:16).
15. by the word of the
Lord—Greek, "in," that is, in virtue of a
direct revelation from the Lord to me. So 1Ki 20:35. This is the "mystery," a truth once
hidden, now revealed, which Paul shows (1Co 15:51, 52).
prevent—that is, "anticipate." So far
were the early Christians from regarding their departed brethren as
anticipating them in entering glory, that they needed to be
assured that those who remain to the coming of the Lord "will not
anticipate them that are asleep." The "we" means whichever of us
are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. The Spirit designed
that believers in each successive age should live in continued
expectation of the Lord's coming, not knowing but that they
should be among those found alive at His coming (Mt 24:42). It is a sad fall from this blessed
hope, that death is looked for by most men, rather than the
coming of our Lord. Each successive generation in its time and place
represents the generation which shall actually survive till His coming
(Mt 25:13; Ro 13:11; 1Co 15:51; Jas
5:9; 1Pe 4:5, 6). The Spirit
subsequently revealed by Paul that which is not inconsistent with the
expectation here taught of the Lord's coming at any time; namely, that
His coming would not be until there should be a "falling away first"
3); but as symptoms of this
soon appeared, none could say but that still this precursory event
might be realized, and so the Lord come in his day. Each successive
revelation fills in the details of the general outline first given. So
Paul subsequently, while still looking mainly for the Lord's coming to
clothe him with his body from heaven, looks for going to be with Christ
in the meanwhile (2Co 5:1-10; Php 1:6, 23; 3:20,
21; 4:5). Edmunds well says, The "we" is an affectionate
identifying of ourselves with our fellows of all ages, as members of
the same body, under the same Head, Christ Jesus. So Ho 12:4, "God spake with us in Beth-el,"
that is, with Israel. "We did rejoice," that is, Israel at the
Red Sea (Ps
66:6). Though neither Hosea,
nor David, was alive at the times referred to, yet each identifies
himself with those that were present.
16. himself—in all the Majesty of His
presence in person, not by deputy.
descend—even as He ascended (Ac 1:11).
with—Greek, "in," implying one
concomitant circumstance attending His appearing.
shout—Greek, "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 (Re 19:11-21).
the voice of …
archangel—distinct from the "signal shout." Michael is
perhaps meant (Jude 9; Re 12:7), to whom especially is committed the
guardianship of the people of God (Da 10:13).
trump of God—the trumpet blast which
usually accompanies God's manifestation in glory (Ex 19:16; Ps
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 (Nu 10:2, 10;
31:6), so here to summon
God's elect together, preparatory to their glorification with Christ
(Ps 50:1-5; Mt 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 (Mt
13:41, 42, 50; Joh 5:29; 1Co 15:23, 24; Re 20:5, 6); it simply stands in opposition to
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.
17. we which are alive … shall be caught
up—after having been "changed in a moment" (1Co 15:51, 52). Again he says, "we,"
recommending thus the expression to Christians of all ages, each
generation bequeathing to the succeeding one a continually increasing
obligation to look for the coming of the Lord. [Edmunds].
together with them—all together: the
raised dead, and changed living, forming one joint body.
in the clouds—Greek, "in
clouds." The same honor is conferred on them as on their Lord. As He
was taken in a cloud at His ascension (Ac 1:9), so at His return with clouds (Re 1:7), they shall be caught up in clouds. The
clouds are His and their triumphal chariot (Ps 104:3; Da
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 Mt 25:1, 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 (Re 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, 3), the final judgment and glorification
of His saints in the new heaven and earth.
18. comfort one another—in your mourning
for the dead (1Th 4:13).