Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

1 Thessalonians 4

CHAPTER 4

The reader doubtless knows that Paul and the Holy Ghost never put the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible. It was done about three centuries ago, by people so ignorant of the Scriptures that they have exceedingly marred the revelation by frequently putting the divisions in the wrong places. The paragraphs made by the inspired writers, and so helpful to Bible students, have long since disappeared in the translations. If the Lord lets me live to complete the Commentary (four more volumes after this), I expect to translate the New Testament, restoring the paragraphs as I have them in the Sinaitic manuscript, from which I write these pages. This wonderful paragraph on sanctification begins with the eleventh verse of the third chapter, and runs through the eighth verse of the fourth chapter, the chapter division importunately breaking it in two. You must also remember there are postscripts in the original, all having been added at a subsequent date by an uninspired hand, and full of errors. So learn, once for all, never to give any attention to the postscripts in E.V.

1. Finally, therefore, brethren, we entreat and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how it behooveth you to walk about and please God as you do also walk about, in order that you may abound more and more. ” The clause, “as you do also walk,” is not in E.V. It abundantly and triumphantly sweeps away the last possible refuge of the Zinzendorfian heresy; i. e., the allegation that, admitting the conversion of the Thessalonians under Paul’s ministry, that they were back-slidden at the time of this writing, and that the sanctification urged on them by the apostle is but their reclamation. This clause, “as you do also walk” with God, which does not occur in E.V., hut is restored in R.V., forever obliterates the possibility of the conclusion that they are in a back-slidden state, as certainly backsliders do not walk with God.

2. For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. ” Commandment and promise are translations of the same Greek word; hence, perfectly synonymous, the latter carrying with it all the force of a commandment for its due appreciation, and the former involving the promise of God to give you all needed grace in your faithful obedience to all of his commandments.

3. For this is the will of God, your sanctification. ” “Even,” in E.V., is like all other italicized words, an interpolation by the translators for elucidation. But, unfortunately, these interpolations obscure, rather than elucidate. God made the Bible right. When men undertake to help him out, they always do bad business. Hence, in reading the Scriptures, you had better skip the italicized words, as God never put them there. The reason why the E.V. translators inserted “even,” an adverb of surprise in this verse, was because they were not sanctified. Hence, in their experimental ignorance, they regarded sanctification as a very extraordinary blessing, only conferred on a saint in an age. But the Bible, here and elsewhere, reveals it as the normal experience of God’s children indiscriminately, as a matter of our Heavenly Father’s will. Therefore, we have only to establish the heirship of regeneration, and claim it, in order to enter into the possession and enjoyment of this precious and extraordinary experience. Years ago I assisted a Methodist pastor in a Kentucky county-seat, the Lord favoring us with a glorious revival, converting one hundred and sanctifying about fifty. Walking out with the pastor to dine, in the joy and triumph of his newly-sanctified experience, he related to me an item in the history of his family. “My father was a well-to-do farmer, living in a magnificent mansion on a splendid farm. During the tempestuous annals of the Confederate war, he was suddenly and unexpectedly shot dead in the courtyard. My mother, unaccustomed to finances and business intrigues, almost crazy with trouble, was soon turned out of house and home by some sharpers, who bought up my father’s little debts, made a run on the farm, and captured it for a song. There were eight of us children, the eldest only twelve, and myself, eight years old, when we were all turned penniless out of house and home. Six awful years rolled away, spent in rickety tenements, interpenetrated by the wintry winds and scorched by the sultry summer sun, unrelieved by a solitary shade-tree; the starvation- wolf ever and anon howling about the door. Frequently we had nothing hut bread and water, and sometimes utterly destitute. My mother’s raven locks had turned to hoary gray, while grieving incessantly she cried her eyes away. One bright summer day, a life-long friend of my father and mother rode up to our humble shanty. Dismounting and saluting us, he said, ‘Mrs. Boyd, looking over the land county register, I find that your home is willed to you and your heirs forever.’ ‘Why, surely you are mistaken; that is too good to be true.’ ‘I know I am correct, for I made special investigation for your benefit.’ ‘If that is so, I authorize you, as my agent, to go at once and bring suit for the recovery of our home, employing the best lawyer for the prosecution. Great is the excitement in the court. The false claimants, determined to hold the property, bring in a platoon of big lawyers. The case is called. The presiding judge opens the land register, and reads a plain warrantee deed to Mrs. Boyd and her heirs forever, observing, ‘It is unnecessary to waste time, as there is no possible defalcation; this land belongs to Mrs. Boyd and her heirs forever.’ Amid the consternation of the defendants, Mrs. Boyd’s lawyer brings in a claim of three thousand dollars for the six years back rent in her favor. So mother, with us children, returns home with three thousand dollars in her pocket, there to live in peace and prosperity.” God pity the millions of unsanctified Christians living amid poverty and peril in the old howling wilderness, ever and anon in full view of the green fields of Canaan, where a rich farm, with comfortable mansion and everything heart can wish, is already willed to them, and nothing to do but go over and take possession! “That you abstain from fornication.” Every deflection from God is spiritual fornication, for which sanctification is the only remedy. In the sanctified experience we have no lovers but Jesus; the love of the world, style, fashion, money, honor, emolument, aggrandizement, all dead and gone.

4. Let each one of you know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor. ” “Vessel” means yourself. Sanctification is the indispensable qualification for self-government in perfect harmony with the law of God.

6. That no one overreach nor defraud his brother in a business transaction, because the Lord is the avenger concerning all these things, as indeed we before told you and now testify. ” Entire sanctification puts an end to all unfair dealing in business circles, making everybody perfectly transparent and as vigilant of another’s interest as his own, and for safety always taking the self-denial side of every doubtful case.

7. For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but in sanctification. ” Here we see the Holy Ghost puts sanctification antithetical to uncleanness. Hence, there is no such thing as spiritual purity without sanctification. John Wesley well says justification saves us from evil habits and sanctification from evil tempers. So long as there is any evil temper in you liable to rise on provocation, you are not ready for heaven; because it might rise there, which is utterly incompatible with the heavenly state. As the great work of probationary grace is to get us ready for heaven, we must keep our eye incessantly on entire sanctification, which is the Bible standard of fitness for glory, remembering that God is our umpire, and we must all soon stand before him. He pronounces you unclean till you are sanctified wholly; so take timely warning, and govern yourself accordingly. Your preacher studies hard all the week to prepare a sermon to comfort you on Sunday. He makes a great mistake. He ought to preach to you the truth fearlessly of men and devils, till he gets you sanctified wholly. Then the Holy Ghost will comfort you, because you are ready for the judgment bar. God, in his great mercy, disturbs your comfort and satisfaction till you seek and obtain the needed preparation for heaven. We see from this verse that the gospel call is to sanctification. What a pity that every pulpit is not in harmony with the Holy Ghost! It is pertinent here to observe that holiness and sanctification in the New Testament are precisely anonymous. both being translations of the same Greek word. hagiasmos in the E.V. “holiness,” and in the R.V., sanctification.

8. Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man but God, who indeed giveth unto you his Holy Spirit. ” This verse concludes this stalwart paragraph on sanctification, smashing all possible controversy with the irresistible Pauline sledgehammer logic. Having set forth sanctification as the great indispensable sine qua non, leaving all without excuse, since it is the will of God to all of his children without money and without price nothing to do but take it, the Holy Ghost always present, and freely giving us all the help we need he now thunders out the inevitable finale in the bold declaration that the rejecter of this grace inevitably commits spiritual suicide, sealing his doom world without end. Satan everywhere deludes Church people with the idea that sanctification is simply a matter of their own option; but the Bible in this very verse reveals that it is sanctification or damnation; as the rejecter does not simply reject the man who preaches it, “but God, who giveth unto you his Holy Spirit,” to sanctify you. Hence, you see that the rejecter of sanctification actually rejects God, who gives to all Christians his Holy Spirit to sanctify them. Could you uncap hell, and see the lost millions who once cherished a fair hope of heaven, but grieved the Holy Spirit. whom God gave to them to sanctify them consequently the Heavenly Comforter retreated away. leaving them in The impurity of carnal appetites and evil temper to fail into a backslider’s hell methinks you would make sanctification the great enterprise of your life. O the imminent danger of grieving away the Holy Spirit, settling down in hardness, darkness, and carnality, crossing the dead-line, and waking up in hell! The Holy Spirit, like his symbol, the gentle and amiable dove, is easily won and wooed, and equally easily grieved and alienated forever. This was the trouble with the scribes (the pastors off the popular Churches) and the Pharisees, the official members in the days of Christ. Having taken Church loyalty for religion, they grieved away the Holy Ghost till they were harder to save than the publicans and harlots. Their name is legion this day in every land in Christendom. Their false standard of religion has blinded their eyes to the great fact,

“that without sanctification, no one shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14.)

Millions of poor, deluded Church members, led astray by blind preachers, are this day rejecting sanctification, vainly thinking that they are rejecting the holiness evangelist, blind to the fact that Paul here says, “ He that rejecteth, rejecteth not man but God, who indeed giveth unto you his Holy Spirit. ” Hence, there is no getting away from the conclusion, if you reject sanctification, you reject God. Good Lord, have mercy on the deluded multitudes, thus blinded by the devil through false leaders, and walking into hell, vainly hugging the fond delusion that they are on their way to heaven!

Verses 1-8

ARGUMENT 5

SANCTIFICATION GOD’S WILL

11-13. “To establish your hearts blameless in holiness before God even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. Amen.” Paul is no low-standard preacher. He here holds high the banner of entire sanctification, inspired by the coming of the Lord with all his saints. Benjamin Abbott, than whom the world has not seen a more powerful preacher since the apostolic age, was a terrible reprobate, fist-fighter, chicken-fighter, blasphemer, etc., till he had passed his fortieth year. Bishop Asbury’s pioneer circuit-rider produced such a popular sensation in Maryland as to stir the people throughout the whole country, as they had never heard anything but dead preaching. Through sheer curiosity, Abbott rides twelve miles to hear him; finds the house and the yard full of spellbound auditors, the preacher greatly excited, voice roaring, and tears flowing, and the people crying all around him. It was an utter novelty to Mr. Abbott, as he had never before attended a Holy Ghost meeting. Conviction takes hold of him like a nightmare, he thought he was sick, went home, and told his wife that he was going to die. Next morning he goes out to mow his meadow; but his body is so weak he can hardly stand on his feet, much less wield the scythe. Meanwhile a soliloquy in his own breast: “Why am I torturing my body to mow this meadow when I will be dead and in hell before night?” At this he drops his scythe, and makes for the woods, where he wallows in awful agony, thinking he is dying. As the sun is going down, it seems that the bottom of heaven drops out, filling and flooding him with an unearthly rapture. He goes home shouting aloud, and tells his wife God has wonderfully saved his soul. She was a member of the Church, and thought she was a Christian. So she is much encouraged by her husband’s conversion, and the next morning sends him to see her pastor, that he might tell him his experience, and make arrangements to join the Church. The pastor receives him gladly, and, having listened patiently to his recital of his wonderful experience, groans and sighs, and tells him that he is under a powerful delusion of the devil. This, to Mr. Abbott, was like a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky, filling him with gloom bordering on utter despair. As he goes home almost dead with trouble, an inward voice says, “Go out in the woods and ask God about it.” So again, in the lonely forest, he falls prostrate, and turns the vexed problem over to God. Again the heavens open, and a cataract pours on him even greater than that of the preceding day. He goes home shouting aloud, and tells his wife that her preacher has not a bit of religion. When Bishop Asbury’s circuit-rider comes around again, having heard of Mr. Abbott’s wonderful conversion, he visits him at his home, and hears him relate his Pauline experience. Then he says: “Brother, your conversion is all right, blessed and glorious; but God has for you a vastly greater and grander experience entire sanctification.” This astonished Mr. Abbott unutterably, as he thought he had all he could possibly receive. The preacher proceeds to tell him about sanctification, and explain it to him; meanwhile his heart begins to reach out after it. So he says, “Well, I want this, too.” Pursuant to the directions of the circuit-rider, they fall on their knees, and proceed to pray for his sanctification. An hour has flown; their importunate prayers take hold of the Arm that shakes the world. Abbott falls prostrate on the floor, unable to move hand or foot. Satan tells him he is dying. He cries out, “O God, remove thy hand, or I die!” The physical disability passes off, his strength returns, and he gets up. Still the conversation is on sanctification, and he says, “I want it, and must have it.” The preacher says: “You were right at it awhile ago, and would have received it, if you had not asked God to remove his hand. Now, if you want it, you must pray through, letting God have his way.” Then he says, “I will have it, or die.” Again they get on their knees to pray for his sanctification. Erelong the agony supervenes, the power comes, he falls

prostrate, unable to move hand or foot. But profiting by his former mistake, this time he sticks to the track, lying prostrate. After about two hours, he rises and testifies, “that he knows God has sanctified him.” I relate this wonderful experience of this noted pioneer Methodist preacher, as a striking corroboration of the Pauline ministry in the Thessalonian Church. After a conversion sky-blue, glorious, and exceedingly fruitful, not only of spiritual joy, hut efficient evangelistic work, Paul notifies them that their faith is deficient, and that they must be blameless in holiness as a qualification to meet their “coming Lord with all his saints.”

Verses 9-12

ARGUMENT 6

UNIVERSAL PHILANTHROPY SUPERINDUCED BY HOLINESS TO THE LORD

9. ‚ĶFor truly you are taught of God to love one another with Divine love. ” The boasted philanthropy of the world is an empty bogus, founded

on sordid selfishness and clandestine carnality. This glorious uttermost salvation is the only abettor of true, genuine, and disinterested philanthropy. The Holy Ghost teaches all real Christians to love one another, not with carnal and selfish, but Divine love. The Greek word in this verse is philadelphia, the name of a beautiful Eastern metropolis.

George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, preached entire sanctification in England a hundred years before John Wesley. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was his convert. He and his sanctified Quaker followers met the Indians in council on the spot where Philadelphia now stands, provoking their unutterable surprise by the absence of firearms, as the savages had never before seen white men disencumbered of deadly weapons. Penn quickly informs them that he and his followers carry no arms, because they love everybody, and are not willing to hurt a solitary human being on the face of the whole earth, as they are all members of God’s universal brotherhood, as our Heavenly Father wants his children, regardless of nationality, race, or color, to live together in peace. This love talk of the sanctified Quaker melted the hearts of the bloodthirsty savages, till they broke down in tears, and stipulated a treaty of peace with Quakers, which they never broke, Penn selecting the ground on which they sat for the founding of his settlement, calling it Philadelphia, the very Greek word in this verse, then and there used designatively of the mutual love of the Quaker and the Indian. In after years, while other Colonial settlements were frequently depopulated by midnight conflagrations and assassinations, well does history say, “Not a drop of Quaker blood was ever shed by an Indian.” The Quakers were the sanctified people in the Colonial history of America. O what a contrast with all their neighbors, beleaguered and devastated with Indian wars, while the sanctified Quakers, unarmed, lived in peace and prosperity! Nothing but holiness to the Lord experienced in the heart and verified in the life, will ever girdle this world of sin and sorrow in the Briarean arms of Christian philanthropy.

10-12. In order that you may walk about circumspectly toward aliens, and have need of nothing. ” The eye of the world is on the Lord’s people. Hence, it behooveth us to watch and pray and live irreproachable before them, as the faithful custodians of truth and righteousness. Here Paul exhorts us all to strive “ to be quiet, to do our own work and labor with our hands. ” Beggarism is utterly out of harmony with God’s kingdom. David says, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” is true of the body, as well as the soul. Get saved to the uttermost; be true to God, and he will take care of you, soul and body. If no one will give you wages, fall in with a good man, and work gratuitously. I assure you, he will feed you. John Wesley says, “Never be unemployed, and never triflingly employed.” Stephen Merritt, meeting a beggar on the streets of New York, just out of eleven years servitude in the Sing Sing Penitentiary, poured on him such a powerful exhortation to fly to Jesus and get saved, terrible conviction seizing him, preacher and beggar, both manipulated by the Holy Ghost, mutually forgot all about the solicited contribution, the beggar crying to God for salvation onward he tramps the pavement, uncaring whither he goes, receives into his soul such a heavenly flood as to make him leap and run like a racehorse, shouting away the fugitive hours of the passing night till day dawned. Then the sensation of hunger, after a three days’ fast, again constraining him to resume his hitherto fruitless effort to get work, observing a man open the door of his business house, he shouts after him.

“Do you not want to hire a hand?” “Where is your recommendation?” The happy beggar, now honest, begins to confess, “I was eleven years in” “That will do; if you have followed any business eleven years I will take you in.” The man proves just the help he wants; now that he is well saved, and fortunately his employer is a Christian, they move along together like David and Jonathan, delighted either with the other. In due time he tells the man that he had begun to tell him that he was eleven years in the penitentiary; but he stopped him outright. “Yes,” says the man, “the Holy Ghost managed that; for if I had known that you were right out of the penitentiary, I would not have touched you with a forty-foot pole; now I want you to stay with me eleven years.” So the true salvation puts an end to all beggary. Give your heart to the Lord, and he will provide.

Verses 13-18

ARGUMENT 7

THE RAPTURE

This wonderful argument opens with the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter, and closes with the eleventh verse of the fifth chapter, unfortunately severed in twain in the middle by the insertion of the fifth chapter. Of course, by this time you know that the divisions into chapters and verses, and insertion of italicized words, and the postscripts, are all postapostolic, and without authority.

13. But we do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as those having no hope. ” The sleep here is that of the body, as the immortal soul never sleeps. This is confirmed by the allusion to the heathen, who have no doctrine of the resurrection to comfort them, burying their dead with no hope of ever seeing them. It can not refer to the soul, because the heathen all teach the soul’s immortality, but not that of the body, which is alone peculiar to Christianity.

14. If we believe that Jesus died and is risen, so also God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. ” Of course, the souls of the saints will descend with Jesus in the rapture, and receive their risen bodies. But this same word “sleep,” here occurs as in preceding verse, referring to the body, as the souls of the saints do not sleep. This confirms the rapture, as he must come for them, in order to bring them with him when he descends on the throne of his glory.

15. For I say this to you in the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain till the coming of the Lord, may not go before them that are asleep; i. e., the buried saints will rise before we living saints shall be translated. This still confirms the reference to the body, as our bodies will be transfigured.

16. The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. and the dead in Christ shall rise first. ” The adverb, first, here has been misconstrued, contrastively with the second resurrection, which is untrue. The simple fact revealed is, that the sainted dead will rise before the living are translated.

17. Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be forever with the Lord. ” It does not state here that the Lord comes to the earth; but we, with all the risen of the bridehood, “ will be caught up to meet him in the air. ” “Shout” is keleusma, defined as the shout of a hunter to his dogs, a sea captain to his sailors, and a general to his soldiers. Remember, the saints are sleeping in the dust on all sides of the globe. Hence, it He were to come very near, the mass of the earth would intervene between him and the saints on to other side. Hence, the probability that he will call from a great distance in the firmaments, thus obliterating the earth’s diameter, as they will simultaneously rise from all parts of the earth’s surface. Every member of the bridehood, living and dead, will hear that call, the latter rising promptly and flying up into the firmament, and the former waiting a short time. The rapture is the first great miracle in the revealed catalogue of latter-day wonders. This must take place preparatory to the descension of our Lord on the throne of his millennial glory, and before the great Tribulation. The prophecies have already been so fulfilled, that we need not be surprised at any moment to hear the trumpet of our Savior roar from the skies, summoning his saints to meet him in the air. Then the first resurrection will take place, including the members of the bridehood; i. e., the sanctified. (Romans 10:6). Modern theologians have obscured these Scriptures by explaining the first resurrection as spiritual, and thus doing away with it altogether. In that case, they are forced, by their logic, to do away with the second resurrection, thus spiritualizing and utterly doing away with the resurrection of the body. and plunging headlong into Swedenborgianism. Nearly all of the heresies Originate either from spiritualizing the literal Scriptures or literalizing the spiritual. Do not tinker with God’s Word, but believe it as he gives it. The Bible teaches that the bodies of all will he raised. The New Testament declares a special resurrection, “out from among the dead.” (Philippians 3:11.) This was the beau ideal for which Paul and his comrades were running, disencumbered of every burden, that they might take no risk. The translation, which will be the glorious privilege of all the sanctified who are living on the earth when he comes and calls his Bride to “meet him in the air,” will simply consist in the elimination of all ponderous matter out of our bodies, so we will not weigh anything (as nothing but the weight of our bodies keeps us on the earth now). This done, our bodies will rise, responsive to the impulses of our spirits, and of course fly away to meet our Savior. When the trumpet sounds, the glorified bodies of the rising saints all round the world will flood the firmament; the splendor which eclipsed the mortal eyes of Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration will illuminate the entire firmament with a glory so bewildering, that we who are alive would be lost in contemplation. In the midst of the unearthly glory, before we are aware, we will find ourselves flying and commingling with the enraptured millions of risen saints. We should not only have constant faith in justification and sanctification, but for translation, as we know not what moment our Lord will call. If we are sanctified wholly, we re ready for translation, responsive to our faith like Enoch (Hebrews 11:5). The transfiguration of the Holy Ghost is the climax of mediatorial restitution. Glory to God I am looking for my Lord and the transfiguration.

18. So exhort one another in these words. ” The Church has lost power and glory unutterable by the delinquency of the pulpit on this commandment. O how she needs this inspiring truth this day to raise her out of worldliness and apostasy, to plunge beneath the cleansing fountain, wash, and be clean, put on her white robes and get on her watchtowers, waiting with glowing expectancy for the coming of her Lord!

1. Concerning the periods and epochs you have no need that I write unto you.

2. You know well that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. ” Time is a parenthesis in eternity, interjected for the accommodation of the mediatorial kingdom, and divided up into periods and epochs. We are living in the sixth dispensation i. e., that of the Holy Ghost; the Edenic, Antediluvian, Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Messianic have come and gone in their appointed times, each winding up with a signal revolutionary epoch. These times and seasons i. e., epochs and periods of revolution and development are ordered and determined by the sovereign and discriminating wisdom of the Father only. Hence, since the inauguration of the Holy Ghost dispensation on the day of Pentecost, the Son has been sitting on the right hand of the Father, awaiting his time for his coronation King of the nations, having been crowned King of saints at his ascension. Meanwhile the Bride has been waiting in constant anticipation the return of the Bridegroom. A thief always comes suddenly and unexpectedly to the parties from whom he steals. As the coming of our Lord to the earth to steal away his Bride is unknown, both to the Church and her Divine Spouse, is known only to the Father, therefore it will be the greatest surprise that ever fell on a slumbering world and an apostate Church.

3. This describes the terrible anguish and awful pall that shall come to the godless millions of a fallen world and a slumbering Church, when awakened by the trump of the archangel and the shout of the descending Christ, calling all the members of his bridehood, living and dead, to meet him in the air. The institutions of the old dispensation all focalized in the first advent of Christ, like rivers flowing into the sea. That great and notable event was the exchange station, where all changed cars for the glorious new departure of the gospel dispensation. In a similar manner all the institutions of the new dispensations focalize and have their fulfillment in the second coming of Christ, when the gospel dispensation will wind up, and the glorious kingdom usher in, Satan, the present king of the nations, having been arrested, taken out of the world, and locked up in hell. (Revelation 20:0.)

4. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day may overtake you as a thief.

5. For all you are the sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night nor of darkness.

6. Therefore let us not sleep as the rest, but watch and be sober. ” Sin is the only thing that ever made the human soul drunk. Entire sanctification is absolutely necessary to the complete sobriety of the soul. The smallest amount of sin intoxicates you to the extent of its power. The two great commandments prominent in the Pauline battle-cry are, “Watch, and be sober;” i. e., be on the constant lookout for your coming King, and wholly sanctified as a qualification to receive him. His coming as a thief in the right is only applicable to the fallen world and slumbering Church, and not to his true people, who are watching and waiting his arrival.

7. Spiritual slumber and intoxication are peculiar to spiritual night. When the bright day of Eden passed under the eclipse of Satan’s black wing, the dismal night of sin supervened upon the whole world, and will continue till relieved by the glorious millennial day, whose auspicious dawn methinks I see in the present holiness movement, gilding every land with the fair- fingered Aurora of the coming kingdom.

8. But let us, being of the day, be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith an love, and the helmet, the hope of salvation. ” The apostle exhibits the powerful antithesis of a debauched world and a slumbering Church on the one hand, panic-stricken with the most terrible surprise in the world’s history, and the faithful few on the other, washed in the blood, filled with the Spirit, and on the tiptoe of thrilling anticipation, anxiously watching and waiting their Lord’s return, and consequently not taken in the surprise of the midnight cry, destined to come upon all the world as a “thief in the night.”

9,10. That whether we may watch or sleep, we shall live along with Him. ” Here is evidently an allusion to the bodies of the saints, in (ontradistinction to their souls, as the great multitude sleep in the dust, and only the present generation are living upon the earth, and watching with mortal eyes to see their coming King. Hence, the admonition of the apostle that, whether we live to behold his glorious coming or fall asleep with our predecessors, we shall enjoy spiritual and eternal life with him.

11. Therefore exhort one another and edify one another, as you also do. ” Paul had so faithfully preached to those people the Lord’s return to the earth, that he now affirms in their behalf that they are exhorting and edifying one another with these inspiring truths. How strange the contrast of the modern pulpit, silent on the Lord’s coming; with the apostle Paul so positive, explicit, and importunate, night and day, by speech and pen hammering this great truth into the minds of the people, so as to perfectly familiarize them with it, till they can all preach it to one another in their daily conversation. This verse closes that celebrated paragraph on the Lord’s second coming, which opens with the thirteenth verse of the preceding chapter, and so unfortunately interrupted by the division of the fifth chapter coming right in the middle. God help us all to be true to the commandments, winding up this memorable paragraph on the coming of the Lord and the rapture of the saints; i. e., “ exhort and edify one another by these inspiring truths. ” Let it be said of us, as of the Thessalonians, “as ye do.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/1-thessalonians-4.html.