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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

1 Thessalonians 4

Verse 1

The Model Walk and the Believer’s Hope

1) "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren". (loipon oun, adelphoi, erotomen humas) "For the rest therefore brethren, we as you", while chapters four and five are reflective, look backward, chapters four and five are prospective, look forward, to chaste conduct in hope of the coming of Christ. Acts 1:10-11.

2) "And exhort you by the Lord Jesus" (kai parakalournen en kurio lesou) "and exhort or beseech (you) in (the) Lord Jesus"; in the light of His commands and certain return to the earth, John 14:15; John 15:10; John 15:14; John 14:1-3.

3) "That as ye have received of us" (hina kathos parelabete par’ hemon) "That as ye received from us"; by word of instruction and by example of personal conduct, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-11.

4) "How ye ought to walk" (to pos dei humas peripatein) "How or (the way) it becomes you all to walk"; to conduct yourselves in personal behavior toward each other and those outside the church, 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Ephesians 4:1.

5) "And to please God" (Kai arekein theo) "and to please God" -- (kathos kai peripatein) "as indeed ye do walk" or "even as ye also (already) walk." 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9; Colossians 1:10.

6) "So ye would abound more and more" (hina perisseuete mallon) "in order that you all abound (even) more"; Paul desired to urge the brethren on in the ways of the Lord which they were already pursuing. 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Verse 2

1) "For ye know what commandments" (oidate gar tinas parangelias) "For ye all know what injunctions"; The term translated injunctions is a semi-military term, as a charge with a trust. 1 Timothy 1:18, regarding a good warfare against wrong. It is also a charge regarding chastity, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; love, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; and against excitement and idleness, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

2) "We gave you by the Lord Jesus" (edokamen humin dia tou kuriou lesou) "We gave you through the Lord Jesus," by or through authority, instructions, or mandate of the Lord Jesus, their Savior and Master. Romans 12:2; Romans 15:30; Matthew 28:18-20.

Verse 3

1) "For this is the will of God" (Touto gar estin thelema tou theou) "For this is (the) will of God"; which to know and to do brings blessings in this life and rewards in the world to come. Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:17-18; Colossians 1:9.

2) "Even your sanctification" (ho hagiasmos humon) "The sanctification of you (all)"; the term sanctification as it relates to Christian conduct, involves separation from, or avoidance of, wrong and performance of good and right. 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15.

3) "That ye should abstain from fornication" (apechesthai humas apo tes porneias) "That you all (are) to abstain from fornication"; moral sex relations apart from marriage of the two committing parties; intimate sex relations outside of marriage are declared to be sinful and wicked, subject to Divine judgment, Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:8-11; Proverbs 6:24-32; Proverbs 7:24-27.

Verse 4

1) "That every one of you should know" (eidenai hekaston humon) "That each of you all should know", ought to know or learn, by the principle of Christian sanctification or moral holiness, Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.

2) "How to possess his vessel" (to heautou skeuis ktasthai) "how to possess his vessel"; to keep his own body, passions of lust, in due bounds, in subjection to the will of God, whether married or unmarried, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27; Hebrews 13:4 1 Corinthians 10:31. The ideal is to be always a Christian vessel that is "sanctified (set apart) and fit for the Master’s use". 2 Timothy 2:21.

3) "In sanctification and honor" (en hagiasmo kai time) "in a state or condition (of) even honor", an holy state, separated from moral wrong to moral uprightness; Jesus prayed for the sanctification of all believers, John 17:19; 1 Peter 3:15; Even Divinely sanctioned matrimony fits one to serve God in giving physical place to proper sex relations with honor, Hebrews 13:4-5; 1 Timothy 4:1-5.

Verse 5

1) "Not in the lust of concupiscence" (me en pathei epithumias) "not in passion of lust"; not controlled or obsessed by an immoral passion or craving for sex, in an evil or forbidden manner, above all other things, as if you were still heathen, Romans 7:8; Colossians 3:5.

2) "Even as the Gentiles" (kathaper kai to ethne) "Even as the heathen, Gentiles or races"; those estranged or separated from God, those of heathendom, such as some of them had formerly been, 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Ephesians 4:17-23. Paul was saying, "Since you are redeemed, it is different now, be certain that you show it." Colossians 3:1-3.

3) "Which know not God" (ta me eidota ton theon)

who know not God"; Self-respect, regard for ones own name and influence, and reverence for God all forbid unchastity in Christian conduct, different from those who know not God, Romans 1:24-25; Luke 21:19; 1 John 2:15-17.

Verse 6

1) "That no man go beyond" (to me huperbainein) "That no one go beyond"; overreach or oppress, to stretch his covetous, passionate desires beyond the bounds of love and respect for others, as for ones self, Luke 6:31.

2) "And defraud his brother" (kai pleonektein ton adelphon auton) "and defraud the brother of him"; to transgress or do wrong to his brother, with relations to either business life, or violation of the marriage state, 1 Corinthians 6:7-8; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13.

3) "In any matter" (en to pragmati) "in any practical matter"; matters of daily experiences of life, in any matter relation to the honor of one’s person, name, testimony or influence, 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.

4) "Because that the Lord is the avenger of all such" (dioti ekdikos kurios peri panton) "Because the Lord is the avenger concerning all these"; these who defraud, transgress, and ignore Divine standards of morality and ethics; 1 Samuel 24:12; Psalms 18:47; Vengeance belongs to the Lord, Deuteronomy 32:35.

5) "As we also have forewarned you" (kathos kai proeipamen humin) "as indeed we previously told you"; to be forewarned is to be without excuse, Luke 12:5; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

6) "And testified" (kai diemarturametha) "and solemnly witnessed"; as he did to the Romans 1:18.

Verse 7

1) "For God hath not called us" (ou gar ekalasen hemas ho theos) "For the Trinitarian God called us not"; the negative approach of instruction is here used, what one is not called to be and to do, as our Lord taught in his model prayer, John 6:1-3; John 6:5; John 6:7-8; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.

2) "Unto uncleanness" (epi akatharsia) "to uncleanness", to or toward a life of moral uncleanness, but out of darkness into light, out of wrong into right, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-10; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

3) "But unto holiness" (all’ en hagiaseno) "but in sanctification"; in a state (of) sanctification or holiness, even to the time when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, Job 19:25; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; We are therefore to pre-reflect that state of holiness of life today, Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 3:3; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:14-16.

Verse 8

1) "He therefore that despiseth" (toigaroun ho atheton) "wherefore the one rejecting", ignores divine injunctions, or treats them lightly, regarding holy living, Ezekiel 22:8; one can not serve two masters, without despising the one, loving the other, Luke 16:13; Matthew 6:24; Acts 5:3-4; Acts 5:9.

2) "Despiseth not man, but God" (ouk anthropon athetei alla ton theon) "rejects not a man but God", takes not man but God, lightly, with practical snubbing or contempt, as David was so charged of Nathan, 2 Samuel 12:9-10; Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 15:32; Proverbs 19:16; Amos 2:4; Luke 18:9.

3) "Who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit:" (tou kai didonta to pneuma autou to hagion lis humas) "The one indeed having given the Holy Spirit to you all"; individually and as a church; Acts 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30-32; Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:13.

Verse 9

1) "But as touching brotherly love" (peri de tes philadelphias) "now concerning brotherly love"; charity and liberality are twin virtues, expressed in brotherly love, without pretence, Romans 12:9-10.

2) "Ye need not that I write unto you" (ou chreion echete graphein humin) "you all have not a need that I write to you"; They had already learned from him, by word and example, the meaning of "the love of Christ, that passeth all understanding"; Ephesians 3:19. There was a need for Paul to write details of other matters, but not about love.

3) "For ye yourselves are taught of God" (autoi gar humeis theodidaktoi este) "for you all are yourselves taught by God"; The love of God was and is taught by, and learned in, a knowledge of Jesus Christ, John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-10; Romans 13:8-10.

4) "To love one another" (eis to agapan allelous) "(Regarding) love one (to) another". By example and in Word, men are taught of love, one of the holy attributes of God, and a spiritual gift to every believer, John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 3:14.

Verse 10

1) "And indeed ye do it" (kai gar poieite auto) "For indeed ye do it"; They did love one another as evidenced and reported by Timothy, 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7.

2) "Toward all the brethren" (eis pantas tous adelphous) "to or toward all the brothers"; True love manifests itself in a desire to be with other brethren in both worship and social fellowship, Philippians 1:8-9.

3) "Which are in all Macedonia" (tous en hole te makedonia) "in all Macedonia"; as they became good examples of Christian-care, concern, and compassion for others, 1 Thessalonians 1:7-8.

4) "But we beseech you, brethren" (parakaloumen de humas adelphoi) "But we exhort you brothers"; Like a coach urging his runner or fighter on to victory, Paul put his courage or encouragement forward to the Thessalonian brethren, 1 Thessalonians 3:12.

5) "That ye increase more and more" (perisseuein mallon) "to abound more and more"; Paul yearned that these upright brethren find fuller joy in an increased manifestation of fellowship--love among themselves and others, a certain means by which the lost might be saved, 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13; 1 Peter 1:22.

Verse 11

1) "And that ye study to be quiet" (kai philotimeisthai hesechazein) "and that you all strive eagerly to be quiet"; to avoid meddlesome strife, talebearing, stirring trouble, worming around as a busybody, 1 Peter 4:15; Proverbs 26:20; James 3:14-16.

2) "And to do your own business" (kai prassein ta idia) "and to practice (your) own things, matters, attend to your own business," Devotion to God does not and will not lead one to neglect an honorable pursuit of a job, for each is a social being and must work to honor God, Genesis 3:19; Ephesians 4:28.

3) "And to work with your own hands" (kai ergazesthai tais chersin humon) "even to work with your own hands"; idle minds and hands and tongues become workshops and tools of Satan and demons; Christianity teaches that labor according to ones talents is honorable, Acts 20:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10.

4) "As we commanded you" (kathos humin pareggeilamen) "Even as we enjoined you all"; In spite of Paul’s commands and example of working with his own hands, some of the members quit working, made debts they could not pay, and let their families come to need, idly looking for the advent of the Lord. They were to look and wait in hope, yet also work as they awaited, anticipated His coining, even as Paul did, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12.

Verse 12

1) "That ye may walk honestly" (hina peripatete euschemonos) "in order that ye may walk becoming"; in a manner that would become an upright citizen of the state or society, as well as a citizen of the kingdom of God, Mark 12:17; Romans 13:6-7.

2) "Toward them that are without" (pros tous ekso) to or toward those outside" the church or fellowship. To pay one’s debts, taxes, care for one’s family, and show charity toward a hungry world, is an honest walk, Ephesians 5:15-16; 1 Peter 2:12.

3) "And that ye may have lack of nothing" (kai medenos chreian echete) "and (that) ye may have not a need", of anything; Philippians 4:13; Philippians 4:19; Psalms 23:1; Matthew 6:33.

Verse 13

1) "But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren" (ou thelomen de humas agnoein, adelphoi) now we do not wish you all to be ignorant, brothers"; men need not to be ignorant about salvation, service, or the life hereafter, John 5:30; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; to be ignorant of these is bad, but to remain willingly ignorant is worse, 2 Peter 3:4; John 7:17.

2) "Concerning them which are asleep" (peri ton koimomenon) "concerning those sleeping"; This refers to the sleeping of the body, that which is in the grave, not the soul, Acts 7:60; Acts 13:36. As in Matthew 27:52, note, it was the "bodies" of the saints that "slept", and "bodies" that arose; 2 Peter 3:4.

3) "That ye sorrow not" (hina me lepestje) "in order that you all grieve not". Paul would not have Christians live pessimistic lives regarding their Christian brothers and sisters who had deceased. He wrote to assure them that whether living or deceased when the Lord came they would meet Him together.

4) "Even as others which have no hope" (kathos kai hoi loipo hoi me echotes elpida) "as indeed the rest--those not having or holding an hope"; Hope, second of the three remaining Spiritual gifts, is an anchor of the soul and life of the believer, as he awaits, in life or in death, the certain Royal return of Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 6:17-19. The unsaved is without the anchor of hope, lost, disturbed, tossed, like a boat in the storm without an anchor. He is without peace and hope, Isaiah 57:20-21; Ephesians 2:12.

Verse 14

1) "For if we believe" lei gar pisteuomen) "For if we believe or trust," Unlike some Corinth members, the Thessalonian brethren did not doubt the second coming of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:17-18; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:16-21.

2) "That Jesus died and rose again" (hoti lesous apethemen kai aneste) "That Jesus died and rose (up) again"; This is an essential element of the gospel, belief, in which is necessary to ones receiving salvation, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 2:24; Acts 4:10; Acts 10:40.

3) "Even so them also which sleep in Jesus" (houtos kai tous koimethentas dia tou lesou) "Even so those having slept through Jesus or those having come to the sleep of death in Jesus"; It is the bodies of saints that sleep in death, not the soul that sleeps. The souls of redeemed saints will Jesus bring with him to their own resurrection bodies, Matthew 27:51; 1 Corinthians 15:38; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Corinthians 15:57.

4) "Will God bring with him," (ho theos aksei sun auto) "The God will bring with him"; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; Romans 8:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:10 indicate that Jesus will come "to be glorified in his saints", referring to the glorified saints, in their resurrection bodies, and in the Church, his special church saints, the Bride, 2 Corinthians 11:1-2; Ephesians 3:21; Revelation 19:7-9; Matthew 25:6-13.

While the first resurrection had its beginning, (1) when Jesus was raised from the dead, (2) was continued when others (saints) came forth from the graves, and walked in the streets of Jerusalem, and (3) those bodies of saints still in the grave at His coming shall be raised, and (4) we (of the church) who are alive shall be caught up with them, yet 5) the last ones raised shall be just before the Millennial begins, 1 Corinthians 15:23; Matthew 27:52-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Revelation 20:4-5.

Verse 15

1) "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord" (touto gar humin legomen en logon kuriou) "For this we say to you all by a word of the Lord"; by what word or pre-disclosure of the Lord is not clear to scholars. Some suggest it came to Paul through a wisdom, 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

2) "That we which are alive and remain" (hoti hemeis hoi zontes hoi perileipomenoi) "That who are living (and) remaining"; Let it be remembered that in the specific, exact, restricted, and definitive persons addressed Paul was writing to, and concerning, the “ church we", not all the "saved we." See 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

3) "Unto the coming of the Lord" (eis ten parousian tou kuriou) "to the body presence (coming) of the Lord"; The royal, kingly, resurrected, glorified bodily presence of the Lord in his return is here considered, Acts 1:10-11.

4) "Shall not prevent them which are asleep" (ou me phthasomen tous koimethentas) "may by no means precede the ones having slept"; or go up to meet the Lord ahead of or before those formerly redeemed and having passed through death; 1 Corinthians 15:52-57; Philippians 1:20-21.

Verse 16

1) "For the Lord himself" (hoti autos ho kurios) "Because the Lord himself"; not "a lord", but Himself, "The Lord"; the reflexive pronoun is used for strong emphasis of the fact that the same Jesus who went away in clouds shall return as both Savior and Lord, John 14:1-3; Acts 1:10-11.

2) "Shall descend from Heaven" (katobesetai ap ouranou) "will descend from heaven"; a future fact and event of absolute certainty, Hebrews 10:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

3) "With a shout" (en keleusmati) "in a word of command"; as a call to service or to a special occasion, by word of, authority of a Lord or Master, Mark 13:34-37.

4) "With the voice of the archangel" (en phone Archangelou) "with a voice of an archangel" perhaps Michael who stands up for God’s people and property, Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Judges 1:9; Revelation 12:7.

5) "And with the trump of God" (kai en salpingi theou) "and with a trumpet of God", a call to the resurrection and judgment seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 16:27; Luke 14:14.

6) "And the dead in Christ" (kai hoi nekroi en Christou) "and the dead (bodies, of those) in Christ"; already in the graves shall come forth at the trumpet call, Romans 8:11, by the same spirit that raised Jesus. See also Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30.

7) "Shall rise first" (anastesontai proton) "will rise first"; first in order of events to be fulfilled, at the coming of Jesus Christ; 1 Corinthians 15:23.

Verse 17

1) "Then we which are alive and remain" (epeita hemeis hoi zontes hoi perileipomenoi) "Then we,-the ones living, those remaining", of like faith and order, of like kind, followers of the Churches of the Lord, Church members as specifically addressed in this church letter, 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; also 1 Corinthians 15:51.

2) "Shall be caught up together with them in the clouds" (hama sun autois harpagesometha en nephelais) "in close affinity or colleague with them shall be seized or snatched up in clouds"; This is the Blessed Hope of the Church; As our Lord went away blessing them in a restricted, definitive way, He shall come to receive them, his church, in like manner, Acts 1:10; Acts 1:1; Mark 13:34-35; 1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 3:21; 2 Corinthians 11:2.

3) "To meet the Lord in the air" (eis apantesin) "unto a particular meeting", (the judgment seat of Christ and the wedding) (tou kuriou eis aera) "of the Lord in mid-air", above the earth. This is to occur in the air, in the heavens, above the earth, before the Lord comes down to the earth, "with His saints", to put down Armageddon and begin His reign, seems evident, Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:5-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

4) "And so shall we ever be with the Lord" (kai houtos pantote sun kurio esometha) "And thus shall we (the church in particular) be always with the Lord," never separated from Him thereafter. That some believers then living, at His coming, may be left behind, at the Lord’s coming in the air, to be beheaded, tormented for not taking the mark of the beast, seems evident by our Lord’s warnings and declarations; "to them who look for him shall he appear", without sins punishment unto deliverance, Hebrews 9:28. Blessed are the children of light--the church "we and ye" on whom this day must not come unaware, 1 Thessalonians 5:4.

Verse 18

1 ) "Wherefore comfort one another" (hoste parakaleite allelous) "Therefore comfort or console you all one another"; it was to our Lord’s church, in a restricted sense He promised, "I go to prepare a place for you", and "I will come again to receive you to myself", not to the sum total of the world, and to the Galilean brethren He pledged that He would return as He went away, Acts 1:10-11; John 14:1-14.

2) "With these words" (en tois logois toutois) "with these (particular) words", of the resurrection and Second coming of Christ; The second coming of Jesus Christ is the remedy and solution to all the ills and problems of the redeemed and of the Church who look for His coming, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:16.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.