15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Thessalonians 4

Verses 1-12

A holy walk pleases God

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in their daily walk and conduct to seek to please the Lord. Particularly, he urges sexual purity, brotherly love, peaceful living and self-supporting labor!

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3 . Paul does not threaten, badger, and condemn these brethren in his plea for godliness and holiness of life; but he uses words like, ‘I beg of you,’ I request and admonish you to do these things. He gives four reasons for holy living:

1. ‘By the Lord Jesus.’ By virtue of your union with Jesus Christ. We are not our own, but we are bought with a price. We belong to Christ, and by his mercy we are one with Christ. We are children of God; therefore, we ought to walk as he walked.

2. ‘You have received of us how ye ought to walk.’ The inspired apostles have given us the scriptures, which are perfectly clear on the matter of our conduct and conversation.

3. ‘To please God.’ Our motive and objective is not to please and gratify ourselves nor men, but to please God: to glorify him and to do his will. ‘Lord, what would you have me do?’

4. ‘This is the will of God.’ That you be consecrated, separated, and set apart from the world, that you grow in grace in the knowledge of Christ, and that you ‘abound more and more’ (that you attain greater spiritual maturity).

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 . ‘That you abstain from fornication.’ From all sexual impurity! Fornication is especially mentioned because this sin was common among the Gentiles and not considered to be sin by them. Most translations render it, ‘that you abstain from all sexual vice’ and immorality such as adultery, incest, homosexuality, and the like.

‘That every one of you know how to control and manage his own body in purity and consecration.’ Many writers say the words, ‘his vessel,’ mean his wife (1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5).

One's body is not to be given over to the gratification or passions and cravings as the heathen who know not God.

1 Thessalonians 4:6 . This verse is commonly understood as against defrauding and cheating others in business, trade, and measures against taking advantage of the weak and ignorant (and can be thus used, for such conduct is not of God). But the subject here is not business nor trade: it is sexual purity. We believers are exhorted to treat one another's marriages and mates as we want others to deal with us. Do not covet or desire another's mate, thereby defrauding him.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 . God has not called us to take part in any of the unholy practices related above; but our calling is to holiness in thought, looks, words, and in action.

1 Thessalonians 4:8 . Therefore whosoever disregards, sets aside, and rejects these principles and words is not disregarding and rejecting the words and will of a mere man but is in reality rejecting and disregarding the very will of God himself. We know this, for God has given us his Holy Spirit to convince us of sin and righteousness. His Spirit in us clearly convinces us of his will in these matters and we need no other argument.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 . Now concerning your love for one another: you have no need for anyone to write to you and encourage you to love one another, for you have been personally taught of God to love one another (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-12). Let this love increase more and more!

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 . ‘Study to be quiet.’ Make it your ambition and goal to live peaceably in your homes, church, and business (to cause no disturbance and turmoil by tale-bearing, gossiping, and unkind words or accusations).

‘Do your own business.’ Mind your own affairs. Do not concern yourself with the business and private lives of others except when you are asked to do so. Take care of YOUR OWN CALLING and ministry; use your gifts as God enables you and pray for others to be used in theirs.

‘Work with your own hands.’ There were some who would not work at all but expected to live off the charity of others (2 Thessalonians 3:10-13).

‘Walk honestly and honorably before people outside the church,’ so as to have their respect. Be self-supporting, do not depend on those who are without Christ to support the church of the Lord Jesus or the family of God.

Verses 13-18

The believer's comfort regarding death

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The apostle comforts the Thessalonians who grieve because the death of their friends and relatives who died in the faith of Christ. His design is to persuade them from excessive sorrow and grief (which are unbecoming for a believer), to assure them of the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of all believers and to comfort them with these words of promise and instruction.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 . There are many things about death, life after death and eternity of which we will remain ignorant until it comes to our time to die. But there are some things concerning those who die in the Lord of which we need not, and ought not, to be ignorant. If these things are really understood and considered, our sorrows and grief will be reduced.

Sorrow and grief are not unlawful, but natural. We weep for ourselves when we are deprived of their presence, and we weep for our temporary loss, though it be their eternal gain, but our sorrow is not like that of the unbeliever who has no hope of eternal life, or of seeing these loved ones again. They have every reason to be totally grief-stricken, but we do not, for death is only a temporary separation for us.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 . 'We believe that our Lord died and rose again.' Every believer knows this to be true. This is fundamental to our faith (1 Corinthians 15:12-22).

Therefore, those who have died in the faith of Christ will be raised also. They were chosen in Christ, crucified with Christ, raised and seated with him in the heavenlies. Having left this world, they are with him in paradise and will return with him when he comes again. The believer cannot be separated from Christ (John 17:23-24). What sort of body or dwelling they have now, we do not know (2 Corinthians 5:1-4); but we know that when our bodies are raised, we shall be like Christ (1 John 3:1-2; Luke 24:36-43).

1 Thessalonians 4:15 . ‘We declare unto you by the word of the Lord,’

1. That Christ shall return to this earth (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11).

2. That we who are still alive on earth when Christ comes shall not precede or go before those who are dead. The dead will rise and the living will be changed and we shall all go together into the enjoyment of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).

1 Thessalonians 4:16 . ‘The Lord himself.’ Not an angel, a messenger or a representative.

‘Shall descend from heaven.’ He was on our earth and into heaven after his resurrection. When all things are accomplished, he will descend from heaven into our air.

‘With a shout.’ It will not be a private, unknown, secret but will be with the shout of a Conqueror, a King, and every eye shall see him.

‘The voice of the archangel.’ Perhaps one great angel will notice of his return, but he will be accompanied by many (Jude 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

‘With the trump of God.’ This will awaken all who sleep and summon the world to appear before him (1 Corinthians 15:52).

‘The dead in Christ will rise first' - before we who are changed and before the unsaved dead are raised (Revelation 20:5-6).

1 Thessalonians 4:17 . The dead will rise and the living will be changed into of Christ and we shall go up to meet the Lord in the air. At this time it is indicated that he does not descend to earth. The earth is not fit to receive him, for it must be purged with fire, and there will be a new earth upon which he descend and dwell with his saints. He will take us to glory until the general conflagration and destruction of the is over. But whatever (by the purpose and decree of God takes place, we shall forever be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:18 . ‘Comfort one another with these words!’

1. When believers die, they do not cease to be, but they are asleep in Christ.

2. These who sleep in him will return for their bodies when he comes.

3. He will come with great power and glory and we shall, with those who are raised, meet him in the air.

4. We shall for ever be with the Lord. This is our comfort, hope and our expectation.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.