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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

1 Thessalonians 4

Verse 1

1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

Ver. 1. How ye ought to walk ] Every good man is a great peripatetic, walks much. Christ also walks; so doth the devil, apostates, heretics, worldlings; but with this difference: Christ walketh in the middle, Revelation 1:13 ; Revelation 2:1 ; the devil to and fro, up and down, Job 1:7 , his motion is circular, and therefore fraudulent, 1 Peter 5:8 . Apostates run retrograde, they stumble at the cross, and fall backward, Heretics run out on the right hand, worldlings on the left, James 1:14 . Hypocrites turn aside unto their crooked ways,Psalms 125:5; Psalms 125:5 . They follow Christ, as Samson did his parents, till he came by the carcase; or as a dog doth his master, till he meeteth with a carrion. The true Christian only walks so as to please God; his eyes look right on, his eyelids look straight before him, Proverbs 4:25 . He goes not back, with Hezekiah’s sun, nor stands at a stay, as Joshua’s, but rejoiceth as a strong man to run his race, as David’s sun, Psalms 19:5 . Yea, he "shineth more and more unto the perfect day," as Solomon’s, Proverbs 4:18 .

Verse 2

2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

Ver. 2. For ye know what, &c. ] It is expected therefore that ye do them; else the more heinous will be your sin, and the more heavy your reckoning,Isaiah 59:11-12; Isaiah 59:11-12 . What brought such roarings and trouble on them, and that when salvation was looked for? Our iniquities testify to our faces, and we know them.

Verse 3

3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

Ver. 3. For this is the will of God ] This is his prescribing will, which we must obey; as we must submit to his disposing will, the will of his providence, and grow acquainted with his approving will, the will of his gracious acceptance, Matthew 18:14 ; John 1:23 .

Verse 4

4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

Ver. 4. To possess his vessel ] That is, his body, wherein the soul is, Tota in toto, et tota in qualibet parte. If any ask, why so glorious a soul should be in this corruptible body? Besides God’s will, and for the order of the universe, Lombard gives this reason, that by the conjunction of the soul with the body (so far its inferior) man might learn a possibility of the union of man with God in glory, notwithstanding the vast distance of nature and excellence, the infiniteness of both in God, the finiteness of both in man.

In sanctification and honour ] Chastity is a man’s honour; incontinence sets on an indelible blot, Proverbs 6:33 . Castus, quasi καστος , ornatus. Sic αγνος ab αγος , veneratio.

Verse 5

5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

Ver. 5. Not in the lust of concupiscence ] Or, in the disease of lust, that dishonourable disease, Romans 1:26 , that wasteth not only the substance of the body, but the honesty and the honour of it.

Verse 6

6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

Ver. 6. That no man go beyond or defraud ] Or, oppress or cheat. Theft by unjust getting is either επιβολη or επιβουλη , by violence or cunning contrivance. What else is this but crimen stellionatus, criminal lizard, the very sin of deception.

The Lord is the avenger ] Though haply they lie out of the walk of human justice, as not coming under man’s cognizance.

Verse 7

7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

Ver. 7. For God hath not called us ] See Trapp on " Eph 4:1 " It is a sure rule given by the ancients, Confusiones libidinum sunt signa cuius libet sectae. Simon Magus had his Helena, Carpocrates his Marcellina, Apelles his Philumena, Montanus his Priscilla and Maximilla, &c.

Verse 8

8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Ver. 8. He therefore that despiseth ] That thinks it a trick of youth to fornicate, and a trick of wit to over reach or oppress; that holds it a matter of nothing to set light by the former lessons; he shall find that he hath to deal with God and not man in this business; and that it is by the Spirit of God that we have spoken unto him, who will punish their contempt of his counsels.

Verse 9

9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

Ver. 9. Ye need not that I write ] Since the divine nature, whereof ye are partakers, prompteth you to it, as common nature doth brethren to love one another. The very name of a brother is potent enough to draw affections.

Are taught of God ] Therefore have no such need to be taught by men, as those that are yet strangers to the life of God. Quando Christus magister, quam cito discitur quod docetur? saith Augustine. Nescit tarda molimina gratia Spiritus sancti, saith Ambrose. All Christ’s scholars are nimble and notable proficients.

To love one another ] The affections are such things as the Lord only can meddle with; therefore the apostle saith, you "are taught of God to love one another."

Verse 10

10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

Ver. 10. Towards all the brethren ] This universality of their love showed the sincerity of it, and that it was for the truth’s sake, 2 John 1:2 . One or more good men may be favoured of those that love no good man, as Jeremiah was of Nebuzaradan, because he foretold the victory.

Verse 11

11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

Ver. 11. Study to be quiet ] Gr. Be ambitious of peace; as earnest and eager after it, as the ambitionist is after honour; who commonly rides without reins, rides over other men’s heads to compass his desire. The original is, φιλοτιμεισθαι , love the honour to be quiet, or to rest and live in silence and not to be noted or noticed, ut qui vivens moriensque fefellit, affecting rather quietness from the world than any great acquaintance with it.

And to do your own business ] Not oaring in other men’s boats, not meddling in other men’s bishoprics,1 Peter 4:15; 1 Peter 4:15 . Tu fuge ceu pestem, την πολυπραγμοσυνην . Choler in the gall is useful to the body; but if it overflow, the body grows distempered. Let every man keep to his place, and affect to be no meddler, not to suffer as a busy body, Intra pelliculam tuam te contine, keep within your circle; eccentric motions cannot be right.

With your own hands ] Or else with your own brains, as students, which is by far the harder labour.

Verse 12

12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

Ver. 12. Lack of nothing ] He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand, but the hand of the diligent maketh rich, Proverbs 10:4 . Jabal that dwelt in tents and tended herds had Jubal to his brother, the father of music. Jabal and Jubal, industry and plenty, not without sweet content, dwell together.

Verse 13

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

Ver. 13. But I would not have, &c. ] Ignorance is the mother of mistake, and of causeless trouble, of error and terror; as the Roman soldiers were once much frightened at the sight of the moon’s eclipse, till the general had undeceived them by a discourse of the natural cause thereof.

That ye sorrow not ] Non est lugendus qui moritur, sed desiderandus, saith Tertullian. Abraham mourned moderately for his deceased wife, Genesis 23:2 , as is imported by a small caph in the word libcothah, to weep. Hebrew Text Note So did David for the child born in adultery, though for Absalom he exceeded. It is one of the dues of the dead to be lamented at their funerals. a But Christians must know a measure, and so water their plants, as that they drown them not.

Even as others, which have no hope ] Lugeatur mortuus, sed ille quem Gehenna suscipit, quem Tartarus devorat, &c. Let that dead man be lamented whom hell harboureth, whom the devil devoureth, &c. But let us (whose departed souls angels accompany, Christ embosometh, and all the court of heaven comes forth to welcome) account mortality a mercy; and be grieved that we are so long detained here from the company of our Christ, saith Jerome.

a Νομιζομενα . Iusta defunctorum

Verse 14

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Ver. 14. Sleep in Jesus ] Dead in Christ. The union then is not dissolved by death. But as by sleep the body is refreshed, so by death it is refined. Let our care be to cleave close to Christ in the instant of death; so shall he be to us, both in life and death, advantage.

Verse 15

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Ver. 15. By the word of the Lord ] Or, in the word, &c., in the self-same words that the Lord used to me, probably, when I was rapped up,2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:2 ; 2 Corinthians 12:4 , and heard wordless words.

Shall not prevent them ] They shall rise ere we shall be raptured, and as they have been before us in death, so shall they be in glory; now priority is a privilege.

Verse 16

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Ver. 16. With a shout ] Ingenti angelorum iubilo, et acdamatione, saith Aretius. With a huge applause and acclamation of angels, ες κελευσματι , such as is that of mariners, when near the haven- Italiam Italiam laeto clamore salutant With a happy shout, they greet, Italy, Italy, (Virg. Aeneid), or that of soldiers, when to join battle with the enemy.

And with the trump of God ] To require the law, in manner as it was given. Mount Sinai only was then on a flame, but now the whole world, &c. Then God came with ten thousand of his saints; but now thousand thousands shall minister to him, and ten thousand thousands shall stand before him.

Verse 17

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Ver. 17. Then we which are alive ] He speaketh thus of himself as alive at Christ’s coming, because we should daily expect it, and even hasten to it.

Shall be caught up together ] This is that mystery mentioned 1 Corinthians 15:51 , and not till now made known to the world. See Trapp On " 1Co 15:51 "

In the clouds ] As Christ also ascended, Acts 1:9 . These be the wagons and chariots that Christ will send for us, as Joseph sent his father’s family down to Egypt.

And so shall we ever be, &c. ] Oh, blessed hour! oh, thrice happy union! Nothing ever came so near it as the meeting of Jacob and Joseph, or of those two cousins, Mary and Elizabeth, Luke 1:39-45 .

Verse 18

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Ver. 18. Wherefore comfort, &c. ] Scripture comforts come home to the heart, so do not philosophical. Nescio quomodo (saith Cicero of such medicina) morbo est imbecillior. And albeit it is marvellous sweet to meditate (as Mr Knox found it on his deathbed, so that he would have risen and gone into the pulpit to tell others what he had felt in his soul, Melch. Adam. in Vit.), yet there is a special force of strong consolation in Christian communication, which the Lord usually watereth with the dews of divine blessing.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.