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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 Thessalonians 4

Verses 1-12

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 . Practical Exhortations to Purity of Life and Brotherly Love.— The Church at Thessalonica has begun well and is encouraged to go forward.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 . abound: 1 Thessalonians 3:12 *.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 . abstain, etc.: the inculcation of such an elementary principle of conduct seems strange, but we need to remember that certain heathen cults regarded immorality as part of the ritual of worship, and religion and immorality were to them almost convertible terms. This consecration of vice in paganism made it absolutely necessary for Paul to insist upon moral purity.

1 Thessalonians 4:4 . his own vessel: either ( a) his own wife, or ( b) his own body. In view of the fact that in 1 Peter 3:7 the term “ weaker vessel” is definitely applied to the wife and that there is no example of its application to the body, most commentators adopt the former interpretation. The verse enjoins fidelity to the marriage vow.

1 Thessalonians 4:6 . no man trespass: the words might be translated as in AV, “ that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter,” but the context shows that RV is to be preferred. AV intrudes a new line of thought, i.e. fair dealing in business, which is irrelevant to the context.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 . love of the brethren: the affection of Christians for each other. The term “ brother” in NT is used to describe the relationship between Christians (Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, i. 405 f.).

1 Thessalonians 4:11 . study to be quiet: the word “ study” in the original means, “ to be ambitious.” It is used also in Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9, “ Make it your ambition to pursue your ordinary avocations with a quiet mind.”

Verses 13-18

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 . The Condition of the Dead.— This paragraph is written to allay a misgiving which had arisen among the Thessalonian Christians that certain of their friends who had died would be deprived of their share in the glory of the promised Parousia. Paul dispels the doubt by asserting that the dead would be raised at the Parousia, and so would be at no disadvantage compared with the living. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:5 *.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 . no hope: the hopelessness of the ancient world in the presence of death is indicated by the characteristic inscription on the graves in pagan cemeteries, “ Farewell.”— asleep in Jesus: the original reads, “ through Jesus,” and we must either translate “ those who have been put to sleep by Jesus,” or connect the phrase with the following clause: “ Those who have been put to sleep will God through Jesus bring with him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15 . by the word of the Lord: either ( a) some statement made by Jesus which was familiar to Paul but has now been lost; or ( b) some inward and spiritual teaching, which Paul claims to have received from the Risen Christ.— we that are alive: Paul obviously at the time expected to live to see the Parousia. This expectation gradually diminished ( cf. Php_1:23 ).— in no wise precede: will have no precedence or advantage over.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 . with a shout: i.e. of command. The word is often used of the order issued by a boatswain to his crew.— archangel: the word occurs in NT again only in Jude 1:9.— trump: trumpet ( cf. Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52). The object of the shout and the trumpet is to raise the dead.

The conception of the resurrection in this passage is coloured throughout by Paul’ s belief in the nearness of the Parousia. Death is followed by a sleep till the return of Christ. Paul afterwards outgrew this position, for in 2 Corinthians 5:8 he says that “ to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” We must remember, therefore, that this passage contains Paul’ s earlier and cruder view, and must not regard it as the final statement of his position.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.