The Life that Pleases God: 4:1-5.
People often wonder what God’s will for their lives. The Bible clearly reveals them. God does all things according to His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus and His will is that we should be holy (4:3; Eph 3:11). Paul refers to the Thessalonians that they are saints of God (3:13). So he urges them to live as saints in this chapter. It is vital to know our identity in Christ to live a life that pleases God. Thessalonians are already living a Christian life. Paul wants them to live a life that pleases God more and more continuously. Paul already instructed them the importance of it while he was with them. Now he gives specific instructions about it (4:3-8). God wants them to live a pure and holy life. God wants us to abstain from sexual immorality. We should not seek cheap substitutes for sexual purity. The only sexual relationship God blesses is that of a man and woman committed to each other in marriage. Premarital and extramarital sexual relationships are not the will of God. Adultery will bring irreparable damage to marriage and children. It will destroy the reputation of church and the cause of Christ. Adultery is a sin against God. Thessalonians came out of a corrupt culture and they were in need of clear instructions in this area. Paul compares our body to a vessel of clay set apart for God’s use (2 Tim 2:20-21). The believers should control their bodies in holiness and honor. They are chosen to be holy and without blame before Him in love (Eph 1:4). The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are given for our sanctification (2 Thess 2:13; John 17:17). They are commanded to flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18). The believers are disciplined to become partakers of God’s holiness (Heb 12:10). The more we are controlled by the Holy Spirit, the less likely we will be given to sexual temptations (Rom 13:14; 2 Cor10:5; Gal 5:1). Ask God to give a desire to live a holy life.
Continue in Brotherly Love: 4:6-12.
Knowing God’s will gives meaning and purpose to life. Christians should not cheat a brother by committing adultery with his wife (Ex 20:17). God will judge them for such sin. For God has called us to be holy and not to live in impurity (4:7). To be holy means to be different and pure in God’s sight. Anyone refuses to live such life does not reject human rules but despises God, who gave us His Spirit. Paul is reminding the Thessalonians about the importance of brotherly love (4:9). They were already told that they should love one another. The emphasis here is our love and care for other believers (2 Pet 1:7). There is no love like the love of a dying Savior. We love God because He first loved us and given us His Spirit to love others (Rom 5:5). Christ demonstrated and commanded us to love one another (John 13:34). The mark of discipleship is love (John 13:35). Love is the bond of perfection that brings perfect harmony (Col 3:14). True love never keeps records of wrong doings (1 Cor 13:5). Paul urges believers to grow in their love more and more. We should live a quiet life, minding our own business. Paul wants them to strive to be the best workers and live properly before outsiders. Do not draw attention to yourself by your laziness but being diligent in all that you are doing. We can’t expect others to take our message seriously if they don’t see we are diligent and faithful in what we are doing. Such lifestyle will be our greatest sermon. The motivating reason for such life is God’s gracious calling and His great love for us (4:7; 2 Cor 5:14). Pray that God’s grace that saves, restrains and restores us creates in us a desire to please God and share His love with others.
The Comfort of Christ’s Return: 4:13-15.
Paul had given considerable emphasis to the second coming of Christ in his letters. In this passage Paul gives the explanation and implication of Christ’s return. He wanted to comfort the Thessalonians with these words of hope. Some of them quit working to wait for Jesus to return. They were concerned about the welfare of their departed fellow believers. They wondered what happens to them. Paul does not want his readers to be uninformed about those who are asleep (4:13). The word “Sleep” is often used in the New Testament as a metaphor for death (John 11:11; Mat 9:24; 27:52). Though we all sorrow about our departed ones, we don’t sorrow like people who have no hope. The word “Hope” refers to certain expectation in the Bible rather than wishful thinking. Our hope is rooted in Christ’s bodily resurrection and his return(John 11:25). Christ is first-fruits of resurrection and those who belongs to him (15:23). The hope of resurrection is the fundamental doctrine. If Christ is not risen, our faith is useless and we are still in our sin
(1 Cor 15:14-19).
Are we Ready to Meet the Lord? 4:16-18.
Paul gives details of what will come to pass when Christ returns. Those who are alive will not meet Christ ahead of those who are in the grave (4:15). The living saints have no advantage over the dead at the coming of Christ. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. So we will always be with the Lord (4:16-17). The resurrection of the dead occurs before rapture. It is from the word “caught up” in the Latin translation we get the word “rapture”. It means to snatch away by force. Christ himself will come down from heaven. It will be the fulfillment of prophecies (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; Phil 3:20-21). We will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). Christ destroyed Satan’s power by His death and resurrection (Heb 2:14). Nobody can stop our Lord from returning to receive his own. Christ is coming with a commanding shout. This is the shout of authority and power over sin and death (John 11:43). Christ is coming with the voice of an archangel. Michael the archangel contented with devil when he argued about Moses’ body (Jude 1:9). The voice of the archangel will silence all Satan’s accusations. He is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). Christ is also coming with the sound of the trumpet of God. In the Old Testament trumpets were sounded to gather Israel (Numbers 10:1-3). What a glorious day when believers will meet their Lord in the air to be with him forever! Paul points out that the Thessalonians should comfort and encourage one another with the blessed hope that they will be reunited with Christ and their departed ones at Christ’s coming (4:18). This is Christian’s comforting, blessed, purifying and challenging hope (Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:1-3; 2:28; 1 Cor 15:58). Do you have this hope in Christ?