1 Thessalonians 4

The resurrection and other topics
Text Comments
.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.
 2  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
 3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
.4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
 5  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
 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.
 7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
 8  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
  1 - To walk and to please God That is, to walk (behave) in a way pleasing to God 1th0212.
  2 - Commandments That is, charges or commands.
  3 - Sanctification This is a continual work of grace ro1201f as we are completely committed to Christ who died so that we might follow His path of holiness ep0525ff.
  3 - Fornication Greek porneia. In Corinth, Aphrodite was goddess of love and generation. Worshipping her was accompanied by wild sexual perversions. The advice is no less important for us today where TV and every Internet search engine seems to major in sex. We need to pray for ourselves and our children and, by God's grace, to stoutly avoid compromise! 
   4 - Possess his vessel in sanctification The verse has been interpreted in various ways including seeing the vessel as "wife." It's true that "brethren" are addressed v1, but he expects the women to be listening, too. I wonder if Paul doesn't simply mean "body" or "soul." See 2ti0219ff.
.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.
 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;
.11  And that ye study [aspire] to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

  9 - Brotherly love ro1210, 1jo0314.
  10 - Increase The work of sanctification v4. As we practice love, not waiting for others to be nice to us, God's love is perfected in us. 1jo0412, 1jo0420f.
  11 - Quiet To live calmly avoiding fanaticism 2th0311f.
Image © Justinen Creative Group
.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.
.14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring [or "lead"] with him.
.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 [go before] them which are asleep.
.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:
.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.
 18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Click to see "rapture" clarified by comparison with Matthew.
See a summary of texts on the two resurrections at ac2415.
   13 - Asleep The dead are described as sleeping See jn1111 and ac1336.
   14 - So them also In other words, the sleeping ones will follow the pattern of Jesus' experience. He died, slept in the tomb, arose, and went to God, the Father. In the same pattern, God will bring with Jesus those who are sleeping in Him just as He brought Jesus himself after His resurrection. We see in the next verses how that will be.
   15 - We who are alive ... will not [precede] Paul counted himself among those who would be living at the time Christ returns. He says, We will not go to heaven before the sleeping ones, he1132. This would allow the dead to go first, but look at the next verse.
   15 - Coming Greek parousia. Rapture believers lean on this verse as support. But notice how Paul uses parousia in 3:13 1th0313, and how Matthew uses it in a "pretribulation" context mt2427 and 39.
   16 - Descend with a shout ... archangel Some, do not believe that Christ could be the archangel (that is: chief angel or chief of the angels). They try to separate the voice from the shout, but it's correct to see the voice as that of the Lord. Only the voice of Christ can bring the dead to life jn0528, jn0640, re1207a. In jn1143 He cried with a voice.
   16 - Trump of God Noted in 1co1552 as the "last trumpet."
   16 - Dead in Christ rise first Before we are taken up to meet Christ in the air, the dead will rise. Notice that these are those who died "in Christ." The dead who were not faithful to Him (not "in Christ") will stay dead till the end of the thousand years.
   17 - Together with them So the resurrected ones don't go first. Neither do those living at that time. All go together.
   17 - Meet the Lord in the air Notice, we aren't raptured to heaven re0107bas, and Jesus doesn't come down to earth. We meet in the air re1416. Then God brings the resurrected ones, with Jesus, to heaven v14.
How to misunderstand the promise of meeting our Lord in the air
Error 1:  Those who die are whisked off to heaven where they meet the Lord. They do not meet Him in the air when He comes to get them. They do not wait for the living to be taken to heaven with them at the sounding of the last trumpet.
Error 2:  The righteous living in the end-time are quietly raptured. As in the error of those who have died, they do not wait for the time when Jesus returns to take them to the Father's house (John 14:1-3). They do not wait for the resurrection of the dead at the time of the last trumpet. They, too, are thought to meet the Lord in heaven, not in the air.
Error 3:  Reincarnation teaches that we do not need God to save us, that our behavior in one life determines our destiny in the next. Also see Error 4 below.
Error 4:  There is no life after death. This appeals to intellectual people who forget that they cannot explain how we got here in the first place. Even the theory of evolution cannot explain the origin of the matter or energy it describes as the building blocks of life. This is a mystery for reincarnation, too. Where did the circle of life come from?
Rapture comparison, Matt. / Thess.
Thessalonians home
Commentary home