2447.) 1 Thessalonians 4

“And the dead in Christ (including my parents) will rise first.” v. 16

1 Thessalonians 4 (ESV)

A Life Pleasing to God

1Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification:

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

1 Thessalonians 4:3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification (Greek hagiasmos, holiness)

Way’s translation:  God’s purpose, in fact, is this, that yours be a consecrated life.

It is the common things in life — not, as we sometimes think, the exceptional things — that offer us greatest opportunity to live a consecrated life. Zechariah foresaw the day when our dear Lord is satisfied in His people and rejoices over them, and he said:  In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 14:20-21).

The great thing is to live in the spirit of “holiness unto the Lord” in all our common things. Is all holy in my heart? Is all that issues forth in words and deeds stamped with the hallmark of holiness?

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. Lead me, even me, in the way of holiness, that my life today may truly be a consecrated life.

that you abstain from sexual immorality;

We live differently than the world when we abstain from sexual immorality. The ancient Greek word translated sexual immorality (porneia) is a broad word, referring to any sexual relationship outside of the marriage covenant.

The older King James Version translates sexual immorality as fornication. “Fornication is used here in its comprehensive meaning to denote every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.” (Hiebert)

The broad nature of the word porneia shows that it isn’t enough to just say that you have not had sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. All sexual behavior outside of the marriage covenant is sin.

God grants great sexual liberty in the marriage relationship (Hebrews 13:4). But Satan’s not-very-subtle strategy is often to do all he can to encourage sex outside of marriage and to discourage sex in marriage.

–David Guzik

4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

A marked feature of life in the first century Roman Empire, and more particularly in Greece, was the tendency to sexual license. The ancient writer Demosthenes expressed the generally amoral view of sex in the ancient Roman Empire: “We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body; we keep wives for the faithful guardianship of our homes.”

6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Romans 14:17 (Good News Translation)

For God’s Kingdom is . . . the righteousness, peace, and joy which the Holy Spirit gives.

9Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia.  But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,

“To dwell above with saints I love,
To me that will be glory.
To dwell below with saints I know . . .
Well, that’s another story!”

11and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

The Coming of the Lord

President Eisenhower was asked, “How do you like growing old?” He replied, “I prefer it to the alternative.” But the alternative did catch up with him. And it is going to catch up with each of us unless the Lord returns first. Both the Scripture and the experience of man document the fact that “it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Since this is true, every intelligent person should be vitally interested in the question, “What about the future of the dead?” In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:11 Paul addresses himself to answering this for us.

–Harold L. Fickett, Jr.

 13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Dr. Alexander MacLaren, the famous Bible expositor, points out that sleep has two connotations in the Scripture. First, it has the connotation of rest, and second, the connotation of a glorious awakening. Early Christians began to call their burial places “cemeteries,” which means, “dormitories” or “sleeping places.” Significantly, while Paul describes the Christian dead as sleeping, he nowhere uses that expression of Christ. On the contrary, Jesus is always said to have died. The stark truth of that statement puts the miracle of the resurrection into perspective:  only because Christ has died can we “sleep.”
 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.

I love how J.B. Phillips translates this verse:

One word of command, one shout from the archangel, one blast from the trumpet of God and the Lord himself will come down from Heaven!

And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Queen Victoria’s chaplain preached a moving sermon about Jesus’ second coming. He noticed tears in her eyes. She said to him, “I was thrilled by your message. But I was weeping because I feared I might not live until my Lord comes.”

The chaplain comforted her with the promise of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When he finished, she explained, “I want to live until He comes in order that I may take the crown of England from my head and place it at his feet, for He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords.”

–quoted in Growing Into your Crown, by Randall Earl Denny



HERE  is “One day He’s coming — O Glorious Day!”  Updated by Casting Crowns.  I learned the chorus to this hymn when I was a child and I cannot tell you how many times I have sung it to myself, with much joy and thanksgiving, through the years!


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
consecration.   https://revonwheels.wordpress.com/category/consecration/
Why bother with sexual purity.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/sexual-purity.jpg
righteousness, peace, joy.   http://www.12accede.org/accede_right-peace-joy_2.gif
1 Thessalonians 4:16.    http://www.gracemedia.co.za/downloads/back011.jpg
Queen Victoria.  http://blog.londonconnection.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/425px-Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano.jpg

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