1 Thessalonians 4

How You Ought To Walk

The gospel is not just principles, it is power and should be adorned by the way Christians live. The law cannot save, but God writes his law on our hearts as love for him motivates our behavior. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the teaching they received and the instructions they were given concerning godly living. These believers in Thessalonica were saved by faith alone, but it is not a faith that stays alone, and their good works serve to authenticate saving faith. Faith without good works is dead. Paul urges his family in the Lord Jesus to please God more and more by walking well in their faith and growing in their obedience. Jesus commissions his followers to teach disciples to obey all that he commands. 

Your Sanctification

Paul tells the church it is God’s will for them to be sanctified. Sanctification is both a gift and a command. God's people are to abstain from sexual immorality. God calls his people to holiness. Christians are to be self-controlled when it comes to sexuality. Paul addresses adultery with the exhortation not to wrong a brother. Adultery is not only a sin against God but a sin against a fellow human being. Paul explains to the Thessalonians that God avenges sexual sin, especially when someone commits adultery. If one disregards God's command, they disregard God and not man. A Christian who shows contempt for God’s law is showing contempt for God himself, who gives us his Holy Spirit and produces holiness. Therefore, to live in an unholy manner while receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is both insulting and grievous to God. 

Love One Another

Paul addresses the love Christians should have for one another. Paul does not think it necessary to write to the Thessalonians about brotherly love because God taught them and the evidence of their love is evident. Paul cites the way they have shown love to the brothers throughout Macedonia, but he encourages them to continue. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to aspire to live quietly. In a world seeking fame, this wisdom may seem out of step with the culture. Paul encourages the church to mind their own affairs and work with their hands. There is beauty and contentment to be found in simple living. Christians are not to be idle, but to work and be faithful in the everyday duties of life. Christians should work and not be dependent on others for their support. 

Encourage One Another With These Words

The fear of the unknown can produce significant anxiety, and Paul does not want the people of God to be anxious or without hope. He reminds them of truth about Jesus and our union with him so that feelings of despair and hopelessness can be met with the hope of a glorious future. Death cannot separate us from Christ. Death is often referred to as sleep in the scripture and Paul continues that analogy here. Paul assures the Thessalonians that both the living and the dead in Christ will rise and be joined with the Lord. The Lord will command, the voice of the archangel will join, and the trumpet will sound as Christ raises all those that the Father entrusted to him on the last day. Paul writes about our union with Christ on several occasions and calls the believer to the truth that if we live in Christ, we die in Christ and if we die in Christ, we will be raised with Christ. These are words that are to be used to encourage one another especially those that were enduring the persecution associated with the Christians in the early church. There is lots of curiosity, and much speculation is made concerning the time of Christ's return. Paul tells the believers that his coming will be sudden and unexpected, so they are to live with an urgent expectancy concerning his return. We are called to live unto Christ, and if we give ourselves to following Christ and obeying his commands, then we will be ready when he comes for his bride. Unbelievers will be taken completely by surprise by Christ's coming because they are in darkness and cannot see the judgment of God. The return of Christ is a glorious triumph for the believer. We must wake up and walk in the light. We must be vigilant as we watch over our hearts and look for the return of our king. Our lives should be characterized by faith and love as we enjoy the hope of salvation. We are no longer under the wrath of God; instead, we are under grace and have been saved through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, our only hope in life and death is in Jesus Christ and his salvation. These are words that we should use to encourage one another. These words should regularly be spoken and not only at funerals. Let us proclaim the gospel to those in darkness. Let us exhort one another to love and good deeds in this life. Let us remember that Jesus' return is imminent and let us remind ourselves that we belong to Jesus, and that is all the hope we will ever need. 

Things To Consider:

  • How should a Christian approach holy living?
  • How does a desire to please God shape behavior?
  • What are some ways God reveals his will?
  • Why is self-control linked to sexual immorality?
  • What sets sexual sin apart?
  • How can others see our love for one another?
  • How should a Christian view work?
  • How can hope and grief coexist in a believer?
  • Why do we need to be daily reminded of the gospel?
  • Why is it comforting to remember that Jesus is returning?
  • How will his return be different from his incarnation?
  • Why are some reasons that God's judgment is dismissed?
  • How should we live as Christians knowing that Jesus could return today?
  • How can we daily "live" with Christ?
  • Who can you encourage today with this truth?