1 Thessalonians 4:1–12 comment (0)
January 1, 2009
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL IN LIFE?
1 Thessalonians 4:1–12
Pleasing God: Principle (1–2)
Paul continued to exhort the Thessalonians. His goal here was for the Thessalonians to remain obedient to the commands he taught them. In stating “through the Lord Jesus,” Paul was affirming that his words have the authority of Jesus behind them. Furthermore Paul’s encouragement is for us as well since we need to be striving to please God with all of our behavior.
Pleasing God: Purity (3–8)
Paul then went into some detail regarding God’s will. God’s will is for us to be sanctified — that is to be holy. Being holy is something for which we are always to strive since God is holy. Being perfectly holy is something we will never achieve in this life, but we should be seeking to always be more and more holy as God’s representatives here on earth. Furthermore God’s will is not reserved for monumental decisions in our lives such as what job to have, what person to marry and so forth. Surely those are important decisions that require our prayer and obedience, but we need to be seeking God’s will in everything. The Bible tells us God’s will and, in this instance, Paul gives us some of the ways we can follow God’s will.
First among these is to abstain from sexual immorality. Much like society today, the Greek culture had sexual norms that were not acceptable for believers to practice. Just because society says it is OK to have sex outside of marriage does not mean it is acceptable for Christians. God’s Word says to avoid sexual immorality, and that is the final word on the matter regardless of what society says. When Paul mentioned possession of one’s own vessel, he could be referring to one’s spouse or one’s own body. Either way, purity in living was his concern. The penalty for disobedience to this command is that the Lord will avenge. This is not an indication that the violator will lose his or her salvation, but rather that he or she will face the consequences of sinful living. All sins are equal in that they are disobedience to God, but some sins have greater consequences than others.
Pleasing God: Love (9–10a)
Paul commented on how he did not need to instruct the believers at Thessalonica in how to love one another. The Christians in that city excelled at demonstrating brotherly love. Paul commented that they had been taught by God how to love in a godly way. The word for love here differs from the previous word. The previous word is the same one used in the word “philadelphia” (brotherly love). This latter word is agape, a word that means godly love. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to teach, and this is what happened at Thessalonica. The Christians in that city excelled at loving not only each other in Christian brotherly love but also all of the brothers in the area. It is important for us to remember that one of the hallmarks of Christianity is love for one another. This does not mean only loving those that attend our own local church, but our love needs to extend to the brothers everywhere in every culture. One way we demonstrate this love is by supporting our brothers in need. Missions are not something we should only be thinking about during the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Supporting missionaries is something we can always do, both financially and in prayer.
Pleasing God: Lifestyle (10b–12)
Paul began this portion by encouraging believers to continue to love each other. This is a sign to the world that Christians are different, because we are concerned with the ways of God, not man. The lifestyle Paul was describing here is one that commends the gospel to others. Paul wants us to be hardworking, honest and upright.
In this way, the world can see the difference in Christians. We need to strive to live in a way that is different from the world. Our goal as believers is to please God and glorify Him. Simply saying we love God yet living in a selfish way not concerned with others and arguing with fellow believers makes us into poor ambassadors for God and the gospel and will hinder our witness to others.