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Exhortation to a Godly Life
Summary —Continence Commanded. Brotherly Love Required. Each Should Quietly Follow His Own Business. Not to Sorrow Without Hope for the Dead. They, as well as the Living Saints, shall Meet the Lord at His Coming.
1, 2. Furthermore then. In all Paul's letters to Gentile churches there is a closing exhortation to purity of life and against such sins as Gentiles especially needed to guard against. These exhortations to the Thessalonians begin with the fourth chapter. How ye ought to walk. He reminds them that he had instructed them how to live to please God. 2. What commandments. What commands had been given as coming from the Lord Jesus.
3–8. This is the will of God. What he had taught them was the will of God and needful to their sanctification, or holiness of life. That ye abstain from fornication. The student of the Epistles will note how often this command is repeated to Gentile churches, a fact easily explained when we remember that fornication was considered no sin among the heathen. 4. That every one of you should … possess his vessel. Should restrain his bodily desires, and make even his appetites holy. 5. Even as the Gentiles which know not God. Even the greatest of heathen moralists, 246Socrates, instructed a harlot how she should conduct her shameful business. The heathen moralists condemned unchastity only in the case of a child-bearing wife, as it would wrong her husband not to know the paternity of her children. 6. That no man go beyond. Beyond the bounds of purity, so as to wrong his brother. In our age, to assail the purity of wife or daughter is counted as a fearful crime against the family. The Lord is the avenger. He will punish the adulterer, or libertine. 7. Unto holiness. The Christian calling demands purity of life. 8. He that despiseth. Who considers not the rights and welfare of his fellow-beings, and invades the purity of the home, let him know that it is God he despises, not man. God has required of him holiness instead of uncleanness. Giveth his Holy Spirit. The temple of the Holy Spirit must be holy. To defile it, that is ourselves, is to insult God.
9–12. As touching brotherly love. This subject springs out of verse 6. Taught of God. The whole gospel teaches you to love one another. When you are born of God, you are his children and all brethren. As Christ loved the brethren, so must you if you follow him. 10. And indeed ye do. Their conduct showed their brotherly love. 11. Study to be quiet. The Greeks were naturally a restless people, often given to intermeddling in the business of other people. Work with your own hands. A Christian must not be an idler. A “loafer” cannot show forth the life of Christ. We gather, elsewhere, that some brethren at Thessalonica thought the time so short until the Lord would come that work was unnecessary. 12. That ye may walk honestly. Becomingly in the sight of those without. It would be a reproach if the heathen could say, “This new religion makes men idle and brings them to beggary.” Lack of nothing. The necessaries supplied by labor are especially meant.
13–18. But we would not have you ignorant. It seems that the Thessalonian brethren, expecting the speedy coming of the Lord, mourned over some of their number who had died, counting it a great loss that they did not live to meet Jesus. Them which are asleep. What we call death is only falling asleep in the arms of our Lord. 14. If we believe, etc. If we believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, we must believe also that all who sleep in him will be raised with him. 15. For this we say. 247He now explains how it will be at the Lord's coming. We which are alive. We who are on the earth when the Lord comes, will not precede those who died in the Lord to meet him. 16. For the Lord himself. They seemed to have thought that the living saints would hurry to meet the Lord, and that the dead would be powerless to follow. On the contrary, Christ comes to them. He will descend. With a shout. The voice of an archangel. The voice of command. With the trump of God. The trumpet blast as a signal and a summons. The dead in Christ shall rise first. Before the living are gathered, all the saints who slept in Christ shall be gathered around him. In the final day, the first act is the gathering of the departed saints; the next, the gathering of the living saints. 17. Then we, etc. All the church, the saints of past ages, and the saints of the last age, shall ascend together to meet the Lord. So shall we ever be with the Lord. That glorious meeting shall never end. 18. Wherefore, comfort one another. Cheer each other with these assurances. Tell the mourning ones that when they are called to meet the Lord they will find their own sleeping ones in the glorious company. 247
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