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Chapter 4

4:1 Finally [loipon]. Accusative of general reference of [loipos], as for the rest. It does not mean actual conclusion, but merely a colloquial expression pointing towards the end (Milligan) as in 2Co 13:11; 2Ti 4:8. So [to loipon] in 2Th 3:1; Php 3:1; 4:8. We beseech [erōtōmen]. Not “question” as in ancient Greek, but as often in N.T. (1Th 5:12; 2Th 2:1; Php 4:3) and also in papyri to make urgent request of one. How ye ought [to pōs dei humās]. Literally, explanatory articular indirect question [to pōs] after [parelabēte] according to common classic idiom in Luke (Lu 1:62; 22:2,4,23,24) and Paul (Ro 8:26). That ye abound [hina perisseuēte]. Loose construction of the [hina] clause with present subjunctive after two subordinate clauses with [kathōs] (as, even as) to be connected with “beseech and exhort.” More and more [mallon]. Simply more, but added to same idea in [perisseuēte]. See also verse 11.

4:2 What charge [tinas paraggelias]. Plural, charges or precepts, command (Ac 16:24), prohibition (Ac 5:28), right living (1Ti 1:5). Military term in Xenophon and Polybius.

4:3 Your sanctification [ho hagiasmos humōn]. Found only in the Greek Bible and ecclesiastical writers from [hagiazō] and both to take the place of the old words [hagizō, hagismos] with their technical ideas of consecration to a god or goddess that did not include holiness in life. So Paul makes a sharp and pointed stand here for the Christian idea of sanctification as being “the will of God” (apposition) and as further explained by the epexegetic infinitive that ye abstain from fornication [apechesthai humas apo tēs porneias]. Pagan religion did not demand sexual purity of its devotees, the gods and goddesses being grossly immoral. Priestesses were in the temples for the service of the men who came.

4:4 That each one of you know how [eidenai hekaston humōn]. Further epexegetic infinitive (second perfect active), learn how and so know how (learn the habit of purity). To possess himself of his own vessel [to heautou skeuos ktasthai]. Present middle infinitive of [ktaomai], to acquire, not [kektēsthai], to possess. But what does Paul mean by “his own vessel”? It can only mean his own body or his own wife. Objections are raised against either view, but perhaps he means that the man shall acquire his own wife “in sanctification and honour,” words that elevate the wife and make it plain that Paul demands sexual purity on the part of men (married as well as unmarried). There is no double standard here. When the husband comes to the marriage bed, he should come as a chaste man to a chaste wife.

4:5 Not in the passion of lust [mē en pathei epithumias]. Plain picture of the wrong way for the husband to come to marriage. That know not God [ta mē eidota ton theon]. Second perfect participle of [oida]. The heathen knew gods as licentious as they are themselves, but not God. One of the reasons for the revival of paganism in modern life is professedly this very thing that men wish to get rid of the inhibitions against licentiousness by God.

4:6 That no man transgress [to mē huperbainein]. Old verb to go beyond. Final use of [to] (accusative of general reference) and the infinitive (negative [], parallel to [apechesthai] and [eidenai ktasthai] above. And wrong his brother [kai pleonektein ton adelphon autou]. To take more, to overreach, to take advantage of, to defraud. In the matter [en tōi pragmati]. The delicacy of Paul makes him refrain from plainer terms and the context makes it clear enough as in 2Co 7:11 [tōi pragmati]. An avenger [ekdikos]. Regular term in the papyri for legal avenger. Modern men and women need to remember that God is the avenger for sexual wrongs both in this life and the next.

4:7 Not for uncleanness, but in sanctification [epi akatharsiāi all’ en hagiasmōi]. Sharp contrast made still sharper by the two prepositions [epi] (on the basis of) and [en] (in the sphere of). God has “called” us all for a decent sex life consonant with his aims and purposes. It was necessary for Paul to place this lofty ideal before the Thessalonian Christians living in a pagan world. It is equally important now.

4:8 Therefore [toigaroun]. This old triple compound particle [toi, gar, oun] is in the N.T. only here and Heb 12:1. Paul applies the logic of the case. He that rejecteth [ho athetōn]. This late verb (Polybius and LXX) is from [a-thetos] [a] privative and verbal of [tithēmi], to proscribe a thing, to annul it.) But God [alla ton theon]. Paul sees this clearly and modern atheists see it also. In order to justify their licentiousness they do not hesitate to set aside God.

4:9 Concerning love of the brethren [peri tēs philadelphias]. Late word, love of brothers or sisters. In profane Greek (one papyrus example) and LXX the word means love of those actually kin by blood, but in the N.T. it is the kinship in the love of Christ as here. Are taught by God [theodidaktoi este]. Only here and ecclesiastical writers. Passive verbal adjective in [-tos] from [didaskō] as if [theo-] in ablative case like [didaktoi theou] (Joh 6:45). To love one another [eis to agapāin allēlous]. Another example of [eis to] and the infinitive. Only those taught of God keep on loving one another, love neighbours and even enemies as Jesus taught (Mt 5:44). Note the use of [agapaō], not [phileō].

4:10 Ye do it [poieite auto]. The [auto] refers to [to agapāin allēlous] (to love one another). Delicate praise.

4:11 That ye study to be quiet [philotimeisthai hēsuchazein]. First infinitive dependent on [parakaloumen] (verse 10, we exhort you), the second on [philotimeisthai] (old verb from [philotimos], fond of honour, [philos, timē]. The notion of ambition appears in each of the three N.T. examples (1Th 4:11; 2Co 5:9; Ro 5:20), but it is ambition to do good, not evil. The word ambition is Latin (ambitio from ambo, ire), to go on both sides to accomplish one’s aims and often evil). A preacher devoid of ambition lacks power. There was a restless spirit in Thessalonica because of the misapprehension of the second coming. So Paul urges an ambition to be quiet or calm, to lead a quiet life, including silence (Ac 11:18). To do your own business [prassein ta idia]. Present infinitive like the others, to have the habit of attending to their own affairs [ta idia]. This restless meddlesomeness here condemned Paul alludes to again in 2Th 3:11 in plainer terms. It is amazing how much wisdom people have about other people’s affairs and so little interest in their own. To work with your own hands [ergazesthai tais chersin humōn]. Instrumental case [chersin]. Paul gave a new dignity to manual labour by precept and example. There were “pious” idlers in the church in Thessalonica who were promoting trouble. He had commanded them when with them.

4:12 That ye may walk honestly [hina peripatēte euschēmonōs]. Present subjunctive (linear action). Old adverb from [euschēmōn] [eu, schēma], Latin habitus, graceful figure), becomingly, decently. In N.T. only here and Ro 13:13. This idea includes honest financial transactions, but a good deal more. People outside the churches have a right to watch the conduct of professing Christians in business, domestic life, social life, politics.

4:13 We would not have [ou thelomen]. We do not wish. You ignorant [humas agnoein]. Old word, not to know [a] privative, [gno-], root of [ginōskō]. No advantage in ignorance of itself. Concerning them that fall asleep [peri tōn koimōmenōn]. Present passive (or middle) participle (Aleph B) rather than the perfect passive [kekoimēmenōn] of many later MSS. From old [koimaō], to put to sleep. Present tense gives idea of repetition, from time to time fall asleep. Greeks and Romans used this figure of sleep for death as Jesus does (Joh 11:11) and N.T. generally (cf. our word cemetery). Somehow the Thessalonians had a false notion about the dead in relation to the second coming. Even as the rest which have no hope [kathōs hoi loipoi hoi mē echontes elpida]. This picture of the hopelessness of the pagan world about the future life is amply illustrated in ancient writings and particularly by inscriptions on tombs (Milligan). Some few pagans clung to this hope, but most had none.

4:14 For if we believe [ei gar pisteuomen]. Condition of first class, assuming the death and resurrection of Jesus to be true. In Jesus [dia tou Iēsou]. Literally, through or by means of Jesus. It is amphibolous in position and can be taken either with [tous koimēthentas] (that are fallen asleep in or through Jesus) like [hoi koimēthentes en Christōi] in 1Co 15:18 and probably correct or with [axei] (through Jesus with God). With him [sun autōi]. Together with Jesus. Jesus is the connecting link [dia] for those that sleep [koimēthentas] first aorist passive, but with middle sense) and their resurrection.

4:15 By the word of the Lord [en logōi Kuriou]. We do not know to what word of the Lord Jesus Paul refers, probably Paul meaning only the point in the teaching of Christ rather than a quotation. He may be claiming a direct revelation on this important matter as about the Lord’s Supper in 1Co 11:23. Jesus may have spoken on this subject though it has not been preserved to us (cf. Mr 9:1). Ye that are alive [hēmeis hoi zōntes]. Paul here includes himself, but this by no means shows that Paul knew that he would be alive at the Parousia of Christ. He was alive, not dead, when he wrote. Shall in no wise precede [ou mē phthasōmen]. Second aorist active subjunctive of [phthanō], to come before, to anticipate. This strong negative with [ou mē] (double negative) and the subjunctive is the regular idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 929). Hence there was no ground for uneasiness about the dead in Christ.

4:16 With a shout [en keleusmati]. Note this so-called instrumental use of [en]. Old word, here only in N.T., from [keleuō], to order, command (military command). Christ will come as Conqueror. With the voice of the archangel [en phōnēi archaggelou]. Further explanation of [keleusmati] (command). The only archangel mentioned in N.T. is Michael in Jude 1:9. But note absence of article with both [phōnēi] and [archaggelou]. The reference may be thus indefinite. With the trump of God [en salpiggi theou]. Trumpet. See same figure in 1Co 15:52. The dead in Christ shall rise first [hoi nekroi en Christōi anastēsontai prōton]. First here refers plainly to the fact that, so far from the dead in Christ having no share in the Parousia, they will rise before those still alive are changed.

4:17 Then [epeita]. The next step, not the identical time [tote], but immediately afterwards. Together with them [hama sun autois]. Note both [hama] (at the same time) and [sun] (together with) with the associative instrumental case [autois] (the risen saints). Shall be caught up [harpagēsometha]. Second future passive indicative of [harpazō], old verb to seize, to carry off like Latin rapio. To meet the Lord in the air [eis apantēsin tou Kuriou eis aera]. This special Greek idiom is common in the LXX like the Hebrew, but Polybius has it also and it occurs in the papyri (Moulton, Proleg., p. 14, n. 3). This rapture of the saints (both risen and changed) is a glorious climax to Paul’s argument of consolation. And so [kai houtōs]. This is the outcome, to be forever with the Lord, whether with a return to earth or with an immediate departure for heaven Paul does not say. To be with Christ is the chief hope of Paul’s life (1Th 5:10; Php 1:23; Col 3:4; 2Co 5:8).

4:18 With these words [en tois logois toutois]. In these words. They were a comfort to the Thessalonians as they still comfort the people of God.

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