World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
4. Living to Please God
1Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as ye received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, even as ye do walk, --that ye abound more and more. 2For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; 6that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. 7For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 8Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you. 9But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; 10for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more; 11and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you; 12that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing. 13But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Furthermore. This chapter contains various injunctions, by which he trains up the Thessalonians to a holy life, or confirms them in the exercise of it. They had previously learned what was the rule and method of a pious life: he calls this to their remembrance. As, says he, ye have been taught. Lest, however, he should seem to take away from them what he had previously assigned them, he does not simply exhort them to walk in such a manner, but to abound more and more. When, therefore, he urges them to make progress, he intimates that they are already in the way. The sum is this, that they should be more especially careful to make progress in the doctrine which they had received, and this Paul places in contrast with frivolous and vain pursuits, in which we see that a good part of the world very generally busy themselves, so that profitable and holy meditation as to the due regulation of life scarcely obtains a place, even the most inferior. Paul, accordingly, reminds them in what manner they had been instructed, and bids them aim at this with their whole might. Now, there is a law that is here enjoined upon us — that, forgetting the things that are behind, we always aim at farther progress, (Philippians 3:13) and pastors ought also to make this their endeavor. Now, as to his beseeching, when he might rightfully enjoin — it is a token of humanity and modesty which pastors ought to imitate, that they may, if possible, allure people to kindness, rather than violently compel them. 566566 “Que de les contraindre rudement et d’vne façon violente;” — “Rather than constrain them rudely and in a violent manner.”
3 For this is the will of God. This is doctrine of a general nature, from which, as from a fountain, he immediately deduces special admonitions. When he says that this is the will of God, he means that we have been called by God with this design. “For this end ye are Christians — this the gospel aims at — that ye may sanctify yourselves to God.” The meaning of the term sanctification we have already explained elsewhere in repeated instances — that renouncing the world, and clearing ourselves from the pollutions of the flesh, we offer ourselves to God as if in sacrifice, for nothing can with propriety be offered to Him, but what is pure and holy.
That ye abstain. This is one injunction, which he derives from the fountain of which he had immediately before made mention; for nothing is more opposed to holiness than the defilement of fornication, which pollutes the whole man. On this account he assigns the lust of concupiscence to the Gentiles, who know not God. “Where the knowledge of God reigns, lusts must be subdued.”
By the lust of concupiscence, he means all base lusts of the flesh, but, at the same time, by this manner of expression, he brands with dishonor all desires that allure us to pleasure and carnal delights, as in Romans 13:14, he bids us have no care for the flesh in respect of the lust thereof. For when men give indulgence to their appetites, there are no bounds to lasciviousness. 567567 “Il n’y a mesure ne fin de desbauchement et dissolution;” — “There is no measure or end of debauchery and wantonness.” Hence the only means of maintaining temperance is to bridle all lusts.
As for the expression, that every one of you may know to possess his vessel, some explain it as referring to a wife, 568568 “Au regard du mari;” — “In relation to her husband.” as though it had been said, “Let husbands dwell with their wives in all chastity.” As, however, he addresses husbands and wives indiscriminately, there can be no doubt that he employs the term vessel to mean body. For every one has his body as a house, as it were, in which he dwells. He would, therefore, have us keep our body pure from all uncleanness.
And honor, that is, honorably, for the man that prostitutes his body to fornication, covers it with infamy and disgrace.
6 Let no man oppress. Here we have another exhortation, which flows, like a stream, from the doctrine of sanctification. “God,” says he, “has it in view to sanctify us, that no man may do injury to his brother.” For as to Chrysostom’s connecting this statement with the preceding one, and explaining ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν to mean — neighing after the wives of others, (Jeremiah 5:8) and eagerly desiring them, is too forced an exposition. Paul, accordingly, having adduced one instance of unchastity in respect of lasciviousness and lust, teaches that this also is a department of holiness — that we conduct ourselves righteously and harmlessly towards our neighbors. The former verb refers to violent oppressions — where the man that has more power emboldens himself to inflict injury. The latter includes in it all immoderate and unrighteous desires. As, however, mankind, for the most part, indulge themselves in lust and avarice, he reminds them of what he had formerly taught — that God would be the avenger of all such things. We must observe, however, what he says — we have solemnly testified; 569569 “Nous vous auons testifié et comme adjuré;” — “We have testified to you, and, as it were, adjured.” for such is the sluggishness of mankind, that, unless they are wounded to the quick, they are touched with no apprehension of God’s judgment.
7 For God hath not called us. This appears to be the same sentiment with the preceding one — that the will of God is our sanctification. There is, however, a little difference between them. For after having discoursed as to the correcting of the vices of the flesh, he proves, from the end of our calling, that God desires this. For he sets us apart to himself as his peculiar possession. 570570 “Comme pour son propre heritage et particulier;” — “As for his peculiar and special inheritance.” Again, that God calls us to holiness, he proves by contraries, because he rescues us, and calls us back, from unchastity. From this he concludes, that all that reject this doctrine reject not men, but God, the Author of this calling, which altogether falls to the ground so soon as this principle as to newness of life is overthrown. Now, the reason why he rouses himself so vehemently is, because there are always wanton persons who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule all threatenings of his judgment, and at the same time hold in derision all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such persons must not be taught, but must be beaten with severe reproofs as with the stroke of a hammer.
8 Who hath also given. That he may the more effectually turn away the Thessalonians from such contempt and obstinacy, he reminds them that they had been endowed with the Spirit of God, first, in order that they may distinguish what proceeds from God; secondly, that they make such a difference as is befitting between holiness and impurity; and thirdly, that, with heavenly authority, they may pronounce judgment against all manner of unchastity — such as will fall upon their own heads, unless they keep aloof from contagion. Hence, however wicked men may treat with ridicule all instructions that are given as to a holy life and the fear of God, those that are endowed with the Spirit of God have a very different testimony sealed upon their hearts. We must therefore take heed, lest we should extinguish or obliterate it. At the same time, this may refer to Paul and the other teachers, as though he had said, that it is not from human perception that they condemn unchastity, but they pronounce from the authority of God what has been suggested to them by his Spirit. I am inclined, however, to include both. Some manuscripts have the second person — you, which restricts the gift of the Spirit to the Thessalonians.