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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.
15 For this we say unto you. He now briefly explains the manner in which believers will be raised up from death. Now, as he speaks of a thing that is very great, and is incredible to the human mind, and also promises what is above the power and choice of men, he premises that he does not bring forward anything that is his own, or that proceeds from men, but that the Lord is the Author of it. It is probable, however, that the word of the Lord means what was taken from his discourses. 579579 “Prins des sermons de Christ;” — “Taken from the sermons of Christ.” For though Paul had learned by revelation all the secrets of the heavenly kingdom, it was, nevertheless, more fitted to establish in the minds of believers the belief of a resurrection, when he related those things that had been uttered by Christ’s own mouth. “We are not the first witnesses of the resurrection, but instead of this the Master himself declared it.” 580580 “L’a affermee et testifiee assureement par ses propos;” — “Has affirmed and testified it with certainty in his discourses.”
We who live. This has been said by him with this view — that they might not think that those only would be partakers of the resurrection who would be alive at the time of Christ’s coming, and that those would have no part in it who had been previously taken away by death. “The order of the resurrection,” says he, “will begin with them: 581581 “Commencera par ceux qui seront decedez auparauant;” — “Will commence with those who shall have previously departed.” we shall accordingly not rise without them.” From this it appears that the belief of a final resurrection had been, in the minds of some, slight and obscure, and involved in various errors, inasmuch as they imagined that the dead would be deprived of it; for they imagined that eternal life belonged to those alone whom Christ, at his last coming, would find still alive upon the earth. Paul, with the view of remedying these errors, assigns the first place to the dead, and afterwards teaches that those will follow who will be at that time remaining in this life.
As to the circumstance, however, that by speaking in the first person he makes himself, as it were, one of the number of those who will live until the last day, he means by this to arouse the Thessalonians to wait for it, nay more, to hold all believers in suspense, that they may not promise themselves some particular time: for, granting that it was by a special revelation that he knew that Christ would come at a somewhat later time, 582582 “Ne viendroit si tost;” — “Would not come so soon.” it was nevertheless necessary that this doctrine should be delivered to the Church in common, that believers might be prepared at all times. In the mean time, it was necessary thus to cut off all pretext for the curiosity of many — as we shall find him doing afterwards at greater length. When, however, he says, we that are alive, he makes use of the present tense instead of the future, in accordance with the Hebrew idiom.