- Finally, brothers, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God--and as you are conducting yourselves--you do so even more.
- For you know what instructions 1we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
- 2 This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality,
- that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor,
- not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God;
- not to take advantage of or exploit a brother in this matter, for the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you before and solemnly affirmed.
- For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.
- Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who (also) gives his holy Spirit to you.
- On the subject of mutual charity you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.
- Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Nevertheless we urge you, brothers, to progress even more,
- and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your (own) hands, as we instructed you,
- that you may conduct yourselves properly toward outsiders and not depend on anyone.
- We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
- For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
- Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, 3 will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
- For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
- Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together 4 with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
- Therefore, console one another with these words.
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Footnotes1 Instructions: these include specific guidelines on the basis of the Lord's authority, not necessarily sayings Jesus actually uttered. More profoundly, as 1 Thes 4:8 implies, the instructions are practical principles that Paul worked out in accordance with his understanding of the role of the Spirit.
2 [3-8] Many think that this passage deals with a variety of moral regulations (fornication, adultery, sharp business practices). It can be more specifically interpreted as bringing general norms to bear on a specific problem, namely, marriage within degrees of consanguinity (as between uncle and niece) forbidden in Jewish law but allowed according to a Greek heiress law, which would insure retention of an inheritance within the family and perhaps thereby occasion divorce. In that case, "immorality" (1 Thes 4:3) should be rendered as "unlawful marriage" and "this matter" (1 Thes 4:6) as "a lawsuit." The phrase in 1 Thes 4:4, "acquire a wife for himself," has often been interpreted to mean "control one's body."
3 Coming of the Lord: Paul here assumes that the second coming, or parousia, will occur within his own lifetime but insists that the time or season is unknown (1 Thes 5:1-2). Nevertheless, the most important aspect of the parousia for him was the fulfillment of union with Christ. His pastoral exhortation focuses first on hope for the departed faithful, then (1 Thes 5:1-3) on the need of preparedness for those who have to achieve their goal.
4 Will be caught up together: literally, snatched up, carried off; cf 2 Cor 12:2; Rev 12:5. From the Latin verb here used, rapiemur, has come the idea of "the rapture," when believers will be transported away from the woes of the world; this construction combines this verse with Matthew 24:40-41 (see the note there) // Luke 17:34-35 and passages from Revelation in a scheme of millennial dispensationalism.
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