Having reminded the Thessalonians of his ministry among them and expressed his joy that they were remaining steadfast in their new Christian faith (chapters 1-3), Paul now directs his attention to encouraging them on to a still greater depth of Christian maturity while addressing some minor issues and concerns that Timothy had reported to the apostle upon his return from Thessalonica.
1Th 4:1-2 Besides the basic gospel message, what else constituted the substance of Paul’s apostolic teaching? In the Great Commission Jesus charged His followers with making disciples (Mat 28:19). How is a disciple different from a convert? Did Paul make converts or disciples? Should we make converts or disciples? How does one please God? See 2 Tim 2:4, Rom 8:8,13-14.
1Th 4:3 What is the will of God for Christians? Why is doing His will important? See Mat 7:21, 1 John 2:17. What does sanctification mean? See 1 Thess 5:23, Rom 6:22. Were the Thessalonian believers to whom Paul was writing primarily Jewish or Gentile? See 1Th 1:9. Why was the issue of sexual purity such an important one to the Gentile converts? Think: Did the pagan Gentile notion of devotion to God include the demand of sexual purity? See Acts 15:20,29, 1 Cor 6:9-20, 2 Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3, Col 3:5. Are the pagan notions about sexual purity held by the world today—including a worldly church—much different from in Paul’s day?
1Th 4:4 What does “possess his own vessel” mean? See text notes. For vessel see 1 Sam 21:5, Rom 9:21-23, 2 Cor 4:7, 2 Tim 2:20-21, 1 Pet 3:7. See also 1 Cor 7:2, Rom 1:24.
1Th 4:5 In what manner do pagan people who do not know God treat their bodies? See Rom 1:24,26, Eph 4:17-19, 1 Cor 6:18-20.
1Th 4:6 Given the context, what does “transgress and defraud his brother in the matter” mean? Note: both the Greek words for “transgress” and “defraud” carry the meaning of “go beyond”, “overreach”, “take advantage of”. Why must those who would follow God take heed to Paul’s words here? See Heb 13:4, Eph 5:5-6. What was the substance of Paul’s solemn warning and repeated teaching to his Gentile disciples? See Gal 5:21.
1Th 4:7 Into what realm of living has God called us? See again 1Th 4:3-4. How important is sanctification? See Heb 12:14. In Matthew 22:14 Jesus says that many are called but few are chosen. Who are those who are chosen? See 2 Thess 2:13-14.
1Th 4:8 Why does God give His Holy Spirit to us? I.e., into what does the Holy Spirit lead us? What is the great danger of rejecting God and the gift of His Holy Spirit? See Num 15:30, Luke 12:10, Rev 2:9, Heb 6:4-6.
1Th 4:9-10 What importance did Paul place upon love for the new Christians in Thessalonica? See 3:12, 2 Thess 1:3, Rom 12:9-10, 1 Pet 1:22, 2 Pet 1:7, 1 Jn 3:14, 4:7-8. Why did they have no need for anyone to teach them in regard to love? See Jn 14:26, 1 Cor 2:12, Heb 10:15-16, 1 Jn 2:27.
1Th 4:11 What three things does Paul mention in this verse that he had previously commanded them as important? See 2 Thess 3:6-12, 1 Tim 2:1-2. What does it mean to “lead a quiet life”? In what ways do we not lead a quiet life? How might we do so? What example did Paul provide in regard to working with one’s own hands? See Acts 18:3, 20:34-35, 1 Cor 4:12. In light of Scripture, is it less honorable to work in a trade than in an office? See 1 Cor 1:26-29.
1Th 4:12 For what two reasons did Paul give the commands of verse 11? Why is it important to behave properly toward those who are outside of the family of God? See Col 4:5-6, 1 Pet 2:12, 1 Tim 2:7. Why is it important to not be in any need? See Luke 15:14-16, 2 Cor 11:9, 1 Cor 9:11-12,23.
1Th 4:13-18 Note: The Thessalonians were greatly concerned about the “parousia” or coming of Christ (see also 2 Thess 2:1-2). Upon Timothy’s return Paul discovered they had a false notion that those who “fell asleep” before His coming would miss out on the joy and rewards that will belong to those saints who are still alive on that great and glorious day. In these verses he addresses that concern.
1Th 4:13 To whom does Paul refer when he speaks of those who have fallen asleep? See Dan 12:2, Mat 27:52, Luke 8:52-53, Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Cor 15:6, 18. What is the significance to the Christian of using this expression? Note: We get our English word for cemetery from the Greek word used here for “fall asleep”. What is the nature of the pagan world’s grieving for the dead? See Deut 14:1. Why is there no consolation for their grief? See Eph 2:12. How should that motivate us for those who are lost?
1Th 4:14: What is the connection between believing that “Jesus died and rose again” and “God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus”? Why is it significant that Paul didn’t conclude the first part of his statement with just the more expected “God will raise those who have fallen asleep in Jesus”? Where must those who have fallen asleep in Jesus be?
1Th 4:15-17 Note: The “coming” of the Lord comes from the Greek word parousia, which means “to be present” (see NASB text note on 1Th 2:19, 3:13). What insight does this give us into the coming of the Lord? What do these verses teach us about the order of events at the Lord’s coming? See also 1 Cor 15:51-53.
1Th 4:16 What is the significance of the shout? Note: “shout” refers to an inarticulate cry, as of a hunter to his dogs, or a charioteer to his horses, a ship’s master to its rowers, or a military officer to his soldiers. See Josh 6:5,20, Jer 25:30 and surrounding context, Joel 2:11, 3:16, Amos 1:2. Who is the archangel? See Jude 1:9. What is the significance that the Lord’s coming will be marked by the voice of the archangel? See Dan 12:1-2. What is the significance of Christ descending with the trumpet of God? See Ex 19:16,19, 20:18, Num 10:8-9, Josh 6:5,20, Joel 2:1, Amos 2:2, Mat 24:31, 1 Cor 15:52, Rev 1:10.
1Th 4:17 1) Note: The Latin word used for “caught up” here is where we get our word for rapture. This is the primary and only clear text describing the rapture of God’s saints at Christ’s parousia to meet Him in the air. See Acts 8:39 and 2 Cor 12:2-4 for two other “raptures” (same Greek and Latin word) of New Testament saints. 2) Other texts in Scripture speak of Jesus’ coming as a thief in the night (see Mat 24:37-44, 1 Thess 5:2-4, Rev 3:3, 16:15). How is the context of those passages different from the context here? At His coming, are the righteous taken out of the midst of the wicked, or the wicked out of the midst of the righteous? See Mat 13:30,40-42,49-50. 3) What does the text here and in the previous verse clearly connect to the rapture of those who are still living when Christ returns? 4) Note: The Greek word for “to meet” was the term used for going out to greet and welcome an important visitor or a new ruler. See Mat 25:6 and Acts 28:15 for the only other NT occurrences of this word. 5) In what way shall we “always be with the Lord”? Recall the context of verses 13-14 and notice that the Greek word for “always” used here is the same that Paul uses when he says he “always” remembers the saints in his prayers, and is perhaps better translated as “at all times”, or “in every instance/circumstance”. See also 1Th 5:10.
1Th 4:18 What was Paul’s purpose in teaching the Thessalonians about these events surrounding the parousia of the Lord? See again the context of verses 13-14. Is that different from the way these verses are used today?