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1Thessalonians 4:1-12

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 28, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words   Video = 75 wpm

Paul had only been in Thessalonica for three weeks when persecution broke out and he was forced to flee the city (Acts 17), eventually landing in Corinth.

Just a few months later, Paul writes back to the Thessalonians from Corinth to address issues of concern with this young church.

4:1-8 Holiness

:1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;

Finallyloipon – remaining, the rest

we urgeerotao – to question; to ask; to request, entreat, beg, beseech

exhortparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.

pleasearesko – to please; to strive to please; to accommodate one’s self to the opinions desires and interests of others

aboundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to be over, to remain; to exist or be at hand in abundance; “Abounding” is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.

more and moremallon – more, to a greater degree, rather

:2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

commandmentsparaggelia – announcement, a proclaiming or giving a message to; a charge, a command

:1 we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus

There is something weighty that’s about to be said here.

The things Paul is about to address are coming from the very heart of Jesus.  These aren’t just going to be Paul’s thoughts on an issue, but Jesus’ thoughts.

:1 abound more and more

In the Greek, the word order is a little different from the NKJV, and might be better translated,

“Finally then brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, that you should abound more and more…”

In other words, the things they should “about more and more” are the things that they’ve already been taught.

:2 know what commandments we gave you

Paul reiterates that the things he’s about to stress are things that they’ve already been taught.

:1 you should abound more and more

shoulddei – it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper


Keep Growing

These Thessalonians already know the basics.
Paul just wants them to keep going.
You can reach a point in your Christian walk where you begin to think that you now everything.
The danger becomes twofold:

You can start to look for “new” things, things that nobody has ever heard before.  That’s one way that heresy starts.  Joseph Smith came up with “new” stuff.

Growing doesn’t always mean “newer” things, but growing deeper in what you already know.

You can also start thinking that you’ve gone as far as possible.

You think you don’t need to grow anymore, and as a result you become lukewarm.

Paul is going to address one of those basic commandments (purity).

:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;

:3 this is the will of God

willthelema – what one wishes or has determined shall be done; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure


What is God’s will?

I think that most people at one time in their life ask themselves this question.
What is God’s will for my life?

Often we ask that question when it comes to things like “Who am I going to marry?”, “Where should I live?”, or “What job should I take?”

Before you get the answers to those questions, be sure that you are doing the things we clearly already know are His will.

A great couple of verses that talk about God directing our life are found in:
(Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

We need to trust Him. 

We need to be careful not to lean too much on our own understanding.

We need to “acknowledge” Him in all our ways.

And then we will see Him lead us.

I think the concept of “acknowledging” Him includes the things that we already know are God’s will.

If you want to know God’s will in specifics, then be sure you are doing what you already know is His will.

God wants us to be saved.

(2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Some may think that God is hoping to send all people to hell.  That’s the last thing God wants.

(1 Timothy 2:3–4 NKJV) —3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The word for “desires” is the verb form of “will”.

God wants men to be saved.

Spirit Filled
Being filled with the Spirit isn’t just for those crazy Pentecostals.  God wants all His children to be filled with the Spirit.
(Ephesians 5:17–18 NKJV) —17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

“be filled” is a command.  It’s not optional.

Paul is going to focus on another specific aspect of God’s will that we know for sure – our “sanctification”

:3 this is the will of God, your sanctification


God’s Will: Holiness

sanctificationhagiasmos – consecration, purification; sanctification of heart and life
This word comes from the word hagiazo, which means “to make holy”.
Another related word is hagios, the word used for “saints”, or simply the idea of being “holy”.

The root idea of being “holy” is to be “set apart” from something, or set apart for a specific purpose.

God is “holy” in that He is “set apart” or “different” from sin.  He is not like us.

A coffee pot is “holy” in that it is set apart to make coffee.  It is not to be used for things like draining toilets or mopping floors.

A husband and wife are to be “holy” in the sense that they are set apart for each other and no one else.

A Christian is to be “holy” in that they are set apart for God’s use.

To make something “holy” is to make that thing conformable in character to what it is dedicated to.

Christians are to be “holy” in the sense that they are more and more conformed to the character of the Holy God to which they belong.

There are three aspects of “sanctification” for the Christian talked about in Scripture.

We are “sanctified” when we first believe because Jesus forgives us and we makes us right with God.

This life

We are “sanctified” throughout our entire life as we allow God’s Spirit to continue to shape us and mold us, shaping our character to look more and more like Jesus.

This kind of sanctification is a process, like being on a conveyer belt.

Paul is going to be focusing on that second aspect of sanctification.


We will be completely “sanctified” when either die or are raptured and we receive our new body that is free from sin.

:3 that you should abstain from sexual immorality


God’s Will: Sexual Purity

The subject of sanctification is a broad one and covers a multitude of areas in our lives. Things like…
How we handle our finances.
How we drive.
How we dress.
How we eat.
Our relationships with others – both with Christians as well as unbelievers.
The heart attitudes we cultivate inside of us.
The list is endless.
Paul’s specific area he wants to address with the Thessalonians is the area of sexual purity.  We are to abstain from:
abstainapechomai – to hold one’s self off, refrain, abstain
sexual immoralityporneia – illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

We’ve already talked a lot about this on Sunday morning (Proverbs 5,6,7).

Porneia is a broad word that simply put is “sex outside the bounds of marriage”.

Hugh Hefner passed away yesterday at the age of 91.  Hefner was the man who started Playboy magazine.
His parents were strict Methodists, and as he grew up he made it his goal challenge his puritan roots.

In an article on the Fox News website…

Asked by the New York Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner responded: “That I changed attitudes toward sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

One of his famous quotes,

“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dreams.”

In other words, you better get all the pleasure out of life as you can before you die.

Paul wrote that that kind of philosophy comes from someone who lacks the understanding that there is indeed life after death, and that there is a God we will face one day.  The world says,

(1 Corinthians 15:32 NKJV) …If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

I’m afraid that Mr. Hefner’s philosophy is a bit short sighted.

God was gracious and gave him 91 years to turn around.

But that time is now over for him.  He’s had all the pleasure he’s ever going to get, and now he faces an eternity of judgment.

Do you want to know God’s will for your life?
One of the things we already know is that God’s will is that we cultivate purity.

Now Paul is going to narrow his concept of sexual purity…

:4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

knoweido – to see; to know; to see with the mind’s eye, signifies a clear and purely mental perception

to possessktaomai – to acquire, get, or procure a thing for one’s self, to possess

vesselskeuos – a vessel; an implement; metaph.; a man;

sanctificationhagiasmos – consecration, purification; the effect of consecration; sanctification of heart and life

honortime – a valuing by which the price is fixed; honor which belongs or is shown to one; of the honor which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds; deference, reverence

:4 how to possess his own vessel

In verse three, Paul started with the broad concept of God’s will, narrowed it down to our sanctification, and then further narrowed it down to sexual purity.

Now Paul gets even more specific to define sexual purity.

What does it mean to “possess your own vessel”?

While some see this as referring to the wife, and the idea is treating her with purity and honor, I think it’s better to see it as –
Your own body
“Vessel” was a common Greek metaphor for “body” since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies.

Paul writes to the Corinthians about how having God’s light in us is like having treasure in an earthen “vessel”. (2Cor. 4:7)

(2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV) —7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Paul wrote to Timothy about learning to be a “vessel for honor” that can be useful for the Master, and connects it with fleeing from youthful lusts (2Tim. 2:21-22)

(2 Timothy 2:21–22 NKJV) —21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.


Show some respect

Paul is saying that when we learn to abstain from sexual immorality, we are learning to treat our bodies with a little honor.
The world says that you deserve to give your body any pleasure it wants.
God says you are worth more than that.

(1 Corinthians 6:18–20 NKJV) —18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

You were designed to be a vessel within which the Eternal God wants to dwell.

Let’s say that before I came to church I decided to take a sample of water from our toilet … after I went to the bathroom in it.  And let’s say I was a little thirsty right now and decided to drink from that water…

Anybody grossed out?

We know enough about hygiene to not want to treat our bodies like that. 

Sexual immorality is like drinking “toilet” water.

Show yourself a little respect.

Watching porn isn’t harmless to you, it’s mistreating your body.

It affects your own brain.

Video:  Dr. Simone Kuhn – Porn and the brain

Give your brain some respect.
If you’ve been addicted to porn, you need to get it out of you.  For good.

Video: LOTR – The Healing of the King

Some don’t realize what porn has done to them and the amount of help they need.

Don’t get me wrong, help from porn will probably take more than a simple prayer, but you will be a different person the further you get from it.

Let Jesus help you stop.

:5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

passionpathos – whatever befalls one, whether it be sad or joyous; a feeling which the mind suffers; an affliction of the mind, emotion, passion; passionate deed; in the NT in a bad sense, depraved passion, vile passions

lustepithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

:5 like the Gentiles who do not know God

Don’t be quick to judge the people who don’t know God.

Just be careful you don’t live by their standards of morality.

You do know God.

:6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter,

matterpragma – that which has been done, a deed, an accomplished fact; what is done or being accomplished; a matter, question, affair; spec. in a forensic sense, a matter at law, case, suit

:6 take advantage of and defraud his brother

These words speak of “stepping over the line” and being greedy for something that doesn’t belong to you.

take advantage ofhuperbaino (“over” + “step”) – to step over, beyond; metaph.; to transgress; to overstep the proper limits

Kind of like “stepping over the line”

defraudpleonekteo (“more” + “to have”) – to have more; to gain or take advantage of another

It comes from pleonektes, one eager to have more; greedy of gain, covetous


Others are involved

Sexual immorality is quite selfish. 
All I’m thinking about is myself.
What we don’t think about are all the other people that are going to get hurt down the line.
If that other person you’re with is married to someone else, then you are “taking advantage of and defrauding” that person.

You are stepping over the line.  You are being greedy for something that belongs to them, not you.

If that person isn’t married to someone else, but they’re not married to you either, there’s no guarantee that you aren’t “stepping over a line” with their (or your) future spouse.
Pornography is often seen as the “victimless crime”.  People say that it doesn’t hurt anyone.

Besides the damage it does to your own soul, there are plenty of other people who are hurt down the line.

You are patronizing an industry that it built on exploiting other people.

There is a connection with pornography, sex trafficking, and human slavery.

Video:  Dr. Melissa Farley Pornography and Sex Trafficking

Porn is not so victimless.

When you are talking to a person who is not married to you, it’s important that you learn to see a “line” around that person, a line which you must choose to never cross.

:6 because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.

the avengerekdikos – exacting penalty from one; an avenger, punisher

forewarnedproepo – to say before; to say in what precedes, to say above; to say before i.e. heretofore, formerly; to say beforehand i.e. before the event: prophecies

testifieddiamarturomai – to testify; earnestly, religiously to charge; to attest, testify to, solemnly affirm; to give solemn testimony to one; to confirm a thing by testimony, to testify, cause it to be believed

:6 the Lord is the avenger of all such

Be careful about getting caught up in the very sins that God will one day judge this world over.

(Colossians 3:5–6 NLT) —5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.

:7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.

uncleannessakatharsia – uncleanness; physical; in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living; of impure motives

:7 not … to uncleanness, but in holiness

holinesshagiasmos – consecration, purification

This is the same word that was used in verse 4, translated “sanctification”.
It’s related to the word hagios, “to be holy”.

God is holy, and He expects His followers to be holy as well.

The book of Leviticus is all about holiness.  Over and over God tells His people why He wants them to be “holy”, such as…

(Leviticus 11:45 NKJV) For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
(Leviticus 19:2 NKJV) “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
We are to be holy because God is holy.
(Leviticus 20:7 NKJV) Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.

It’s not just Israelites that are to be holy, so are we.  Peter wrote,

(1 Peter 1:13–16 NKJV) —13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

:8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

thereforetoigaroun (“certainly” + “for” + “therefore”) – wherefore then, for which reason, therefore, consequently

rejectsatheteo – to do away with, to set aside, disregard; to thwart the efficacy of anything, nullify, make void, frustrate; to reject, to refuse, to slight

:8 Therefore

Paul uses a rare word, and I think he’s trying to make it clear that he’s drawing a clear conclusion in all of this.

:8 rejects … God


Purity is God’s idea

There are going to be people who do not like hearing anything about sexual purity.
They will make up all kinds of excuses as to why sexual immorality is okay.
Some will want to make a point of saying that Paul was just a prude, and we shouldn’t be paying attention to a prudish man like Paul.
But Paul’s clear conclusion is that if you reject these ideas about sexual immorality, you aren’t rejecting him (Paul), you aren’t rejecting me (the one teaching through this passage), you are rejecting God.

Because God has given us His “Holy” Spirit.

Separate that word out for a minute.

Holyhagios – most holy thing 

This is the root word for what is translated “sanctification” and “holiness”.

We are to be “holy” because the HOLY Spirit is living inside of us as believers, and He is wanting to mold us and shape us into His image, which is “holy”.

Holiness and sexual immorality don’t mix.

4:9-12 Loving and Working

:9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

brotherly lovephiladelphia (anyone know the “city of brotherly love”? – Philadelphia, PA) – love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love; in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren

taught by Godtheodidaktos – taught of God

When God is in your life, He’s trying to teach you to love others.  It’s one of the evidences of a genuine Christian.  It’s a fruit of the Spirit, a result of His working in your life.

to loveagapao – of persons; to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

:9 taught by God to love one another

That’s what God does when He’s at work in your life.  He teaches us to love each other.

(1 John 4:7–8 NLT) —7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

:10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;

urgeparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to admonish, exhort; to beg, entreat, beseech

you increaseperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to be over, to remain; to exist or be at hand in abundance; to abound, overflow; “Abounding” is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.

:10 that you increase more and more


Keep on lovin’

Paul has already made it clear that these folks knew how to love each other (1Th. 1:3; 3:12; 4:9)
These people knew about love.
Paul was thankful that they had the “labor of love” (1:3)
Paul prayed that their love would increase and abound (3:12)
God had taught these people how to love each other (4:9)
Paul asks them to go over and above where they were.


SHMILY (Author unknown)
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.
They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.
There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture. It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love-one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky experience. Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old man he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.”
Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.
But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside. Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.
“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby. Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.
S-H-M-I-L-Y ~ See How Much I Love You.
Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me see.

:11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,

aspirephilotimeomai – to be fond of honor; from a love of honor to strive to bring something to pass; to be ambitious; to strive earnestly, make it one’s aim

lead a quiet lifehesuchazo – to keep quiet; to rest, cease from labor; to lead a quiet life, said of those who are not running hither and thither, but stay at home and mind their business; to be silent, i.e. to say nothing, hold one’s peace

to mindprasso – to exercise, practice, to be busy with, carry on; to undertake, to do; to accomplish, perform; to manage public affairs, transact public business

your own businessidios – pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self

to workergazomai – to work, labor, do work; to trade, to make gains by trading, “do business”; to work for, earn by working, to acquire

handscheir – hand

commandedparaggello – to transmit a message along from one to another, to declare, announce; to command, order, charge

:11 work with your own hands


Work and respect

When you are working hard at your own job, you don’t have the time to meddle with other people’s business.
We’ll talk about this when we get to 2Thess. 3:10-12.
(2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 NKJV) —10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

:12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

When we work hard at our job, it affects our witness to those who are not believers, as well as keeps us from poverty.

walkperipateo – to walk; to conduct one’s self

properlyeuschemonos (“good” + “appearance”) – in a seemly manner, decently

from euschemon – of elegant figure; shapely, graceful, comely, bearing one’s self becomingly in speech or behavior; of good standing; honorable, influential, wealthy, respectable

:12 walk properly toward those who are outside


Work’s witness

One of the reasons Paul encourages them to work at their job is for the impact that it has on people outside the church.
Christians at work should be known for working hard, not hardly working.

:12 that you may lack nothing

lackchreia – necessity, need


No lack

Another reason to work at your job is so that you meet your own needs.