1 Thessalonians 4
4 So finally, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus, we ask you, we beg you to remember what we have taught you: live a life that is pleasing to God as you are already doing. Yes, we urge you to keep living and thriving in that life! 2 For you know the instructions we gave you, instructions that came through the Lord Jesus. 3 Now this is God’s will for you: set yourselves apart and live holy lives; avoid polluting yourselves with sexual defilement. 4 Learn how to take charge over your own body, maintaining purity and honor. 5 Don’t let the swells of lustful passion run your life as they do the outsiders who don’t know God. 6 Don’t violate or take advantage of a fellow believer in such matters. As we told you before and warned you: the Lord will settle the score with anyone who does these things. 7 Here’s why: God does not call us to live impure, adulterous, scandalous lives, but to seek holiness and purity. 8 If you ignore this message, then you’re not only rejecting us but you’re rejecting God, the One who has given His Holy Spirit to live in you.
Paul uses the language of a loving faith family reaching out to others.
9 Now there’s no need for us to send you instructions on caring for your faith family because God Himself has already taught you how to love outside yourselves. 10 And it’s evident you learned that lesson well by the way you love all the people of Macedonia. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to love even more 11 and make it your goal to lead a peaceful life, mind your own business, and keep your hands busy in your work, as we have instructed you. 12 That way you will live peacefully with those on the outside, and all your needs will be met without depending on others.
What a beautiful, dramatic transformation! This is Paul’s progression from spoon-feeding people better moral choices to trusting them to live by love according to the conviction of the Spirit, their guide to becoming active participants in the kingdom of God. Paul is acknowledging that there is a power at work that is much greater than his pen. In fact, the same Spirit that inspires Paul’s words in these letters is teaching the believers in Thessalonica to live as true believers and teaches us still today.
13 Brothers and sisters, we want you to be fully informed about those who have fallen asleep in death so that you will not be overwhelmed with grief like those who live outside of the true hope. 14 Here’s what we believe: since Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, God will bring with Jesus all who have died through Him. 15 For we can say all this to you confidently because it is the word of the Lord: we who are still alive and left behind when the Lord comes will not precede those who have fallen asleep in death. 16 On that day, with a command that thunders into the world, with a voice of a chief heavenly messenger, and with a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven; and all those who died in the Anointed One, our Liberating King, will rise from the dead first. 17 Then we who are alive and left behind will be snatched up together with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is how we, the resurrected and the living, will be with Him forever. 18 So comfort one another with this hope, and encourage one another with these words.