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The Coming of the Lord [1] (1 Thessalonians 3 and 4)

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1 Thessalonians 4

The sanctified life
Finally, brothers, we urge and exhort you 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.
   2 For you know what instruction we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, that you live sanctified lives. Therefore abstain from fornication; 4 let each one of you take a wife for himself in sanctification and honour, 5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who do not know God. 6 Let no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter. Because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. 7 For God called us not to uncleanness but to sanctification. 8 Therefore he that rejects this teaching rejects not man but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
   9 But concerning love of the brothers, you have no need that anyone write to you. For you yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 For indeed you do it toward all the brothers that are in all Macedonia. But, brothers, we encourage you to abound more and more. 11 May you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing

Comfort from the wonderful hope of resurrection and the reality of Christ’s return
13 Brothers, we would not have you ignorant concerning those that fall asleep, lest you grieve like those who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, just as surely those that have fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring up with him.
   15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are still living at the coming of the Lord, shall in no way precede those that have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be snatched away in the clouds in the air to meet the Lord, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Therefore, comfort one another with these words.


4:4,5 We should take a partner in love, not “in... lust”. Marriage is to be on the basis of love, not lust.

4:10 If our self-examination reveals that we are loving toward others, we shouldn’t be complacent. Love by its nature grows and grows. Are our lives characterized by ever increasing love?

4:11 Aspire- The Greek word means ‘to be ambitious’. In spiritual reality, our ambition should be for spiritual and not material things.

4:17 There is no mention here of the righteous being caught up to Heaven. Christ descends from Heaven before the believers meet him. Christ will reign for ever on David's throne in Jerusalem, and we will be with him, here on earth. It is therefore impossible that we should spend eternity with him suspended in mid-air. 'The air' extending only a few kilometres above the earth's surface means that it cannot refer to Heaven, the dwelling place of God.

The Greek phrase translated "caught up" really means to be snatched away; it does not carry the idea of any specific direction. It also occurs in Acts 8:39: "The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more... But Philip was found at Azotus". This records how Philip was miraculously transported from one place on earth to another. When Christ comes, the responsible will be gathered together to the place of judgment; they will not be left to make their own way there.

It is possible that our means of transportation to that place will be literally through the air. Jesus said that "in the day when the Son of man is revealed...two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:30,36). This gives the same picture of a sudden snatching away. The disciples earnestly asked, "Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together" (Luke 17:37). As the eagles fly instinctively through the air and then land on earth where the carcase is, so the responsible will be brought to the place where they will meet their Lord in judgment.