1 Thessalonians 4:1-5
1. Furthermore then, we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by
the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and
to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
1. Ergo quod reliquum est, fratres, rogamus vos et obsecramus in
Domino Iesu, quemadmodum accepistis a nobis, quomodo oporteat vos ambulare
et placere Deo, ut abundetis magis:
2. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
2. Nostis enim quae praecepta dederimus vobis per Dominum Iesum.
3. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye
should abstain from fornication:
3. Haec enim est voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra: ut vos abstineatis
ab omni scortatione.
4. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in
sanctification and honor;
4. Et sciat unusquisque vestrum suum vas possidere in sanctificatione
5. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which
know not God.
5. Non in affectu concupiscentiae, quemadmodum et Gentes, quae non
1. Furthermore. This chapter contains various injunctions, by which
he trains up the Thessalonians to a holy life, or confirms them in the
exercise of it. They had previously learned what was the rule and method
of a pious life: he calls this to their remembrance. As, says he, ye have
been taught. Lest, however, he should seem to take away from them what
he had previously assigned them, he does not simply exhort them to walk
in such a manner, but to abound more and more. When, therefore, he urges
them to make progress, he intimates that they are already in the way. The
sum is this, that they should be more especially careful to make progress
in the doctrine which they had received, and this Paul places in contrast
with frivolous and vain pursuits, in which we see that a good part of the
world very generally busy themselves, so that profitable and holy meditation
as to the due regulation of life scarcely obtains a place, even the most
inferior. Paul, accordingly, reminds them in what manner they had been
instructed, and bids them aim at this with their whole might. Now, there
is a law that is here enjoined upon us—that, forgetting the things that
are behind, we always aim at farther progress, (Philippians 3:13) and pastors
ought also to make this their endeavor. Now, as to his beseeching, when
he might rightfully enjoin—it is a token of humanity and modesty which
pastors ought to imitate, that they may, if possible, allure people to
kindness, rather than violently compel them.
3. For this is the will of God. This is doctrine of a general nature,
from which, as from a fountain, he immediately deduces special admonitions.
When he says that this is the will of God, he means that we have been called
by God with this design. “For this end ye are Christians—this the gospel
aims at—that ye may sanctify yourselves to God.” The meaning of the term
sanctification we have already explained elsewhere in repeated instances—that
renouncing the world, and clearing ourselves from the pollutions of the
flesh, we offer ourselves to God as if in sacrifice, for nothing can with
propriety be offered to Him, but what is pure and holy.
That ye abstain. This is one injunction, which he derives from the fountain
of which he had immediately before made mention; for nothing is more opposed
to holiness than the defilement of fornication, which pollutes the whole
man. On this account he assigns the lust of concupiscence to the Gentiles,
who know not God. “Where the knowledge of God reigns, lusts must be subdued.”
By the lust of concupiscence, he means all base lusts of the flesh,
but, at the same time, by this manner of expression, he brands with dishonor
all desires that allure us to pleasure and carnal delights, as in Romans
13:14, he bids us have no care for the flesh in respect of the lust thereof.
For when men give indulgence to their appetites, there are no bounds to
lasciviousness. Hence the only means of maintaining temperance is to bridle
As for the expression, that every one of you may know to possess his
vessel, some explain it as referring to a wife, as though it had been said,
“Let husbands dwell with their wives in all chastity.” As, however, he
addresses husbands and wives indiscriminately, there can be no doubt that
he employs the term vessel to mean body. For every one has his body as
a house, as it were, in which he dwells. He would, therefore, have us keep
our body pure from all uncleanness.
And honor, that is, honorably, for the man that prostitutes his body
to fornication, covers it with infamy and disgrace.
1 Thessalonians 4:6-8
6. That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter:
because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned
you, and testified.
6. Ne quis opprimat vel circumveniat in negotio fratrem suum: quia
vindex erit Dominus omnium istorum, quemadmodum et praediximus vobis, et
7. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
7. Non enim vocavit vos Deus ad immunditiam, sed ad sanctificationem.
8. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who
hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.
8. Itaque qui hoc repudiat, non hominem repudiat, sed Deum, qui
etiam dedit Spiritum suum sanctum in nos.
6. Let no man oppress. Here we have another exhortation, which flows,
like a stream, from the doctrine of sanctification. “God,” says he, “has
it in view to sanctify us, that no man may do injury to his brother.” For
as to Chrysostom’s connecting this statement with the preceding one, and
explaining uJperbai>nein kai< pleonektei~n to mean—neighing after the
wives of others, (Jeremiah 5:8) and eagerly desiring them, is too forced
an exposition. Paul, accordingly, having adduced one instance of unchastity
in respect of lasciviousness and lust, teaches that this also is a department
of holiness—that we conduct ourselves righteously and harmlessly towards
our neighbors. The former verb refers to violent oppressions—where the
man that has more power emboldens himself to inflict injury. The latter
includes in it all immoderate and unrighteous desires. As, however, mankind,
for the most part, indulge themselves in lust and avarice, he reminds them
of what he had formerly taught—that God would be the avenger of all such
things. We must observe, however, what he says—we have solemnly testified
; for such is the sluggishness of mankind, that, unless they are wounded
to the quick, they are touched with no apprehension of God’s judgment.
7. For God hath not called us. This appears to be the same sentiment
with the preceding one—that the will of God is our sanctification. There
is, however, a little difference between them. For after having discoursed
as to the correcting of the vices of the flesh, he proves, from the end
of our calling, that God desires this. For he sets us apart to himself
as his peculiar possession. Again, that God calls us to holiness, he proves
by contraries, because he rescues us, and calls us back, from unchastity.
From this he concludes, that all that reject this doctrine reject not men,
but God, the Author of this calling, which altogether falls to the ground
so soon as this principle as to newness of life is overthrown. Now, the
reason why he rouses himself so vehemently is, because there are always
wanton persons who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule
all threatenings of his judgment, and at the same time hold in derision
all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such persons must not be taught,
but must be beaten with severe reproofs as with the stroke of a hammer.