1 Thessalonians 4

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Read 1 Thessalonians 4

Living to Please God

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Believers Who Have Died

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Go Deeper

As Paul is addressing the church in Thessalonica, he uses this section of his letter to give practical instructions on how God wants them to live as Christians. He specifically addresses in this chapter for them “to abstain from sexual immorality” (v. 3). It’s important for us to know that at this time in the Roman Empire, fornication and sexual impurity were very prevalent and acceptable in the culture. Paul is reminding these believers that the purpose of the way they live their lives is to please God, not man.  As a result, they are to take their standards from God and not from the culture surrounding them. 

Verse 3 reads, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” Sanctification can sometimes feel like a big and confusing word, but at its core it simply means set apart. So in this scripture, Paul is waving a red flag to the Thessalonians and reminding them that they are to be set apart from the godless culture surrounding them and its sexual immorality. These words have been preserved through scripture so that we can heed Paul’s same warning today and we can learn from this chapter as Paul continues to give four reasons why believers should pursue sexual purity.

The first reason is “because the Lord is an avenger in all these things” (v. 6b). We can trust that God will punish sexual immorality because scripture repeatedly tells us so. Hebrews 13:4 plainly tells us that “…God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” In addition, Paul reminds the Thessalonians in verse 7 that “God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” Believers in Jesus have been called to live a life that looks like his. All forms of sexual impurity are simply inconsistent with who Jesus is. 

Paul continues in verse 8 to say that “whoever disregards this, disregards not man, but God…” Paul knew the dangers of seduction and the low standards of the society at large, so he’s reminding them that it doesn’t matter how you rationalize it, you reject God when you sin sexually.  

The last reason that Paul gives for pursuing sexual purity is at the end of verse 8 when he reminds us that God is “..who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” God knows that temptation is strong and that holiness requires hard work so he provided us with a resource for victory. John 14:26 tells us “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit will help you not only remember the things of God, but he will help you to be victorious over the things of this world. May we heed the advice and reminders that Paul gives the Thessalonians in this chapter and strive to be a people set apart from the world in our pursuit of purity.


  1. The start of this chapter says “how you ought to walk and to please God.” Spend some time reflecting on how you are walking and if it is pleasing to God.
  2. How well are you doing in the process of sanctification? Is your life set apart from those who do not know God?
  3. Is the command to abstain from sexual immorality difficult for you? If it is, spend some time confessing to God why and then confess that to a member of your Life Group to help bring accountability to this area.

Watch This

Watch this video on sanctification to gain a deeper understanding of what it is.

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6 thoughts on “1 Thessalonians 4”

  1. Wow have we misused what we think is “our own” body. In every way just this is so humbling when I thin of “my” body -like what am i seeking in what I wear or what i see or what I hear. Reaching sanctification is a lifelong here on earth It is for my good and to others, it shows so much love for The Lord and for others!

  2. When living to please God, we never fully arrive, but must constantly commit to know, please, and serve him more and more. Paul calls this process sanctification, living set apart as holy. The older I get the more I desire to lead a quiet life, as Paul instructs in verse 11, to live, unhindered from the trappings of this world to love God and others deeply. Just as John the Baptist declared, in John 3:30, so must I, “He must increase, I must decrease.” Paul’s closing words of this chapter have been a balm to my heart as I’ve experienced the death of loved ones. Death never has the final say, God does, as he demonstrated victory over death with the resurrection of his Son. That is our true hope for death’s sting as we have an eternal hope to cling to when our lives are shattered by death. Oh, to be in the presence of Jesus and reunited with other believers one day! What a glorious privilege that is truly good news and must be shared.

  3. “Finally, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1. We are to walk the walk and EXCEL MORE. Continue, to go further and further with God so that it is pleasing to Him. We could/can all use a mentor of sorts. If we try to walk this world alone life gets harder. Having someone who is also striving to walk and excel more is such a great partnership to be able to keep yourself and that “friend” accountable is this wobbly world.
    We all get eternal life through Christ Jesus. The end will come and we will all be together worshipping our King. Not only will the last generation on Earth witness Christ’s glorious return and triumph, but believers who have died will “be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (v. 17). Paul goes on to write that they should encourage one another with this truth. We know what the scriptures state but beyond that until this becomes an actual experience we can believe the Word of God and have comfort in death knowing we will be resurrected with Christ into immortal and flawless bodies when that time comes and we will celebrate His victory over evil. This will be the best experience of our existence.

    God thank You for sending Your Son and that He was willing to give His life for me. Thank You that I do not worry about the end at all. I know that I know that forever and eternity I get to worship You. That is a happy comfort place for me to have this knowledge. Thank You for everyday in these minutes of this day I endeavor to excel more, to be a pleasing aroma as I worship You. 1 Peter 2:9 Thank You that I am a chosen people, a royal priesthood, in a holy nation to be Your special possession. God may I declare Your praise because You called me out of darkness into Your wonderful light. May Your light so shine forth from me to all the people that I interact with today in Jesus name amen

  4. 11 “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

    This runs counter to what the world tells me. Will have to give some thought and prayer to how it applies in my life in 2024, especially since I don’t work with my hands!

  5. Diane Frances Rogers

    Sanctification is God’s will for us. Being sanctified or made holy is the process of living the Christian life. I am ever thankful for the gift of Holy Spirits work in us, conforming us into the image of Christ. Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

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