4:9-12 Paul acknowledges it is God who has taught them to love one another. Yet he calls on them to do so more and more. Why? Perhaps he knew of Christ’s teaching and command later found in John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So how are we to love one another? Paul says we are to make it our ambition to do so while living a quiet life. Don’t read this out of context … love one another but don’t interfere unnecessarily or randomly whenever it suits us.
Live our lives helping where we can while minding our own business (a seeming contradiction) and being busy with our own work. Doing so provides two results
- 1) a quiet testimony to those who are not saved but interested and
- 2) by your own hand, your own labor be able to make a living – not be a burden to friends or a beggar to others. As a church, take care of our own as much as we are able.
In essence (2:12) to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
4:13-14 Here Paul is covering material they have likely not heard before hand and it is possible, even likely, Timothy brought back this question for Paul to answer.
Those who have fallen asleep in [through] Jesus are believers who spirits are now in heaven with Jesus. Remember from 1:3 the believing Thessalonians are people of hope and know, for them, there are no permanent broken hearts for there shall be a reunion in Heaven.
Paul is telling the Thessalonians because you believe in the gospel, believe also what I am telling you now as well: mainly Christ will bring with Him those who have already died.
The clear meaning here is that they are in their spirits with Jesus after they died and when He comes they will be united with their resurrected bodies.
Key for the Thessalonians is that Christ will not forget those who died through Him.
4:15-17 Paul begins here by reminding the Thessalonians [and us] his teaching from him comes directly from the Lord! He shares what he knows is God’s word on the matter and expects the readers to consider it authoritative – from God.
If we are among those still alive when Jesus returns, we will not have to suffer a physical death, but we will no precede those who had already fallen asleep.
A few points here: the Lord, Jesus Himself, will descend and when He does there will be a shout or command. Also the voice of the archangel will be heard – what it says or how it is said is not stated – and a trumpet will sound. Compare to 1 Corinthians 15:52…
Christ’s return for His saints will be announced powerfully and dramatically.
We have no say concerning the Rapture, we cannot decide to stay on earth nor can we refuse to go with Jesus. We – all the saints / believers – will be brought up into the clouds with Jesus to be with Him in the air and not on the earth likely keeping with Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 14:2-3.
As believers we will be with Jesus forever. The waiting of verse 1:10 will be over and the wait will certainly be proven worthwhile. We will have a permanent relationship with Jesus, our Creator and Savior.
4:18 What are we to do with such knowledge? Paul tells the Thessalonians they are to encourage each other. Can we be expected to do any less? Compare with Titus 2:13-15
5:1-3 Here we are provided with a description of the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord will be a terrible period of time coming upon the world when it is least expecting it, but occurring after the rapture of the church.
Those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be forced to live through this time of tribulation. There are references throughout the Old Testament, especially Daniel, about this and in the New Testament as well, especially Revelation. One example from 2 Peter 3:10
With this knowledge what should we be doing? Encouraging one another for sure. Praying for the lost as well. Living in such a way as to encourage others to know Christ – expressing our belief, our faith, in love in our lives.