As with Galatians, where chapters 5 and 6 were the practical application of the teaching in chapters 1 thru 4, so here, with I Thessalonians, Paul wants to make a practical application in chapters 4 and 5, of that which he taught in chapters 1 thru 3.
With chapter 4, see how that Paul opens with,“we instructed you how to live in order to please God.” This tell us much #9, New Life in Christ instructions will follow. These are not to instruct how to be saved, but for believers, who have already been saved! Living a #9, New Life in Christ has everything to do with #1, righteousness, as verses 3 thru 7 make perfectly clear. This is contrasted with #2, sins also seen in verses 3 thru 8. Those who choose #2, sin will be severely punished by God in #3, judgment says verse 6. Both elements of #5, the Gospel of Jesus dying for our sins and rising from the dead is found in verse 14, along with #7, believing being mentioned twice there. Beside the instruction to be #1, holy, we also find the #9, New Life instruction to love with verses 9 and 10; and don’t miss the instruction in 11 and 12, which is especially helpful to know. The chapter ends with Christ’s Return, and we with Him, to set up #10, the Kingdom!
Concluding with chapter 5, and a lot of further #9, New Life instruction, we first note that Paul is still very much instructing about the Lord’s Return and the establishing of His #10, Kingdom, seen in verses 1 and 2, 9 and 23. But don’t fail to catch all that is said about the particular matter of the believer’s #9, New Life being chiefly characterized by #1, righteousness as expressed in verses 5, 6, 8, 22 and especially verse 23. This is contrasted with eschewing #2, sin in verses 7 and 22. Those who’d rather go that route will be #3, severely judged says verses 3 and 9 with God’s wrath and sudden destruction! We can’t lose sight of #4, the Savior and #5, the Gospel clearly put before us with verses 9 and 10. And, the #9, New Life instructions to believers are seen throughout in verses 8, 11, and 12 thru 25 to grow in faith and love. Believers are to live in order to please God!
From 4:13 thru 18, we have a particular passage that teaches, specifically in verse 17, with the word translated ‘caught up,’ that there is going to be a “Rapture” of believers by Christ as a part of His Second Coming. Don’t miss that! It’s also worth noting that with verse 23, we are depicted as being tri-partite, possessing a body, soul and spirit. This is a subject for further study, but for now we see… This is what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell