What Does 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Mean?

Finally then, brethren, 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(NASB)

Verse of the Day

Paul begins this chapter appealing to the Thessalonian believers to continue to walk in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord, to grow in grace and to walk in spirit and truth: "Finally then, brethren," he writes, "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), and that you excel still more."

Although they are doing well and maturing in the faith, Paul is encouraging these believers to do even better in their spiritual life. He is exhorting them to live an outstandingly godly life, to the praise and honour of our Father in heaven. This first verse begins an expanded section on how to live a sanctified life; a life that glorifies the Lord Jesus. There was an urgency in this earnest entreaty, for Paul desired that these faithful Thessalonian believers, and all who trust in Christ for salvation, become shining examples of godly living.

Although the verse begins with the word 'finally', it is by no means Paul's concluding thought, but shows he is transitioning from one section to the next. Having finished telling them some personal details of his recent ministry, Paul's thoughts transfer to the spiritual wellbeing of these believers, and he starts exhorting them to keep putting into practice all the things he's taught them and to excel in their spiritual walk more and more. Paul begs and admonishes them, by virtue of their mutual union with the Lord Jesus, that they carefully follow his instructions on godly living and apply all they have learned about spiritual matters so that they please and gratify the Lord.

He lovingly addresses these brothers and sisters in Christ as 'brethren', but in his capacity as an authoritative apostle, Paul insists that they strive even harder for personal holiness so that they may have a sanctified life that is consecrated to God: "Now brethren, You learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, and in fact you are doing, so we ask and encourage you in the Lord to do so even more!"

Paul knew that the Lord was soon going to return and that we, like them, should remain content in the place where God has chosen to place us. We should conduct our lives in a manner that honours the Father and glorifies the Son, as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within the heart of each of His children and Who strengthens us in our inner man.

Paul's pressing message was a practical exhortation to walk in holiness, brotherly love, and humble obedience before God, because the return of Christ for His Church was drawing closer. These believers were urged to walk as children of light and behave in a manner well-pleasing to God, and he gave the Thessalonians a list of instructions on godly living which is still as relevant and pressing today as it was two thousand years ago.

He warned of the danger of sexual immorality, lustful desires, and behaving like the unsaved who don't know the Lord. He reminded them of the importance of treating our bodies as a sanctified vessel that honours the Lord. He pointed out how wrong it is to transgress against a brother or defraud him and reminded them that God abhors such behaviour and is an avenger of such offenses.

Paul had previously taught them that they were not called to impurity but to sanctification, and anyone who violates these instructions is defying God Himself. But Paul also knew that a timely reminder about walking in truth and living a sanctified life in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, is often needful!

May we never forget that we are ambassadors of the Cross and representatives of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are subjects of the King of kings and we are called and chosen to walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling. We are instructed to be holy because our Father in heaven in holy, and we are called to excel still more and more, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through Whom we are strengthened in our inner man according to the riches of God’s glory.

My Prayer

Loving Father, what a wonderful privilege that You should call such a person as me into your own kingdom, and into Your glory. In the power of the Holy Spirit, I ask You to guide and direct me today, in all that I say and think and do. I pray I may live a sanctified life and walk in a worthy manner that brings glory to You. Keep me mindful of Paul’s teachings on living a spiritual life, and may I be a witness of Your grace to all with whom I come in contact. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Larisa Koshkina

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