I THESSALONIANS - CHAPTER FOUR
[As translated from the Aramaic (Syriac) text]
Recently, I have been studying I Thessalonians Chapter Four and Five from the George M. Lamsa translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta. Aramaic is the language that Jesus Christ spoke. It was surprising and refreshing to study this Aramaic Translation and I have decided to teach both chapters translated from the ancient Eastern Text. For the sake of variety and a simpler translation of the scriptures, we will not use, for once, the King James Version. The King James Version places words, that were added by the translators, in italics. This is the only translation that does this. The Aramaic translation that I am about to use does not do this so I am about to make an exception from a strict rule. The following teaching is taken from the Holy Bible from the ancient Eastern Text by George M. Lamsa. It is taken from the Aramaic of the Peshitta [Aramaic Scriptures]. Although we will continue to use the King James Version 99% of the time, the only other Bibles that I recommend that you purchase and use once in a while would be the New English Bible and Lamsa's translation from the Aramaic. The purpose of this is so that we continue to rightly divide God's Word. This is the most important priority in our study of God's Word.
I Thessalonians Chapter Four (4) [from the George M. Lamsa's translation of the Aramaic Scriptures]:
1. From this time forth, my brethren, we beseech you and intreat you earnestly by our Lord Jesus that as you have been taught by us how you ought to live and to please God, so you will increase more and more.
At times, in a believers walk with God, he or she grows and accomplishes certain goals in their life as a result of their renewed mind efforts. God is trying to exhort and encourage us to never be completely satisfied and to just sit back and not continue to try to improve our spiritual walk. This is really a subtle trick of your personal adversary. I have fallen for it many times. We strive and pray to meet a goal in our life and overcome some type of oppression from our personal adversary. Finally, that day arrives and we are delivered by our believing as a result of our continued study, dedication, and obedience to God's Word. Immediately after this type of deliverance takes place in our life, it is right then that we should set a new goal.
Let me use a very simple example. Lets say a person realizes that he has a personal habit that is harmful to his physical body. Let's say that person smokes and would like to quit. Once that person reaches that goal and is successful, a believer needs to continue setting a new goal so that as the Word says, they will "increase more and more". In what ways are we to increase? The verse tells us that we should increase in the way that we live in and in the way that we please God. Once a person achieves a spiritual goal, and then decides to sit back and to do nothing, the adversary moves in and makes that person's life miserable in one way or another. This could be simply with one of his devices referred to as boredom. It is exciting to make an honest effort to improve your life and to please God more and more each day.
Now let's say that that same person realizes that in many ways they are selfish in their actions. Now that they have improved their physical health, they will obviously feel better about themselves and can then possibly become less selfish in their everyday lives towards other people.
I realize that I have mentioned subject areas that are very delicate to some people. You may ask me where in the Bible does it say that we should not smoke. If it is not obvious to you by now that this is a dangerous habit and evil in appearance to others, you have a problem. I used to smoke for many years and I would justify and rationalize it to try to make it appear ok to God, but deep down in my heart it was as obvious as the day is bright that this habit was wrong, harmful, dangerous, and a poor example. We need to tell it like it is. I often wondered and even mentioned to fellow-believers why the Word of God did not specifically mention such things as bad harmful physical habits in much of the scriptures. It is because it is so obvious that I believe God did not feel it necessary to even mention such things.
The word "beseech" in the first verse means REQUEST. It is a request of God that we continue to renew our minds and to continuously improve our walk with Him. The wording of the verse itself should tell you how important this is to God and to us.
2. For you know what commandments we gave you by our Lord Jesus.
It is not like we have an excuse by saying to ourselves that we do not know the commandments of God. They are clearly written for us to understand and to obey. Time and time again, God tells us that we must renew our minds to His Word and learn to walk like Jesus Christ and for us to imitate God. We know the commandments that were given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. We have free will to study those commandments or not to study those commandments. Many times, a person never gets delivered and guesses what the right thing is to do all their lives because they simply will not study and apply the Holy Scriptures written down and set so clearly before their eyes. The adversary, who is the god of this world, tries to make people believe that to live in a Godly manner is to be religious and to give up all the things they enjoy. This is one of the greatest tricks and devices that the devil pulls successfully upon people. It was quite a shock to me when I realized that living by God's Word was an exciting life and the type of life I always dreamed of living. It was the opposite type of life that the world and the adversary tried to make me believe it was. Each of us must choose every day whether to study God's commandments or not. But we surely cannot say that we do not know what commandments are available to us or where to go to study them. That is the gist of this verse.
3. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication,
God is saying to us that it is His Will that we set ourselves apart from the rest of this world because we are born again of God's Spirit. We belong to God and should abstain from fornication. But we need to understand that fornication in the New Testament seems to be used concerning the sin of idolatry. It is not referring to fornication in a carnal or fleshly way. It is referring to spiritual whoredom, which is putting anything before God. We should be able to arrange our lives so that nothing comes before God. In this manner, we are then able to live and manifest the more than abundant life which Jesus Christ promised us. Living a type of lifestyle where the Word God is always first becomes easier and easier over time with practice as a result of renewing the mind to God's Word every day of our lives. It becomes like a habit, only this habit is the most important, essential habit of our lives.
4. That every one of you should know how to keep his possessions in sanctification and honour;
Eventually, as we do our very best for God, we learn how to be the best example for God. A godly person who has a good heart and wisdom will appreciate your lifestyle. But an ungodly unbeliever who lacks wisdom and has an evil heart will dislike you and be jealous of your manner of life. This truth must be realized for you to be able to manifest the more than abundant life. If you feel in your heart that you must please everyone, you will always be unhappy and dissatisfied. You will fall for a very subtle and deadly trick of the adversary. If you shine the light of God's Word, you will make manifest the darkness in an evil person and that person will shun you and dislike you and will probably make attempts to make you feel uncomfortable or bring harm to you. Don't give them the opportunity. You must realize that a Son of God will never become a friend of the world. And it says in the Bible that if you are friend of the world, you are an enemy of God. If an unbeliever, who is evil, dislikes you, and their life is run and controlled by the god of this world, you should rejoice because you know you are doing something right and your Godly lifestyle will eventually destroy the works of the devil as you continue in Jesus Christ's footsteps.
5. And not through the passion of lust, even as the rest of the Gentiles who know not God;
This verse continues the thought of verse four (4). God wants us to live in a respectable way being excellent stewards of all things that we own. We do not purchase items to show them off to our neighbors -- this is covetousness. There is a the type of disease that has overcome most people today and it is as the verse says, the passion of lust -- lust being over-desire. God is saying that he does not want us to live this way like the Gentiles do who do not know God and are not born again of God's Spirit. All body and soul people live in a carnal manner. They live a covetous lifestyle that is empty, unfulfilling, and depressing in many ways. Again, I must present to you some actual examples of people who live in this manner.
When you are at peace with yourself and with God, you do not try to impress others. I live in an area where people constantly copy what people around them do. If one person buys a new truck, the neighbor buys a new truck also. If another neighbor buys a riding lawn mower even though they don't need one, their neighbor goes out and does the same thing. You see, the adversary makes people do foolish things and he makes them look like complete idiots. There is a movement that is taking place in most of the world today and it can be referred to as ambitious rivalry. Everyone is trying to outdo what everyone else does and has. At one point in my life, and this became so obvious to me in the area where I live, that I just removed myself physically from the presence of my neighbors. The adversary is a parasite and he can only live because good exists. I have a neighbor next door to me who constantly lives only to impress others. He is constantly trying to believe that he is a big deal by showing off many of the material things that he owns. This is how the unbelieving Gentile lives his or her life. I have compassion on him, not dislike. At one time, when I had invited him and his wife into our home, they noticed all of our Bible research materials and seemed to practically run out the door. Darkness cannot stand light. Constantly on their minds, they are trying to make others feel inferior in any way they can. I am sure that many of you reading this can identify with what I am saying and it took me forever to learn how to deal with people like this. There is one thing that the adversary cannot stand and that is when you ignore him completely. If you are keeping God first in your life, and you are set free from these devices of the adversary, these covetous people who seem to be in the majority today, will have no effect on you whatsoever. But in the meantime, if you give these unbelievers any attention, they will continue their obnoxious lifestyle and make every effort to get and hold on to your attention. People who live like this are never satisfied. They want more and more and more and more. They never have any peace and never will until they decide by their own free will, to put God first and foremost in their lives and to put all their material possessions aside. You should be able to see that worshipping material possessions is the same thing as idolatry. For many years, I allowed myself to be aggravated by the lifestyle of these people. People who live a godless lifestyle can be a major distraction in your walk and progress with the true God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because they are truly jealous of your peaceful and simple lifestyle.
6. And that no man overreach to transgress and defraud his brother in this matter, because our Lord is the avenger of all such, as we have also forewarned you and testified.
No matter how aggravating a situation dealing with unbelievers can become, we are never ever to seek revenge upon people. It is God's job to seek vengeance for you as is clearly stated in the book of Romans. Be very careful in this area and don't make the mistakes that I made thinking that is it ok to fight back against a person or persons who are constantly agitating you. Just make yourself scarce and let God do His job. Believe me, at the exact right moment, God will crush Satan before your very eyes. This verse clearly states that the Lord is the avenger of all such. That settles it. Don't argue with God.
7. For God has not called you to uncleanness but to holiness.
One of the most subtle traps the enemy uses is to get a believer to resort to the adversary's tactics. The enemy's tactics can surely be referred to as "uncleanness". In contrast, we are to live a life of sanctification or essential purity. I warn you from personal experience never to stoop so low as to resort to the tactics of the enemy. We are not to be provoked. As you continue to renew your mind to God's Word, you will experience strength in this area and you will eventually never again fall for this type of trap. If it would help you, you should always remember that it is always wrong when you are tempted. God cannot protect you when you are out of fellowship and seeking revenge upon others even if they deserve it. God says that it is not your job. If things are constantly going wrong in your life, more than likely, you are out of fellowship with God. Get back in fellowship as soon as possible and make every effort not to sin in the future.
8. Therefore, he who does an injustice does not wrong man but God who has also given to you his Holy Spirit.
We are to stand approved before God and not before man. When we do wrong and break fellowship, we have to answer to God first. This is why it is so important to practice the presence of God in your life. You are doing something wrong concerning God when you sin. This is what should be first and foremost in your mind. The first thing you need to do when you break fellowship with God is to tell Him that you are sorry. At times, the wrong that you have done to another person may even require you to apologize to that person. But your first allegiance is to God Almighty. That's what this verse is saying. When you sin, you do the will of the god of this world, who is the father and originator of all sin, when you should be glorifying the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We, as Sons of God, surely do not want to do any injustice to our Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can even understand or imagine.
9. Now concerning brotherly love, you do not need me to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
Once again, God is saying that it is obvious that by now we should know enough to love one another. In previous epistles, especially in I Corinthians, the importance of the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation was made known to all believers. That's what the verse is actually saying. We should not have to be told, by now, that we are to walk in love toward our fellow believers and towards all men. It is the love of God that never fails. You can only manifest the love of God if you are studying and applying the Word of God. Any other type of love is a worldly counterfeit and will make you feel uncomfortable and uneasy.
10. And indeed you show it toward all the brethren who are in Macedonia; but I beseech you, my brethren, that you increase your love more and more;
There is no maximum point at which the love of God ceases to be stronger. We should strive to manifest the love of God to a greater and greater degree in our lives.
11. And that you endeavor to be quiet and to do your own business and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,
We are to be peaceful, tranquil, and at ease at all times. We are to be able to do our work quietly and not to be dependent upon others, but to rely on God to teach us how to do our work. This does not mean that we are not able to ask a question of our boss concerning our work. But if we carry this privilege to an extreme, we can bring problems to ourselves.
You will always notice that a peaceful confident person will be able to work quietly. Most often, this person is a believer who is in fellowship with God. Let me present a few real life examples to make this scripture living and real to you.
I never forgot an experience I had when I was on an auditing internship when I went to college. I never had actual professional work experience before this. My auditor in charge assured me that it was ok to ask questions. Because I was a born again Christian, I was naturally and am still a very curious person. It turned out that I asked this person many questions about my work. I was not spiritually sharp enough to realize that I was beginning to agitate this person with all of my questions. If I had applied God's Word from this scripture, I would not have gotten myself into quite a bit of trouble because of my many questions. Months later and to my complete surprise and shock, I was told by the director of my bureau that my boss on this audit had complained about my excessive questions concerning my work and that I needed to learn to think for myself. I was extremely hurt and rather shocked to hear this. I believed, at the time, that my questions were welcomed. That's how the world works. This person who was in charge of this audit probably said this to me because she was supposed to. That does not mean that she meant what she said. Apparently the opposite of what she said was true. Overall, this was a very embarrassing and hurtful experience for me and one that I have never forgotten to this day.
The world is a very cold place and a believer needs to learn how to function among unbelievers. To this day, if I have a question on a job, I learn to exhaust every means I have to get an answer before I will ask my supervisor. In my heart, this makes no sense to me at all because it is a great waste of time. But that is how the world functions. It is nothing but organized confusion. I am sure that some of my readers can identify with and understand this example.
If I may, I would like to mention that my spouse is extremely wise concerning this type of situation. I have watched her work and she works quietly and she learns to answer almost all of own questions and she rarely, if ever, has a problem with one of her supervisors where she works. From my point of view, she has mastered this scripture and I strive to this day to achieve her height of believing concerning this subject. There is a balance that one must work to achieve when out there in this present world. God must teach you this balance.
12. That you may lead a life of good example toward outsiders, so that you depend on no man.
This verse tells us why we are to work quietly and independently thinking for ourselves. As a Christian believer, our lives are to be examples to unbelievers. If we know God's Word and apply it, we should have an advantage over an unbeliever, is this not correct? If an unbeliever, referred to here as an "outsider", provides a better example than we do, we must not be renewing our mind to God's Word. In the previous verse, there were others at my job who may or may not have been believers. However, they were either taught or stumbled on to the principle that they should work quietly and ask few, if any questions. At times, you will run across a situation out in the world that will surprise you. If another person seems to know more then you do, try to learn something from that person's example. Remember, you are not the only one who reads and studies the Bible and prays to God. I have studied so long and so hard that sometimes I think I am the only one who loves God and tries to live by His Will. Be very careful of this type of thinking. It can influence you to think bad thoughts of others, when the opposite should be true. God's Word exhorts us to think what Philippians 4: 8 tells us to think. And in Corinthians, we are told that the love of God never thinks evil. We should present the best example possible especially in the presence of an unbeliever. However, always be alert to learn from the example of another person if they are sincerely trying to teach you something that they believe can be helpful to you.
Let me give my final example from my negative experience on my college internship job. On the last day of my job, one of the women who actually caused me some problems felt some compassion for me and gave me some sincere advice about the professional workplace. She had told me that no matter how confused or stumped I may become concerning my work, that I should do everything possible to find out an answer to a question on my own. She had mentioned that she would "fake it until she could make it". To a certain extent, at times, we need to just agree as long as it doesn't contradict the Word of God. I understood that this woman was trying to help me, but I had hoped that I had received this advice many months prior to this final day on my job. And also to this day, I still do not agree wholeheartedly with her advice. But somewhere in her heart, she was trying to help me and this is what I should have focused on.
The best advice for anyone would be to first go to God and ask Him for His help. That way, as the scripture says, you will not need to depend on any man. We must always remember to go to God first for all of our needs. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
13. Now I want you to know, my brethren, that you should not grieve over those who are dead, as those do who have no hope.
We should remember that the subject of Thessalonians is the return of Jesus Christ and for some reason, God changes the subject rather quickly to that return in this verse. I found the verse extremely interesting due to my beliefs concerning this subject. Hopefully, you will agree.
God is telling us that we should not grieve to any type of extreme for those who have died. You have seen people grieve at wakes and funerals as if there is no hope. If the person, who is no longer alive, was born again of God's Spirit, then that person will some day "get up" and be raised from the dead, when Jesus Christ returns for the second time. I have sacrificed my life in the belief that Jesus Christ will be back or everything that I have done for the past 37 years has been in vain.
There should be a respectable burial service for a person who has passed away, but when that service becomes a meeting place of misery, it has always been my belief that this type of service is not of the true God. When a person returns from a wake or a funeral and they are devastated and mentally depressed to an extreme, this cannot be an influence from the true God. I do not believe that the person who passes on wants anyone to be miserable or depressed as a result of their parting. Think about it. Life must go on and I don't mean to sound cold concerning this matter. When I visit the burial sites of any of my family, I simply believe that at some point they were born again of God's Spirit and I will see them again in the third heaven and earth. This is what God is saying in this verse because Jesus Christ is absolutely coming back and everyone, and I mean everyone, is going to get up.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those who have died in Jesus, God will bring with him.
The key to understanding this verse is the phrase "in Jesus". This is referring to those who have died, but yet were born again of God's Spirit. The verse is simple and straightforward telling us that we will be with God when Jesus Christ returns. Also, take notice of the first word in the verse which is "For". This is a conjunction tying the verse in with what was said in verse 13. In other words, why in the world should we grieve to an extreme for someone who is passed away if we believe that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected? And when Jesus Christ returns, everyone who has died will be raised from the dead and brought back to life. All believers who were born again will be with God and Jesus Christ in the third heaven and earth. This is quite a comforting thought and this is what we should think on when one of our loved ones passes on. God does not want us to be depressed and to be without hope because we have hope and that hope is the return of Jesus Christ. That is what motivates us to go on and that is what motivates me to continue to teach you God's rightly divided Word.
15. For this we say to you by the very word of our Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of our Lord shall not overtake those who are dead.
This verse is simply trying to set forth chronological occurrences regarding the second return of Jesus Christ. It is saying that the dead in Christ [those who were born again] will rise first. They will get up and be raised from the dead. The word "overtake" means precede. We [who are still alive at the return of Jesus Christ] will not receive any type of special preference or preferential treatment over those who are dead or have already died. Jesus Christ will raise believers from the dead first. The end of the next verse specifically states this.
16. For our Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God; and those who died in Christ will rise first.
God's Word comforts us by telling us some of the details of this great and glorious event regarding the second return of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God. What a glorious day this will be and it should always motivate you to continue your work with God and with your efforts to renew your mind to His matchless Word.
Now take note of the last part of this verse. Those who have died as born again believers will rise from the dead first. It is important to be able to understand certain phrases in God's Word such as "in Christ". This is referring to the born again believer. We should know that at a much later point in time, in the Book of Revelation, that even the unbeliever will eventually be raised from the dead. It is important that we understand this. Many Christians become very confused concerning these resurrections. For the final time, those born again believers who have died will be risen from the dead first.
17. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet our Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with our Lord.
When Jesus Christ returns for the second time, many of us will still be alive on this earth. I have often believed that Jesus Christ will return in my lifetime. However, it is not available to believe to affect this event. No one on earth will ever know if they will be alive when Jesus Christ returns. Only God Almighty knows when He is going to send Jesus Christ back for us. Not even Jesus Christ himself knows when he is to return.
Getting back to the verse itself, it is important to be able to understand the phrase "with them". If you go back and look at the last part of verse 16, "them" is referring to those born again believers who had died and are now risen from the dead. Now, we can clearly understand the verse.
Those of us who are still alive on this earth will meet, in the air, all those who died but were born again of God's Spirit, and are now raised from the dead. This will be a glorious reunion unexplainable by words. We will then be with Jesus Christ forever and ever. At a later point, the events that occur in the Book of Revelation will begin. Remember, that the Book of Romans assures us that we have escaped the wrath to come. This is the wrath referred to in the Book of Revelation. Let no one teach you otherwise. But we must remember that the culmination of all of these events will be the third heaven and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. It is there that we will forever be in the presence of God Almighty and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There will be no sickness and no death and no suffering.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.