For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)For God.—This gives the reason for stating that the Lord will take vengeance on such sins; because they are not part of the terms on which His Father called us. It should be “did not call.” These 1Thessalonians 4:7-8, sum up the little disquisition, returning to the principle announced in 1Thessalonians 4:3.
Unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.—The preposition translated “unto” has the same force in Galatians 5:13, “Called unto liberty,” and Ephesians 2:10, “Created unto good works.” It implies not so much the definite end to which we are invited, as the terms on which the invitation will still stand; for the call is not yet accomplished. (See Note on 1Thessalonians 2:12.) The second “unto” in the Greek is simply “in,” used in the same sense as in 1Thessalonians 4:4. Paraphrase, “For God did not call us on the understanding that we might be unclean, but by the way of sanctification.”
Holiness is a mistranslation for sanctification. The process, not the quality, is meant.Romans 1:24; Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5.
unto—rather as Greek, "in"; marking that "holiness" is the element in which our calling has place; in a sphere of holiness. Saint is another name for Christian.sanctification, 1 Thessalonians 4:3,4. The first is taken from their Christian calling, which is not to uncleanness, but to chastity, called holiness. When they were Gentiles in state, they lived in the lust of uncleanness, but they were now called by the power of the gospel, and brought to such a profession that did forbid and condemn it. And the author of their call is God himself, though the apostles and other ministers were the instruments. Whence he fetcheth this second argument, 1 Thessalonians 4:8, that if this chastity he despised, or rejected, as we may read the text, it is not man, but God, that is despised. To despise a minister in a commandment he delivers from God is to despise God himself, Luke 10:16, &c.; and the apostle doth here intimate, not to obey the commandment of God is a despising God. Or, that the apostle was despised by some because of the outward meanness of his person, or questioning his authority.
Who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit: this he adds as a third argument; so that what he had preached to them, was not from himself, but from the Holy Spirit. Or if by us he means these Thessalonians also, as some copies read it, he hath given you, &c., then he argues from the gift of the Holy Spirit they had received against living in the sin of uncleanness. This would be very disagreeable, not only to their holy calling, but the Holy Spirit God had given them. Or else these arguments of the apostle are to persuade to universal holiness, taking sanctification and holiness in a larger sense; and uncleanness, for all sin in general standing opposite thereunto. Sin is often spoken of in Scripture under the notion of filth, defilement, pollution, &c., and so was typed forth under the law; and to be cleansed from sin is a cleansing man from filthiness, 2 Corinthians 7:1; so that to live in sin, as the apostle argues, is to live in uncleanness, to contradict our holy calling, to despise God, and to walk contrary to the nature and dictates of his Holy Spirit.
unto uncleanness of any sort, as before specified. This they had lived in before their calling, and were now called from it into communion with Christ, who loves righteousness, and hates iniquity; and by the Gospel, which teaches to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to forsake all impurity, both of flesh and spirit:
but this call is
unto holiness of life and conversation in general, and to chastity in thought, look, word, and actions in particular; for God that calls is holy, and therefore those who are called ought to be so; the calling with which they are called is an holy calling, principles of grace and holiness are wrought in their souls, when they are called; and the end of their calling is to live soberly, righteously, and godly; and then, and then only, do they walk worthy of that calling wherewith they are called, and of God who has, by his grace, called them to his kingdom and glory.For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Thessalonians 4:7. Reason of ἔκδικος ὁ κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων.
ἐκάλεσεν] the fuller form in 1 Thessalonians 2:12.
ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ] on condition of, or for the purpose of uncleanness; comp. Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 2:10; Winer, p. 351 [E. T. 492]; Erasmus: Non vocavit nos hac lege, ut essemus immundi, siquidem causa et conditio vocationis erat, ut desineremus esse, quod eramus.
ἀκαθαρσίᾳ] is uncleanness, moral impurity generally (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:3), and thus includes covetousness as well as lust.
ἀλλʼ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ] gives, by means of an abbreviation (comp. Kühner, II. p. 316), instead of the purpose, the result of the calling: but in holiness, i.e. so that complete holiness of life has become a characteristic property of us Christians. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:15; Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 4:4. But ἁγιασμός, as it forms the counterpart to ἀκαθαρσίᾳ, must denote moral holiness in its entire compass, and is accordingly here taken in a wider sense than in 1 Thessalonians 4:3.7. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness] The two prepositions alike rendered “unto” in the A.V., are quite distinct in the Greek. St Paul writes, God called us not for (with a view to) uncleanness, but in sanctification; similarly in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of spirit.” The call of God was from the first a sanctifying call for the Thessalonians, and was attended with holy influences that forbade all uncleanness. Certainly He never intended them to live impure lives, when He “called them to His own kingdom and glory” (ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:12); the understanding on which that call was received was the opposite of this. The entire purpose and tendency of God’s message to them was “in sanctification.” For this last word, see notes to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4. True believers in Christ are necessarily “saints;” so the Apostle commonly addresses all Christians to whom he writes (see Romans 1:7, &c.—“called saints,” i.e. “saints in virtue of your calling”); and their sainthood excludes impurity and wrong-doing.
Observe that God’s call is the starting-point of a Christian’s life. All the motives and aims by which that life is governed are virtually contained in this. “Walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called” is with St Paul an exhortation that includes all others (Ephesians 4:1). So he comes to his last word on this matter:—1 Thessalonians 4:7. Ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, in sanctification) ἐπὶ, for, on account of, rather expresses the end; ἐν, in, the nature or character of the thing [viz. of our calling].Verse 7. - For God hath not called us unto; or, for the purpose cf. Uncleanness; moral uncleanness in general (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:15). But unto; or, in; in a state of Holiness; or sanctification; the same word as in the third verse; so that holiness is the whole sphere of cur Christian life.
In sanctification (ἐν)
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