v. 1. Furthermore, then, we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that, as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
v. 2. For we know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
v. 3. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication;
v. 4. that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;
v. 5. not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles, which know not God.
It is a wise pastor that can make a cordial commendation precede a necessary correction. The report of Timothy had, in general, been very favorable, but he had not withheld from the apostle the fact that certain abuses stood in need of correction. But Paul's tone of cordial affection does not change: Moreover, now, brethren, we beg you and beseech in the Lord Jesus that, as you have accepted of us how you should lead your lives and please God, even as you have led them, that you excel still more. The apostle here opens the hortatory part of his letter, basing its admonitions and warnings entirely upon the doctrine which he had just laid before them in such an appealing way. It is in this sense that he calls the Thessalonian Christians brethren, that he begs them, that he entreats them in the Lord Jesus, on the basis of whose redemption and for whose sake all Christians endeavor to lead such lives as are in conformity with their calling, such lives as will please the Lord. There is not a hint of faultfinding in the entire passage. It is not a new burden which the apostle is trying to lay upon their unwilling shoulders; he is merely reminding them of instructions which they had received from him and from his fellow-laborers. Those instructions included also apostolic advice as to how they should conduct themselves in harmony with the obligation resting upon them as Christians, in order to please God. The Thessalonians had learned from the apostle and his companions in just what way they should conduct themselves in the various situations and exigencies of life, just how they should arrange their lives in the light of the Word of God. St. Paul willingly concedes and praises the fact that they had been willing to accept and follow instructions, that they were, on the whole, leading Christian lives. Since, however, a Christian is always in the making and never attains to ultimate perfection in this life, therefore the apostle begs and entreats that they should aim to excel ever more in their Christian life.
Paul now substantiates his admonition: For you know what instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus. The instructions or commandments concerning their sanctification had not been given by Paul at random or according to his own ideas, but on the authority of Christ, and therefore these injunctions were in full force for all times. With all these facts the Thessalonian Christians were fully familiar, and more, the apostle had commended their willing obedience to the Word which had been preached in their midst, chap. 2:13. Without further argument, therefore, he now refers to the summary of the doctrine concerning their sanctification: For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you desist from fornication, that every one of you know that he should get his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust like also the Gentiles that do not know God. This is God's will, not His entire good and gracious will toward the Thessalonian Christians, but that part to which their attention needed to be drawn at this time, a point in which they should excel more and more. It is God's will that the Christians should grow in sanctification, that they should flee from sin more and more, that they should consecrate themselves to Him, that they should walk in newness of life. Paul's specific warning concerns the sin of fornication, of intercourse outside of holy wedlock. To this sin the converts at Thessalonica were exposed, partly on account of the filthy heathen cult which was practiced there, partly on account of the fact that there was always danger of becoming tainted with licentiousness in a large seaport. The Christians must abstain, desist, from such sexual impurity, they must flee from its contaminating influence. For, as they know, the only way in which the desire for procreation should find its expression should be in this way, that everyone have his own wife, that marriage be entered upon in sanctification, with due propriety, as a Christian duty and vocation, and in honor, Col_2:23; 1Pe_3:7, with the proper regard for the wife as an heir of salvation, or at least as standing high above all beasts, with a full sense of the moral dignity of the relationship. All sinful abuse, all carnal excesses, are excluded by this plain statement of the apostle. And he emphasizes his meaning by a disgusted reference to the passion of lust such as was found among the Gentiles that did not know God. Marriage was not instituted for the gratification of wild and untamed passion; such behavior characterizes people that are without all reverence toward God, whom they do not know, and for whose will they do not care. Christians will be careful to lead a chaste and decent life in word and deed also in the married state.