What does 1 Thessalonians 4:7 mean?
ESV: For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
NIV: For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
NASB: For God has not called us for impurity, but in sanctification.
CSB: For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.
NLT: God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.
KJV: For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
NKJV: For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Verse Commentary:
Paul gives another reason to renounce sexual impurity. These are part of his encouragement to the Thessalonian Christians, after a lengthy description of their excellent reputation. The prior verse warned that impurity brings divine judgment.

As stated here, the second reason is that God has called Christians to lead a holy life. God saved us not simply to rescue us from eternal judgment. He intended to make us holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15–16). The process through which He makes us holy is called sanctification, and it involves a partnership. God works in us to make us holy (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13); we have a responsibility to cooperate with Him in that work. Philippians 2:12 commands us to work out—not work "for"—our own salvation with fear and trembling. Ephesians 6:10 commands us to be strong in the Lord, and the next verse commands us to put on the whole armor of God. Galatians 5 talks about living by the Spirit. Obviously, the Christian life is not a passive life, but an active one in which God and His people are partners.
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 4:1–8 urges the believers at Thessalonica to recall what Paul said when he was with them. He had taught them how to behave in such a way that they would please God. They were following these instructions well, but Paul challenges them to increasingly become more holy, for this was God's will for them. Each believer was obligated to avoid sexual immorality by controlling his own body, knowing the Lord avenges those who practice sin. Paul insists that to ignore this teaching about sexual immorality is tantamount to rejecting God.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 4 starts with an encouragement for the Thessalonian believers to continue their spiritual growth. Their conduct is exemplary, but they need to seek to do even more. Paul especially emphasizes the importance of sexual purity, as well as the need for believers to live peaceful, polite, and productive lives. Paul then begins to discuss the subject of Christ's return. This begins with a reassurance that believers who have died prior to the return of Christ will be the first ones raised when He comes back for His people. Next will be those still living, all of whom will meet Jesus ''in the air.'' Knowledge of our eternal destiny should be encouraging!
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1—3 had a lot to say about the good reputation of the Thessalonian church. Chapter 4 begins to address points Paul wants to clarify. First of these is the need to grow in good works, and to avoid immoral living. Paul then begins to explain ''the rapture'': the moment when Christ will retrieve believers from this earth. Paul's explanation seems to be intended to dispel rumors. In the final chapter, Paul will further explain the nature of the ''day of the Lord,'' correcting what might have been said by false teachers.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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