1Λοιπὸν οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα καθὼς παρελάβετε παρ’ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ, καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε, ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον. 2οἴδατε γὰρ τίνας παραγγελίας ἐδώκαμεν ὑμῖν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ. 3Τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας, 4εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ, 5μὴ ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας καθάπερ καὶ τὰ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν, 6τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν ἐν τῷ πράγματι τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, διότι ἔκδικος κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων, καθὼς καὶ προείπαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα. 7οὐ γὰρ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ ἀλλ’ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ. 8τοιγαροῦν ὁ ἀθετῶν οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ ἀλλὰ τὸν θεὸν τὸν [καὶ] διδόντα τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον εἰς ὑμᾶς.
The writers signal a new section in their letter with the adverbial accusative term λοιπόν that frequently signals a concluding section, with the sense “for the rest.” Sometimes τὸ λοιπόν serves the same purpose (1 Cor. 7:29; Phil. 3:1; 4:8; 2 Th. 3:1;) as does the genitive τοῦ λοιποῦ (Gal. 6:17; Eph. 6:10 (textual variants)). It could define a logical conclusion to an argument or the final member of a series. They emphasize this transition with the postpositive particle οὖν that signals a logical consequence of what precedes. The third clue to this transition is the vocative ἀδελφοί. The writers employ a compound main clause to frame the substance of this section of the discourse. They express it as a request and an act of encouragement, using the present active tense forms ἐρωτῶμεν…παρακαλοῦμεν. The first person plural subject continues. The single pronoun ὑμᾶς serves as the object of both verbs (an example of zeugma). The adverbial phrase ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ could describe the means by which the writers make these requests. Alternatively, it could express a causal idea expressing the reason for this encouragement (Campbell, Paul and Union with Christ, 165). Ἰησοῦ is a dative form and appositional to κυρίῳ.
The two, compounded verbs in 4:1 govern a subordinate, indirect imperative clause introduced by repeated ἵνα conjunctions. The second ἵνα recapitulates the first one because of the intervening subordinate, adverbial καθώς clauses of comparison that modify the main verb περισσεύητε (used in 3:12) in the indirect imperative construction. περισσεύητε is a present active subjunctive tense form, indicating incompleted action, i.e., “you should keep abounding….” It is also qualified by the adverb μᾶλλον indicating the degree to which the subject should “abound.” The first καθώς clause has an aorist active indicative verb παρελάβετε that describes the reception of information as a completed action in the past (see the usage in 2:13). The adverbial phrase παρ’ ἡμῶν indicates the source from which the subject received this information. The nominalized indirect question, marked by τό, functions as the object of παρελάβετε. πῶς (“how”) marks the indirect question and its main verb δεῖ, an impersonal present tense form (“it is necessary”), always takes a complementary infinitive. In this case there are two present active infinitives, namely περιπατεῖν (see the comments at 2:12) and ἀρέσκειν (see the comments at 2:4). The accusative ὑμᾶς marks the subject of both infinitives. The dative θεῷ marks the direct object of ἀρέσκειν. The second, adverbial καθώς clause affirms that these believers are “indeed (ascensive καί) walking (περιπατεῖτε present active indicative),” i.e., conducting themselves in conformity with the received teaching and so this is not a criticism, but an encouragement to excel in such behavior.
The writers use γάρ to mark the second verse as an explanation for their indirect command. They employ the verb οἶδατε to remind their audience about their previous instruction. The indirect question, introduced with the interrogative adjective τίνας, functions as the object clause modifying οἴδατε. The writers place the object (τίνας παραγγελίας) of the indirect question first in the clause, giving it prominence. The aorist tense form ἐδώκαμεν indicates a completed action and takes an indirect object ὑμῖν. The adverbial prepositional phrase διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ indicates agency and names the authority who stands behind these instructions. Ἰησοῦ is appositional to κυρίου.
Verses 3-6 form a complex sentence in which the writers review several specific instructions regarding Christian context. The defining concept is ἁγιασμός “holiness” (v. 3; see also vv. 4 and 7) by which θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ becomes operative in the lives of these believers, displaying it before the world. The writers characterize this sentence as a further explanation, using the particle γάρ. The main clause is an equative clause with the demonstrative pronoun τοῦτο functioning as the subject. However, the pronoun proleptically references the following infinitive structures that in fact define the will of God. θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, being anarthrous, functions as a predicate nominative. τοῦ θεοῦ is a subjective genitive. The appositional ὁ ἁγίασμος modifies θέλημα. ὑμῶν probably is a subjective genitive, describing the holy behavior of the audience. The present middle infinitive ἀπέχεσθαι means “to abstain” and it probably functions like a complementary infinitive modifying the noun θέλημα, that is cognate with θέλλω, a verb that normally takes a complementary infinitive. It defines the first instruction that the writers reference. The writers do not use the article to nominalize the infinitive as a substantive. The subject of the infinitive is the accusative ὑμᾶς. The adverbial phrase ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας indicates separation and defines what the audience should not practice. πορνεία generally refers to a variety of unlawful sexual practices including prostitution. This is the first indication we have in this letter that such activity may have characterized the pre-Christian cultural behavior of these believers.
A second instruction occurs in v. 4, marked by the perfect active infinitive εἰδέναι “to know.” The subject of this infinitive is ἕκαστον “each” and it is qualified by the partitive genitive ὑμῶν. The object of the infinitive is the content clause of indirect discourse expressed with a second infinitive, namely κτᾶσθαι, present middle tense form. This verb generally has the sense “to get, acquire,” but in the middle voice it may have a different lexical sense (see the NIV’s translation “learn to control”). The object of this infinitive is τὸ σκεῦος “vessel” and it is modified by the genitive of possession ἑαυτοῦ, a reflexive pronoun whose singular number reflects the antecedent ἕκαστον. Scholars dispute what σκεῦος refers to, but it may be a person’s body, given the previous reference to illicit sexual activity. The compound adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ describes the manner in which each should manage his own “vessel.”
In v. 5 the writers use a prohibition marked by μή and probably a repeated, implied infinitive κτᾶσθαι based on the previous instruction. Believers should not engage their “vessels” ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας, another adverbial prepositional phrase describing manner. The head noun πάθει “passion” is modified by an attributive genitive ἐπιθυμίας. The lexical sense might be “in a manner characterized by lustful passion,” in other words, without sexual boundaries. The adverbial comparative clause marked by καθάπερ “just as,” functionally provides an explanation why such behavior is no longer appropriate for believers. καί is ascensive and qualifies τὰ ἔθνη. The writers use an attributive, adjectival participial phrase to characterize τὰ ἔθνη, namely τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν. The perfect active participle εἰδότα resonants with the previous οἴδατε and εἰδέναι creating a contrast with believers who know the will of God and unbelievers who do not know God (see 1:9-10). The negative particle μή normally modifies participles. The object of the participle is τὸν θεόν.
The last item in this set of instructions (v. 6) has a slightly different structure. In this case, the writers employ an articulated, negatived, compound set of infinitives (τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν). What nuance does the article add, given its omission with the previous two infinitives that define instructions (vv. 3-4)? It marks the infinitives as having a noun function. It is possible to read vv. 3-6 as expressing three different instructions or to read them as one essential instruction (v. 3b), that is then followed by commentary that adds more details (vv. 4-6). If the second option is the writers’ intention, then perhaps the articulated infinitives express purpose or result (Funk, 205 §399) related to “knowing how to possess his own vessel.” Both infinitives are present active forms and seem to refer to sinful actions (ὑπερβαίνω (“to overstep, transgress)…πλεονεκτέω (“to exploit, outwit, defraud”)). The subject of the infinitives would be the prior ἕκαστον (v. 4) because the object of the infinitives τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ is modified by the genitive singular possessive pronoun αὐτοῦ whose antecedent presumably is ἕκαστον. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν τῷ πράγματι probably has a referential function (“in this matter”) and the article is anaphoric, i.e., the matter or affair is presumably connected with wrongful use of “his own vessel.”
The writers provide justification for their instruction in v. 6b. It is marked by διότι that probably indicates a causal clause in this context. The clause is verbless with the anarthrous κύριος (does it refer to Yahweh or to Jesus?) functioning as subject and ἔκδικος modifying the subject as a predicate adjective. The adjective is placed first in the clause giving it prominence. It is also possible that ἔκδικος might function as a substantive (“avenger”). See the use of the cognate noun ἐκδίκησις in 2 Th. 1:6-8). The adverbial prepositional phrase περὶ πάντων τούτων identifies “all these things” about which Yahweh/the Lord will see vengeance. Within the causal clause the writers include another comparative clause marked by καθώς. It incorporates a compound predicate using two aorist tense verbs (καὶ προείπαμεν…καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα). They have employed both verbs previously to reference the message that they communicated when they first arrived in Thessalonika. The repeated καί probably has the sense “both…and.” These verbs have an indirect object ὑμὶν, but the direct object is implied, perhaps being the information about the “Lord” being avenging.
The writers provide additional explanation (γάρ) in v. 7 for their instruction regarding holiness (v. 3). The subject of the aorist active verb ἐκάλεσεν (completed action) is ὁ θεός and the direct object is ἡμᾶς. The writers include themselves in this divine action. Two adverbial prepositional phrases qualify the verb, namely ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ ἀλλ’ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ. The conjunction ἀλλά indicates a contrast. Although the writers employ two different prepositions, both nouns are in the dative case. It is difficult to differentiate semantically the sense of the two phrases. Perhaps the first indicates intent, i.e., “for uncleanness,” and the second might suggest manner, as it seems to express in v. 4. They seem to describe specific features of the deity’s invitation.
The final verse in this section begins with the compound particle τοιγαροῦν that marks an inference (“for this very reason”) and only occurs infrequently in NT documents (here and in Heb 12:1). It usually occurs first in its clause. The subject is a present active participle used substantively ὁ ἀθετῶν (“the one who invalidates, nullifies, sets aside, rejects”). The main verb is the cognate present tense form ἀθετεῖ. The repetition emphasizes the idea of “rejecting.” While the direct object ἄνθρωπον literal means “some human being,” presumably the sense is “something created by and authorized by some human being.” A negative particle οὐκ coordinates with ἀλλά, indicating that the first option is being dismissed and the second option is being accepted. τὸν θεόν is the direct object of an implied, repeated ἀθετεῖ. The writers qualify τὸν θεόν with the attributive, present active participle τὸν διδόντα “the one who gives.” The present tense form indicates an incomplete action of some kind. The direct object of the participle is τὸ πνεῦμα…τὸ ἅγιον. The word order suggests that τὸ ἅγιον receives some emphasis. The possessive pronoun αὐτοῦ defines the one to whom this “spirit” belongs. It is neither human nor satanic. Instead of the expected dative indirect object, the writers use an adverbial preposition phrase εἰς ὑμᾶς that might suggest motion (“into us”) or purpose (“for us”).
9Περὶ δὲ τῆς φιλαδελφίας οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε γράφειν ὑμῖν, αὐτοὶ γὰρ ὑμεῖς θεοδίδακτοί ἐστε εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν ἀλλήλους, 10καὶ γὰρ ποιεῖτε αὐτὸ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς [τοὺς] ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ. Παρακαλοῦμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, περισσεύειν μᾶλλον 11καὶ φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια καὶ ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς [ἰδίαις] χερσὶν ὑμῶν, καθὼς ὑμῖν παρηγγείλαμεν, 12ἵνα περιπατῆτε εὐσχημόνως πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω καὶ μηδενὸς χρείαν ἔχητε.
In v. 9 the writers announce a new topic in their instructions with the adverbial prepositional phrase περὶ…τῆς φιλαδελφίας and the postpositive particle δέ. The phrase modifies the following infinitive γράφειν. περί + genitive is a common way to reference a topic for discussion. φιλαδελφία becomes a key, Christian term for defining relationships within the faith community. The verb phrase χρείαν ἔχετε is a common idiom that means “to have need, to have necessity.” In this case, the verb is a present tense form indicating incomplete action and the entire phrase is qualified by the negative οὐ. This verb phrase frequently takes a complementary infinitive to express the focus of the “need.” In this case, it is γράφειν, a present active infinitive. By stating this negatively, the writers introduce the motif of “mutual love,” perhaps as a reminder. The dative pronoun ὑμῖν functions as indirect object of the infinitive. The γάρ clause explains why they do not need to provide instructions. The subject is ὑμεῖς and it is modified by the intensifying use of the pronoun αὐτοί, giving the sense “you yourselves” and creating an emphatic nuance. This is an equative clause with the verb ἐστε (an enclitic form). θεοδίδακτοι functions as a predicate adjective, that characterizes the pronominal subject. εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν is an articulated present active infinitive marked by the preposition εἰς to describe purpose, i.e., why God is teaching them. The object of the infinitive is ἀλλήλους. The present tense form of the infinitive indicates an incomplete action.
Although NA28 places a comma at the end of v. 9, in my opinion the γάρ clause in v. 10a is an independent clause, providing further explanation for the declaration in v. 9a. I think that the initial καί is ascensive, modifying the following verb ποιεῖτε (“for you indeed are doing…”). The direct object αὐτό probably refers back to the action described in the previous infinitive of purpose and that is why it is a neuter singular form. The adverbial prepositional phrase εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἀδελφούς has a directional sense, defining the recipients of this loving action. πάντας has an inclusive sense. The writers define ἀδελφούς with the nominalized prepositional phrase τοὺς ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ, functioning as an adjectival modifier. The phrase has a locative sense and ὅλος indicates the totality of Macedonia that includes Philippi, Thessalonika, and Berea.
The next sentence incorporates vv. 10b-12. δέ signals a new topic in this list of instructions, indicated by the present active indicative verb παρακαλοῦμεν (see previous usage in 4:1). The direct object is ὑμᾶς and the writers include a vocative ἀδελφοί. The word of encouragement is expressed in the compound infinitive construction (περισσεύειν…καὶ φιλοτιμεῖσθαι). The infinitives function together as a content clause of indirect command. The writers used περισσεύειν μᾶλλον previously in 4:1. The present middle infinitive φιλοτιμεῖσθαι “to aspire; to consider it an honour,” only occurs once in this letter (cf. Rom. 15:20; 2 Cor. 5:9). The tense forms of both infinitives indicate incomplete actions. Three complementary infinitives define what these believers should abound in and aspire to. The first is ἡσυχάζειν, a present active infinitive meaning “to be quiet.” It seems in this context to have the sense of living a life that is productive and is not disruptive or unruly (see 2 Th. 3:11-12). The second infinitive πράσσειν is also a present active tense form and has the sense of “to do, accomplish, conduct one’s affairs, operate” and has τἀ ἴδια as its direct object, referring to things that belong to or pertain to a person, i.e., one’s own affairs. The third infinitive ἐργάζεσθαι is a present middle infinitive and essentially means “to work, do a task.” It is modified by a dative nominal phrase describing the means used in such work (ταῖς χερσὶν). The dative noun is modified by a genitive of possession ὑμῶν. The writers affirm that this instruction is “in accord with” (καθώς) their previous communications, employing an adverbial, comparative clause. They front the indirect object ὑμῖν giving it prominence. The verb is an aorist active indicative form παρηγγείλαμεν, indicating a completed action (cf. 2 Th. 3:4, 6, 10, 12).
The writers conclude their instruction in v. 12 with a purpose/result clause marked by ἵνα. The main verbs in this subordinate clause are the present active subjunctive form περιπατῆτε, a verb used in 4:1 twice, and the present active subjunctive ἔχητε, coordinated by καί. The repeated περιπατῆτε (4:1, 12) may be an example of inclusio. It is modified by the adverb εὐσχημόνως “well-formed, decently, becomingly.” It is also modified by the adverbial prepositional phrase πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω indicating for whom they behave in this decent manner. This is a nominalized adverb meaning “those on the outside,” i.e., those not part of the faith community. The idiom χρείαν ἔχητε repeats the same expression used in 4:9, but here it indicates that believers, because they are working diligently, lack nothing essential for living. μηδενός probably is a genitive neuter singular form that modifies χρείαν.
13Οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων, ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα. 14εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη, οὕτως καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ. 15Τοῦτο γὰρ ὑμῖν λέγομεν ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου, ὅτι ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν τοὺς κοιμηθέντας· 16ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ, καταβήσεται ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον, 17ἔπειτα ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι ἅμα σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ κυρίου εἰς ἀέρα· καὶ οὕτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθα. 18Ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις.
The writers in this segment of the discourse (vv. 13-18) move on to their third major topic, indicated by the postpositive δέ, the topic indicator περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων and the vocative ἀδελφοί. Previously the writers used the positive verb οἴδατε, but here they vary the idiom and employ the negative οὐ θέλομεν…ἀγνοεῖν. Both the main verb and the complementary infinitive are present tense forms. ὑμὰς is the accusative subject of the infinitive. The head noun in the adverbial prepositional phrase περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων is a present passive participle, functioning as a noun with the sense “those who are asleep.” Presumably “sleep” is a metaphor for death. The consequence of removing their ignorance in this matter is expressed in the ἵνα result clause. The main verb is λυπῆσθε, a present passive subjunctive meaning “grieve, become sad.” μή is the usual negative particle with non-indicative tense forms. Within this subordinate clause, the writers incorporate another adverbial comparative clause marked by καθώς. καί is ascensive and modifies οἱ λοιποί, the subject of the implied verb λυποῦνται. The attributive present active participle οἱ ἔχοντες modifies οἱ λοιποί and is modified by the negative particle μή. The present participle indicates an incomplete action. The object of the participle is ἐλπίδα (see 1:3).
Verse 14 is a first class conditional sentence marked by εἰ + indicative in the protasis. The postpositive particle γάρ also indicates that it functions as an explanation for the hope that these believers should have. The writers use a first person plural verb ending (πιστεύομεν – present tense form) to include themselves in this trusted or confident expectation. The object of πιστεύομεν is a content clause of indirect discourse marked by ὅτι. In the content clause, Ἰησοῦς functions as the subject of the compound verb phrase ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη. These are aorist active indicative verb forms, indicating completed actions. οὕτως marks the apodosis and modifies the main verb ἄξει, indicating some similarity between what Jesus experienced and what “those who sleep” will experience. καί again is ascensive, modifying ὁ θεός. The writers place the object, the aorist passive substantival participle τοὺς κοιμηθέντας, before the verb, putting it in the focal position of the clause. The aorist tense form indicates a completed action and probably refers to their status at the time of death, in contrast with the present participle of the same verb used in v. 13. The adverbial prepositional phrase διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ modifies the participle and describes intermediate agency. In some sense, their condition occurs through Jesus’ agency. The main verb ἄξει is a future active indicative and probably has the sense of “bring or lead.” The adverbial prepositional phrase σὺν αὐτῷ describes accompaniment and the referent of the pronoun is Jesus. God is the one who makes this happen.
It is difficult to know exactly how to punctuate vv. 15-17. I would suggest a major stop be placed at the end of v. 16 and v. 17a. If this is correct, then vv. 15-16 form one, complex sentence. The writers indicate that this section forms additional explanation by using γάρ. They also want to affirm that this knowledge comes ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου. Does this anarthrous form of κύριος refer to God and the second one, the arthrous τοῦ κυρίου, refer to the Lord Jesus? The use of this wording suggests that this information has come through revelation of some sort, either through the incarnate Christ or some subsequent means. τοῦτο is the object of the present active indicative verb λέγομεν. However, it anticipates the ὅτι clause, that functions as a content clause of indicate discourse. ὑμῖν is the indirect object.
Within the ὅτι clause the subject ἡμεῖς receives special attention. It is modified by the appositional, substantival present participle οἱ ζῶντες “those alive.” In my opinion, οἱ περιλειπόμενοι, a present passive participle, is attributive and modifies οἱ ζῶντες (“the living ones who remain”). The adverbial prepositional phrase εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν modifies the participle περιλειπόμενοι. It has a temporal sense, “until the presence,” and παρουσίαν is modified by the subjective or objective genitive τοῦ κυρίου. The writers use the strong negative οὐ μή + aorist active subjunctive φθάσωμεν, a verb that in this context probably means “precede.” The aorist passive substantival participle τοὺς κοιμηθέντας functions as the object (see v. 14). Its usage here ties v. 15 closely to vv. 13-14.
The subordinate conjunction ὅτι in v. 16 probably is causal, explaining the information provided in the prior content clause. The writers place the subject first and give it emphasis by using the self-referential pronoun αὐτός (“the Lord (Jesus) himself”). ὁ κύριος is arthrous and certainly refers to Jesus. Three adverbial prepositional phrase precede and modify the main verb. We could consider the first one to be the primary expression with the preposition ἐν probably defining the manner in which this “descent” occurs. κέλευσμα expresses an auditory action, meaning “a signal, shout of command” and has a military connotation. It indicates that the Lord is in charge of what happens. The second and third may describe the means by which this signal is given – “an archangel’s voice” and “a trumpet.” These actions command attention. καταβήσεται is a future middle indicative “shall descend.” The middle may suggest some intentionality on the part of the subject. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ expresses separation. The singular form is unusual in the NT. The causal clause contains a second verb ἀναστήσονται coordinated with the first by καί. It is a future passive indicative verb form. The subject is οἱ νεκροί. The phrase ἐν Χριστῷ probably modifies the subject, referring to Christians. The adverb πρῶτον modifies the verb and indicates sequence. It is possible that the “signal, shout of command” is the order that causes these deceased Christians to be raised.
Although v. 17 continues the explanation offered in v. 16, it is a separate sentence. The initial adverb ἔπειτα indicates that it is the next action in this sequence of events following πρῶτον. The writers again include themselves in this expectation, using first person plural ἡμεῖς as the verb’s explicit subject. This picks up the same expression used in v. 15. For the appositional modifier οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι see the commentary for v. 15. The adverb ἅμα emphasizes accompaniment, along with the adverbial prepositional phrase σὺν αὐτοῖς, referring to the already deceased, but now risen ones. These adverbial expressions modify the future passive indicative verb ἁρπαγησόμεθα “to be seized, snatched.” The adverbial prepositional phrases ἐν νεφέλαις…εἰς ἀέρα describe means “with clouds” and direction “into the air.” The third prepositional phrase εἰς ἀπάντησιν describes the purpose for this action, namely “for a meeting.” The genitive τοῦ κυρίου is probably objective. The last clause in v. 17 describes the purpose of the Lord’s actions. The verb continues to have a first person plural subject, inclusive of all believers. οὕτως is an adverbial particle that can describe means or manner and in this case refers to the actions expressed in vv. 16-17a. The temporal adverb πάντοτε indicates that these actions will have a permanent consequence. The adverbial prepositional phrase σὺν κυρίῳ indicates accompaniment. The arthrous noun may refer to God or to the Lord Jesus.
The writers end the discussion of this topic (introduced in v. 13) with a statement that explains what they hope to achieve by sharing this information. ὥστε functions as a particle with the sense “so then” and introduces an independent clause in this case. The main verb is a present active imperative παρακαλεῖτε (see 4:1). The direct object is the reciprocal pronoun ἀλλήλους. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις describes means and refers to the various parts of this message from God.