Hope in death because of the risen Lord
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Mankind's greatest enemy—death—has been defeated by Christ, and his resurrection will be ours in his coming.
Published October 2nd, 2020; Updated October 4th, 2020
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Main point summary
Let your hearts be encouraged by the reality of Christ's resurrection and the certainty of Christ's return, which will bring resurrection to deceased believers.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,
We strive to keep you knowledgeable, beloved brothers, concerning those believers who have died,
g that you may not grieve as others do h who have no hope.
so that you don't loose your hope over their fate, like pagans who believe that those who die have simply perished.
For i since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
We say this because we believe that Jesus Christ not only died for our sins, but also he rose from the dead, so that we could also have hope of ressurrection for eternal life.
even so , through Jesus, God will bring with him j those who have fallen asleep.
In the same way , those who died in Christ will experience resurrection when Christ returns, by the same power that God manifested in the Lord's resurrection,
For this we declare to you k by a word from the Lord, 1 that l we who are alive, who are left until m the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
because the Lord has told us (and we now tell you) that deceased believers will be ahead of believers who are alive when the Lord returns (and it could even happen in our lifetimes),
For n the Lord himself will descend o from heaven p with a cry of command, with the voice of q an archangel, and r with the sound of the trumpet of God. And s the dead in Christ will rise first.
because the Lord Jesus Christ will return from heaven, summoning all believers with his powerful voice of command, but starting with those who died, who will then rise to meet the Lord.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be t caught up together with them u in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,
Only then will living believers rise also to meet the Lord, all being supernaturally brought to his presence in the clouds.
and so v we will always be with the Lord.
This is how all believers will be in the Lord's presence forever.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Now that we have told you what awaits all believers when the Lord returns, keep therefore these words in your hearts, sharing them with one another, for comfort and to fill you with steadfast hope.
O : Pagans didn't have a consistent perspective of life after death, and therefore most considered death as the end of all things (Gupta, 1-2 Thessalonians: A New Covenant Commentary ).
A : we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as issues of first importance to the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
O : In 1 Thessalonians and other epistles, Paul speaks of deceased believers as being "asleep", reinforcing the temporary nature of their death as they wait to be resurrected when the Lord returns.
C : encourage one another with the wonderful promise of the Lord's return, and the resulting resurrection of all who died in Christ.
A : the kingdom of God is eternal and we were made part of it by faith in Christ!
Key: Commands Means Motives Anchors O : Observation C : Command M : Means A : Anchor
O : the translators' notes from the NET Bible point that "through Jesus" would refer to the believers' death, and not to their resurrection.
O : In 1 Corinthians 15:52, Paul speaks of this "trumpet of God" as the "last trumpet".
O : 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 implies that this could be a revelation from the Lord, as Paul speaks of a mystery which he gets to reveal to the corinthians.
O : Paul is not forbidding grief by itself, as he instructs believers elsewhere to weep with those who weep and to partake in suffering (Romans 12:15; 1 Corinthians 12:26), but he cautions against hopeless grief.
O : The Greek word ἀπάντησις ( apantesis ), translated as "meet", occurs only in 2 other places in the NT (Matthew 25:6; Acts 28:15), portraying the idea of meeting a guest, welcoming him back to one's place. This would then imply a full return of the Lord to earth, joined by all believers. A different position, known as the "rapture theory", holds that the return of Christ to earth occurs later, after a period of great tribulation on earth (during which Christ is in heaven with all believers who met him in the air, waiting for the full return to be fulfilled).
O : Jesus also spoke of his own coming on the clouds of heaven, with the gathering of all elect ( Matthew 24:30-31 , cf. Daniel 7:13 ), and angels reminded the disciples about the Lord's coming from heaven ( Acts 1:11 ).
A : we're telling you a word from the Lord, confirmed by Scripture: those who have died in Christ will experience resurrection in order to meet the Lord on his return.
M : we're telling you the truth about death in Christ, so that you may encourage one another in hope of resurrection.
O : the Greek word παρουσία ( parousia , "coming") refers to the second coming of Christ, from heaven in glory, which is the great hope for all believers (as seen in this passage) and is abundantly attested in the NT.
OUTLINE OF 1 THESSALONIANS I. Greeting 1:1-2 II. Main body 1:3-5:25 A. EVIDENCE OF TRUE FAITH 1:3-3:13 1. Thanksgiving prayer 1:3-5a 2. Examples of true faith 1:5b-7 3. Testimony of faith 1:8-10 4. The apostles' conduct among the thessalonians 2:1-12 5. The work of God's Word 2:13-16 6. The desire to meet the brothers 2:17-3:13 B. PRACTICAL INSTRUCTIONS 4:1-5:11 1. Seeking love and holiness 4:1-12 2. The coming of the Lord 4:13-18 3. The day of the Lord will come suddenly 5:1-3 4. Living in the light of salvation 5:4-11 C. FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS 5:12-25 1. Edifying one another 5:12-18 2. The work of the Spirit 5:19-25 III. Closing 5:26-28 1. Final greeting 5:26-28
Next Steps
The Paraphrase course has enabled me to get a better handle on the biblical text, namely how to establish the main point summary of the passage under study. A natural step forward in the use of these tools would be to study 2 Thessalonians, according to the following: read the entire epistle prayerfully and several times; take notes on key observations; create an outline. For each passage identified in the outline: compare several versions; unpack figures of speech and NT uses of the OT; discern the main point; write a paraphrase and a main point summary; discern and record appropriate takeaways (commands, means, motivations, and anchors).
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.