Main point summary
Because Jesus died and rose again, so too consequently, through Jesus, we will be raised by God. And since we declare this to you by a word from the Lord himself, take heart and encourage one another with this great hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,
But , brothers and sisters, we don't want you to wonder or worry about those who have died, we want you to know the truth about them,
g that you may not grieve as others do h who have no hope.
so that when you weep for them you might not fall into despair as those do who have no hope.
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
Because since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so , through Jesus, God will bring with him jthose who have fallen asleep.
so too consequently , through Jesus, God will raise up those who have died believing in him.
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, 1
Because this is what the Lord himself has said, and this is what we now declare to you from him,
that l we who are alive, who are left until m the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
that when he comes, those who are still alive will not go to him ahead of those who have died.
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.
Because the Lord himself will come, descending from heaven with a shout of command, heralded by an archangel and the blast of the trumpet of God blaring throughout the earth.
And s the dead in Christ will rise first.
And at his command the dead in Christ will rise first.
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,
Then after them, we who are still alive will be brought up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky,
and so v we will always be with the Lord.
and in that way we will forevermore be with the Lord; together with him forever!
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Since you now know and have this great hope that you have received in these words, keep encouraging each other with them.
13a | Does this support another piece? Yes, (14a-b) This is preparing / leading to the content of this "informing" found in (14a-b) Is this supported by another piece? Yes, (13b). If (13a) was asked: "Why do you want to inform these believers about those who have died in Christ? " (13b) supports with the answer: So that they won't grieve as others do who have no hope
13b | Does this support another piece? Yes, (13a). (13b) gives the reason why they want to inform the brothers (13a). Is it supported by another piece? Yes, (14a-b). If (13b) was asked: "Why should we not grieve as others do who have no hope?" (14a-b) answers: Because we will be raised, like Jesus, through Jesus, by God (14a-b).
14a | Does this support another piece? Yes, (14b). (14a) gives a reason for believing that when we die God will raise us through him, like him, with him (14b). Is this supported by another piece? No.
14b | Does this support another piece? Yes, (13a-b). (14b) gives the explanation of our hope / content of the informing (13a-b). Is this supported by another piece? Yes, (14a). If (14b) was asked: "Why do you have this hope?" (14a) answers: Because we believe that Jesus died and rose again (14a).
15a | Does this support another piece? Yes, (14b). (15a) gives another reason for believing that God will raise us too (14b). Is this supported by another piece? Yes, (15b-17b). If (15a) was asked: "What are you declaring? What is this word from the Lord?" (15b-17b) answers: That the Lord will come, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then those who are alive will be brought together to meet them with the Lord in the air and forevermore be with him (15b-17b).
18 | Does this support another piece? No. Is this supported by another piece? Yes, (14a-17b). If (18) was asked: "Why and how should we encourage one another?" (14a-17b) answers: Because through Jesus' death and resurrection we too shall be raised by God. The Lord himself has promised it and explained it to us through his apostles. The dead in Christ will rise, and then those who are alive will be brought together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so we, together, will always be with the Lord (14a-17b).
Contextual: The preceding thought starts: "Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you..." (4:9). The following thought similarly: "Now concerning the times and seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you." (5:1). Yet this thought contrasts starting: " But we do not want you to be uninformed..." (4:13). It seems as though Paul is moving through certain subject matter he wants to address, and some of it is already understood in a very healthy way in the church, but for this particular area he is concerned. Keywords: Paul and co. have a repeated focus on the dead in Christ in this passage, mentioning them in some capacity in literally every verse but 18 (v.13a, v.14b, v.15b, v.16b, v.17a). Hope / encouragement are at the front and the conclusion of this thought (v.13 and v.18) Paul and co. both encourage them (v.13) and command them to encourage one another (v.18) General: Paul and co. have specific desires, purposes, and commands for their hearers, and so make a distinction between themselves and them: " we do not want you to be uniformed" / "that you may not grieve" (v.13) " we declare to you " (v.15) "Therefore ( you ) encourage one another" (v.18) (Another encouraging distinction is made between the hearers and the "others...who have no hope." (v.13)) But when Paul and co. start in on this hope and encouragement, they include themselves as partakers with them. " we believe that Jesus died and rose again" (v14) " we who are alive" (vv.15, 17) " we will always be with the Lord" (v.17) Paul and co. take part in the very hope and encouragement they themselves are giving. Paul and co. give focus to the order of events at the Lord's coming: "we who are alive... will not precede those who have fallen asleep" (v.15) "the dead in Christ will rise first . Then we who are alive" (vv.16-17) The dead are not forgotten or passed over, but actually take precedence at the Lord's coming Takeaways What are the desires that this passage teaches to my heart? To desire that Christians be informed about gospel truths (v.13a) To desire that grieving Christians have the hope that is theirs in Christ (v.13b-17b) To desire that Christians encourage each other (v.18) Paul and co.'s desire to inform has an immediate goal: to give hope (v.13b) and an extended goal: to make hope-givers (v.18). As we teach any gospel truth, may God keep our aim and purpose there: to give hope, to give help, to bring healing to emotional wounds of our brothers and sisters hurting beneath unnecessary grief and pain, and to make hope-givers, helpers, gospel-truth declaring encouragers. We, as Christians, are commanded to encourage one another. How do we do this? Not by giving general platitudes, or by wishful positive thinking for better circumstances, but by speaking the very word that has been declared to us from the Lord himself: the Lord will come, the dead in Christ will rise, those alive will meet them in the air, and together we will be fully and finally brought to be with the Lord forever! What makes us firm and sure in this? These two unshakable anchors that ground these truths: Our resurrection is a consequence, a result, of his resurrection (14a-b). His resurrection already happened, and we believe that it really did happen, it's an historic reality. So then, our resurrection is as real and as sure as the empty tomb and the risen Christ! Paul is not making a loose, possibly false inference from the resurrection of Jesus Christ that God never intended. Paul says this because the Lord himself said it (15a). Jesus himself is declaring this to us. This is no mere wishful thinking. God himself is declaring this to us: "The dead in Christ will rise"/ "We who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air"/ "we will always be with the Lord"! Incredible! So believe it, my heart, because you believe him! Next Steps: I was walking through Romans with a group of high-school students, and these tools / mindsets / methods have already proved incredibly helpful and fruitful for me. But the COVID-19 circumstances have made things difficult. The video app dynamic hasn't worked well for us. But I want to find a way to get back in the Word with them. And what I really want is to pass on these methods and mindsets to them, and to start putting these things into practice in our group in Romans.