1 Thess 4:13
- Paul had only been with the Thessalonians for a short time before he had to flee in a hurry. Paul had begun teaching about the imminent return of Jesus but does not seem to have had the opportunity to finish and tell the story of the Christians who die before Jesus returns. Since Jesus has not yet returned, the Thessalonians are therefore concerned that the Christians who had died had lost everything.
- When a believer dies, his spirit comes to God while the body “sleeps” awaiting the resurrection of the body (1 Corinthians 15:50-55, 2 Corinthians 5:8).
- When Lazarus died, Jesus calls it “sleeping” (John 11:11-14).
- The early Christians called their cemeteries “sleeping places” (the English word “cemetery” comes from the Greek word for “sleeping place”).
- A Christian may of course grieve for those who have died, but at the same time can be confident that the dead are with God and will eventually be resurrected; hope is not lost.
- Paul expresses several times that he would rather die so that he can come to God, but at the same time he wants to stay on earth so that more people can become Christians (2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:23).
1 Thess 4:14
- The fact that we Christians will be resurrected is as certain as the fact that Jesus has died and risen. So anyone who believes in Jesus can be sure of being resurrected eventually.
1 Thess 4:15
- When Jesus returns, he will bring with him all Christians who have died and resurrect them with a new heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15:35-53).
- Paul says that he received this message from Jesus, but he does not quote any known passage in the New Testament, so it is quite possible that Jesus said this to Paul personally (John 21:25, Galatians 1:11-12).
- Paul and the Thessalonians believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime (1 Corinthians 7:29). It is good to live constantly as if Jesus could return at any second because then you are always striving to live a holy life.
1 Thess 4:16
- Jesus will return in the same way he left (Acts 1:11).
- Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Zech 14:1-4, Acts 1:11-12).
- Jesus will be surrounded by clouds at his return (Luke 21:27).
- Everyone will be able to see Jesus’ return (Luke 17:24).
- A trumpet of God will sound at Jesus’ return (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
- The only person in the Bible described as an archangel is Michael (Jude 1:9).
1 Thess 4:17
- After Jesus returns to earth and the dead are raised, other Christians will be taken up to heaven by Jesus.
- Paul repeatedly wrote that he longed to be with the Lord (Phil 1:23, Col 3:4, 2 Cor 5:8).
1 Thess 4:18
- Probably the Thessalonians were worried about the Christians who had died before Jesus had returned and feared that they had missed everything when they died. But Paul encourages the Thessalonians that both the dead and the living will go to heaven and urges them to comfort each other with this.