1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NET)
13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.
15 For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep-
• Paul now writes about the return of the Lord with those Christians who are asleep, meaning those who have died. This does not mean that their soul is sleeping. This means that the believer’s body is dead. Paul and Jesus call this sleep. It’s a way of showing that someday the ‘sleeping’ body will awake in the resurrection as shown in the phrases below.
• John 11:11-13 (NET) 11 After he said this, he added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. But I am going there to awaken him.” 12 Then the disciples replied, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 (Now Jesus had been talking about his death, but they thought he had been talking about real sleep.
so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope-
• Notice Paul does not say they will not grieve for their loved ones, but rather they will grieve differently because they have hope that their Christian loved will be seen again as mentioned in the next phrases.
• Explain any differences that you have witnessed how a believer deals with grief differently than a non-believer?
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians-
• Meaning just as Jesus has risen from the dead, so Christians who have died will also be raised from the dead and brought back with Jesus at His coming.
• The phrase, God will bring with Him, can mean…
• a) God the Father will cause the raised Christians to be brought back with Jesus, or
• b) God the Son will bring back the raised Christians with Himself.
• 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (NET) 13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
• 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NET) 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.
• Jude 1:14 (NET) 14 Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones…
For we tell you this by the word of the Lord-
• Meaning Paul has received the following details as revelation from God.
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep-
• Paul provides details of the order in how Christians will gather together with the Lord at His coming. Paul is clear that the bodies of those who have died in Jesus will go ahead first. This order is again repeated in the phrases following.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command-
• Meaning just as He ascended to Heaven in the Book of Acts, now He will descend from Heaven. However, this time he will return with a cry of incitement for His elect to gather to Him.
• Strong’s Definitions: †κέλευμα kéleuma, kel’-yoo-mah; a cry of incitement
• Webster defines incite as – to move to action : stir up : spur on : urge on
• Acts 1:11 (NET) 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”
with the voice of the archangel-
• Meaning Michael the archangel will also be present with his angles, and he will call.
• Jude 1:9 (NET) But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!”
• 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (NET) 6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.
and with the trumpet of God-
• Trumpets were used in ancient times to signal movements of people and armies. This trumpet is for the same reason – to gather God’s people.
• Numbers 10:2 (NET) “Make two trumpets of silver; you are to make them from a single hammered piece. You will use them for assembling the community and for directing the traveling of the camps.
and the dead in Christ will rise first-
• Paul repeats the order in which they will raise once again. First those who are asleep, now defined as dead in Christ, will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air-
• Second in order to rise will be those who are still living. All of His people throughout all time will be gathered together with the Lord in the clouds. We will all be changed to be imperishable and immortal.
• 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 (NET) 52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
• Philippians 3:20-21 (NET) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.
And so we will always be with the Lord-
• Oh how comforting! We will all be together, and we will all never again be separated from the lover of our souls – the Lord.
Therefore encourage one another with these words-
• These words encourage us because ..
• the dead will be raised
• we will be changed
• we will be together
• we will be with the Lord forevermore.
• What comes to your mind after studying this revelation?
• Knowing we will all be gathered together with the Lord in the clouds, how could we be better at Christian unity now in this time?
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Do You Have Hope To See the Sleeping?
Do not despair, lose all hope, or go into deep depression for those believers who have died. I am sovereign, and I am in control of everything. Just as I have raised from the dead, so I will raise them back to life. You will all be gathered together at My trumpet’s call.
All the believers throughout time will be gathered together. You all will be with Me forevermore. We will be spending eternity together. Therefore, today make an effort to be unified with other believers.