THE BOOK OF 1 THESSALONIANS
A Resurrection and Rapture
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 SCC 6/8/14
So many of us have loved ones who are gone. And we miss them. The memories of life together give some solace but are also reminders of what once was. Sometimes we mourn still and grieve with tears. How are they doing now? What can we expect to happen to them, to us, on the other side of the grave? In the meantime while still here how do I cope? What should I believe? The Thessalonians apparently were asking some of these questions too. The answer is revelation from God. Anyone can understand this revelation. I also understand and understand it to be true. That is the difference between an unbeliever and me and you.
We do not need to grieve about the destiny of loved ones after death 13
1. Content: But we do not want you to be uninformed about sleepers so we will fill you in on that
The word “but” introduces a new subject but also connects to the previous paragraph. The Thessalonians understood that Christ was going to return; however, they had not considered the possibility that some of their loved ones and friends would die before it occurred. In light of these questions, Paul educates these believers about the status of their brothers and sisters who have passed away.
2. Purpose: the purpose of filling you in is so you will not grieve for loved ones who died
It is not wrong to grieve over the death of a loved one. Jesus Himself grieved over the death of Lazarus and He knew He was going to bring him back to life. Paul says that when death comes we should not grieve hopelessly but mourn with hope. Our attitude toward death is a distinguishing feature that witnesses to the reality of the gospel.
3. Connecting: just as also the ones having no hope of such
One of the great facts of the Christian faith is that we have hope when our loved ones in Christ are taken away from us in death. When believers die it is not “goodbye,” but only “good night.”
The reason we do not need to grieve is their faith assures they will return with Christ 14
1. Condition: if and we do the condition is certain. So since we do, here is what we can bank on. Unless we are absolutely certain concerning the death and resurrection of Christ, we cannot be certain in our Christian hope.
2. Reason: the Reason we do not grieve like those with no hope is we believe
1. That Jesus died He paid for my sin.
2. And rose again He secured my eternal destiny forever.
The place to begin is at the cross of Christ. Linked with the cross is the resurrection of Christ, which is God’s seal and the evidence for our Christian faith. Here is a certainty: Christ rose from the dead.
3. Connecting: And so believing this even God will bring with him ones fallen asleep through Jesus
The return of Christ is as certain as His death and resurrection. The term “asleep” is a euphemism for death. The Bible never uses the term “asleep” or “sleep” when referring to unbelievers—only the passing of believers. “Sleep” explains what happens to a Christian’s body at death, NOT his spirit or soul. The Bible never teaches that a Christian’s soul goes to sleep upon death. Stephen’s spirit went to be with the Lord, but his body fell asleep. After death, the thief on the cross was with Jesus in Paradise. The moment a Christian dies, that person’s spirit leaves the body and is immediately with the Lord. The body, not the soul, sleeps in death. Sleep is a softened expression for death, which for a Christian is very much like sleep. We believe in the sleep of the body, but we do not believe in the sleep of the soul.
Gods reveals that when he descends those who died in Christ will be resurrected first 15-16
Reason: the Reason we can say this to you is by the word of the Lord—not just made up but revelation from God about the end of life
Here Paul answers their main question: “What is going to happen to our loved ones who have preceded us in death?” It reminds us of the uncertainty of life. Whether we are young or old, whether well or in poor health, we do not know how much time God is going to give us to serve Him in this world.
1. We who are alive and remaining until the coming of the Lord
We should be living every day in such a way that if it is our last day on earth it will be a day spent in the will of God.
2. That we will not precede the ones who have fallen asleep
Those who are asleep will meet up with their spirits, while those who are alive will rise and be given a new glorified body. The bottom line is this: We all are simultaneously given new bodies.
3. That the lord will descend from heaven v 16
The return of Jesus will occur with three sounds: Christ’s shout, the archangel’s voice, the trumpet of God.
a. with a shout/command
The word “shout” is a military expression and it indicates a command or an order that is given.
b. with the voice of an archangel
In attendance was the voice of the archangel, who is none other than Michael, the chief of the angels, and the special protector of Israel. He also gives a shout. The Bible does not explain why Michael gives this shout or why he should be included. There is an angelic hierarchy.
c. And with a trumpet of god
This trumpet blast summons the church to gather. The trumpet seems to be a sign of assembling, a sign of going forward, of taking a new step, of unfolding something that has not been revealed before. The sounding of the trumpet here is like the sounding of the trumpet to an army. So in this passage there is the shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. These are three separate things, but they picture to us one grand event: the coming of Christ for His church, and the translation of the church living and dead.
4. And the dead in Christ will rise again first
Paul is clear that dead believers will rise before living believers. The Bible never claims that Old Testament saints are “in Christ.” The “dead in Christ” refers only to those believers who have died since the ascension of Christ. Paul is addressing Christians who have died in the church age. Your loved ones have not missed out on the coming of the Lord. In fact, they will be the first ones to receive their brand-new bodies.
God reveals that we who are alive will then be seized and reunited with our loved ones and the Lord in the clouds 17
1. Then We who are living we who are remaining
When we meet the Lord in the air, we shall assemble in the atmospheric heaven and from there go to the third heaven, which is the immediate presence of the Father. This is indicated in the last part of the preceding chapter where Paul speaks of our being in the presence of God the Father, unblameable in holiness.
2. Together with them shall be seized
This verse teaches there is a Christian generation that will not experience death. Like Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament, some believers will bypass death and be taken directly to heaven. The phrase “caught up” comes from the verb, which means, “to grab or seize suddenly.
a. in clouds b. to a meeting of the lord c. in air
Whenever we look up into the sky and see clouds, we should be reminded of the reality of Christ’s return. Interestingly, “clouds” are often used figuratively in the Bible to refer to the presence and glory of God. It is best in this passage to understand the clouds as referring to the visible presence and glory of the Lord.
3. And connecting thought so we shall always be with the Lord
This passage suggests that Paul believes Christ could return at any moment. We will be a perfect and a beautiful bride for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and shall be with Him forever. Whether Christ is in heaven or reigning on the earth, or in the new earth or the new heaven in eternity future, wherever Christ is there shall the church also be. We are going to be with the Lord forever.
We must comfort and encourage believers who have lost loved ones with this revelation 18
Conclusion: Therefore comfort one another (about those who have fallen asleep) with these words
Paul lifts up their eyes to contemplate the coming of the Lord to comfort and encourage them as they anticipate their future with their loved ones.
We are to encourage one another with the reality of our future resurrection and reunion. Jesus is coming back! It could happen at any moment.
1. The dead in Christ will be raised when Christ comes back. It is a selective resurrection. All dead will not be raised. As far as the expression “the dead in Christ” indicates, only those in Christ are raised.
2. The doctrine of the resurrection of the Old Testament saints, as it is revealed in the Old Testament itself, relates the event to the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom. The resurrection of the church, however, occurs before the tribulation. There is no explicit teaching anywhere in the Bible that reveals that the Old Testament saints are resurrected at the time the church is resurrected. In other words, the two events are never brought together in any passage of Scripture. The best explanation of the expression “dead in Christ” is to refer it to the church alone.
3. As we face the duties and the challenges and the trials of life, God has given us this blessed hope, this hope of the Lord’s return. So live every single day in light of its possibility. Things could end here at any moment.