March 15 - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15 - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

I don’t know whether or not it is comforting for you to know that people have worried over the death of loved ones for centuries, but even this little church in Thessalonica was upset when some of their membership died.

After Paul was gone from them, apparently some of their fellow Christians had died and their grief was overwhelming.  But what had they missed? One of the first assurances Paul and his friends would have given to them was knowledge of the resurrection.  Christ died so that we might have eternal life.  It is one of the foundational doctrines of Christianity.

There isn't any good answer.  Some surmise that false teachers, especially Gnostics, were in the church and teaching that unless they were enlightened by their special teaching, they wouldn't be able to achieve resurrection. Other teachers wonder if Paul had actually not spent much time teaching about the resurrection of the dead because everyone believed Jesus’ return was an imminent expectation.  Maybe they didn't fully understand the teaching Paul had given.  Whatever the reason for their grief, Paul took time to assure them that those who have died will be taken into heaven and that those who are still living will follow them.

The good news is that God has a plan for each of us from the beginning of our lives to the end of our lives on earth and then into eternity.  It is through the work of Jesus this plan has meaning. It is through a relationship with Jesus we find our lives have meaning.