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1 Thessalonians Series: Experiencing Hope When Facing Death (1 Thess 4:13-18)



Experiencing Hope When Facing Death

 

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (NET)

 

 

How can we experience hope when facing death?

 

After Paul suddenly left Thessalonica because of persecution, he went to Berea for ministry and then Athens (Acts 17). While in Athens, Paul heard that the Thessalonians were also being persecuted so he sent Timothy to see how they were doing spiritually. While Timothy was away, Paul moved to Corinth for ministry (Acts 18). When Timothy returned to Paul, he shared how well the Thessalonians were doing spiritually. They were being faithful to the Lord, despite persecution. However, the Thessalonians did have a few problems, including the fact that some were struggling with fears about those who had recently died among them. Maybe some died by natural means, but also, it’s possible some died because of persecution. The Thessalonians were worried about what would happen to their loved ones when Christ returned. As Paul mentioned in Chapter 1, the Thessalonians not only were abounding in faith and love but also hope (v. 3). In the midst of their persecution, their great hope was that Christ would return soon, even in their lifetime. First Thessalonians 1:9-10 says, “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.” The Thessalonians wondered if their deceased members would miss out on Christ’s triumphant return, which they were eagerly waiting for. Consequently, some were mourning the death of their loved ones in an unhealthy manner. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul said, “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.” Though believers should mourn when others die or even when they face death, they should not mourn like the world, without hope.

 

When Paul says that he doesn’t want the Thessalonians to be “uniformed” about those who died, this was a common statement in Paul’s writing. The word “uniformed” can also be translated “ignorant.” He said the same thing to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul said, “With regard to spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” Also, in Romans 11:25, he said this about Israel:

 

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

 

Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to be ignorant about spiritual gifts, so they wouldn’t abuse them. He didn’t want the Roman believers to be ignorant about Israel, so they wouldn’t become prideful of their salvation and potentially look down on Israel (or persecute them which eventually happened). And here, Paul didn’t want the Thessalonians to be ignorant about believers who died and therefore mourn in an unhealthy manner.

 

Paul’s response to these problems among ancient believers is instructive for us. With many problems in the Christian life that cause anxiety, stress, and depression, our great need is biblical instruction. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says that God’s Word equips believers for “every good work”—that includes parenting, marriage, work, trials, and even death. Likewise, our great need in the church is not powerful worship experiences, miracles, great oratory, pop psychology, or even great acts of generosity. Our great need, as believers, is the systematic teaching and study of God’s Word, and it is often the thing we lack most. In 2 Timothy 4:2-4, Paul said this to Timothy:

 

Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction. For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things.

 

Many are ignorant of Scripture and suffering as a consequence of that ignorance. In Hosea 4:6, God said, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” The Thessalonians were suffering because of a lack of knowledge on how to have hope when experiencing the death of friends, family members, and church members. Consequently, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul taught them how to have hope when facing death, their own or others’.

 

The world has little to no hope when facing death since the afterlife to them is vague and unsure. Many proclaim their relatives are in heaven or that they know their friend or relative is looking down on them from above or with them, but for most, that hope isn’t based on anything but their subjective feelings, desires, or what gives them peace of mind. However, believers have a sure hope because it’s based on objective truths found in Scripture including what Christ has done and what Christ will do for us. Therefore, we can have hope when facing death. In this passage, we will study principles about experiencing hope when facing death.

 

Big Question: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, what principles can be discerned about experiencing hope when facing death?

 

To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Avoid Improper Forms of Mourning

 

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.

1 Thessalonians 4:13

 

As mentioned, the Thessalonians were struggling with an unhealthy mourning over the death of their friends and relatives because they were ignorant of God’s teaching on the matter. Certainly, that happens within our churches, even amongst those who might “know Scripture” but have not internalized it on this topic. To avoid improper forms of mourning, we must first identify them.

 

With that said, before identifying improper forms of mourning, it’s helpful to consider that when people are taken away from us suddenly or at a young age, the mourning is often greater, as we go through the shock process. However, with those who are old or dealing with a long-standing terminal illness, it often allows the person and the loved ones to prepare for the death, and therefore the mourning is not as shocking or overbearing. Sometimes, the person suffering is even ready to go home because of all the pain. In both situations, there is great pain and mourning, but with the sudden removal of someone young and otherwise healthy, it’s often more painful and the mourning is more intense.

 

Now, we will consider improper forms of mourning so we can avoid them.

 

Application Question: What are some improper forms of mourning?

 

1.     An improper form of mourning is when people don’t grieve at all.

 

Some avoid grieving altogether because they think it’s wrong for Christians to do so, as though it shows a lack of faith. They know God works all things for the good of believers (Rom 8:28) and/or that a deceased relative or friend is in heaven, so they try to suppress their grief and pain. Others, simply out of a desire to avoid pain, try to quickly get back to life without ever grieving. Both are incorrect responses to loss. It is not unbiblical or unfaithful to grieve. We see this clearly when considering Christ, who was the perfect man and our model of faith (Heb 12:3). With the death of Lazarus, though Christ was about to raise him from the dead, he still wept with the family (John 11:31). Likewise, Ecclesiastes 7:4 says, “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking.” A wise person takes time to mourn. When someone dies, instead of avoiding or bottling up the pain, they go to the funeral to weep. They spend time with others to mourn and carry each other’s burdens. However, the fool just tries to avoid all pain to instead have fun, work, and go on with life. Again, some don’t mourn properly by avoiding mourning. 

 

2.     Another form of improper mourning is avoiding people altogether.

 

Now certainly, there is a place for being alone to be with God and processing our thoughts; however, if we avoid people altogether that is not healthy mourning either. The mourning process is not just about us; it is also about others who are hurting and those who are hurting for us. Mourning is not just an individual thing. According to Scripture, it is also communal. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” In the same way, we are called to carry others’ burdens by weeping with them and supporting them in their time of need, we also must allow others to do the same with us. If we don’t mourn at all individually or corporately, we don’t mourn properly, which will reap negative consequences in our lives, such as extended depression, anxiety, grief, and not truly ever being able to fully move on. In addition, by separating from God’s church or not sharing with them, we often miss much of God’s grace for us in the mourning season. God has made the church a body, and the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you” (1 Cor 12:21). As a church, we need each other, especially in difficult times. Those who isolate themselves from the body during their grieving, grieve improperly, and therefore miss much of God’s grace and potentially may make things worse. 

 

3.     Finally, another form of improper mourning is avoiding God and his Word.

 

To do so is to mourn like the world who has no hope, as Paul mentioned (1 Thess 4:13). When we mourn, we should not only draw near to others but also, most importantly, draw near to God and his Word. Satan will tempt us to be angry at God and curse God, as he tried to do with Job when he lost his children. Instead, we should praise God and worship him. In Job 1:21, he cried out after losing his children, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!” He gave thanks to God because he trusted God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and kindness in the midst of his loss. We must trust God as well in the mourning season. The ability to do so often comes by drawing near him through studying his Word, worshipping him in faith, and by fellowshipping with his saints and receiving love from them.

 

When mourning death, we should not avoid mourning, we should not avoid others, and we certainly should not avoid God. If we do, we’ll lose much of the hope God wants to give us. Again, the Thessalonians were mourning without hope because they were ignorant of God’s Word. Are we?

 

Application Question: What are some other types of improper mourning? In what ways have you seen or experienced believers improperly mourning, without hope, whether that be in the face of death or some other trial? How can we support those who are mourning without being insensitive? Share a time when you experienced mourning and how you gained or struggled to gain hope.

 

To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Have a Redeemed View of Death

 

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. 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.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

 

Observation Question: What metaphor did Paul repeatedly use for death in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14?

 

Our view of death will affect whether we encounter it with hope or not. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, Paul calls death sleep which teaches us something about his view of death, which we will discuss further in a second. In 1 Corinthians 15:26, Paul also called it an “enemy.” This means we should not consider death as God’s original plan for humans. It was never God’s plan for people to die. In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God “has put eternity into man’s heart.” Humans have a natural longing to live, which is why we feel that it is so sad, or even an injustice when people die. As mentioned, even Christ mourned the death of his friend, Lazarus (Jn 11:33-35). In addition, since it was never God’s will for people to die, it was also never God’s will for people to experience the pains of aging, such as the loss of memory, strength, and agility. Though the aging process is normal when looking around at creation, nevertheless, humans struggle with it because eternity was put in our hearts. In accordance with what God has done in our hearts, one day death, our “enemy,” will be completely eliminated (1 Cor 15:26). It was defeated when Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (Heb 2:14-15), and it will ultimately be defeated when God resurrects us from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, Paul said:

 

Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

 

Also, Revelation 21:4 says this when describing the eternal state: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” At some point after Christ’s return, death will no longer exist. However, in this season, it is an enemy we still have to deal with.

 

With that said, when Paul calls death “sleep” twice in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, it teaches us something about how we should view death in order to have hope. Sleep has been a common metaphor used of death in many cultures since ancient times. This probably comes from the fact that when a person is dead, they look like they are sleeping. However, as Christians, this has greater meaning because of our understanding of the afterlife. This metaphor is commonly used throughout Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. When people died in the Old Testament, at times it was said that they slept with their ancestors. In Genesis 47:30, Jacob said this about his death: “but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place” (cf. Dt 31:16). In Daniel 12:2, when Daniel described the future resurrection of the saints, he said, “Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake—some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence.” In addition, in the New Testament, Christ described Lazarus’ death as sleep. In John 11:11, he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. But I am going there to awaken him.” In Acts 7:60 (ESV), Luke described Stephen’s death from being stoned as sleep. It says, “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

 

Soul-Sleep

 

Because of the common use of sleep as a metaphor for death in Scripture, some errantly believe in something called soul-sleep. This is the belief that when believers die, their souls sleep until Christ returns to resurrect them. Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as some other groups, typically believe this. However, the view contradicts many Scriptures. When a person dies, it is the body that sleeps, not the soul. Our souls immediately go into the presence of God. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul said, “Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Also, in Philippians 1:23, Paul said, “I feel torn between the two because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” Paul was not looking forward to some type of lack of consciousness, but instead a conscious awareness of being with Christ and others. In addition, when Elijah and Moses met with Christ at his transfiguration, they were both conscious (Matt 17:3). In Revelation 6:9-11, the souls of the martyrs who died during the tribulation were conscious, as they cried out for God to bring judgment. It says,

 

Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been.

 

Likewise, Hebrews 12:23 calls Old Testament believers in heaven, “the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect.” They currently worship God in the heavenly Jerusalem with the church and the angels. They do not yet have their resurrected bodies, so they are called spirits who are now perfect, and therefore without sin. When we die, we don’t go into a state of unconsciousness. In some sense, we’ll be more conscious than we’ve ever been because we will no longer struggle with sin and the spiritual dullness that comes from it. We will more fully enjoy God and others and see the world and ourselves more clearly. To have hope in the face of death, we must properly understand death. It is not an undetermined unconscious state, which would only take away hope for most people.

 

Death as Sleep

 

Interpretation Question: What does the metaphor of sleep tell us about death, so we can have hope when we face it and others around us face it as well?

 

1.     Paul’s use of sleep as a metaphor for death reminds us that death is temporary.

 

Those who sleep eventually wake up. Again, Christ used the term sleep when referring to Lazarus’ death and the fact Christ would soon resurrect him. In John 11:11, he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. But I am going there to awaken him.” All people will eventually be resurrected including believers and unbelievers. John 5:28-29 says,

Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.

 

Apparently, these resurrections will happen at separate times. Believers will be resurrected at Christ’s return as described in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15. However, unbelievers will be resurrected after the millennial kingdom as described in Revelation 20:13 (cf. Rev 20:4-5). It says, “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds.” With that said, those who take an amillennial view of the end times, believe we are currently in the millennium and so both believers and unbelievers will be resurrected at once for the judgment. Either way, the metaphor of sleep for death is a reminder that death is temporary. Those who die in Christ are ushered immediately into his presence in heaven, and those who die without Christ are ushered into a temporary place of judgment called hell (cf. Rev 20:13-14).

 

2.     The metaphor of sleep also represents rest from our labor and eventual reward. 

 

Revelation 14:13 says,

 

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.” 

 

Currently, we labor for the Lord by using our gifts and abilities in various spheres including education, business, government, church, and home. We use these abilities to bless God and others and build God’s kingdom on this earth. And one day that labor will cease and be rewarded. It’s not that we won’t work in heaven or the coming kingdom, we will. The fact that heaven is called a city in Revelation 21 implies it will have much of what cities have today, commerce, entertainment, education, real estate, etc., except all will be done to glorify God (cf. Lk 19:16-19). We will certainly work in the coming kingdom as we serve God and others, but the burden of our labor will no longer be there. Our burden and weariness are a result of the fall. God told Adam that he would provide food for himself through “painful toil” all the days of his life and that the land would produce “thorns and thistles” (Gen 3:17-18). We work but instead of producing only good things like fruit, it also produces thorns like conflict, difficulties, and health issues, including burnout and depression. Sometimes, there will be no visible fruit from our labor at all. In that sense, death is like sleep in that we will cease from our painful labor. In the intermediate heaven and preceding eternal kingdom, we will work but without the burden and toil.

 

3.     The metaphor of sleep for death implies relief.

 

When we sleep, our bodies are restored and healed from aches and pains. Certainly, this will happen at death as all our aches, pains, and burdens are removed. However, it will ultimately happen at the resurrection when we have new bodies.

 

4.     The metaphor of sleep for death implies that believers should not consider death a fearful prospect but a positive one.

 

At the end of a long day, people often look forward to sleep. Because Christ died for our sins and resurrected, he removed the fear of death and its sting for believers. Hebrews 2:14-16 says,

 

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.

 

Also, 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 says this about death in considering the resurrection:

 

Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

 

Because of Paul’s view of death and the afterlife, he could say, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Phil 1:21). He could also say, “I feel torn between the two [living or dying] because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body” (Phil 1:23-24). Certainly, Paul was not a masochist who desired pain and death; however, he did desire to be with Christ and have his eternal body, to which death was a passageway. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, he described the groaning that came in these temporary bodies, which he called tents, and his longing for the eternal body.

 

For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked. For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.

 

Again, for Paul, death was not a fearful prospect, but a positive one that led to true life. These bodies are just temporary tents, meant to last briefly and then be dismantled, but one day, God will give us our eternal buildings, bodies that will last forever and never decay.

 

As mentioned, to have hope in the face of death, we must have a redeemed view of death, which Paul represents through the metaphor of sleep. Death is an enemy, that will ultimately be destroyed at Christ’s coming (1 Cor 15:24-26). It was never God’s will for us to age, deal with sickness, and die. However, the sting of death and therefore the fear of death have been removed for believers because of Christ. Death is sleep, a temporary separation of our souls from our bodies. Our bodies will rest while our souls enjoy eternal fellowship with God and his people. It is a rest from the painful toil of labor. It is a relief in that it will provide healing to our souls and one day our bodies at the resurrection. For Paul, death held a positive view and not a fearful one because it led to deeper intimacy with Christ and others, reward, and eventually a resurrected body.

 

Do we have hope in the face of death, our own and others’? To have hope, we must have a redeemed view of death. It is only sleep, a temporary state that leads to many blessings for believers.

 

Application Question: In what ways do you or have you struggled with the fear of death and how does Scriptures’ teachings help you gain hope? What aspect of death being like sleep stood out most to you and why? Why is it important to understand that Scripture does not teach soul-sleep as Seventh-Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other groups often teach? What does the metaphor of our current bodies being like tents and our eternal ones being like buildings, according to 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, imply about how we should view our current bodies and treat them?

 

To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Understand the Theological Implications of Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Return

 

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. 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.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

 

In verse 13, when Paul says, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” the “for” connects it with our not grieving without hope. Therefore, the doctrines he teaches in verse 14 are crucial for being delivered from worldly grieving when confronting death.

 

Observation Question: What essential doctrines does Paul teach in verse 14 that are crucial for us to have hope when confronting death?

 

1.     Understanding Christ’s death on the cross and its implications help deliver believers from worldly grieving.

 

As mentioned, when Christ became human and died for our sins, part of his purpose was to deliver us from the fear of death. Again, Hebrews 2:14-16 says,

 

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.

 

Christ’s death delivers us from the fear of death because he paid the penalty for our sins, so we can have eternal life if we repent of our sins and put our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior. Romans 6:23 (NIV) says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Consequently, we do not have to fear physical death because, for believers, it will not lead to eternal death, separation from God and his blessings in a place of eternal judgment. Physical death will just lead to being with Christ and other saints. In addition, physical death will deliver us from the presence of sin and our battle with it. It is good to remember that when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden to keep them from eating from the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree of life, they would have been forced to live eternally with sin and its consequences. This means we would eternally struggle with rebellion towards God, loving ourselves more than God and others, pride, lust, anger, insecurity, depression, and all other sins. Therefore, in some sense, death is a blessing which provides hope, because it is the beginning of our freedom from sin and its consequences, including eternal death and separation from God. In addition, because of Christ’s death, we are not only delivered from the fear of death, the presence of sin, and its consequences, we are also made righteous and acceptable to God. Consequently, Christ’s death brings hope for those who die in him. John 5:24 says, “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.”

 

2.     Understanding Christ’s resurrection and its implications help deliver us from worldly grieving.

 

Not only does understanding Christ’s death deliver us from worldly grieving but also understanding his resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is a historical event with great implications for our future. In fact, it’s been said that the resurrection has more historical evidence than the fact that Julius Caesar lived. We believe in Julius Caesar because of ancient writings and artifacts that confirm his life. Likewise, we have more ancient writings and artifacts confirming Christ’s resurrection than Julius Caesar’s life and arguably any other ancient event. In addition, the fact that the apostles denied Christ and wouldn’t die for him while he was alive and then how all of them died for him after his resurrection, with the exception of John the apostle who was exiled for him, is strong evidence for the event. The resurrection changed fearful and heartbroken followers of Christ into the community of the resurrection. You could beat, imprison, curse, and even martyr them, but they would not deny the resurrection, though they denied Christ while he was alive. Furthermore, in Acts 2, three thousand of the original people who put Christ to death, only a few weeks later accepted him as their Lord and Savior because they were convinced of his resurrection. They were so convinced that they were willing to be cut off from Jewish society, ostracized by parents and friends, imprisoned, and even die for their belief. The early church quickly grew only months after the death and resurrection of Christ. It started at 3,000, grew to over 5,000, and then spread throughout the ancient world because of persecution. How could the very people who put Christ to death and persecuted his disciples accept Christ after his death? They had to be convinced by the evidence of the resurrection. As mentioned, this small community of believers, because of persecution, spread throughout the ancient world and now is the biggest religion in the world. The early believers who saw Christ’s death were totally convinced of the resurrection and therefore risked their lives because they believed they would be resurrected if they died as well.

 

Consequently, for Paul, Christ’s historical resurrection was intensely practical and therefore should deliver the Thessalonians and other believers from grieving like the rest of the world when confronted with death. The resurrection is proof that Christ conquered death and because of him, so will we. His resurrection is a guarantee of our future resurrection and the beginning of it. First Corinthians 15:20 and 23 says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.” Thomas Watson, a 17th-century Puritan preacher and author, explained:

 

Christ did not rise from the dead as a private person, but as the public head of the church; and the head being raised, the rest of the body shall not always lie in the grave.… As the first-fruits is a sure evidence that the harvest is coming, so the resurrection of Christ is a sure evidence of the rising of our bodies from the grave. Christ cannot be perfect as he is Christ mystical, unless his members are raised with him.[1]

 

Again, this means our future resurrection and that of other believers will just be a continuation of Christ’s original resurrection. Because, at salvation, we were all baptized with one Spirit into the body of Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 12:13, we are all in Christ and associated with him in his past, present, and future. We are in Christ and, therefore, will one day experience the bodily resurrection at his return. This should give us hope! Because we are one with Christ in his past, present, and future, we died with Christ to our sins 2,000 years ago and therefore are no longer slaves of sin (Rom 6:1-11). At his resurrection and ascension to heaven, we also were with him and therefore are spiritually seated in heavenly places with him. According to Ephesians 1:3, we have every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. We have hope because Christ died and resurrected.

 

Do we believe that Christ died and resurrected from the dead? If not, we lose much of our hope, and in fact, we have great reason to doubt our salvation in general. Romans 10:9 says this: “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Belief in the physical resurrection of Christ is an essential aspect of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15:14, Paul said if there is no resurrection, our faith is in vain. It is a cardinal doctrine that we must believe to be saved, and it gives us hope when we face death, ours and others. Christ’s resurrection was just the beginning of our resurrection. His resurrection was the firstfruits of a great future harvest, where believers in Christ from ancient times to present times will be resurrected.

 

3.     Understanding Christ’s return with his saints and its implications helps deliver us from worldly grieving.

 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Paul said, “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.” This is related to the resurrection of the dead but also separate. As mentioned, believers who die go straight to heaven to be with and rule with Christ there, and when Christ returns, they will come with him. For the Thessalonians who were grieving their lost believing relatives and church members, this would give them great hope. The saints in their church who had died before Christ’s coming would not miss the great event of Christ’s return. In fact, they would be with Christ when he returned. Consequently, Christians should never say or feel like they will never see deceased believers again. They are with Christ, and if we die before his return, we will immediately be with them again. And if Christ returns before we die, they will come with him, and we will see them then. This gives us great hope.

 

Again, our hope when facing death, that of our own or other believers, is largely connected to our theological understanding of Christ. Do we believe and understand that Christ’s died? Because of his death, we will never face eternal death, separation from God and his blessings in a place of eternal judgment and also neither will other believers. Do we believe that Christ resurrected from dead? This historical event is the basis of our faith. Because of his conquering death, we have a sure hope that we will also conquer death and so will our believing church members and relatives, even those who have passed away. Do we believe that Christ will return with his saints? Deceased believers are with him now and are more alive than they ever were previously. Previously, they were burdened by sin and afflicted by physical, mental, and spiritual weakness; however, now they are free in Christ and ruling with him, and soon they will return with him. This gives us hope! Are we hoping in all that Christ has done and will do? He died, resurrected, ascended, and is returning soon with his saints! Lord, come! Lord come!

 

The Death of Unbelievers

 

We talked about the hope we have when facing the death of believers, but what about the death of unbelievers? Paul does not address this in the passage; however, it is worth addressing here. All of us have unbelieving friends, relatives, and co-workers. How can we have hope when confronting the reality that if they die, they will face eternal death, including separation from God and us and torment throughout eternity? When considering this unfortunate reality, it can be discouraging and overwhelming as we think about their eternal destination. First, before discussing our hope, this reality must remind us to constantly pray for unbelievers, share the gospel with them, serve them in love, and invite them to church where they can hear God’s Word. We must do our part to expose them to the gospel both in word and action. However, we must also realize that salvation is ultimately not dependent on us or them for that matter, it is dependent upon God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Being saved by grace means that salvation is ultimately an unmerited gift from God. Even the opportunity to hear the gospel and the faith to respond to it is a grace of God. There are many places in the world with limited to no Christian witness. The Bible has not been translated into most languages. Our exposure to the gospel and experience of it is a work of God’s grace, unmerited favor. There are many things God allowed in his sovereignty so we could hear the gospel and respond to it. Therefore, we must be thankful as we contemplate our salvation, think of those who have experienced it, and those who have not. We must be thankful, but we must also be humble. We must be humble because we did nothing to be saved, the gospel opportunity and the ability to respond was all a grace from him (cf. Eph 2:8-9, Phil 1:29). We also must be humble when considering others who don’t know Christ and ministering to them. Ultimately, salvation must be a work of God. We do our part. We pray, witness, invite, and serve in love. But we must trust God to do his part. If we don’t trust God to do his part, we either become frustrated and discouraged at their lack of response or their antagonistic response, or we start to manipulate circumstances, people, and the Bible to create illegitimate responses. Many churches have, unintentionally, begun to do this in many ways. They entertain, instead of faithfully preaching God’s Word, to try to bring people to Christ or keep them at the church. They even at times soften the requirements of the gospel and God’s Word in general. They remove the need for people to take up their cross and follow Christ, and instead offer an easy believism with no commitment to the Lord. They also duck controversial doctrines that contradict the world culture. We must recognize our part in reaching unsaved friends and relatives, and we must recognize God’s part. As we recognize God’s part, we pray, serve, witness, and trust him with the results of our labor. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul said it this way: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.” That’s ultimately our hope when considering unsaved friends and relatives or even worse, deceased ones. We must trust God. He is sovereign, merciful, and wise. If God gives grace so one can be saved, we must trust and praise him for his grace. If a person rejects Christ or never gets to hear the gospel, we also must trust and praise God because he knows best. We must trust that not only is God sovereign over all things (including the decisions of people), but he also is good, perfect, just, and wise.

 

For those who reject Christ, God will be just in his judgment of them. Though all people who never accept Christ will go to hell, they will not have the same punishment. For those who had repeated exposure to the gospel and God’s Word, there will be a greater punishment. For those who had no exposure or little exposure, their punishment will be lighter. Luke 12:47-48 says,

 

That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know his master’s will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked. 

 

With those who were never exposed to the gospel and the Bible, God will judge them based on the knowledge they have. Scripture teaches that on each person’s conscience, God has written his laws. Theologians and philosophers call this natural law. As people have studied various cultures and people groups around the world, it has been amazing to see that, in general, people believe the same things. Do not lie, do not steal, do not kill, and even do not dishonor God are universal truths. Scripture teaches that God has given each person a conscience with his laws, including his existence, written on them. Romans 1:19 NASB says this: “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” Where cultures diverge from natural law such as when idolatry, sexual immorality, dishonesty, and violence prevail, it is because people’s consciences have been hardened by repeated exposure to sin and the practice of it. There can be a searing of the conscience individually and corporately (cf. 1 Tim 4:2). Consequently, when God judges people for their sins, especially those who do not know the gospel or God’s Word, he will judge them based on their conscience—the breaking of the laws written on their hearts. Romans 2:14-16 says,

 

For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

 

Therefore, when it comes to grieving in hope as we consider the death or the potential death of an unbelieving friend or relative, our hope is based on God’s character. He is just and merciful. People will have differing punishments based on their knowledge of God and his Word and the law written on their hearts.

 

In addition, one hope that many of us may have at the death of an unbelieving relative or friend that we witnessed to is that we never know the state of their hearts before they died. Even as the thief on the cross was converted before death, likewise, many unbelievers may also convert at the last moment, choosing to put their faith in Christ before their eyes close. People have at times pondered all the Egyptian soldiers who died in the Red Sea when God closed it over them. Did any of them cry out in faith at the last moment when all seemed lost, like the man on the cross? Certainly, most, if not all, died with hardened hearts, but it’s very possible that after all they saw from God in the previous miraculous judgments and the death they were about to experience as the waves were falling that some cried out in faith and therefore experienced saving grace, God’s unmerited favor. So as we consider unbelieving relatives, friends, and co-workers, we know God can save the hardest sinner and make them the most zealous witness, as God did with Paul. He can also save a criminal condemned to death in his last moments like the thief on the cross. So even when grieving the death of unbelievers, we grieve in hope as we trust God’s character and realize that only he knows the hearts of those who die. Certainly, there will be many in heaven that we did not expect.

 

We grieve in hope because Christ died, resurrected, and will one day return with those who believed him. We also grieve in hope when unbelievers die because God is merciful and just and because only he knows the state of people’s hearts before death. May God draw all of our unbelieving loved ones to himself, even if in their last moments.

 

Application Question: Why should Christ’s death, resurrection, and return give us hope when considering our death and that of other believers? How can we have hope when an unbeliever dies or at the prospect of his or her death? How have you experienced grieving the death of a believer or an unbeliever? How did you find hope in Christ? How is God calling you to be more faithful in evangelism, including interceding for the lost, inviting them to church or small group, and sharing the gospel with them?

 

To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Understand Christ’s Coming with and for His Saints

 

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. 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. 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. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

 

Again, in the context, the Thessalonians seemed to be very concerned about their loved ones who had died while waiting for Christ’s coming. Would they miss out on this great event? This again shows how zealous these new believers were for Christ’s coming. When things are good, we’re prone to forget God and develop all types of idols in our lives that replace or rival God—work, friends, wealth, retirement, and entertainment. However, when things are bad, we’re more prone to put our hope in God because only he can deliver us (cf. Rom 5:3-4). That was the lot of the Thessalonians. They were being severely persecuted for their faith, and therefore, they were clinging to the hope of Christ’s return. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, Paul described this reality:

 

For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath. 

 

They were waiting with great anticipation for Christ to come. In verse 15, when it says, “until the coming of the Lord,” the word “coming” is “parousia” in the Greek. It was used of a dignitary or a king visiting a city. [2] The Thessalonians believed their king, Jesus Christ, could come during their lifetime and they were discouraged by the fact that their deceased friends and relatives might miss it. Would they experience a delayed resurrection or miss it altogether? Paul comforts them as he describes Christ’s return with and for his saints. John Stott in describing the events of this passage called it the return, the resurrection, the rapture, and the reunion.[3] Though the eschatology of this passage incites much curiosity and debate, for Paul, eschatology was pastoral and practical. It was meant to bring comfort to those grieving and provide hope. It was not just to satisfy our curiosity.

 

We’ll consider events in this passage, so we can have hope.

 

Observation Question: What is the order of the eschatological events of this passage? 

 

In verse 15, Paul says, “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.” Paul’s reference to “the word of the Lord” either refers to something that Christ taught during his ministry to his disciples but that was not recorded, or it refers to direct revelation that Paul and the apostles received at a later date. Most likely, it refers to direct revelation. In 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul taught that the rapture was a mystery. This means it was something not previously revealed in the Old Testament. First Corinthians 15:51-53 says:

 

Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—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.

 

Paul’s answer to the Thessalonians’ question about their deceased members was that they would not be left out of Christ’s return. In fact, those who were alive when Christ came would not proceed those who had fallen asleep. However, after they were resurrected, there would be the rapture of the living saints. First Thessalonians 4:16-19 describes this great mystery. What are the aspects of this great event including the return, the resurrection, the rapture, and the reunion?

 

1.     Christ will return in the heavens with three distinct noises.

 

First Thessalonians 4:16 says, “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.” After Christ returns in the clouds, there will be a “shout of command.” This seems to refer to Christ’s command, as it is distinguished from the voice of the archangel. The phrase “shout of command” was used in the military of an officer commanding someone of a lesser rank. Most likely, this refers to Christ calling for deceased believers to resurrect and living ones to be raptured. John 5:25 says this: “I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” In the same way that Christ called for Lazarus to come forth (John 11:43), he will call for dead believers to come forth as well.

 

Next, there will be the voice of “the archangel,” which can also be translated chief angel. The article “the” is supplied by the translators of the NET; however, there is no “article” in the original Greek. Therefore, it is better translated “an archangel” as in the ESV. We don’t know how many archangels there are. According to Jewish tradition, there were seven. However, Scripture only names one, Michael, in Jude 1:9. According to Daniel 12:1, he seems to play a special role in defending Israel during the end times. It says,

 

At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress unlike any other from the nation’s beginning up to that time. But at that time your own people, all those whose names are found written in the book, will escape.

 

The audible voice of an archangel is probably just a confirmation of what Christ commanded to dead and the living believers. This often happens in the military. The president gives a command to a top general, the general repeats it to other generals and colonels, and they repeat it to the lower ranks until it reaches all the troops. Therefore, an archangel is probably just repeating Christ’s command.

 

Then, after the archangel speaks, a trumpet is sounded. With Israel, trumpets were sounded for many reasons: for festivals (Num. 10:10), as an alarm for war (Num. 10:9), to make an announcement (1 Sam 13:3, 2 Sam 15:10), and for any other reason it was necessary to gather a crowd (Num. 10:2; Judg. 6:34). Most likely, this trumpet sound has a twofold purpose: to assemble God’s people (cf. Ex. 19:16–19) and to signal their deliverance (cf. Zech. 1:16; 9:14–16).

 

2.     After Christ returns with the three sounds, the dead in Christ will rise (v. 16).

 

As mentioned earlier, this seems to refer to only New Testament believers. If so, Old Testament saints and those who died during the tribulation period will be resurrected at the beginning of the millennial kingdom as described in Revelation 20:4 and Daniel 12:2-3. Revelation 20:4 says,

 

Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

 

With that said, others instead of interpreting Revelation 20:4 as referring to literal physical resurrections, interpret it as referring to spiritual resurrections that happen at salvation in this age. They see the millennial kingdom as happening now and will end when Christ comes. This is common in reformed circles. However, there is good evidence for seeing Revelation 20 as chronologically happening after Revelation 19. In Revelation 19, Christ returns to the earth to judge the world including throwing the Anti-Christ and the false prophet into the lake of fire (v. 20). Then in Revelation 20, he inaugurates his kingdom with 1000 years of peace before the final judgment and the ushering in of the eternal kingdom in Revelation 21. Evidence for taking Revelation 19-21 chronologically is the fact that after the millennial kingdom, in Revelation 20:10 the devil is thrown into the lake of fire where the Anti-Christ and false prophet already were according to Revelation 19:20. Revelation 19:20 and 20:7-8 and 10 say:

 

Now the beast was seized, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs on his behalf—signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur.

 

Now when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations … And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.

 

This leads to Revelation 20, the millennial kingdom, happening after Revelation 19 which describes Christ’s return with his saints to judge the world (instead of Revelation 20 happening now spiritually).

 

3.     After the dead in Christ rise, believers who are still alive will be raptured.

 

First Thessalonians 4:17 says, “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.” The phrase “caught up” (harpazo in Greek) refers to a strong, irresistible, and violent act. It was used of a wolf snatching sheep in John 10:12, Philip being snatched away by the Holy Spirit when he was talking to the Ethiopian in Acts 8:39, and Paul being caught up to the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2 and 4.[4] The phrase “caught up” is the word rapturo in the Latin Bible, and from that, we get the English word rapture.[5] It refers to living believers being quickly taken to the heavens and glorified.

 

Interpretation Question: What will our glorified bodies be like?

 

As mentioned, 1 Corinthians 15:20 says this: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The resurrected Christ is called the firstfruits of those who died because, like the firstfruits of a harvest, his body pictures what the future harvest will be like when those who follow him are resurrected. Therefore, by considering Christ’s resurrected body, we can discern what the believers’ resurrected bodies will be like. Charles Ryrie notes several characteristics:

 

Christ’s resurrection body had links with His unresurrected earthly body. People recognized Him (John 20:20), the wounds inflicted by crucifixion were retained (20:25–29; Rev. 5:6), He had the capacity (though not the need) to eat (Luke 24:30–33, 41–43), He breathed on the disciples (John 20:22), and that body had flesh and bones proving that He was not merely a spirit showing itself (Luke 24:39–40).

 

But His resurrection body was different. He could enter closed rooms without opening doors (Luke 24:36; John 20:19), He could appear and disappear at will (Luke 24:15; John 20:19), and apparently He was never limited by physical needs such as sleep or food.[6]

 

Also, in 1 Corinthians 15:37-38, Paul compared the glory of our new bodies with the difference between a seed sown into the ground and the plant that eventually comes from it. This clarifies that our glorified bodies will not be totally new in the sense of being made out of previously nonexistent material; they will come from our natural bodies. As Paul said, the seed of our bodies, which will be sown into the ground, will be raised “imperishable,” “in glory,” and “in power” (1 Cor 15:42-43). They will be made fit for the kingdom, as they will no longer age, die, or decay (1 Cor 15:50). They will be glorious, just like our Lord’s body.

 

After the great resurrection of deceased saints, believers will experience the great rapture of their bodies. We will be like Christ and prepared to enter his coming kingdom.

 

4.     After the rapture of living saints, there will be a great reunion in the air.

 

Raptured believers will meet with one another and with the previously deceased resurrected believers in the air. This great reunion was meant to comfort the grieving Thessalonians who had lost relatives and loved ones. They would not miss out on the coming of Christ. They would come with Christ and be resurrected. Then we will be raptured to meet them in the air. This was meant to comfort the Thessalonians, and it should also comfort us as we await our Lord’s coming.

 

With all this said in considering the great return of Christ, the great resurrection of deceased believers, the great rapture of living saints, and our great reunion, all of this will happen in a twinkling of an eye. First Corinthians 15:51-52 says,

 

Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—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.

 

Consequently, many believe that though all this might be visible and audible to unbelievers, they will not be able to understand it. Like Paul seeing the resurrected Christ in a blinding light and hearing his voice, those around him heard the voice but saw no one (Acts 9:7). It may be similar for unbelievers. The noise and brevity of the event will only bring confusion and fear to the lost on the earth. It will also lead to mass chaos and eventual judgment.

 

Though a sign of judgment for the world, this will be a joyous event for believers, and the prospect of it is meant to give believers hope as we face the death of our temporary bodies and that of other believers. What many would throw away as an unnecessary doctrine for our faith (along with most eschatology), Paul believed was crucial to our joy and peace in a world where we confront uncertainty and death. Are we hoping in Christ’s return, the resurrection of believing saints, our rapture, and our great reunion with them? It is meant to give us great hope as we face death, our death and that of others.

 

Application Question: In what ways does Christ’s return, the resurrection, the rapture, and our reunion give you hope in the face of death (or not give you hope)? What questions do you have about these events? Why is eschatology often more speculative instead of pastoral/practical? How can we make it more pastoral and practical for our lives? How is God calling you to give more attention to the study of eschatology to buffer your faith?

 

Conclusion

 

How can we have hope when facing death? The Thessalonians had lost loved ones and were grieving. They were grieving the death of their loved ones and the possibility that they might miss the great event they were all longing for, the coming of Christ. In response, Paul taught them how to have hope as they confront death, their own and that of loved ones. The truths he taught apply to us as we age, lose loved ones, and will eventually die as well. How can we experience hope when facing death?

 

1.     To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Avoid Improper Forms of Mourning

2.     To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Have a Redeemed View of Death

3.     To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Understand the Theological Implications of Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Return

4.     To Experience Hope When Facing Death, We Must Understand Christ’s Coming with and for His Saints

 

Application Question: What stood out most to you in the study about experiencing hope in the face of death and why?

 

 

Prayer Prompts

 

·    Pray for God to deepen our understanding of Scripture, including his revealed end-time plan, so we can have hope and motivation to be faithful in these last days—pray for believers to faithfully study it and preachers to faithfully and humbly teach it.

·     Pray for God to give hope to grieving believers who have lost loved ones and that they will have God’s comfort and peace.

·   Pray for God, according to his grace and mercy, to draw our unbelieving friends, family, and loved ones to himself that they may be saved.

·      Pray for Christ to come, resurrect deceased believers, rapture his saints, and spread his righteous rule throughout the earth. Lord, come! Lord, come!

 


[1] Richard D. Phillips, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015), 165–166.

[2] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Thessalonians: The Gospel & the End of Time, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 97.

[3] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Thessalonians: The Gospel & the End of Time, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 105.

[4] John F. MacArthur Jr., 1 & 2 Thessalonians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 2002), 133–135.

[5] Thomas L. Constable, “1 Thessalonians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 704.

[6] Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (p. 310). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

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