The Bedrock of Christian Consolation
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
What we must not leave unsaid when a believer dies.
Published November 23rd, 2019; Updated May 1st, 2020
Share / Groups / About Author
Main point summary
Arc w/ paraphrase
Main point summary
We know that God will resurrect every dead believer. Therefore console one another with this hope while you mourn for them.
Arc w/ paraphrase
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed , brothers, about those who are asleep,
Brothers and sisters, we want you to know the truth regarding believers who have died
g that you may not grieve as others do h who have no hope .
so that when you mourn for them, you would not succumb to the same despondency experienced by grieving unbelievers.
For i since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
Our hope in the midst of grief is grounded upon our confidence in Jesus's death and resurrection, his victory over the grave.
even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him j those who have fallen asleep .
Therefore , we also have confidence that God the Father and Jesus will resurrect every deceased believer.
For this we declare to you k by a word from the Lord, 1
I will describe to you how this event will unfold since God himself has revealed it to me:
that l we who are alive, who are left until m the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
When the Lord Jesus makes his physical return, the believers who are alive at that moment will not immediately go ahead and be with Jesus, but they will need to wait for the deceased believers.
For n the Lord himself will descend o from heaven
To be more explicit , Jesus will come down from heaven
p with a cry of command,
with the roar of highest superiority
with the voice of q an archangel,
and with the thunderous voice of God's mightiest angel
and r with the sound of the trumpet of God.
and with the trumpet blast from the Lord of hosts.
And s the dead in Christ will rise first.
immediately causing every dead believer to be gloriously raised back to life.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be t caught up together with them u in the clouds
Immediately after , all of us will gather together as we make our ascent into the atmosphere
to meet the Lord in the air,
in order that we may embrace the One who is waiting for us there.
and so v we will always be with the Lord .
This is the never-ending climax : we will have Jesus face-to-face forever.
Therefore encourage one another with these words .
In light of this all , you must speak this inevitable reality to comfort and strengthen each other.
Main point : Paul wants the Thessalonians to know the truth about the final outcome of dead believers so that they would experience hope in the midst of grief .
Primary supporting point : Paul informs them that God the Father, along with Jesus, will raise up the dead bodies of all believers. Paul then gives specific details about this future event in verses 15-17.
bright yellow means main point soft yellow means primary supporting point
Primary supporting point : Paul wants the Thessalonians to know the truth about the final outcome of dead believers.
Primary supporting point : The reality of eternal communion with God in the face of Christ is the fulfillment of our hope.
The truth of the resurrection of the believers in verses 14-17 is the foundation of the commands in verses 13 and 18 (when you grieve, do not sink into hopelessness; and encourage one another).
Main point
OUTLINE OF 1 THESSALONIANS I. OPENING 1:1 A. Greeting 1:1 II. MAIN BODY 1:2-5:22 A. Praising the Thessalonians 1:2-10 1. The gratitude for God's work among the Thessalonians 1:2-5a 2. The widespread influence of the Thessalonians's faith 1:5b-10 B. Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus's testimony in the Thessalonians' presence 2:1-12 1. The necessity of delivering the true gospel 2:1-5 2. The necessity of nurturing the new believers 2:6-12 C. Paul's desire to see the Thessalonians 2:13-3:13 1. The Thessalonians understand that the gospel is divine revelation 2:13 2. Opposition to the gospel 2:14-16 3. Paul's overwhelming desire to reunite with the Thessalonian believers 2:17-3:13 D. Instructions for increasing in godly conduct 4:1-12 1. The requirement of inward and outward purity 4:1-8 2. The challenge to increase in love and generosity 4:9-12 E. The Lord's return 4:13-5:11 1. Comfort in grief 4:13-14 2. The return of the Lord Jesus 4:15-5:11 F. Final instructions for godly conduct 5:12-22 III. CLOSING 5:23-28 1. Prayer 5:23-24 2. Closing directions 5:25-28
Commands: Bring the hope of the resurrection to those who are mourning over the death of a beloved believer. (4:13) Do not let your grief bring you down to the point of hopelessness and despondency, which are the sinful tendencies of godless people. (4:13) Bring comfort and consolation to others with hope of resurrection and eternal communion with God. (4:16-17) Means: This passage instructs us to encourage one another with the words of this hope of resurrection and eternal communion with God. This encouragement is not a general "I'm sorry for your loss", nor is this encouragement silent (although there is a proper time and occasion for comforting others with your presence and not primarily with words). Motivations: We should be encouraging other believers with the specific intent to see their hope rest firmly on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and its ramification toward us who die as believers. Anchors: We too will be raised as he was raised. We will surely experience a never-ending climax: we will have Jesus face-to-face forever. Eternal communion with the triune God is ours! We must cling to this most precious promise throughout every season in life.
13 Οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων , ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα . 14 εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη , οὕτως καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ. 15 Τοῦτο γὰρ ὑμῖν λέγομεν ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου, ὅτι ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν τοὺς κοιμηθέντας • 16 ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ, καταβήσεται ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον, 17 ἔπειτα ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι ἅμα σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ κυρίου εἰς ἀέρα• καὶ οὕτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθα. 18 Ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις. 4:14 - I am struggling to understand what reality "ουτως και" (in verse 14) is pointing to. Is Paul... 1) drawing a comparison between the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of believers (i.e. "for since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in this manner/way God will also bring [back to life] the dead believers. or 2) Is he discerning an inference from his belief in Jesus's resurrection (i.e. "for since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then it follows that God will bring [back to life] the dead believers.) 4:15 - What does "will not precede those who have fallen asleep" mean? NET translates "will not go ahead". 4:16 - is " ὅτι " signifying a ground or idea-explanation relationship?
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.