1 Thessalonians 4:11-18

1 Thessalonians 4:11-18 … The encouragement of Paul to his church in Thessalonica continues, giving us interesting principles for life, including some you may not have considered: leading a quiet life, tending to your own business, working with your hands (which doesn’t imply manual labor necessarily, although we ought to admire it and it also doesn’t imply not engaging our brains in our work), providing an example to outsiders (those we don’t know … those outside our normal circle), and very importantly, not being in need, which is to work for your own independence.

Beginning in 4:13, there is an important revelation concerning the death of believers. The text will answer an implied question, perhaps brought back from Timothy’s visit with the Thessalonian church concerning the destiny of some who may have died. What about their eternal destiny and their relationship with Christ? First, note the distinction in grieving at death (v.13). There is a difference at the death of a believer. We grieve certainly, but for our own loss of companionship and love of the dear departed saint. We celebrate the life of the person who died and celebrate their homecoming to Christ. As we grieve, we ought to be observing joy if that person was a faithful follower of Christ in life.

There is more detail as well, surely from Christ Himself who appeared to Paul in Arabia (Galatians 1:15-17), indicating that when Christ comes again, He will bring with him the souls of those believers who died prior to His Second Coming (4:14). Then at the Second Coming there will be a physical resurrection of the bodies of those dead believers (4:17). They will be reunited with their spirits with Christ at His Coming, and then following that, those who are alive at His coming will be “caught up” together with them to meet the Lord in the air. That “caught up” is what we call “the rapture” … being caught up to be with the Lord in the air. That’s quite a revelation, but it’s fully consistent with the teaching of Christ elsewhere in Scripture (Matthew 24:29-31 and John 14:3). It’s God’s intent that this revelation will provide comfort and encouragement among believers (4:18) … and that’s why it’s revealed to us here in the New Testament.

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