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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

“Clearing Up Confusion About Death”

This letter is full of reminders and encouragement to stand fast and keep progressing in the faith!  It is not primarily a problem-solving letter seeking to change belief or behavior.

A Quick Review of 1 Thessalonians.(Date of letter:Late AD 50/early AD 51)

This was a model church!

  • Truly a church with genuine conversions
  • Work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope
  • Loved and elect by God
  • Imitators of apostles and of Jesus
  • Examples to others in the region
  • Evangelistic—gospel echoed out from the assembly
  • Living transformed lives as they waited for Jesus’ return

Paul’s prayer to God for the Thessalonians (3:10-13):

  • That their faith might mature (4: 13-18)
  • That their love might abound (4: 9-12)
  • That they be established in holiness (4:1-8)

     1. A Fundamental Question: What happens to believers who die? (4:13)

  1. Ignorance creates confusion—but be careful knowledge without love puffs up.

Regarding His return for us—be prepared and be busy.  The promise of His coming is a reason to be hopeful and a call  to be fruitful.

  1. Death is a certainty (except for those alive at Jesus’ coming).

Sleep is a euphemism for death (Luke 9:18-26; John 11:11-14)

Paul uses sleep to refer specifically to the physical body— he is not referring to “soul-sleep”.

Upon death, the believer’s soul (eternally conscious) is  immediately with Jesus in Heaven.  2 Cor. 5:8;

Phil. 1: 23; Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 6:9-11

     3.  Believers grieve differently than the unsaved. Our grief is of a temporary separation.   We sorrow but with hope of a future glorious reunion and life with Jesus ever after.  Pagans have no hope of a positive afterlife.  As a matter in fact, they only face God’s judgment.  This should cause us to weep and strive to share the gospel with them.

  2. A Foundational Truth: Our Faith is Backed Up by Fact (4:14-15).

  1. We have a forgiven past—Jesus died.
  1. We have a future resurrection—Jesus rose from the dead.
  1. We have a guaranteed Word—the Scriptures.

 3.  A Future Promise:  Jesus is Coming for Us  (4:16-17a)

  1. Jesus Himself is coming.
  1. His coming will bring a resurrection of the church age saints.
  1. His coming will bring a transformation of those alive at the time.
  1. His coming will bring a reunion.
  1. His coming will bring relief.

   4.  A Fantastic Reunion—We Will Be Gathered Together Forever with the Lord. (4:17b-18)

  1. Nothing will separate us from our Savior.

Romans 8: 35-39; John 10: 28-29

  1. We have hope for the future.
  1. We have comfort for today.