This section of I Thessalonians provides two important pieces of information. The first is to give comfort to those who have lost loved ones who believe in Jesus. The second is an encouragement that we do know that the Day of the Lord presents no fears for those who believe. Verses 4 to 6 in chapter 5 provide a key to understanding all of this. Believers are not in darkness but have the light of the gospel. If we belong to the light of Christ, we are to live in that light. There will be no unpleasant surprises at death or the return of our Lord.
I Thess. 4:13 – 5:11
Believers who have died
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
The day of the Lord
5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Prayer: Loving Father, we thank you that Jesus has won the blessing of eternal life for us. Please help us to have confidence in the face of death and the calamities of our world. Keep reminding us of who we are in Jesus and where we are heading for eternity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Living Hope
Living Church – Creek Road