Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 16: Asleep

Day 16: Asleep

As we progress through Paul's letters to the Thessalonians it becomes apparent that Paul is addressing some concerns and questions form the Thessalonians that must have been passed along to him via Timothy. So, we come upon a number of words that seem to be rabbit trails in Paul's letters. We are left to assume that these are topics that concerned the Thessalonians. Today, and over the next few days, we delve into some of those topics.

Today's word, asleep, is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It is used by Paul to refer to those who have died, and specifically, those Christ followers who have died. Asleep or sleep is a fitting way to describe the death of a Christ follower, for death is only temporary. Although they leave us in the body, they will live on with Christ in eternity. As seen further in the letter when he writes, "He died for us so that, whether awake or asleep [alive or dead], we may live together with Him." 1 TH 5:10

"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. 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. 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. 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. 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 forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 TH 4:13-18

The Thessalonians must have had some confusion regarding the Second Coming of Christ. They apparently expected it to happen soon and they may have thought that all believers would live until Christ's return. But the death of fellow Christ followers brought questions. What about those who have already died? Will we see them again? Will they take place in the events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ? Will only those who are alive when He returns be resurrected? Will the dead in Christ also be resurrected? 

Paul goes on to explain: Jesus died and rose again, so we believe that God will bring those who have fallen asleep in Him with Jesus when He returns. No one will be left behind, the living or those in Christ who have already died. On that day the Lord Himself will come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. We will live together with Him in eternity!

Paul does not tell them not to grieve those who have died. Grieving is a natural part of life. We mourn and miss those who are no longer with us. What he does instruct them, with the care and concern of a pastor, is not to mourn like those who have no hope of seeing their loved ones again. Paul's words were meant to encourage the Thessalonians, and so too they encourage us. 

I have no new document for Bible study techniques today. I have posted the majority of the techniques and tools to date. There will be a few more pages for interpretation techniques and then pages for ideas of different ways to respond to what you learn in your study time. Since I want you to have time to practice the techniques and tools, I will now post new technique or tool pages every other day for the remainder of the challenge.

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