When Believers Die

William C. Brownson

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Therefore encourage one another with these words. (v. 18 NIV)

In the early days after Jesus’ resurrection, many believers seemed confused about the situation of their loved ones who had recently died. Where were they? What could be the hope of their grieving loved ones who remained? The apostle Paul sensed this need. Here’s how he sought to comfort them in his first letter to the Thessalonian church: “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” (v. 13). Paul is assuring them that we believers in Christ do have a wonderful, heart-lifting hope.

Here is the prospect he holds before them: “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 [try to envision and even hear that!], with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God [what a crescendo of sound!], and the dead in Christ will rise first” (vv. 14-16). They will be the first to be clothed with the new bodies of the resurrection. We won’t leave behind those who have died. In fact, they will be ahead of us!

Paul’s final word is this: “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (v. 18). I feel sure that they did! —Bill Brownson

Prayer: Lord, let us live every day with this extraordinary hope.