13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:13–14, NKJV)
The word translated “ignorant” means “not to know.” While knowledge can produce arrogance when one thinks too highly of himself, decided advantages also come with knowledge (1 Cor. 8:1-2). Jesus said knowing the truth (His word) “shall make you free” from sin as you abide in His word (Jno. 8:31-32, 33-36). Today’s passage declares knowing the future of Christians who have died removes our sorrow and gives us hope (v. 13). More specifically, knowing and believing Jesus rose from the dead supports our hope (desire and expectation) that Christians will be raised from the dead and be with Jesus when He returns (1 Thess. 4:15-16). Such blessed assurance replaces the sorrow of death’s loss with bold confidence that invigorates our faith when death separates us from beloved saints. God has a future planned for His people. Whether living or dead, when Jesus returns and raises the dead, the saints of God will “always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). Knowing what will happen to those who have died in the Lord empowers us to “comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).
15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not, 16 And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses”— Therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses”— Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!” (Isaiah 30:15–16, NKJV)
God extended the blessings of repentance to Israel in spite of being “a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord” (Isa. 30:9). Even though they told God’s prophets, “Do not speak to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10), God was willing to save them if only they would repent. Yet, they sought alliances with Egypt instead of reliance upon the Lord (Isa. 30:1-7). We are also tempted to rely on the strength of human alliances instead of relying on the Lord’s word and way. Human wisdom is accepted over the pure gospel of Jesus (1 Cor. 1:18-25). Human philosophies are heeded instead of divine directives (Col. 2:2-3, 8-9, 20-23). Human doctrines and practices are clung to instead of a “thus saith the Lord” (Col. 3:16-17). Human pride is followed instead of humbly submitting to the Lord’s word (Jas. 4:6-10). Like Israel, salvation will be ours if only we will repent. Truly, God “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Flee to the Lord for His salvation, not to the false hopes of men that will never save you from sin and will never secure your fellowship with God.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–4, NKJV)
Then, as now, people want to know when Jesus will return. They want to know the designated time and occasion of this great event. Some even predict when Christ will return. All these predictions have failed, and all will continue to fail. Christians who trust the word of God do not fret about when the Lord will come. We know He will come unexpectedly. Just as a thief does not break into a home when the homeowner is watching, Jesus will return when least expected. His return will be sudden, without warning. Like the onset of labor pains from which there is no escape, we will not elude the sudden return of Jesus and the events that transpire on the day of the Lord. Christians remain ready for that day by living holy lives (2 Pet. 3:11, 14). Sinners are not ready, but the gospel calls sinners to repent and obey – to get ready for that day. Why? Because sudden destruction waits the unprepared. Are you ready?
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15, NKJV)
The authority of Christ’s word must support what we teach. Paul knew this, and so he made it very clear that he was not giving his opinion about what will happen to Christians who die (vss. 14, 15). What we teach, including things about the return of Jesus, must be in harmony with His word (Matt. 28:19-20). With that assurance, the apostle tells why we do not hopelessly sorrow over the death of Christians (v. 13). It is because they will not miss out on anything that happens with Christ returns! In fact, the dead saints “will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). Then, the living saints will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:52). We do not know when the Lord will come, but we know that when He does, every saint – dead or alive – will fully participate in the glory of that moment (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4). But, it will also be a moment of fiery indignation – a fearful expectation of judgment – for His adversaries (Heb. 10:27; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). Do not be the Lord’s adversary. Serve the Lord faithfully, and you will be ready for the day He returns (1 Thess. 5:1-11).
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3, NKJV)
Then, as now, some were attempting to predict the return of Jesus. Some even claimed apostolic endorsement for their forecasts. The apostle had tried to calm the troubled souls of the Thessalonians about the Christ’s return in his first epistle to them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Now, Paul directly states the return of Jesus would not happen until “the falling away” occurred and the “man of sin…the son of perdition” was revealed. The rise of this pretender and usurper of divine exaltation would coincide with a falling away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). This falling away occurred over the next several centuries as Roman dominance flourished and persecution against Christians became severe. The predicted events have happened. That means Christ could return at any time – no man knows when. We must always be ready for His return by living holy lives, because when He comes the world will end, the dead will be raised, and we will be judged (2 Peter 3:10-14; Revelation 20:11-15). Are you ready?
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:2–4, NKJV)
The magnificence of the Jerusalem temple impressed the disciples as they showed its buildings to Jesus (Matthew 24:1). But, divine judgment was set to destroy it all (Matthew 23:37-39; 24:2). Back on the Mount of Olives they ask Him for signs of the calamity of which He spoke, concluding it to be His coming and the end of the present order (v. 3). It would indeed be a coming of the Son of Man in judgment against the faithless city (Matthew 23:38; 24:27-28). Jesus gave them signs of the approaching judgment that happened in A.D. 70 when the Roman army destroyed the temple and the city. Believers would escape when they believed and responded to these signs (Matthew 24:15-26). Christ’s warning to avoid deception about His coming remain pertinent (v. 4, 11-13). Claims of when Jesus will return continue to be made. Such predictions are vain and false. The final great day of the Lord will come “as a thief in the night” without predictive signs (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Always be ready for His return and do not be deceived (Matthew 24:44; 25:13).
30 “Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:30–32, NKJV)
This confession by the apostles, that Jesus came from God, was the last confession of faith they made before His death. However, within hours, they would act counter to the faith they confessed. Fearful unbelief would grip them and cause them to scatter, leaving Jesus alone and arrested in Gethsemane. We do well to take a lesson from this, as we confess our faith in Jesus. Like them, our faith can falter. When it does, we must return to the Lord like they did. Otherwise, our soul will be lost in unbelief. When Peter’s faith faltered, and he denied knowing Jesus three times, he returned to Christ (which he did, see Luke 22:32; John 21:15-19). A failing faith is not a saving faith. Yes, the sheep scattered when the Shepherd was struck, but they returned to Him after His resurrection (Matthew 26:31-32; Mark 16:9-14). Their faith grew. “Once believe, always believe” is just as dangerous and false as “once saved, always saved.” Faith unto the saving of the soul does not abandon the Lord; It endures with Him to the end (Hebrews 10:36-39).
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4, NKJV)
Christ is our source of life. Not only is He the giver of our physical life (the One through whom all things were made and given life, Jno. 1:3), He is especially the source of our eternal life (Jno. 1:4; 14:6). We have been raised from sin’s death to newness of life, quickened by the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead (Col. 2:12). This assures our faith that Jesus will appear again, returning from heaven in the same manner He was seen going into heaven (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:16). When He does, Christians will share in the brightness of His presence. Our splendid hope rests in Christ and the life we have in Him. We cannot overlook the unmistakable point of this passage, Colossians 3:1-4: If Christians do not “seek” things above, if we do not “set” our minds on heavenly things, and if we do not live faithfully “with Christ in God,” then when Jesus comes we will not appear with Him in glory. We have clear incentives to put Christ first in our lives: He died for us, and we have died to sin. God has raised us from spiritual death and given us a heavenly inheritance. Now, let us be faithful to Him and receive our inheritance on the great day of His return.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4)
There continue to be those who ignore and deny the truth of the Lord’s return. It will be a day of divine justice against evil. Others dispute the nature of that day. These attempt to predict when that day will take place. They make fanciful calculations using the Bible which dazzle their disciples, but only give false comfort and hope. Christ’s apostles said the day of the Lord will come without warning (“as a thief in the night”) and “they shall not escape”. It will be unexpected and inescapable. Do not be unsettled by those who claim knowledge of when the Lord will come. The Scriptures do not tell us. Not to worry; faithful Christians are always ready for His return (see 1 Thess. 5:5-11).