1 Thessalonians 4:13 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 forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I use this commentary.
Who have fallen asleep: Sleep was a common way to express death in the ancient world, but among pagans, it was almost always seen as an eternal sleep.
Ancient writings are full of this pessimism regarding death:
- “Of a man once dead there is no resurrection.” (Aeschylus)
- “Hopes are among the living, the dead are without hope.” (Theocritus)
- “Suns may set and rise again but we, when once our brief light goes down, must sleep an endless night.” (Catullus)
Christians called death sleep, but they emphasized the idea of rest. Early Christians began to call their burial places “cemeteries,” which means, “dormitories” or “sleeping places.” Yet the Bible never describes the death of the unbeliever as sleep, for there is no rest, peace, or comfort for them in death.
Lest you sorrow as others who have no hope: For the Christian death is dead, and leaving this body is like laying down for a nap and waking in glory. It is moving, not dying. For these reasons, Christians should not sorrow as others who have no hope when their loved ones in Jesus die.
As Christians, we may mourn the death of other Christians; but not as others who have no hope. Our sorrow is like the sadness of seeing someone off on a long trip, knowing you will see them again, but not for a long time.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout: When Jesus comes, He will come personally. The Lord Himself will descend and come with a shout. The ancient Greek word for shout here is the same word used for the commands that a ship captain makes to his rowers, or a commander speaking to his soldiers. “Always there is the ring of authority and the note of urgency.” (Morris)
The commentary seems to go on and on about what Paul says. OK then... I suggest you read it for yourself and decide for yourself.
I Believe Jesus is coming to get His Brothers and Sisters. We were adopted when we accepted Him as our Savior. I don't know if I will die at this time on earth. If I die first, Jesus will get my soul when He returns and calls. If I'm still alive, I'll be swooped up with the rest of the Christians.
I hope having no body attached to my soul isn't a problem. I don't plan on having a plot. If I die before Jesus comes back, there will be a funeral pyre... Like the Native Americans. If I leave Arizona... well then, I guess I'll get a spot in potters' field... lol.
Paul told people Jesus was coming right back. People who lost family and friends during that time.... had to deal with family and friends missing the "call" that will happen when He does come back.
I wonder.... How many people lost their faith [or hid it] because they lost loved ones and Jesus hadn't come back yet? Did they just give up? What happened to their souls? Will Paul get a blast of questions for telling the people Jesus' return was imminent, causing confusion?
I think, when my body dies, the next thing I will see will be Heaven. It doesn't matter to me if earth is destroyed or if I have to wait for another two thousand years... I will wake in Heaven. Jesus told us that's what is going to happen... so, it will.
I like what the commentary says.... "It is moving, not dying."
Death is moving, not dying!!