1 Thessalonians 4:15
Parallel Verses
New International Version
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.

New Living Translation
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.

English Standard Version
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

New American Standard Bible
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 not precede those who have fallen asleep.

King James Bible
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord's coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.

International Standard Version
For we declare to you what the Lord has told us to say: We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died.

NET Bible
For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But this we say to you by the word of Our Lord, that we, those who remain at the coming of Our Lord, we who have life, shall not overtake those who are asleep;

GOD'S WORD® Translation
We are telling you what the Lord taught. We who are still alive when the Lord comes will not go [into his kingdom] ahead of those who have already died.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For this, we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who are asleep.

King James 2000 Bible
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep.

American King James Version
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

American Standard Version
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For this we say unto you in the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who have slept.

Darby Bible Translation
(For this we say to you in [the] word of [the] Lord, that *we*, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate those who have fallen asleep;

English Revised Version
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep.

Webster's Bible Translation
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep.

Weymouth New Testament
For this we declare to you on the Lord's own authority--that we who are alive and continue on earth until the Coming of the Lord, shall certainly not forestall those who shall have previously passed away.

World English Bible
For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep.

Young's Literal Translation
for this to you we say in the word of the Lord, that we who are living -- who do remain over to the presence of the Lord -- may not precede those asleep,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

4:13-18 Here is comfort for the relations and friends of those who die in the Lord. Grief for the death of friends is lawful; we may weep for our own loss, though it may be their gain. Christianity does not forbid, and grace does not do away, our natural affections. Yet we must not be excessive in our sorrows; this is too much like those who have no hope of a better life. Death is an unknown thing, and we know little about the state after death; yet the doctrines of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, are a remedy against the fear of death, and undue sorrow for the death of our Christian friends; and of these doctrines we have full assurance. It will be some happiness that all the saints shall meet, and remain together for ever; but the principal happiness of heaven is to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him for ever. We should support one another in times sorrow; not deaden one another's spirits, or weaken one another's hands. And this may be done by the many lessons to be learned from the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ. What! comfort a man by telling him he is going to appear before the judgment-seat of God! Who can feel comfort from those words? That man alone with whose spirit the Spirit of God bears witness that his sins are blotted out, and the thoughts of whose heart are purified by the Holy Spirit, so that he can love God, and worthily magnify his name. We are not in a safe state unless it is thus with us, or we are desiring to be so.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 15. - For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord; or rather, by a word of the Lord. The apostle does not refer to those portions of the gospel which record our Lord's discourses concerning the last things; nor to some sayings of Christ preserved by tradition; but to a direct revelation made unto himself by the Lord. We know from Scripture that Paul had many such revelations imparted to him (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:11, 12). That we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. These words are the occasion of an important discussion. It has been affirmed that the apostle here asserts that he himself expected to be alive, with the majority of those to whom he was writing, at the Lord's advent; that, according to his expectation, Christ's second coming was close at hand. "Those who are alive and remain" are distinguished from "those who are asleep," and in the former class the apostle includes himself and his readers. And a similar declaration is contained in the First Epistle to the Corinthians: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51). Such is the view adopted by Grotius, Olshausen, Koch, Neander, Lechler, Baur, Winer, Reuse, Lunemann, Riggenbach; and, among English divines, by Alford, Jowett, Stanley, and Conybeare. Some of them suppose that Paul changed his opinion on this point - that whilst in his earlier Epistles he taught the immediateness of the advent, in his later Epistles he renounced this hope and looked forward to his own departure. There does not seem to be any ground for this opinion. On the contrary, it would appear from the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, written only a few weeks after this Epistle, that Paul did not expect the advent immediately, but mentions a series of events which would intervene before its occurrence (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). And in this Epistle he represses the curiosity of the Thessalonians about the precise time of the advent by telling them that it was beyond the sphere of his teaching (1 Thessalonians 5:1, 2). We consider, then, that the apostle speaks here as a member of the Christian body, and uses a very common form of expression - that we Christians which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord; but not at all intending to express his confidence that he himself and his converts would be actually alive at the advent. "He spake," says St. Chrysostom, "not of himself, but of Christians who would be alive at the day of judgment." Such is the view adopted by Chrysostom, Calvin, Bengel, Hofmann, Lunge, Macknight, Ellicott, Bishop Alexander, Wordsworth, and Vaughan. At the same time, it must be remembered that the time of the advent was expressly concealed (Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7), and that it might occur at any period; and, by reason of their proximity to the first advent, the primitive Christians would be deeply impressed with the possibility or even probability of its occurrence in their days. Christians were to be living always in readiness for this great event, and thus it became a matter of expectation. "Strictly speaking, the expectation of the day of the Lord was not a belief, but a necessity in the early Church; clinging as it did to the thought of Christ, it could not bear to be separated from him; it was his absence, not his presence, that the first believers found it hard to realize" (Jowett). Hence Paul might not regard the advent as far removed into the distant future, as wholly impossible to happen in his days, but as an occurrence which might at any time take place; but he did not teach anything definite or certain on the subject. Shall not prevent; go before or anticipate, obtain the preference over, get before, so that those that are asleep might be left behind and fail of the prize. Them that are asleep; those who are dead, so that they, the living, should be glorified before them, or perhaps hinder their glorification.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,.... The apostle having something new and extraordinary to deliver, concerning the coming of Christ, the first resurrection, or the resurrection of the saints, the change of the living saints, and the rapture both of the raised and living in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, expresses himself in this manner; either in allusion to the prophets of old, to whom the word of the Lord is said to come, and who usually introduced their prophecies with a "Thus saith the Lord"; or in distinction from his own private sense, sentiment, and opinion of things; signifying, that what he was about to say, was not a fancy and conjecture of his own, the fruit and produce of his own brain, but what he could assert upon a sure foundation, upon the best and greatest authority, even the word of the Lord; and has respect either to some particular word of Christ, as some think, such as Matthew 24:30 or rather to a particular and peculiar revelation, and special instruction in these things, he had immediately from Christ; and it may be when he was caught up into the third heaven himself, and had an experience in himself of somewhat of that which both the living and raised saints shall feel, when they are caught up together in the clouds; since the change of the living saints, at the time of the resurrection of the dead, is a mystery which seems to have been first made known unto, and discovered by the Apostle Paul; see 1 Corinthians 15:51.

That we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord: not that the apostle thought that he and the saints then in the flesh should live and continue till the second coming of Christ; for he did not imagine that the coming of Christ was so near, as is manifest from 2 Thessalonians 2:1 though the Thessalonians might take him in this sense, which he there corrects; but he speaks of himself and others in the first person plural, by way of instance and example, for illustration sake; that supposing he and others should be then in being, the following would be the case: and moreover, he might use such a way of speaking with great propriety of other saints, and even of those unborn, and that will be on the spot when Christ shall come a second time; since all the saints make up one body, one family, one church and general assembly; so that the apostle might truly and justly say, "we which are alive"; that is, as many of our body, of our family, of our church or society, that shall be living at the coming of Christ; and he might choose the rather to speak in this form, person, and tense, to awaken the care, circumspection, diligence, and watchfulness of the saints, since it could not be known how soon the Lord would come: however, from hence it appears, that there will be saints alive at Christ's second coming; he will have a seed to serve him till he comes again; he always had in the worst of times, and will have, and that even in the last days, in the days of the son of man, which are said to be like those of Noah and of Lot: and these are said to "remain", or to be "left", these will be a remnant, the residue and remainder of the election of grace, and will be such as have escaped the fury of antichrist and his followers, or of the persecutors of the saints: now these

shall not prevent them that are asleep; that is, that are dead, so the Ethiopic version; the reason why the dead are so called, see in the note on the preceding verses: the sense is, either they "shall not come up to them that are asleep, or dead", as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render the words; they shall not come into the state of the dead, they shall undergo a change equivalent to death, but not death itself; see 1 Corinthians 15:51 or rather they "shall not go before" them; they shall not get the start of them, and be in the arms of Jesus, and enjoy his presence when he comes, before the dead in Christ, which might be thought, but this will not be the case; for the dead saints will rise before the living ones are changed, and both will be caught up together to meet the Lord, as is said in the following verses; so that the one shall not come or go before the other, or come at, or into the enjoyment of Christ first, but both together.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

15. by the word of the Lord—Greek, "in," that is, in virtue of a direct revelation from the Lord to me. So 1Ki 20:35. This is the "mystery," a truth once hidden, now revealed, which Paul shows (1Co 15:51, 52).

prevent—that is, "anticipate." So far were the early Christians from regarding their departed brethren as anticipating them in entering glory, that they needed to be assured that those who remain to the coming of the Lord "will not anticipate them that are asleep." The "we" means whichever of us are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. The Spirit designed that believers in each successive age should live in continued expectation of the Lord's coming, not knowing but that they should be among those found alive at His coming (Mt 24:42). It is a sad fall from this blessed hope, that death is looked for by most men, rather than the coming of our Lord. Each successive generation in its time and place represents the generation which shall actually survive till His coming (Mt 25:13; Ro 13:11; 1Co 15:51; Jas 5:9; 1Pe 4:5, 6). The Spirit subsequently revealed by Paul that which is not inconsistent with the expectation here taught of the Lord's coming at any time; namely, that His coming would not be until there should be a "falling away first" (2Th 2:2, 3); but as symptoms of this soon appeared, none could say but that still this precursory event might be realized, and so the Lord come in his day. Each successive revelation fills in the details of the general outline first given. So Paul subsequently, while still looking mainly for the Lord's coming to clothe him with his body from heaven, looks for going to be with Christ in the meanwhile (2Co 5:1-10; Php 1:6, 23; 3:20, 21; 4:5). Edmunds well says, The "we" is an affectionate identifying of ourselves with our fellows of all ages, as members of the same body, under the same Head, Christ Jesus. So Ho 12:4, "God spake with us in Beth-el," that is, with Israel. "We did rejoice," that is, Israel at the Red Sea (Ps 66:6). Though neither Hosea, nor David, was alive at the times referred to, yet each identifies himself with those that were present.

1 Thessalonians 4:15 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Return of the Lord
14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15For 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.…
Cross References
1 Kings 13:17
I have been told by the word of the LORD: 'You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.'"

1 Kings 20:35
By the word of the LORD one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, "Strike me with your weapon," but he refused.

1 Corinthians 15:18
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

1 Corinthians 15:52
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

2 Corinthians 12:1
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

Galatians 1:12
I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:19
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

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.

1 Thessalonians 5:10
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

2 Thessalonians 2:1
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,
Treasury of Scripture

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

by the.

1 Kings 13:1,9,17,18,22 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of …

1 Kings 20:35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his neighbor …

1 Kings 22:14 And Micaiah said, As the LORD lives, what the LORD said to me, that …

which are.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall …

2 Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us …

prevent.

Job 41:11 Who has prevented me, that I should repay him? whatever is under …

Psalm 88:13 But to you have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent you.

Psalm 119:147,148 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in your word…

Matthew 17:25 He said, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented …

asleep. See on ver.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them …

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