1 Thessalonians 4:14, 15
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
The apostle gives several reasons why the Thessalonians ought not to sorrow for their dead.
I. THE FUNDAMENTAL REASON IS THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again." These are the primary facts of Christianity. They are inseparably linked together, for the resurrection was the crown of the redeeming sacrifice; for if he was delivered for our offences, he was raised again for our justification. Deny either or both, we "are yet in our sins."
II. THE SECOND REASON IS, WHEN CHRIST COMES AGAIN FROM THE FATHER'S RIGHT HAND, HE WILL BRING WITH HIM THE SLEEPING SAINTS. "Even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
1. The dead saints sleep in Jesus. They arc associated with him both in life and in death. They "die in the Lord;" "they are present with the Lord."
2. They will accompany Jesus at his second coming. This includes
(1) their resurrection from the dead, - for "he who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:14);
(2) their joining the retinue of Jesus to share his triumph. As risen from the dead, he becomes "the Firstfruits of them that slept."
III. THE THIRD REASON IS THAT THE LIVING SAINTS WILL NOT PRECEDE THE DEAD SAINTS AT THE COMING OF CHRIST. "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 precede them which are asleep." This fact would effectively dissipate their sorrow for their departed friends.
1. It is a fact wade known by special revelation. Such revelations were frequently made to the apostle, as in the case of his special mission field (Acts 22:18-21), the position of Gentile saints (Ephesians 3:3), the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23), and the reality and proofs of Christ's resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3).
2. It is a fact that does not imply either the nearness of the second advent, or the apostle's own share as a living man in its glories. He says, "We which are alive and remain to the coming of Christ;" he merely identifies the living believers of the last age with himself, as if he said, "Those of us Christians who may be alive at the advent." He could not have believed that he would not die before the advent, for
(1) that would imply that "the word of the Lord" had misled him;
(2) he actually preferred to be absent from the body, and toward the end of his life spoke of death as "gain," and of his desiring "to depart and be with Christ," words quite inconsistent with this theory;
(3) he virtually declares in the Second Epistle that the advent could not happen in his lifetime (2 Thessalonians 2.);
(4) he knew that no man, not even the Son of man, knew the time of the advent (Mark 13:42).
3. It is a fact that the living saints will not get the start of the dead saints in the coming of the Lord. This is his express revelation from the Lord. "The dead in Christ shall rise first," or before the living are changed (1 Corinthians 15.). The Thessalonians need not, therefore, sorrow for their departed friends, neither be afraid themselves to die. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.