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"Our Hope"
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Wednesday AM Bible Study
March 10, 2004

Paul continues his practical section of his letter; now giving us words of encouragement and exhortation in the light of the soon coming of our Savior (4:13-5:11). Repeated throughout is the idea of "comfort". We are twice encouraged by Paul to "comfort" one another with the doctrine he presents in this passage (4:18; 5:11).

He teaches two main doctrines concerning the return of the Lord in this section. The second (5:1-11) concerns the judgment of the wicked at Christ's return, and of the saints deliverance from that judgment. That gives us comfort regarding the future. But Paul also draws out comfort for us for the present as well. He deals with the pain we suffer when a loved one in the Lord is taken from us through death; and the comfort at such times is his theme in this first doctrinal presentation (4:13-18).

A. Hope comes from knowing the truth. The first thing Paul says is that he does not want his readers to be "ignorant" concerning those who have "fallen asleep"
1. The Thessalonian believers were no doubt in need of this information. They had suffered much for their faith through persecution (2:14-16; 3:3-4). No doubt, many in the Lord had been taken from them - not only by natural death, but by murderous persecution.

2. Paul here uses a wonderful way of describing such believers: "asleep". He uses the word for "death" to describe them in the light of their resurrection (v. 16); but refers to them as "asleep" in the light of their hope. When someone "sleeps", they are eventually going to "wake up"; and so, this phrase emphasizes hope (Matthew 9:24; 27:52).

B. Paul passes this knowledge on to the Thessalonians for a very specific purpose: that they might not sorrow as others who have no hope.

1. To be apart from Christ is to be without hope (Eph. 2:12). And it's utterly no appropriate for a believer - whose hope is in the One who was raised from the dead - to have the outlook of those who are apart from Christ.

2. This is not to say, however, that a Christian should not sorrow and grieve at the death of a loved one. Paul is careful not to say, "lest you sorrow"; rather, he says, "lest you sorrow as others who have no hope". Our sorrow is to be tempered with the prospect of hope.

II. THE BASIS OF OUR HOPE (vv. 14-17).

A. Our hope is based on what we believe about Jesus. This "belief" isn't merely a wish, but an assured confidence and whole-hearted assent to (1) the fact of Jesus' own resurrection and (2) the implication of it (Rom. 6:8-9).

B. This "belief" in the resurrection of Christ gives us hope regarding those who sleep in Him. Their bodies "sleep" only from our perspective; but they, in fact, live with Him (2 Cor. 5:8).

1. This is a teaching that has full authority - by the word of the Lord (Daniel 12:2-3).

2. This is a teaching that we who are living at the coming of the Lord will not precede those who sleep in the resurrection.

3. There is a series of events in this teaching:

a. Christ will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the with the trumpet of God (Matt. 24:29-31).

b. The dead in Christ will rise first.

C. This "belief" also gives hope to those of us who live; because we who are alive and remain will then, after the resurrection of those who sleep, also be caught up in the air to meet the Lord - ever to be with Him (1 Cor. 15:50-55).


This is to be something that we encourage one another with when death strikes. It not only encourages us at the loss of a loved one, but also encourages us when our time of dying comes.

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Bethany Bible Church, 18245 NW Germantown Road, Portland, OR 97231 / 503.645.1436

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