Concise Exposition of 1 Thessalonian 4:18-5:11


The idea that death has no last say for Christians because Christ Jesus will return to restore what is lost and renew what is perishing is sweet to the soul. This idea is what Christians in Thessalonica are called to encourage each other with. It is what Paul concludes with in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 and 5:11. This idea is unarguably the aim of general theme of 1 Thessalonian 4-5 (Weima 1995: 192). Thessalonians are called to encourage each other with eschatological hope that is not only theirs, those who are living, but also of their dead comrades.

It appears that the church in Thessalonica knew the times and the seasons that marked the return of their Lord and King (5:1 cf. Lk 21:34-36). It would be unexpected time, like that of a thief in the night. While the rest of the world believe that all is well, the King will return and all who did not pledge alliance with Him would be caught like a pregnant woman in labor pain without any escape route (5:2-4).

The Thessalonians, awaiting the return of their King, ought not be like the rest of the world, according to Paul. They ought not be caught sleeping when the King returns. They are to be caught awake and sober and ready to receive their King. They are to be quipped with defensive-war armor, waiting not only to receive their King who is returning to be with His people forever  but also participate in His sovereign reign (4:17) where Jesus will render God’s justice (5:3-10) to those who committed

Tracing Paul’s case back, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-12 provides a flowing context of proper ethical ways Christians are called to conduct their lives. They are to live in the present but in view of the future hope. Paul encouraged Christians in Thessalonica to keep on living a God-pleasing life, both in sexual purity and in relationship with one another (4:3-12).  This way of living reflects who they are. “[T]hey are children of light, children of the day”(5:5) expecting the zenith of their salvation at any moment.

Next:Assessing Competing Interpretations of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

8 thoughts on “Concise Exposition of 1 Thessalonian 4:18-5:11

  1. Your first sentence Prayson contains the words “death” and “soul”. While I see five topics addressed in 1 Thessalonians 4, for me too, the comfort given for those who mourned for their relations and friends that have died in the Lord is the highlight.

    “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Verse 14

    In verse 14 we are most plainly reminded that those who sleep in Jesus are living still, for it is said: “Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” If God is to bring them with Him they must be somewhere. They cannot be mere dust and ashes in the grave, for He is to bring them to the earth, “then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”. They must be real persons in the form of souls, or how can He bring them? And they must be with Him now in their disembodied state in order that He may bring them to meet their resurrected bodies.

    The death and resurrection of Christ are fundamental articles of the Christian religion, and give us hope of a joyful resurrection; for Christ, having risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those that slept and therefore those who have fallen asleep in him have not perished nor are lost.

  2. The demo of Jesus Christ’s identity and authority, which “not even death will ever be able to overcome” (Matt. 16:18), is his own exclusive responsibility in real time rather than a job description shared in common with prophets, e.g., Moses and Elijah and apostles like Paul (Ibid. 17: 1-13).
    The so-called “eschatology” is a human procrastination of Jesus’ promise, “I assure you that there are some here who will not to die until they have seen the Son of Man come as King”, a.k.a., “the first-born from the dead”, among many brothers—according to prophecy! (Ibid. 16:28 fulfilled in 27: 50-56)

  3. Pingback: Evaluating Eis Apantēsin & Eschatological Hope | With All I Am

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