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.
The phrase ‘those who fall asleep’ refers to Christians who die. The figure of sleep for death is common in the NT (Mark 5:39; John 11:11). This does not refer to the sleeping of the soul, because Paul wrote elsewhere that a Christian who is absent from his body is present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thes. 5:10). It is rather the ‘sleep’ of the body in the earth until it is resurrected, changed into a glorious body, and reunited with the soul (1 Cor. 15:35–57; 2 Cor. 5:1–9).
Paul wanted the Thessalonians to be neither ignorant nor grieving like the rest of men, that is, like unbelievers, over the death of fellow believers. Christians do grieve over the loss of loved ones; this is a normal human experience which even Jesus shared (John 11:35). But the grief of Christians differs from that of unbelievers, for the unbeliever have no hope of a bodily resurrection with Christ (1 Thes. 4:16).
Thoughts for the day
- What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
- What does this passage tell you about humanity?
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
- Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.
Give God your praise. Give God your praise for the good things you are experiencing and practice gratitude for everything God’s given you at this present moment.