Summary: A look at 1 Thess 4:13-17. Ofering comort in a time of mourning.
Death comes in many forms and have differences in the suffering prior to the death. Some die suddenly and tragically, some go more slowly and with more prolonged suffering. One things is for certain, we shall all die. We do not know how, when, or where, we do however know the why. We are told why we all shall die ,Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The wages of sin is death, sin entered the world through Adam,Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Therefore we have an understanding as to the why we all die. The where,when and how is what remains unknown. Since we have an understanding as to the why, and we will not know the how,when, and where lets focus on what. What will happen upon death?
(13) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
(14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
In this the first epistle of Paul he begins in verse thirteen to offer comfort to the Thessalonians. They had suffered great loses and were bereaved. Paul starts out here in this verse by stating he doesn’t want the people to be ignorant concerning those which have gone to sleep.
Paul used this statement several times in order to cause special attention to what he was about to say. Rom_1:13;Rom_11:25 ; 1Co_2:1;1Co_10:1; 1Co_12:1; 2Co_1:8; and 2Pe_3:8
Notice he did not use the term death or died, instead used the term sleep. This is significant for a reason, death is an end to those who do not believe. However to the believer it is a period of rest. Those whom die with out believing have no hope, therefore Paul uses the term sleep as an explanation that they have not ended life, merely went into a deep relaxed sleep.
Death should not be a complete mystery, for we know we shall die. However in many circumstances there is more mystery than in others. Some die very sudden and tragically, these come by many times the hands of others. Some one may be shot and killed, some may be in a traffic accident, some may have sudden heart failure and so forth. These deaths are some times more difficult for those of us left behind then those who have suffered long illnesses such as cancer or other diseases that the outcome is expected.Many times we find ourselves asking why did this happen. We have the promise of eternal life in John 3:16 however we still must leave this place. There are many unanswered questions when one leaves us, and some will remain unanswered until the time that we will be reunited. Now we have the promise of eternal life so one would ask what happens upon death here on earth?
Lets look at this a little, first Paul tells us not to be ignorant about those which are asleep. They are asleep in the arms of Jesus resting in paradise. We can look at some examples in order to better understand this. First we will look at the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Lazarus the beggar died and was carried into the bosom of Abraham, also known as Paradise.Lazarus was free from the torment of hell and the rich man was not free from the torment. In another words, the rich man could not buy his freedom from torment. The price for sin is far more then money can pay. Even though the rich man had great wealth he would suffer torment in hell and the beggar received peace and protection in the bosom of Abraham. This can be better explained by looking at Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
See we come into the world naked and thus we leave this world naked. This is speaking of more then just clothes. This is significant in meaning, because it shows the rich man could not take his wealth with him to buy him freedom from the torment of hell. Now lets look at the story of the criminal on the cross next to Jesus.