He'll Be Back
The Second Advent
Day 25 Wednesday, December 23rd
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1. Recognize the Context:
Today, we consider one more passage reflecting on Christ's second advent. Historical and literary contexts:
Paul established the Thessalonian church on his second missionary journey (Acts 17). After staying a short time, he departed Thessalonica in a hurry because a group opposed his message, and they stirred up the people against him. He desired to get back to see them but had not been able to do so. Therefore, he sent his companion Timothy, who brought back a good report. Paul wrote this first letter to the church to encourage them in their faith and to clarify a few issues.
In chapter 4, he addressed various issues, including sexual purity (verses 1-8), loving one another, and living to impact those outside the Christian faith (verses 9-12).
2. Read the Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
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. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
In verse 13, Paul transitioned to a concern expressed by the Thessalonians. He let them know of his desire to make sure they were informed. He expressly referred to those who had "fallen asleep.” This term was a euphemism for death, much like we would say “passed away” today. Paul desired for the Thessalonians to have hope. He began his letter speaking of the Christian hope found in Christ Jesus. Christian hope is not merely wishful thinking. It is a certainty of the future, based on the promises of God in Christ (verse 14).
The Thessalonians were concerned about those Christians who died before the Lord's return. He assured them not to worry. Those still alive when the Lord's returns will have no particular advantage over those who have previously died.
Verse 16 speaks of the anticipated Second Advent of Christ. The Lord will come with a "loud command." This is a military term and indicates power and authority. The archangel will be heard as well as the "trumpet call of God," which has Old Testament imagery (Exodus 19:16, Isaiah 27:13, Joel 2:1, Zechariah 9:14).
First, God will raise the dead in Christ. Then those who are still alive will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Second, “we” will always be with the Lord. What happens sequentially after this, Paul does not say here. The primary issue in 1 Thessalonians is that Christ will return someday. When He does, those who have died in Christ, and those who are still alive will be reunited. Since we will be present with the Lord, there is no need for fear and doubt. Instead, Christians should have hope and encouragement.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, as we approach the conclusion of Advent, prayerfully reflect on the second coming of Christ. Does the thought of his return bring hope and encouragement? Why or why not?
How does the thought of hope in his second coming impact your life today?
What about those around you?
To do: (with the Holy Sprit's help)
Today, and during this week of Christmas, prayerfully look for the opportunity to share the hope you have in Christ with someone. Be specific.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the passages).
Search biblegateway.com (or another Bible app) on the word hope in the New Testament and write down your results.