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The Coming of the Lord April 27, 2013

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Thessalonians that they should not mourn excessively for believers who have died; they should not follow the example of unbelievers, who give full rein to their grief when they mourn for the dead. Since Christ was raised from the dead, all believers – who have been grafted into Him by faith – can share in His resurrection. In fact, Christ has stated that at His Second Coming, deceased believers will be resurrected before living believers. At that time, the archangel will act as the herald who initially summons deceased believers to Christ’s tribunal. After that, living believers will not die; instead, their bodies will be suddenly changed, and all believers will have eternal life with Christ. Thus, the Thessalonians should minister comfort to each other in the midst of their grief.

Paul then recalls the Thessalonians from curious and unprofitable inquiry about the day of Christ’s Second Coming. Indeed, that day will take unbelievers by surprise. Unbelievers act carelessly and fall into indolence – yet that day will suddenly attack them.

On the other hand, Christ has shone on the Thessalonians by the faith of His Gospel, and so they look forward to the day of His Second Coming. Since Christ has rescued them from darkness, they enjoy the light of day. Thus, they should not be like unbelievers, who are sunken in indolence and senselessness in the world; instead, they should cast off the cares of the world. Moreover, they are fighting in a war, and so they should put on the full armor of God. Now it is reassuring that God has not decreed that believers should be subject to His judgment against reprobates; instead, they have obtained salvation, as Christ has acquired it for them. Indeed, Christ died for all believers – both deceased and living – so that they can have His life, which is perpetual. Paul concludes by stimulating the Thessalonians to continue comforting and exhorting each other in light of these facts.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see that Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to avoid excessive grief over deceased believers. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 13 of chapter 4:

It is unlikely that the hope of a resurrection had been spread among the Thessalonians by ungodly men, as was the case in Corinth. The apostle rebuked the Corinthians severely, but here he referred to the resurrection as a thing that was not in doubt. It is possible, however, that this conviction was not strong enough in the Thessalonian believers’ minds and that they, mourning for the dead, retained part of their old superstitions.

As an aside, I wonder if the “superstitions” that Calvin cites were endemic to ancient Greece or if they were confined to Thessalonica. Now based on this passage, it is possible that the Thessalonians were mourning excessively for their departed brethren, and this grief was hindering them in their spiritual walk. In particular, excessive grief over deceased believers would have dampened the Thessalonians’ desire to continue loving each other (and all others); any believer who has experienced loss can attest to this. While Paul did not want them to forget their departed brethren, he wanted them to grieve in an informed manner so that they could maintain their desire to honor God in this life.

In this passage, we also see that Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 3 of chapter 5:

The prophets often reprove the wicked because of this negligence, and assuredly the ungodly wait in a spirit of carelessness not merely about the last judgment but also about everyday events that happen to them. Although the Lord threatens them with ruin and confusion, they do not hesitate to promise themselves peace and every kind of prosperity. The reason they fall into this indolence, which is so dangerous and deadly, is because they do not see that these things will take place soon.

I find this point to be challenging for believers, too (though this varies from believer to believer). Now Christ does not call believers to constantly think of His return; in particular, they should not sell all of their possessions, move to a mountaintop and wait for that day. Instead, He calls believers to serve Him faithfully and advance His Kingdom without knowing when that day will come. Now while we are serving Him in various capacities – e.g. teaching a Sunday School lesson on Solomon – we cannot always think of His return. My thought is that God calls us to not be overly attached to the world; we must never allow ourselves to place undue weight on the pleasures of the world and forget about His Second Coming. Serving God in the world while not being overly attached to the world is a difficult balance that we must strike.

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Comments»

1. Liberty in Christ by Nini Brady - April 27, 2013

Wonderful .. and God bless you for sharing.


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