1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 15

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Inuka, a 27-year-old polar bear who was the star attraction at the Singapore Zoo, was very sick. He was not responding to treatment, and his carers felt that any further treatment, or allowing nature to take its course, would prolong his suffering. So, in April 2018, Singapore's last polar bear was put to ″sleep″ on compassionate grounds.11

As believers, we have the hope in Jesus of awaking to ″be with the Lord for ever″

In the Bible, ″sleep″ is used as a euphemism for physical death (see, for example, Acts 7:60; 13:36). Jesus spoke of those who died as ″sleeping″ (Matthew 9:24; John 11:11-13). And there will be a day when ″multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake″ (Daniel 12:2; see also John 5:28-29).

For Christians, ″sleep″ is more than just a euphemism to cushion the brutality of death and permanent separation from loved ones. Rather, it reflects the spiritual reality and future hope that those ″who have fallen asleep in [Jesus]″ will awake to everlasting life and ″be with the Lord for ever″ (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 17).

Paul makes it clear that Jesus ″died and rose again″ (v. 14)-the word ″sleep″ is not applied to Him. Hebrews 2:9, too, says that Jesus ″suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone″, while Romans 4:25 notes that ″he was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification″.

Christ's resurrection thus guarantees our resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 6:16; 15:13-24). We have Jesus' promise: ″I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die″ (John 11:25-26, NLT).

Speaking of the blessed hope that we have of Christ's second coming, Paul says that believers who have died, or ″those who have fallen asleep in him″, will be resurrected first. Believers who are still alive at that time will then be ″caught up . . . to meet the Lord in the air″ (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16-17).

Paul describes this event elsewhere as a mystery: ″We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye . . . those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies″ (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, NLT).

Losing a loved one can cause us to ask anguished questions about the state of those who have died. Such a loss may remind us of our own mortality and undermine our sense of security in life. But Paul tenderly reminds us that we ″do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope″ (1 Thessalonians 4:13). As believers, we have the hope in Jesus of awaking to ″be with the Lord for ever″ (v. 17). May we comfort one another with these words!

11 Kimberly Chia, ″Farewell, as Inuka goes to sleep″, The New Paper, April 26, 2018, 1.

Think through:

If a non-Christian were to ask you to explain the hope that believers have in Jesus, what would you say?

In our bereavement, Paul tells us not to grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). In what way might our grief be the same as the grief experienced by non-believers? In what way could it be different?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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