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1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, Home group study notes

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Read 3-5:11
Background: Mid way through chapter 4 Paul seems to change direction from writing about moral conduct to issues of Jesus’ second coming and rapture of the church. It would seem that there was some misunderstanding in the Thessalonian church about what happens to believers after they die and what will happen at the time of the rapture. The Thessalonians were thinking that if a person died before the rapture of the church then they would miss out on the Lord’s return altogether. Naturally this incorrect thinking was causing them to feel great grief when one of their fellows died. Paul is compelled to set the record straight and ease this unnecessary worry for them.
Question 1:
Is it okay for Christians to mourn? ()
Experiencing loss is a part of human life and grief is a natural response to the loss. What Paul is saying in this passage is not that we should not grieve at the loss of a loved one but rather that we need not grieve in the same way when a fellow believer dies. says that to be absent from the body is to be present from the Lord, therefore while we mourn the loss of a person because we know that we are going to miss them, nevertheless we know that it is only for a time because those who are born again will be one day reunited with us in heaven.
Through the bible we read about people who grieved at the loss of a loved one, such examples are Job, Naomi, David and even Jesus. Jesus mourned after Lazarus died, even though He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus chose to identify with the grief and was moved with compassion towards those around him who were mourning. See .
says “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
says “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Question 2:
What does Paul say will happen when the day of the Lord arrives? Is it possible that any of us who are born again will miss out? ()
The Lord will descend from Heaven
There will be a cry of command
The voice of an archangel will call out
There will be the sound of trumpets
The dead in Christ will rise
Those who are alive on the earth and are born again will be caught up to be with the Lord.
No one who is born again will miss out on the Lord’s return, both those who have died already and those who still remain will partake in the triumphant return. There will be a huge, tremendous noise as a great cry is given, an archangel calls out and the trumpets sound. It will be like the most enormous battle cry. If that were not enough, we will all find ourselves being caught up into the air to be with the Lord and His army of people. God has made sure that not one of His children who have surrendered their lives to Him will miss out
Question 3:
Why does Paul say that the second coming of Jesus will be like a thief in the night? And how will this experience differ between Christians and Non-Christians? ()
Paul describes the day of the Lord as being like a ‘thief in the night’ to convey to the readers how it will come at a time when people least expect it. While the bible gives us clear indications as to what must happen before the Lord’s return, it nevertheless does not tell us explicitly the day and hour.
Paul is explaining to the Thessalonians that Christians are children of the light and so therefore we ought to be found doing what comes natural to those who are living in the clear light of day. We then are opposite to those in darkness, we are not drunken but are sober and clear minded, rational in our thinking. We are awake spiritually and so we therefore ought to be aware of what is going on around us, we not defenceless like a sleeper but capable of withstanding attack, we ought not to be napping but busy at work for the Lord.
Question 4:
In two places in this passage Paul instructs the believers to encourage one another (see and ), Paul then clearly sees this as a very important point. Why is encouraging one another with the Lord’s return so important?
All believers ought to remember that the church’s final hope is a person. Our hope is not money, stability, politics, power or position. But our hope is in our eternal future with the Lord Jesus in His Kingdom.
It is this hope of the Lord’s return that keeps us His children watching and waiting patiently. It gives us courage and determination, because even if the world is in turmoil around us, we know that our hope is not in the things of this world but in our secure and assured promise of the Lord’s return. Being ever mindful of the Lord’s return reminds us of how temporary everything here on this earth is and it gives us cause to not chase earthly ambitions but to store up our treasures in heaven ().
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