What does 1 Thessalonians 4:13 mean?
ESV: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
NIV: 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.
NASB: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope.
CSB: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
NLT: And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
Verse Commentary:
Here, Paul begins to address some of the concerns plaguing the Thessalonian Christians. These mostly involve their misconceptions about the end times and what will happen when Christ returns to earth.

Paul begins his explanation of what happens to Christians who die before Jesus returns for His church. He calls death a sleep. This is a common euphemism, but one that comes with particular implications in a biblical worldview. When a person goes to sleep, he expects to awake. So, when a believer's body dies, it "sleeps" in the grave, but it will awake. He provides this explanation about the death of a believer so Thessalonian believers will not grieve the deaths of fellow believers in the same way as unbelievers grieve the loss of their friends and loved ones. Unbelievers have no hope, but believers have a firm hope of life beyond the grave. Christians can mourn a fellow believer's death as a sad, but temporary separation, rather than a permanent loss.

It should be noted that Paul's point is about the physical body "sleeping." Elsewhere, he makes it clear that the soul and spirit are conscious even after death; this passage is not meant to endorse anything like "soul sleep." Paul testified to the Philippians that to die would be his gain, so he would rather break camp with this life and enter Jesus' presence (Philippians 1:20–24). Also, in 2 Corinthians 5:8 he tells us "… we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." Jesus' description of Lazarus and the rich man paints a similar picture of consciousness immediately following death (Luke 16:19–31).

Paul explains later in this chapter when this awakening will occur, what the awakening means, and what happens when the body awakens.
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 4:13–18 represents an important shift in the subject matter of Paul's letter. Realizing the Thessalonian believers needed further teaching about Jesus' return (the rapture) and specifically about what happens to Christians who die before Jesus returns, Paul turns to address these vital matters. He wants his readers to know that death should not cause them to grieve like unbelievers. There is a bright prospect of seeing departed believers again. When Jesus returns from heaven, He will bring deceased Christians with Him. At that time there will be a loud command, the archangel's voice will be heard, and God's trumpet will sound. Christians who have died will receive their resurrected bodies, and living Christians will be caught up to join them, to be with the Lord forever. Paul urged the Thessalonian believers to use what he wrote about the rapture to encourage one another.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 4 starts with an encouragement for the Thessalonian believers to continue their spiritual growth. Their conduct is exemplary, but they need to seek to do even more. Paul especially emphasizes the importance of sexual purity, as well as the need for believers to live peaceful, polite, and productive lives. Paul then begins to discuss the subject of Christ's return. This begins with a reassurance that believers who have died prior to the return of Christ will be the first ones raised when He comes back for His people. Next will be those still living, all of whom will meet Jesus ''in the air.'' Knowledge of our eternal destiny should be encouraging!
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1—3 had a lot to say about the good reputation of the Thessalonian church. Chapter 4 begins to address points Paul wants to clarify. First of these is the need to grow in good works, and to avoid immoral living. Paul then begins to explain ''the rapture'': the moment when Christ will retrieve believers from this earth. Paul's explanation seems to be intended to dispel rumors. In the final chapter, Paul will further explain the nature of the ''day of the Lord,'' correcting what might have been said by false teachers.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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