What does 1 Thessalonians 4:14 mean?
ESV: For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
NIV: 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.
NASB: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.
CSB: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
NLT: For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
KJV: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
NKJV: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is reassuring the Thessalonian Christians about what happens to believers who die before the return of Jesus Christ. Unlike unbelievers, who have no hope of seeing their loved ones again, those who trust in Christ are only temporarily separated (1 Thessalonians 4:13). The hope of life beyond the grave rests upon the belief that Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead.

When certain Jews at the temple in Jerusalem asked Jesus for a sign, He predicted His resurrection by telling them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews thought He was referring to the temple, where they worshiped, but John adds: "But he was speaking about the temple of his body" (John 2:21). Later, Jesus foretold His disciples that He would die and rise again. He said He would be delivered over to the religious authorities, who would condemn Him and turn Him over to the Gentiles. The Gentiles would mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him, and kill Him, but He added that after three days He would rise (Mark 10:33–34).

Christians can look forward to the event in which our risen Lord will return with the souls of Christians who have died. This future event is referred to in Titus 2:13 as "our blessed hope." Paul appeals to the Thessalonian Christians to lead a godly life, "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

The "sleep" Paul refers to here is a common expression implying death. At the same time, from a biblical perspective, this is meant to emphasize how temporary physical death is for the Christian believer. Other New Testament writings make it clear that we experience consciousness after death, not a "soul sleep" or some other form of unawareness (Philippians 1:20–24; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 16:19–31).
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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