1 Thessalonians Bible Study – Week 6

Second Coming of Jesus (4:13-18)


Welcome to Week 6 of your 1 Thessalonians Bible Study.

Over the next two lessons, we’ll be covering 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, which deals with one of the most interesting sections of 1 Thessalonians, Christ’s second coming.

This will require that we delve into what is known as New Testament eschatology (or the study of the end-times).

It is likely that you will be very surprised by how the New Testament deals with issues like the end of the world and Christ’s second coming.

Let’s continue to see how Paul uses this important teaching.

Comfort One Another With These Words (1 Thess 4:13-18)

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Questions to reflect on the passage

It is likely that Timothy returned from his visit with the Thessalonian church with a report about the topic that Paul treats in these verses.

Essentially, there was some confusion regarding the state of loved ones who had died prior to Christ’s return.

This is why Paul begins his teaching by saying, «We don’t want you to be uninformed brethren (a kind way of saying «ignorant»)…»

  • Why does Paul use the metaphor of «sleep» to describe those who have died?
  • Why would a Thessalonian’s grief be different from one who did not know Christ?
  • What is Paul’s proof that believers who have died will be resurrected again?
  • 1 Thess 4:18 culminates this section on Christ’s second coming. How does Paul use eschatology (end-times stuff) in this section? In other words, what is he most concerned about when it comes to the teaching about the Lord’s return here in this section?

Some Comments on This Section

I have purposely left out questions related to 1 Thess 4:15-17. These will be treated later in a more in-depth study dealing with eschatology in 1 Thessalonians.

For the moment let me say this. 1 Thess 4:15-17 describes a very enigmatic process of Christ’s return to earth. There are at least two problems in studying these verses:

  1. The meaning of the phrases «shout», «the voice of an archangel» and «the trumpet call of God» are quite unclear (which doesn’t stop people from taking a stab at them anyway).
  2. The timing of Christ’s return has generated a great deal of controversy in evangelical circles. This deserves a separate and lengthy discussion.

Questions to reflect on your life

  • What does Paul’s metaphor of death as «sleep»do for you emotionally, psychologically, spiritually?
  • Do you have a different reaction to a Christian funeral vs. a non-Christian one? Why or why not? Should you have a different reaction?
  • Do you ever think about your life after this earth? About rising from the dead? About living forever? Elaborate.
  • How can you use 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to comfort those who have lost loved ones in the Lord.
  • If asked to speak at a Christian friend’s funeral, what could you say in light of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?