The apostle comforts the Thessalonians who grieve because the death of their friends and relatives who died in the faith of Christ. His design is to persuade them from excessive sorrow and grief (which are unbecoming for a believer), to assure them of the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of all believers and to comfort them with these words of promise and instruction.
Vs. 13. There are many things about death, life after death and eternity of which we will remain ignorant until it comes to our time to die. But there are some things concerning those who die in the Lord of which we need not, and ought not, to be ignorant, If these things are really understood and considered, our sorrows and grief will be reduced.
Sorrow and grief are not unlawful, but natural. We weep for ourselves when we are deprived of their presence, and we weep for our temporary loss, though it be their eternal gain, but our sorrow is not like that of the unbeliever who has no hope of eternal life, or of seeing these loved ones again. They have every reason to be totally grief-stricken, but we do not, for death is only a temporary separation for us.
Vs. 14. 'We believe that our Lord died and rose again.' Every believer knows this to be true. This is fundamental to our faith (I Cor. 15:12-22).
Therefore, those who have died in the faith of Christ will be raised also. They were chosen in Christ, crucified with Christ, raised and seated with him in the heavenlies. Having left this world, they are with him in paradise and will return with him when he comes again. The believer cannot be separated from Christ (John 17:23, 24). What sort of body or dwelling they have now, we do not know (II Cor. 5:1-4); but we know that when our bodies are raised, we shall be like Christ (I John 3:1,2; Luke 24:36-43).
Vs. 15. "We declare unto you by the Word of the Lord,
1. That Christ shall return to this earth (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11).
2. That we who are still alive on earth when Christ comes shall not precede or go before those who are dead.' The dead win rise and the living will be changed and we shall all go together into the enjoyment of Christ (I Cor. 15:50-53).
Vs. 16. "The Lord himself." Not an angel, a messenger or a representative.
"Shall descend from heaven." He was on our earth and into heaven after his resurrection. When all things accomplished, he will descend from heaven into our air.
"With a shout." It will not be a private, unknown, secret but will be with the shout of a Conqueror, a King, and eye shall see him.
"The voice of the archangel." Perhaps one great angel will notice of his return, but he will be accompanied by many Jude 9;2, Thess. 1:7).
"With the trump of God." This will awaken all who sleep and summon the world to appear before him (I Cor. 15:52). dead in Christ will rise first' before we who are changed and before the unsaved dead are raised 20:5,6).
The dead will rise and the living will be changed into of Christ and we shall go up to meet the Lord in air. At this time it is indicated that he does not descend to earth. The earth is not fit to receive him, for it must be purged with fire, and there will be a new earth upon which he descend and dwell with his saints. He will take us to glory until the general conflagration and destruction of the is over. But whatever (by the purpose and decree of takes place, we shall for ever be with the Lord.
Vs. 18 "Comfort one another with these words!"