Together in Christ: 'Encourage Each Other with These Words!' — 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

Monday, March 11, 2024

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We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

— 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NLT

Key Thought

Paul wrote these words of encouragement and consolation to new Christians who had lost loved ones to death. He gave them five reasons — which he received "directly from the Lord" — for hope beyond the death of their loved one.

  1. Jesus is victoriously coming in glory for His people, and His arrival will be announced triumphantly and undeniably.
  2. Those who have died will not miss this glorious celebration of Jesus' coming; they "will rise from their graves" to join Jesus.
  3. Christians still alive will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord and those who have risen from the dead.
  4. All who belong to Christ will be with the Lord forever.
  5. The Thessalonians could comfort each other — as can we also — with these promises of life, joy, victory, and reunion beyond death!

Death is life's mean and cruel reality in our mortal world. [1] Jesus came to defeat death and bring life and immortality to life. [2] He faced the cruelties of humanity and endured a horrifying death to defeat death and, for us as His followers, remove our need to fear death. [3] Satan still uses death to wound us and try to destroy our faith, but Jesus will destroy death forever for His disciples when He returns. [4] As Jesus' disciples, we are blessed to have each other to comfort each other and remind ourselves of God's promises for us beyond death. Jesus' victory over death is our assurance of victory. Death cannot separate us from God's love and His promise of our final triumph over death and our future home with Jesus and all the faithful, including our loved ones in Christ. [5]

Jesus has also blessed us with each other to console, support, and encourage each other in our times of grief. [6] Paul challenged us to encourage and comfort each other by giving us the truth about death, Jesus' return, and our future home with Him and our loved ones. Because we know this assurance, God can use our presence with those who grieve. We can offer simple acts of support to help them. Our tender empathy for them and our patience in listening to them can help our friends walk through their grief, especially if we have walked through "the valley of the shadow of death" [7] with a loved one in the past.

However, we don't need to explain why their loved one died — that is God's domain. We certainly don't want to offer trite phrases in the middle of someone's deep heartbreak — simplistic words are often more hurtful than helpful. We can, however, be present with them. We can let them know we miss their loved one and mention that person by name. We should check on our grieving friends after others have forgotten their grief. Most of all, Paul tells us that we can lovingly remind each other of our shared faith in Jesus' coming as we anticipate our victory over death and the joy of being with the Lord and our loved ones. Let's follow Paul's command and encourage each other with these words!

[1] Hebrews 9:27; Genesis 3:19.
[2] 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Romans 2:7.
[3] Hebrews 2:14-15.
[4] 1 Corinthians 15:26.
[5] Romans 8:32-39: John 14:2-4; Matthew 25:31-34.
[6] 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
[7] Psalm 23:4 NASB.

Today's Prayer

Loving Father, thank You for sending Jesus to give us victory over death and a future reunion with You and all we love who belong to You. Until the day of Jesus' coming, please use me to be a blessing to those who must walk through grief and need the support of an understanding friend. Holy Spirit, please shape my thoughts, sharpen my listening skills, and give me words to speak so I can comfort, console, and encourage my brothers and sisters in their grief. I ask this in the name of Jesus, my conquering Lord and Savior. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
  • 1 Corinthians 15:13-58

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Illustration

Illustration of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NLT — We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.