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The Coming of the Lord

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.


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13. The leading topic of Paul's preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Ac 17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects (compare 1Th 5:10).

I would not—All the oldest manuscripts and versions have "we would not." My fellow labourers (Silas and Timothy) and myself desire that ye should not be ignorant.

them which are asleep—The oldest manuscripts read present tense, "them which are sleeping"; the same as "the dead in Christ" (1Th 4:16), to whose bodies (Da 12:2, not their souls; Ec 12:7; 2Co 5:8) death is a calm and holy sleep, from which the resurrection shall waken them to glory. The word "cemetery" means a sleeping-place. Observe, the glory and chief hope of the Church are not to be realized at death, but at the Lord's coming; one is not to anticipate the other, but all are to be glorified together at Christ's coming (Col 3:4; Heb 11:40). Death affects the mere individual; but the coming of Jesus the whole Church; at death our souls are invisibly and individually with the Lord; at Christ's coming the whole Church, with all its members, in body and soul, shall be visibly and collectively with Him. As this is offered as a consolation to mourning relatives, the mutual recognition of the saints at Christ's coming is hereby implied.

that ye sorrow not, even as othersGreek, "the rest"; all the rest of the world besides Christians. Not all natural mourning for dead friends is forbidden: for the Lord Jesus and Paul sinlessly gave way to it (Joh 11:31, 33, 35; Php 2:27); but sorrow as though there were "no hope," which indeed the heathen had not (Eph 2:12): the Christian hope here meant is that of the resurrection. Ps 16:9, 11; 17:15; 73:24; Pr 14:32, show that the Old Testament Church, though not having the hope so bright (Isa 38:18, 19), yet had this hope. Contrast Catullus [Carmina 5.4], "When once our brief day has set, we must sleep one everlasting night." The sepulchral inscriptions of heathen Thessalonica express the hopeless view taken as to those once dead: as Aeschylus writes, "Of one once dead there is no resurrection." Whatever glimpses some heathen philosophers, had of the existence of the soul after death, they had none whatever of the body (Ac 17:18, 20, 32).




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