Who are the “Dead in Christ” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 is well-know text, although there is no real consensus on what event it  describes.  For many, these verses describe the Rapture, the “catching away” of believers at some point in the future.  The event of the Rapture usually occurs before the Great Tribulation predicted by Daniel (Dan 9:24-27) and widely expected by many in Second Temple Period Judaism. For the record, I have strong belief in a future Rapture, balanced by a strong distaste for the silliness of most of the ideas associated with it in popular media and “pop-preaching.”

There are variations of these views which expect the Rapture during the Tribulation or near the end, or even simultaneous with the Return of Christ to establish his kingdom.  Others understand Paul as describing the future resurrection of believers at the Return of Christ, or perhaps a general description of new life in Christ.

A possible hint of the meaning of this event may be the fact that Paul is answering a question about the “dead in Christ.”  The standard explanation of the “dead in Christ” is that after Paul’s time in Thessalonica, some members of the church have died.  The members of the church are concerned because these people did not last until the end of the age and the wonder if they will participate in the Rapture.  Paul evidently had time to teach the congregation some elements of the future plan of God, but because of his short time with the church that part of his training was incomplete, leading to these sorts of questions.

I have always wondered just how many members of the congregation might have died in the relatively short time after Acts 17 and the writing of the letter.  Since it is only a matter of months, I always assumed that only one or two had died, perhaps an elderly member of the congregation.  While that was enough to concern those who loved those who died, the death of an elderly person would not be unusual or unexpected.  I cannot imagine Paul teaching his new converts they actually had to live until the return of Jesus to participate in the resurrection!

An alternative to the standard view described here was suggested by F. F. Bruce.  He thought that it was at least possible that the“dead in Christ” were actually members of the Thessalonian Church who have died as a result of persecution.  Bruce made this suggestion in his 1951 Commentary on Acts (pg. 327-8), but not on his more recent commentary on Thessalonians.  Karl P. Donfried picks up the suggestion in a 1985 essay and argues that it is at least plausible that the dead are in fact the victims of persecution against the church from the civil authorities.  This helps explain the untimely deaths of several people in the small congregation.  They ran afoul of the Thessalonican authorities who were sensitive to potential threats against Rome.  (See this post for details on this background.)

Taking Bruce’s suggestion as a starting point, it is possible that Paul taught the new Christians to expect persecution, and it is also likely that he taught them to endure that persecution as both He and Jesus had endured it.  The congregation did suffer, and some died as a result of this persecution.  Does this mean that they have a lesser place in the coming resurrection / Rapture?  Not at all, Paul says, they will in fact “rise first.”  There is no need to worry that those who do not endure to the end miss the resurrection, in fact, those who die for the sake of Christ will be raised first.

If the dead in mind in 1 Thess 4 have died as a result of persecution, then their eventual resurrection is analogous with Dan 12:1-3 or Rev 20:4-6.  In each case the “dead” are those who have been killed as martyrs.  Paul may be assuring his congregation that “enduring persecution” includes giving one’s life (2 Tim 2:11-12).  This spins the point of the rapture in a different direction than is usually present in most popular preaching.  Those who are enjoy the Rapture gave their lives in some persecution.  They did not die as elderly, wealthy, contented Christians, hoping God snatches them out of this world of woe.  I do not deny that the Rapture includes all true believers, but it may very well be an encouragement to suffer, suffer well, and even to suffer unto death.

Bibliography: K. P. Donfried, “The Cults of Thessalonica and the Thessalonian Correspondence,” NTS 31 (1985):  336-56.  Reprinted in Paul, Thessalonians and Early Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002).

29 thoughts on “Who are the “Dead in Christ” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13?

  1. I have never thought about rapture this intently since watching Left Behind (the movie). With the ideas presented here and those I have begun to come up with after reading the various texts, I have more and more questions it seems, rather than answers. I had not previously thought about why these Christ followers died though it is an important question know that I think about it. That being said, I struggle to see the carryover or rather connection that links persecution and rapture. Yes, Christ followers died as a result of their martyrdom but does that mean this was an encouragement about suffering because of the HOPE of the rapture? I am not sure I would make this connection. Were people afraid of suffering and specifically martyrdom because of the belief that you must be alive to experience the rapture and parousia of Christ (Polhill 192)? 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 definitely speaks about encouragement especially verse 18 but to what extent? This seems to be encouragement to mourners not those ready to do much more than at this time.

  2. This is a take on the Rapture that I have never heard before. Of course, I am used to the LaHaye/Jenkins best-selling theology. Upon consideration it makes quite a bit of sense. Acts 17 does say that there was turmoil in Thessalonica. No details are given as to what specifically transpires. There easily could have been some people martyred. Even after the events recorded. I would say that it is safe to assume that if the people are angry enough to follow Paul and his team to Berea they probably went after the Christians living in Thessalonica. Throughout the letter Paul makes references to endurance and suffering. He gives instructions for the life of a believer and gives comfort to them since they are troubled by the believers who have passed on. The reason for this concern of the Thessalonians is probably a lack of teaching about it. The Acts account of Paul’s ministry states that he taught for three Sabbaths. He may not have been able to address the issue in such short a time. Polhill states that this is a likely explanation rather than Gnostics giving false teachings (192).

    • “best-selling theology” – Heh. I can guarantee my theology will never be a best seller!

      • Joe – it might be excellent, but that does not make for a best-seller!

  3. I think you are right, Phillip, and I have argued for this before. This passage about deaths comes between a section where Paul urges economic independence and caring for one-another (1 Thess 4:9-12), and a passage about the civil authorities (1 Thess 5:1ff). This makes sense if the believers had suffered economic persecution from the civil authorities and some had died as a result.

    We have evidence of economic persecution from civil authorities in Thessalonica in Acts 17:5-9. Those who lived on the edge of subsistence at the best of times would be vulnerable to death from malnutrition and disease at times of economic persecution. By targeting the benefactors, the authorities would throw the whole community into crisis.

    • yes, and I think that this persecution as you describe may have encouraged Jewish Converts to return to the (legal) synagogue, accounting for the lack of tension between Jews and Gentiles found in Galatians or Philippians. It is possible Paul saw this happening already when he was forced to leave.

  4. That’s an interesting thought, Phillip.

    Benefactors such as Jason, Lydia, Titius Justus, and Crispus were very important in establishing churches. I believe that Jewish benefactors of the church, such as Jason, Crispus, Prisca and Aquila were subject to synagogue discipline/persecution. All these individuals left their cities, presumably as a result of this persecution. Jason was persecuted in Thessalonica and is found in Corinth in Rom 16:21; Prisca and Aquila went to Ephesus (1 Cor 16:19). With Chrysostom, I equate Crispus with Sosthenes and I believe he was beaten by the Jews (Acts 18:17) and had to leave Corinth for Ephesus (1 Cor 1:1).

    The persecution of Jews who funded the church would produce economic stress that might account for the deaths, and might also explain why there is so little evidence of a strong Jewish influence over the Thessalonian church, as you say.

  5. This post presents an interesting view on who the “dead in Christ” are. One that I had never heard of before. First of all, I do believe that the events being referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4 are about the future event of the rapture. The idea of the “dead in Christ” being those who were martyred for believing in Christ is really interesting, and there seems to be a lot of evidence pointing to that idea. The fact that Christians were dying on account of persecution would be a great reason that Paul would feel moved to speak on the resurrection. It was out of his concern for the Thessalonians who knew of others who had been martyred that he wrote on the events of the resurrection (Polhill 192). It is interesting to think that the “Dead in Christ” are the martyred, but to me it seems that it is referring to all those who have died believing and accepting Christ. He says that the dead will rise first, and then the living, and he considered himself among the living. This is because Paul believed that Christ would return in his own life time (Polhill 193). The evidence for the “dead in Christ” as those being martyred is interesting, but for now I still believe it is referring to all Christians.

    Verses like this have always been somewhat confusing to me. It seems to me that these verses are referring to we as Christians rising from the dead to join Christ and the living Christians at the time of Revelation. This almost seems to contradict the belief that when we die our souls immediately join Christ in heaven. To me though it makes more sense than the immediate going to heaven. I once watched a movie where at the end this group of people who all know each other reach heaven at the same time. They all died at very different times, and yet when they reach heaven they all arrive at the same time. This makes a lot of sense to me. Why wouldn’t we all reach heaven at the same time, in a giant reunion of those who have died in Christ. Now I am not arguing against the idea that there are dead Christians in heaven now. I just am of the belief that time really is a very different thing to God, and that it really is different for us upon death.

    I’ve always struggled with the idea that, we die and are judged and if we are Christians we enter heaven, but then at the time of the end times, and judgement day, we are sent back to our bodies, to rise from the grave and need to once again go through judgement before God during Judgement day. Why if we died and were accepted into heaven would God make us go through Judgement again on judgement day. Why would we simply not die, and suddenly rise on the day of judgement. I am not arguing here for a purgatory or a limbo. I am not saying our souls are in a waiting state, simply twiddling our thumbs waiting for judgement day. Once again I think it is simply an issue of how different God is with time. It makes more sense to me that we would all be judged for our eternity at judgement day, and not need to be placed through 2 judgements. That just seems pointless to me. This idea just seems to make more sense to me from everything that I have read in the Bible.

    This was a hard idea to write about and I hope that I explained my ideas clearly. P. Long, I would really appreciate a response to this, even if it means you rip this theory to shreds. This is a subject I find to be mind boggling, and if you could shed some light, with all your wisdom, that would be awesome! Thanks!

    • Mitch, there is alot there, and to some extent I cannot “answer: other than to say you have some of the main ideas of what the “rapture” is suppose to be right, but other parts seem confused. No “ripping” intended here.

      You said, “It makes more sense to me that we would all be judged for our eternity at judgement day,” I think that there is a confusion here of the judgment that a believer faces after death or resurrection and the ultimate “day of judgment.” In fact, I am not really sure what “judgment day” means, since there is no one time when all the dead from all eternity are judged. Revelation certainly has a couple of throne / judgment scenes, but neither is a general resurrection of everyone that has ever existed.

      1 Cor 3:10-15 seems to describe a future judgment for the believer which is a judgment for rewards. Since we are “in Christ” we will not face a judgment to enter heaven – that is assured by the death and resurrection of Jesus! Typically, 1 Cor 3:10-15 is called the “judgment seat of Christ” are concerned only believers. Believers will never face another judgment after this event. (Meaning, you will not have to face a general judgement day, since God has declared you righteous in Christ!)

      • Amen! I appreciate the posting here, but will have to respond after church!

  6. Until this past week I have not really put much thought and effort into studying end times or the passages that pertain to the rapture. But because of my theology class (TH316), this post, and the paper I am about to write about end times and the different theories that people believe will happen in the future, I have started to really do some deep study and have learned that the things that happen in the future impact the things I do today, as a follower of Jesus Christ.
    But I, like Anna, have a hard time seeing the connection between the persecution of the believers and rapture talked about in 1 Thessalonians 4. I wonder if Paul was bringing the issue of the rapture up because he was trying to bring more comfort to those who were still on earth and going on in this new faith journey without some of their friends and family members. It makes sense to me because the Thessalonican church was experiencing persecution, and there were different opponents in the city to the people of The Way. I do not have any idea how heavy or tough this persecution was to the Church there, but I have a feeling that there may have been some martyrs that belonged to the Church there and thus creating a sense of sorrow and grief. I can see why Paul would write this part of the letter to help comfort those who are still alive. “we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” Paul is trying to bring “hope”, instead of being like the rest of the people in the city.

    • I guess my point was to emphasize (again) the fact that the church at Thessalonica was persecuted, some died but others faded back into the synagogue. Paul does not deal with persecution like the “later” epistles (1/2 Peter, Jude, Hebrews, Revelation), this is a window into a time when Pauline churches faced serious opposition.

      The Rapture angle is simply to remind the congregation that those who die in Christ will reign with Christ, hence the allusion to 2 Tim 2:11-12

  7. I, like Joe, have found this topic to be even more confusing and have even more questions now that I have been studying it for Pauline Literature and Dispensational Theology. And, I, like Anna and Joe, am having a hard time making the connection between persecution and eschatology. To assume that Paul is writing to the Thessalonians about the Rapture to give them hope for the Christian martyrs from their church seems to be reading too much into the text. Sure, it is a likely possibility, but like so many different things in the Bible, we can only guess.
    Something else that strikes me from this post (particularly from the picture) and from my Dispensational Theology class is the word “harpazo,” which means, in a sense, to be caught up or taken up. The picture on this post makes me think of what Cody said is the “best-selling theology.” We always have the cliché picture of floating up to meet Jesus literally in the sky underneath the atmosphere. We imagine doing flips and twirls as we are floating up and greeting other believers who are also floating. But to take the word “harpazo” literally would make for a very different situation. It means that we would get grabbed out of the earth, not a comfortable float. When I think of the Rapture now, because of harpazo, I think of getting whiplash.
    I, personally, think that Jesus will not be “in the sky” and that we will not in a completely literal and physical sense see Jesus hovering in the air. Supposing Jesus did come literally into our atmosphere, above which point on the earth would He float? The United States? Jerusalem? To me, this brings subjectivity into the whole matter and makes it not probable. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven.” So we know that Jesus in some form will “come down,” but how and where? I think this whole argument is outside the realm of human understanding. We simply cannot predict in what way everything is going to go down, but I think it is fair to say that we are not going to happily float up in our bodies together to meet the Lord.

    • “But to take the word “harpazo” literally would make for a very different situation.” This is a very good point, there really is a violent aspect to the word which is missed in popular discussion.

  8. I have grown up with the knowledge of the rapture, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the tribulation. To me those subjects are all very normal and self-explanatory to me, and to my understanding of the bible. I have a strong belief in knowing that the dead is Christ shall rise first, as said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 we are to have faith in those that die for Christ, or die with the hope and spirit of Christ in them. I know that when I die, I will be with Christ, and when Jesus decides it is time to come back to earth, my earthly body will rise up from the grave and join him in the sky. It is something I am looking forward too intently, I wish sometimes that I can be alive on earth to see it happen, but I know that it is a split second thing that might not be seen by human eyes.
    The rapture is an event that I have heard quite a few non-believers say will not happen; they do not believe that a “Jesus son of God” will come down to earth to raise dead to join him in heaven. They think “why bring the dead, they obviously were not meant to be the chosen ones if they died, this “Christ person” would have had them live during his reign when he was on earth if they really that special and important”. This theory that many of my friends have really upsets me because not only is it completely insane, it is not logical and it is not true. I have a strong belief that those who die for Christ and in Christ are very crucial to Gods work here on earth.

  9. I have not put much thought into the Rapture for a very long time. That being said, I am in college and it seems like a good time to bring it back into the forefront of my mind. P. Long I appreciate the viewpoint that you have presented here. This idea that the Rapture is an encouragement to suffer is an idea I have not heard before, and it’s quite refreshing. I believe that this is a good application of the passage in 1 Thessalonians, but I would not say that this is the purpose Paul put it in his letter. Because the passage is fairly short and to the point, I believe Paul is attempting to calm the minds of some unsettled Thessalonians. Paul’s closing statement in the passage is, “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). I do not believe Paul was giving the Thessalonians a lesson in eschatology. It looks to me like Paul had already given this lesson to the Thessalonians and they simply needed some clarification. I would have to agree with Polhill that Paul’s “concern in 1 Thessalonians was not to provide instruction in eschatology but comfort for the bereaving Christians” (Polhill 192).

  10. “Who are the dead in Christ?” Honestly this question has brought a ton of questions to mind here. I wonder this entails all of the believers who have died over the many years, or perhaps those people who have died as martyrs for Christ. But then I become confused at this because I have always thought that when you die (pending that you are a believer) you go to be with the Lord in heaven. Could it be a possibility that before the coming of the Lord we are in a possible “staging area” of heaven, and are waiting to pass through the gates with everyone else, and with Christ? I am trying to work this out in my head, and now the rapture truly confuses me, and the rising of the dead in Christ.

  11. “They did not die as elderly, wealthy, contented Christians, hoping God snatches them out of this world of woe. I do not deny that the Rapture includes all true believers, but it may very well be an encouragement to suffer, suffer well, and even to suffer unto death.”

    I believe this post goes well with the other post about living a quiet live and the principles that were applied to work with your hands and be in need to no other. I find this in Thes. 4 v 11 right before the section in this post about the rapture.

    Further in verse 13 we find that Paul is communicating the rapture with the emphasis that there is hope and this is hope to look forward to. We notice that the dead in Christ will rise first, but there is also the mention that those who are alive will meet the LORD in the air (v17).

    The understanding that this was an encouragement to face persecution and to have hope would make sense. I really appreciate the connection of Acts 16, and Acts 17 to the book of Thessalonians. What I find in Acts 16 is that Paul is beaten over the head with rods and thrown into prison, yet he does not exercise his rights in order to get out of persecution. Paul continues to teach his followers to follow his own example; and when it comes to the persecution that the Thessalonians are facing, Paul knows what they are experiencing first hand. Paul gives them hope about the concerns they were having in regards to the return of Christ and those that died before His return. Paul comforts those who were in need.

    Polhill mentions briefly on page 197 that some of the followers were shaken up by the thought that the return of the LORD already took place. If this were to be true I see the connection of the loss of hope in face of persecution; however, Paul emphasizes that this event has not occurred yet.

  12. I have always understood the dead in Christ to be simply the Christians who have died. I haven’t studied this passage in depth until recently, and honestly, my recent study has been more out of necessity rather than desire to study this particular passage, so it is probably not as thorough as would be ideal for forming a solid opinion.

    With that in mind, I really don’t see any significant reason to depart from this basic understanding of the reference to the dead in Christ. I can see the logic in thinking that perhaps it is referring to the martyrs, but none of these reasons really make me feel intellectually or spiritually compelled to alter my way of thinking. It is really just another potential interpretation as far as I am concerned, and as PLong said at the beginning of this post, there are a lot of interpretations of this.

  13. “How would the church in America be different if it was facing a serious persecution?” (Phil Long). I absolutely LOVE this question and think about it often. I always hear of these churches in other parts of the world that come together and make big changes even when things are going rough for them or even when they are being killed even for just proclaiming the name of God. It amazes me that they can get past their fear of death and discomfort in order to make change. Then I look at the churches and different denominations in America… here it’s like pulling a tooth trying to get people together outside of a Sunday service or Wed night small group to do something that will ultimately bring change. We American’s are scared, almost to the point of phobia at times, to share the gospel with someone who may actually not be Christian let alone proclaim our faith even among friends. Why can’t we be like those in Africa or China or South America or Thessalonica that are doing MUCH good even when LITTLE good is coming their way?! I agree here with Phil Long when he says “my guess is that it being the church) would be stronger, growing in love and faith”. It seems like every time a drastic event happens in history (i.e. Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11, etc.) our faith in Christ as a whole nation gets stronger. We grow a lot in faith, we start talking about and showing love to one another, we pray, talk about God out loud, even our church attendance tends to increase. However, as soon as we get comfortable again, when things go back to ‘normal’ we begin to forget Christ and how He helped us through our trials. If we faced constant persecution like that of other countries or even like that of Thessalonica I feel we would become a more complete whole all together. There would be less argument over petty differences such as baptism, the End Times, when the church of Christ began, if prayer should be held in school, etc. “Persecution serves to focus the attention on what is important rather than on petty differences and minor points” (Phil Long). We would, instead, start building more churches, protecting each other like they were our own, and expressing abundant faith in God that He will protect us through the hard times. In short, Christianity would become the center of our everyday lives. Just like it was created to be.

  14. It has been very interesting reading all the comments on this post, as well as doing the readings for class. It has come to my attention that since I was a child I have had a rather preconceived notion of the rapture…I don’t know specifically if someone taught me what I thought, or if I just assumed it — I believe possibly it was a combination of both of those things. If you had asked me three years ago, what I believed about the rapture…I would have given you a cut and dried (and dry) version of the Jenkins and LaHaye rapture along with some Baptist theology, and assumptions I may have picked up somewhere. Growing up I learned that the persecuted or “dead in Christ” would rise first, followed by those ‘just plain dead’, and then the living Christians across the face of the earth. And as the Christians ascended…naked…into the sky (clothed ONLY in the righteousness of God…which I assumed as a child was rather glowy and see-through), Jesus would appear in the sky where he was visible to everyone (like the sun or moon) and we would all get sucked up through a little hole in the clouds and leave God to deal with everyone else as we partied in heaven. It sounds rather funny now as I type it (I laughed while doing so), but that is what I thought.

    As for the “dead in Christ”, hearing that as applied ONLY to the martyrs is a first for me. I find that I am rather averse to accepting it’s meaning as thus. To me, leaving the “dead in Christ” to refer only to the martyrs leaves a gaping hole in my theology…what about everyone else who is dead? I could, on the other hand, understand if Paul’s reference to the “dead in Christ” meant all the dead — and that possibly, this subject was broached BECAUSE of those being martyred, or as Polhill would state “He addressed not an erroneous eschatology but a deficient eschatology” (Polhill 192).

    I agree with Mitch in that I am rather confused about how we are to be caught up — do we not go straight to heaven when we die? If we are to then “meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17)…where have we been in the meantime? It is the first time I have considered such a thing! Or is it like Rob Bell’s illustration with the marker…that God’s time is so much different than ours, that there are things (in this case, when we go to heaven) we cannot comprehend because we are in the mindset of time goes only one direction?

  15. The Rapture is something that was often talked about at the church I went to in Pennsylvania. They have a well developed eschatology. They took the literal approach to both 1 Thessilonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. I was taught that these verses refer to the same event. We, Christians, will meet Jesus in the air where we will be changed from our perishable bodies to imperishable bodies. It is a very important issue to the church. As far as what happens until that trumpet, that twinkling of an eye that brings the rapture, that is a bit less familiar to me. It seems that it is not until this event, the rapture, happens that the saying will come to pass “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). But until the Rapture happens, Christians who are dead are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). 2 Corinthians 5 makes it pretty clear that our bodies are tents to be earthly homes, and when that tent is destroyed, death, we have a building from God to go to. “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Lastly as for the idea of Rapture being related to harpazo, if I have been taught correctly, the word Rapture does not actually appear in scripture. It is more of a theological term used to name the event of 1 Thessilonians 4:13-17. So the idea of being violent ripping would have no biblical basis.

  16. “Christ would descend from heaven, accompanied by a loud command, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet call of God” (Polhill, 193).

    Issues like eschatology are pretty interesting to me, but at the same time do not concern me much. I believe that no matter how much of a Bible scholar that someone thinks they are, it is impossible to decipher what will happen exactly in the end times. When you look at two very smart Bible scholars in N.T. Wright and Polhill that have different views on the subject, it backs up the fact that people can interpret scripture differently when it comes to the rapture and the end times. I admit that I am somewhat lost with all this rapture talk, but in my opinion, I can see where Polhill is coming from in the points he makes and the connections he makes to Scripture, whereas I find it harder to see where N.T. Wright is coming from. This is likely also the reason why this paper is stressing me out pretty bad, because I have a very hard time comprehending Wright. Another contributing factor could be because Polhill has more of the traditional view that I have heard growing up. 1 Thess. 4:17 – “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This shows an example of how it is somewhat easier to decipher Polhill, since I can connect this verse to this Polhill statement: “One would assume that the living are likewise transformed as they rise in the clouds to meet the Lord” (Polhill, 193)

  17. I have wondered before whether or not these “dead in Christ” could really be understood as ‘martyrs.’ I like knowing that scholars have considered this possibility before. However, I do not feel this is the big picture of this passage. Paul here is comforting the believers in Thessalonica. And to me, that seems to have the notion of a believer dying a more unexpected death. Paul may have been teaching churches that the return of Christ was going to be within few months and this teaching could have led to a very stressed congregation that witnessed somebody dying just months before the great Day of the Lord.

  18. I actually appreciate and take Wright’s stance on this whole issue. By using apocalyptic literature and language, “Paul was saying that Jesus was Lord, and that Caesar was not” (Wright 58). For me, If i was reading this for the first time in Thessalonica, I would be encouraged, not necessarily by the fact that I would be resurrected but that I would have been encouraged to know that Christ, the one i put my faith in, was actually in control and was sovereign over everything, even Caesar. Knowing that God is sovereign would ease my mind should I die because if God is indeed sovereign and that, according to Paul, if I were to die in Christ I would be caught up in the heavens with Christ, my life would be lived out with confidence and security in the Lord.

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