Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3
Thesis: Those who have been "put to sleep by Jesus" have a distinct advantage over those "left over".
Introduction: In the larger context of 1 Thessalonians, the sanctification of the soul is the goal. This is no small objective, nor is it an easy one to achieve. At the root of the process is the firm establishment of the Hope that gives the soul the perspective it needs in order to develop properly. In this current paragraph there is a rather significant implication that "grief" is a, or maybe the, major obstacle to this process. It probably goes without saying that since "joy" is the essence of the promise of Eternal Life, "grief" is at least a part of the essence of "Death".
This evening we are going to consider a major "puzzle" in 4:15: why is Paul so adamant about his thesis that those who have been put to sleep by Jesus have a distinct advantage over those of us who have not been?
December 21, 2014
- I. Indicators of Intensity.
- A. The combination of lego and en logo kuriou in the statement.
- 1. The root issue of lego.
- a. There are several ways to indicate the methods of "communication" in Greek.
- b. It is instructive that whenever a particularly crucial "truth" was presented by Jesus, He would precede that "truth" with "amen, amen, lego umin" (compare the 32 verses in Matthew, and the 15 verses in Mark, and the 8 uses in Luke that use "amen" only once with the 25 verses in John that record "amen, amen" under the reality of Revelation 3:14 where Jesus is called "The Amen" as a Proper Title).
- c. That "lego" follows these "amen" texts simply means that there must not be any more potent individual word in Greek to indicate that what is being "said" is emphatically true.
- d. Therefore, Paul is being emphatic.
- 2. The phrase "en logo kuriou".
- a. Consider, for instance, 1 Corinthians 7:12 as a contrasting phrase to the one before us [There are, apparently, different "levels" of "authority" in respect to the Lord and His apostles].
- b. Then note that "logo kuriou" first shows up in this letter in 1:8 in comparison to 2:13 (where the phrase is "logon theou") under the thesis of 3:12-13.
- c. Clearly, the phrase is designed to produce an emphatic fixation upon just whence this instruction comes.
- B. The "ou me" of the declaration.
- 1. This short phrase is simply a combination of two of the negatives found in Greek.
- 2. Its impact is that of a door that has been slammed shut and double locked.
- II. The Intensified Statement: We ... Shall Not "Go Before" Those Who Have Been Put to Sleep.
- A. Those in view are characterized in four ways.
- 1. They are "WE".
- a. The pronoun is only necessary because there is a need to be emphatic.
- b. The pronoun is inclusive of Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and the Thessalonians.
- 1). This means that Paul considered it "possible" that he and they were going to be "living" when The Event was to take place.
- a) The Event is called "the coming of the Lord".
- b) It is the focus of every chapter in the letter, beginning with 1:10, where it is one of two major characterizations of the Thessalonians' conversion.
- c) It has the major impact (as revealed by 2:19) of being the cause of "joy beyond comprehension" (the "crown" of rejoicing).
- d) It is twice tied to The temporal objective of "the Lord" Whose use of "time" for us is to bring us to "unblameable holiness" (3:13 and 5:23).
- 2). That they were "possibly" going to be "living" at the time of The Event is the reason for the doctrine of Imminent Rapturism.
- 2. They are we who are "living".
- a. Clearly, Paul conceived of "Life" as both physical and relational in this statement because it is in contrast to those who have been put to sleep by Jesus.
- b. Just as clearly, Paul sees this "living" as a testament to the presently inconclusive accomplishment of His objective, either in our lives or in the lives of those with whom we relate (sometimes we are here because our absence would be destructive to the Objective in someone else's life).
- 3. They are we who are "left over".
- a. The word is translated "remain" and it is only found in the New Testament here is 4:15 and 17.
- b. It is not a widely attested word even in extra-biblical records, but where it is found is in texts where the idea is of something that has been "left over" after the objective has been achieved, i.e., that which was unnecessary to the accomplishment of something.
- c. This meaning takes on significance in view of 1 Corinthians 15:51 in light of Hebrews 9:27.
- 1). It is the major characteristic of God's plan to take people up to "death" at the point where they have been brought to completion in terms of the divine plan for the Kingdom, or in terms of their usefulness in getting others to that point.
- 2) But there is, of necessity, a point in time, at the coming of the Lord, when this "norm" is set aside in order to bring The Event into play.
- 4. They are those who have been put to sleep.
- III. The "Big Deal".
- A. Has to do with absolutely not having an advantage.
- B. The most likely explanation is that those who are allowed to live out their lives to death have two advantages.
- 1. They have been "completed".
- 2. They have the advantage (explained more fully in the following verses) of being resurrected ahead of us.