Ready Day 10 Until The Trumpet Sounds: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Who are those who have “fallen asleep” and why does Paul continue referencing them in 4:14-16?

2) What does it mean that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief”? (verse 4)

3) Why does Paul urge his letter to be read to all brothers and sisters? (verse 27)

1 Thessalonians 4:14-5:28

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

About the times and the seasons: Brothers and sisters, you do not need anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the dark, for this day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. 6 So then, let us not sleep, like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t stifle the Spirit. 20 Don’t despise prophecies, 21 but test all things. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will do it. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us also. 26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers and sisters. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Original Intent

1) Who are those who have “fallen asleep” and why does Paul continue referencing them in 4:14-16?
The Thessalonian believers personally knew people who had died. Considering the persecution that was running rampant through their region at the time of this writing, it’s quite likely some fellow Christians had even died for their faith. Paul refers to these as those who have “fallen asleep”. Verse 16 further clarifies any misunderstanding by connecting those who had “fallen asleep” with the “dead in Christ”. Therefore, Paul’s phrase does not simply refer to the deceased, but only to those who died as believers in Jesus. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul pointedly informs his readers that his reason for writing specifically about death for Christians is so the living “will not grieve like the rest (unbelievers), who have no hope.” He strongly encourages them with the truth that if they believe in Jesus and die before He returns, God promises a coming resurrection because of Jesus’ sacrifice and His own resurrection from the dead. Therefore, for those believers who have lost loved ones who believed in Jesus, grief is not hopeless. Instead, there is a promise to live together with Him!

2) What does it mean that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief”? (verse 4)
In Matthew 24:36 Jesus tells His disciples, “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels of heaven nor the Son—except the Father alone.” Only the Father holds the knowledge of Jesus’ coming, promised return to gather the Church, all believers, and bring them into a glorious new, eternal reality. Paul’s readers would have been familiar with this truth, and therefore would have understood the phrase “the day of the Lord” to reference Christ’s return. By connecting this event with the imagery of, “like a thief” Paul meant to convey Jesus’ return would be a surprise to everyone including believers. While all believers could be certain Jesus would return, it would not be an event they could plan for and expect to happen on a certain date. Paul is reminding them to always be ready for that day.

3) Why does Paul urge his letter to be read to all brothers and sisters? (verse 27)
Believers in Paul’s day did not have a written, bound copy of the whole of God’s Word like we do today. Instead, believers would gather and hear the written letters sent by the authors in public meetings. Copies were not plentiful at first, which meant the only way to hear what was written was to have its contents read aloud. Paul desired all believers in Thessalonica to hear the encouragement and information Paul was sharing. His subject matter of hope and living ready for Christ in practical, specific ways was critically important to the newly planted churches in Thessalonica and the whole region. He wanted believers to continue to grow in their faith and be united in their understanding of God, so he urged the letter to be read to everyone.

Everyday Application

1) Who are those who have “fallen asleep” and why does Paul continue referencing them in 4:14-16?
Like the Thessalonians, we all have loved ones who have died, some without Jesus, and some who had placed their full trust in Christ. Just as Paul reassured the believers in Thessalonica to not grieve without hope, praise God, neither do we! When our loved ones die, if they believed in Jesus while they were living, there is sure and certain hope! The promise found only in Jesus is just as true for us as believers today as it was for the believers in Thessalonica. Jesus paid the penalty of sin for all who would believe in Him and trust Him with everything about themselves. The Bible assures us of eternity with God for those who genuinely put their trust in Him. (Romans 10:13) When our loved ones, who are secure in Jesus, pass away, we rest in the assurance of where they are going and Who they will spend eternity with! This wonderful reality should urge us to boldly share this glorious eternal hope with everyone we know!

2) What does it mean that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief”? (verse 4)
I don’t know about you, but there have been several times in the last year of Covid that I have longed more eagerly for the return of Jesus. However, just as a thief comes when no one is expecting, so Jesus’ return will be the same. There are no last minute preparations for a thief; if one shows up,  you are either ready or you aren’t. No one knows when Jesus will come, therefore we must always be living ready. This means we cannot afford to choose to live however we want, serving ourselves and then, in the last moments, accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us and surrender to Him. When Jesus returns, either we will be ready for Him by living in surrender to Him and excitedly anticipating His coming, or we won’t be. This should lead us to ask ourselves if our lives genuinely reflect a readiness for that moment. Our daily lives should be a reflection of our belief in Jesus, therefore our lives will prove we are continuously ready for His return whenever that may be.

3) Why does Paul urge his letter to be read to all brothers and sisters? (verse 27)
If you live in the western hemisphere, you may have several copies of God’s word in your possession. We are fortunate to have full, reliable copies of Scripture readily available in our own homes, or even on our mobile devices! In many locations around the world, especially in “closed countries”, this freedom of accessibility doesn’t exist. In Paul’s day, believers would have gathered together to hear the latest teaching from Paul. A believer’s only access to what God wanted them to know was through hearing it read in gatherings. Today God’s word is printed in multiple languages and mass quantities, but there are still thousands of people groups who have never heard about Jesus, much less had the Bible translated in their heart language. With over 7,000 known, unique languages in the world, it’s stunning to note that only 700 of those languages have a complete copy of Scripture. (Wycliffe Associates) Groups like Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Joshua Project, and others are committed to reaching the billions of people who don’t have access to the Good News of Jesus. The information contained within our Bibles is just as necessary for believers today as it was for Paul’s original audience. If you are privileged enough to own a copy of Scripture, or several, let’s be diligent and open our Bible to read truth, prayerfully asking God to transform us by His Word! Are we willing to opening His Word and fill our lives with the truth it contains? If Paul were alive today, he would still urge us to hear what God’s Spirit led him to write down, and he would encourage us to grow in our relationship with our Father as a result.

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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