“Many interpret this passage [1 Thess. 4:14] to mean that the sleeping ones will be brought with Christ from heaven; but Paul meant that as Christ was raised from the dead, so God will call the sleeping saints from their graves and take them with Him to heaven.”-Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 259.
“The Thessalonians had eagerly grasped the idea that Christ was coming to change the faithful who were alive, and to take them to Himself. They had carefully guarded the lives of their friends, lest they should die and lose the blessing which they looked forward to receiving at the coming of their Lord. But one after another their loved ones had been taken from them, and with anguish the Thessalonians had looked for the last time upon the faces of their dead, hardly daring to hope to meet them in a future life.
“As Paul’s epistle was opened and read, great joy and consolation was brought to the church by the words revealing the true state of the dead. Paul showed that those living when Christ should come would not go to meet their Lord in advance of those who had fallen asleep in Jesus.”-Page 258.
- In class, discuss what it means to “live like an Adventist.” What is it about some of our distinctive beliefs that should be reflected in a distinctive lifestyle?
- Think through the fall of humanity, the plan of salvation, and the promise of eternal life. What did Jesus do that gives us the hope, and promise, that death will not be forever? What reasons do we have for trusting in what He has done for us? How does the resurrection of Jesus Himself offer us great hope that we will be resurrected as well if we die before He returns? How can we draw comfort from the plan of salvation, especially when death seems so final, so complete, and so unforgiving?
- Read aloud the passage for this week together as a class and then talk about what it means, how it makes you feel, and the hope and promise found in it.
Summary: In this week’s passage, Paul corrects a number of misunderstandings about the state of the dead and the events surrounding the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus returns, the dead in Christ rise first, then all believers ascend together to meet Jesus in the air. Believers can take great comfort in knowing that the separation from believing loved ones is only temporary.