For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so …  1Thessalonians 4:14 KJV

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so …  1Thessalonians 4:14 NASB

One of the several reasons that Paul penned his letter to the Thessalonian believers was to enlighten them about their fellow believers who had “fallen asleep in Jesus.” To them, and to us, he unfolded the glorious prospect of the “any moment rapture” with all that would be linked with it. For the believers to whom he wrote and to saints down thru the ages, it has given the assurance that a day will come when we will be able to shout, “O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1Corinthians 15:55).

Two great assurances of the inevitability of the event are presented to the believers. There is the inviolable Word of the Lord. God has decreed it and it must come to pass. But Paul stated as well, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so … “

The Foundation of All

It may seem superfluous to stress that this is the foundation of everything for time and eternity: Jesus died and rose again. Here are the pillars upon which all our hopes depend. To this small planet, orbiting in a small galaxy, occupying a small corner of the vast universe, came the Son of God. He came to the only part of His vast creation in open rebellion against Him. He came on a grand cosmic rescue mission to ransom a race taken captive by Satan. He came to deliver a people spiritually dead, facing an eternal death. He came – knowing that it was only through His death that this could be accomplished.

But He not only died; He rose. He is the victor and has smashed the power of Satan and of death. Jesus died and rose again! Death has met its death! Death has brought life, eternal life, to us.

The Fruit of It

The epistle chronicles some of the fruit of His death and resurrection. In chapter 1, we are now able to serve the living and true God (1:9), instead of the empty idols of a past life. In chapter 2, we are now able to walk “worthy of God” (v 12), with dignity as Sons. In chapter 3, love and faith abound in us as we display the character of God before the world. In chapter 5, we are told that regardless of our spiritual condition (v 10), we have the great privilege and prospect of living eternally with Him.

Here in chapter 4, the emphasis is on the fruit of His death and resurrection and the death and resurrection of the saints. He has, in the vacating of His tomb, given a foreshadowing of a day when all the graves of saints will be vacated and emptied of those whom they have claimed. The future resurrection of departed saints is as certain as the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since He died and rose, they must rise as well.

Consider:

Find the only other reference to the death of the Lord Jesus in the epistle.

Do you think there is an intended contrast between “Jesus died” and “them also which sleep”?