“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus“
Paul now sets forth two great features in the work of Christ that banish unfounded grief. Removal of ignorance about these will remove worries about what happens to the physical body of the Christians who die.
if we believe
The word “if” in Greek means that this supposition is assumed true. Paul assumes that the Thessalonians believe in the death and resurrection of Christ (Acts 17:3). The following truths only carry currency if we believe them. Hope rests on our faith in the resurrection of Christ. The certainty of our hope is inseparable from Christ’s resurrection.
that Jesus died and rose again,
Paul here uses Jesus’ human name on earth, emphasizing His historical nature. In His humanity, Jesus launched two foundations of the Christian faith – His death to pay for our sins and His resurrection to initiate us into eternal life. Thus, in one statement we have the two foundations of the Christian faith.
Paul does not use the word “slept” for the death of Christ; instead, he uses the harsher word – “died.” Christians can enjoy peaceful sleep because Jesus endured death as a penalty for sin. Jesus’ death took away the sting of death.
The second great fact is the truth that Jesus rose again. Because of His victory over death, the body of the Christian believer sleeping in Christ will rise to participate in the Rapture and be caught away from earth.
The death and resurrection of Jesus is the irreducible minimum of the gospel. A person cannot become a Christian without believing these two great truths.
“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:23-24).
”But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, “and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15).
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree” (Acts 5:30).
“…who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25).
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
“For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18).
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:8).
A person becomes a Christian by believing in the death of Christ to pay for our sins and in the resurrection of Christ to give us eternal life.
A person becomes a Christian by believing that Jesus substituted His death on the cross for our eternal death and that He bodily rose from the dead to give us eternal life.