Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Thessalonians 4:14

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again - Ει γαρ· Seeing that we believe; knowing that the resurrection of Christ is as fully authenticated as his death.

Even so them - It necessarily follows that them who sleep - die, in him - in the faith of the Gospel, will God bring with him - he will raise them up as Jesus was raised from the dead, in the same manner, i.e. by his own eternal power and energy; and he will bring them with him - with Christ, for he is the head of the Church, which is his body.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again - That is, if we believe this, we ought also to believe that those who have died in. the faith of Jesus will be raised from the dead. The meaning is not that the fact of the resurrection depends on our believing that Jesus rose, but that the death and resurrection of the Saviour were connected with the resurrection of the saints; that the one followed from the other, and that the one was as certain as the other. The doctrine of the resurrection of the saints so certainly follows from that of the resurrection of Christ, that, if the one is believed, the other ought to be also; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 15:12-14.

Which sleep in Jesus - A most beautiful expression. It is not merely that they have calm repose - like a gentle slumber - in the hope of awaking again, but that this is “in Jesus” - or “through” ( διὰ dia) him; that is, his death and resurrection are the cause of their quiet and calm repose. They do not “sleep” in paganism, or in infidelity, or in the gloom of atheism - but in the blessed hope which Jesus has imparted. They lie, as he did, in the tomb - free from pain and sorrow, and with the certainty of being raised up again.

They sleep in Jesus, and are bless‘d,

How kind their slumbers are;

From sufferings and from sin released,

And freed from every snare.

When, therefore, we think of the death of saints, let us think of what Jesus was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Such is the sleep of our pious friends now in the grave; such will be our own when we die.

Will God bring with him - This does not mean that God will bring them with him from heaven when the Saviour comes - though it will be true that their spirits will descend with the Saviour; but it means that he will bring them from their graves, and will conduct them with him to glory, to be with him; compare notes, John 14:3. The declaration, as it seems to me, is designed to teach the general truth that the redeemed are so united with Christ that they shall share the same destiny as he does. As the head was raised, so will all the members be. As God brought Christ from the grave, so will he bring them; that is, his resurrection made it certain that they would rise. It is a great and universal truth that God will bring all from their graves who “sleep in Jesus;” or that they shall all rise. The apostle does not, therefore, refer so much to the time when this would occur - meaning that it would happen when the Lord Jesus should return - as to the fact that there was an established connection between him and his people, which made it certain that if they died united with him by faith, they would be as certainly brought from the grave as he was.

If, however, it means, as Prof. Bush (Anastasis, pp. 266,267) supposes, that they will be brought with him from heaven, or will accompany him down, it does not prove that there must have been a previous resurrection, for the full force of the language would be met by the supposition that their spirits had ascended to heaven, and would be brought with him to be united to their bodies when raised. If this be the correct interpretation, then there is probably an allusion to such passages as the following, representing the coming of the Lord accompanied by his saints. “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” Zechariah 14:5. “And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh, with thousand of his saints;” Jude 1:14. “Who,” says President Dwight (Serm. 164), “are those whom God will bring with Him at this time? Certainly not the bodies of his saints … The only answer is, he will bring with him ‹the spirits of just men made perfect.‘”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here is comfort for the relations and friends of those who die in the Lord. Grief for the death of friends is lawful; we may weep for our own loss, though it may be their gain. Christianity does not forbid, and grace does not do away, our natural affections. Yet we must not be excessive in our sorrows; this is too much like those who have no hope of a better life. Death is an unknown thing, and we know little about the state after death; yet the doctrines of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, are a remedy against the fear of death, and undue sorrow for the death of our Christian friends; and of these doctrines we have full assurance. It will be some happiness that all the saints shall meet, and remain together for ever; but the principal happiness of heaven is to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him for ever. We should support one another in times sorrow; not deaden one another's spirits, or weaken one another's hands. And this may be done by the many lessons to be learned from the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ. What! comfort a man by telling him he is going to appear before the judgment-seat of God! Who can feel comfort from those words? That man alone with whose spirit the Spirit of God bears witness that his sins are blotted out, and the thoughts of whose heart are purified by the Holy Spirit, so that he can love God, and worthily magnify his name. We are not in a safe state unless it is thus with us, or we are desiring to be so.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 303

While the women were making known their message as witnesses of the risen Saviour, and while Jesus was preparing to reveal Himself to a large number of His followers, another scene was taking place. The Roman guard had been enabled to view the mighty angel who sang the song of triumph at the birth of Christ, and hear the angels who now sang the song of redeeming love. At the wonderful scene which they were permitted to behold, they had fainted and become as dead men. When the heavenly train was hidden from their sight, they arose to their feet, and made their way to the gate of the garden as quickly as their tottering limbs would carry them. Staggering like blind or drunken men, their faces pale as the dead, they told those they met of the wonderful scenes they had witnessed. Messengers preceded them quickly to the chief priests and rulers, declaring, as best they could, the remarkable incidents that had taken place. 1SM 303.1

The guards were making their way first to Pilate, but the priests and rulers sent word for them to be brought into their presence. These hardened soldiers presented a strange appearance, as they bore testimony to the resurrection of Christ and also of the multitude whom He brought forth with Him. They told the chief priests what they had seen at the sepulcher. They had not time to think or speak anything but the truth. But the rulers were displeased with the report. They knew the great publicity had been given to the trial of Christ, by holding it at the time of the Passover. They knew that the wonderful events which had taken place—the supernatural darkness, the mighty earthquake—could not be without effect, and they at once planned how they might deceive the people. The soldiers were bribed to report a falsehood. 1SM 303.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 550

The ministration of holy angels, as presented in the Scriptures, is a truth most comforting and precious to every follower of Christ. But the Bible teaching upon this point has been obscured and perverted by the errors of popular theology. The doctrine of natural immortality, first borrowed from the pagan philosophy, and in the darkness of the great apostasy incorporated into the Christian faith, has supplanted the truth, so plainly taught in Scripture, that “the dead know not anything.” Multitudes have come to believe that it is spirits of the dead who are the “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” And this notwithstanding the testimony of Scripture to the existence of heavenly angels, and their connection with the history of man, before the death of a human being. GC 551.1

The doctrine of man's consciousness in death, especially the belief that spirits of the dead return to minister to the living, has prepared the way for modern spiritualism. If the dead are admitted to the presence of God and holy angels, and privileged with knowledge far exceeding what they before possessed, why should they not return to the earth to enlighten and instruct the living? If, as taught by popular theologians, spirits of the dead are hovering about their friends on earth, why should they not be permitted to communicate with them, to warn them against evil, or to comfort them in sorrow? How can those who believe in man's consciousness in death reject what comes to them as divine light communicated by glorified spirits? Here is a channel regarded as sacred, through which Satan works for the accomplishment of his purposes. The fallen angels who do his bidding appear as messengers from the spirit world. While professing to bring the living into communication with the dead, the prince of evil exercises his bewitching influence upon their minds. GC 551.2

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Ellen G. White
The Faith I Live By, 183.1

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 1 Thessalonians 4:14. FLB 183.1

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 76.3

E. G. White's Writings to Continue to Witness—I am to trace this testimony on paper, that should I fall asleep in Jesus, the witness to the truth might still be borne.—Letter 116, 1905. 3SM 76.3

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