Troublesome Topic: The Right Kind of Grief

1 Thessalonians 4:13


We do not want you to be ignorant, brothers,

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concerning those who sleep, so that you should not be grieved as the rest, as those who have no hope.


Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to remain in ignorance about those believers who have died; we do not want you to be in a state of continual sorrow, like the unbelievers, who have no hope.

Most of the believers of that day thought that Jesus would come back within their lifetimes and show His full power. Those at Thessalonica made His glorious return the focus of their hopes and prayers. Words cannot express how they yearned for His appearing. Therefore they felt badly for those who died without getting to see that great event. For some reason, the congregation at Thessalonica was more sensitive to this issue than others so they were more troubled than normal when one of their number died. It is possible that they hired mourners to go through the streets as others in those cultures did. But by doing so they were acting more like pagans than believers in Jesus, the giver of true life.

Some writers have suggested Paul did not want them to grieve at all because grieving is only for those who have no hope. They say death should be a source of rejoicing for those of us who believe. While that is true, it is natural for us to still miss that person’s presence. The kind of grief Paul was warning them against is the hopeless and inconsolable state of a heart without Jesus, the prince of peace and the source of true hope. If they learned to respond differently when one of their number died, they would be a bright light pointing to God and what He can do in a human heart.

The next lesson is: The Voice of Jesus



The Greek word used here meant “same womb” and is a plural masculine form thus indicating “brothers.” In Scripture this masculine was often used in a generic way which was inclusive  and meant “brothers and sisters.”