“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Examining the Scriptures (L.A. Stauffer)
2) The Dead In Christ Shall Rise First (Ron Daly)
Examining the Scriptures
The apostle Paul was commissioned by God to bear witness of Christ and preach the gospel to the Gentiles. When he traveled to the various cities in Asia and Europe, his practice was to go first to a synagogue of the Jews and then to the Gentiles (see Rom 1:16; Acts 13:46).
When he entered the Jewish houses of worship, the apostle opened their scriptures, the Old Testament, and argued from them that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah the Jewish nation was expecting. More often than not, the Jews disagreed, rejected his teaching, and drove him from the synagogue and, often, from their city. This happened in the ancient city of Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10). But after leaving this Macedonian town, he came to Berea some 50 miles away where he received an unusually different welcome.
The Bereans, Luke tells us, were “more noble” than their fellow Jews in Thessalonica “in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the scriptures daily” to see whether the things Paul preached were so (Acts 17:11). “Noble” here doesn’t mean they were a higher class of people politically, economically, or socially, but that they were of a higher rank spiritually.
Open Minds. They were nobler spiritually because their minds were open to what Paul taught. Luke tells us that they “received the word,” an expression that means they welcomed what the apostles said and listened to the passages he quoted and considered the arguments he made. By opening their minds to Paul’s preaching, they were able to grasp the points he was making; at least they understood what he declared to them.
Eager Minds. Beyond hearing what the apostle was saying, they listened with eagerness. “Readiness of mind” suggests the enthusiasm one might find among students who have come to class to learn. They are there because they want to be; they are, as it were, sitting on the edge of their seats; they are hanging on every word the teacher utters. The Bereans were hearing things that were attractive – a message that made sense and was pleasant to the ears.
Cautious Minds. The good news about Jesus, though delightful to the ears, wasn’t something they would receive unless it is true. They l istened cautiously and made it a point to examine or search the Old Testament writings to see if what Paul said “were so,” an expression that literally means: whether the scripture “have it this way.” Their question: Does the life of Jesus really fulfill what the Old Testament teaches about the coming Messiah?
The New Testament commends the Bereans because this is the very kind of mind that can hear what the Bible says, understand what it teaches, and respond in the obedience of faith to its demands. Only people with the heart of the Bereans will believe that Jesus is God’s Son, repent in rejection and repudiation of sin, confess that Jesus is Lord, and be buried with Christ in baptism for the forgiveness of sins (John 20:30-31; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; Mark 16:16). God demands this of all men.
— Via articles of the Kirkwood church of Christ (Kirkwood, Missouri), November 11, 2005
The Dead In Christ Shall Rise First
Paul wrote in his first letter to the Thessalonians, that when the Lord descends from heaven, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16).
Apparently, Paul had reason to be concerned that some of the Christians in Thessalonica were uninformed regarding the status of fellow-believers who had died. He wrote to them so that they would not grieve. He states that when the Lord descends from heaven the dead saints will not be forgotten, nor left behind. They will rise before the living are caught up to meet the Lord in the air! “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have fallen asleep” (v. 15).
The apostle is not affirming any of the doctrinally erroneous presuppositions of the premillennial heresy. His point is not that the dead saints will rise and be caught up in “the rapture,” a contrived theory of premillennialists. Instead, he implicitly indicates that the dead saints will not be abandoned, but they will rise to meet the Lord together with those who remain. The following verbal phrases constitute the immediate context of Paul’s words, in which actions are ascribed to the Lord and his saints: “The Lord himself … will descend (katabesetai) from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise (anastesontai) first. Then we who are alive, who are left (perileipomenoi), will be caught up (harpagesometha) in the clouds together with them to meet (apantesin) the Lord in the air, and so we will be (esometha) with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage (parakaleite) one another with these words” (vv. 16-17). Notice the word “then” in verse 17. It translates epeita which in the present context is emphatic, and the term means “after that, in the next place.” The Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Bauer, Arndt-Gingrich-Danker, 284, indicates that epeita is used “to denote succession in enumerations, together with indications of chronological sequence.”
Paul’s point seems to be, immediately after the dead saints rise, the living saints will join them to meet the Lord in the air.
The text does not teach a partial resurrection, i.e., that some of the dead, those who are in Christ will be raised at the Lord’s coming, but the wicked dead will remain in the graves for several more years. In the 1 Thessalonians’ text, Paul’s primary focus is on “we who are alive” in Christ and “the dead in Christ.” He is not denying a general resurrection of all the dead, he simply discusses one class of dead persons who will rise. This seems to be the category about which the Thessalonians had inquired, or at least were concerned.
Please consider that Paul does not say, “Only the dead in Christ shall rise”; but he says, “The dead in Christ shall rise first.” Let us ask, first in relation to what? The word “first” is a translation of proton, an adverb which in this text means “first of all, first in order.” Before the living ascend to meet the Lord, the dead in Christ will be raised and both groups shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
According to numerous New Testament texts when Jesus comes to judge the world, all the dead will be raised. “Do not be astonished at this: for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Peter and John caused much annoyance to the priest, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees “because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:1-2).
Paul affirmed that he was “on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). Paul made his defense to Felix the governor, proclaiming “that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous”; and he declared that he was on trial “about the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 24:15, 21). The apostle said to the people of Athens that God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed . . . they heard of the resurrection of the dead…” (Acts 17:31-32). “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised…” (1 Cor. 15:52).
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 1:7-9, Paul states that when the Lord is “revealed from heaven” (the equivalent to “the Lord himself will descend from heaven” in the first letter, 4:16) vengeance will be inflicted on the wicked, but he will be glorified in the saints.
Therefore in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul is not teaching a partial resurrection of some of the dead, neither is he indicating that there will be multiple resurrections of all the dead. There will be only one literal resurrection of all the dead.
— Via Guardian of Truth XLI: 4 p. 10-11, February 20, 1997
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)