“Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Paul exhorts us in this manner at the end of 1 Thessalonians 4.

What are “these words” that Paul wants us to use to encourage one another? The words and the subject of encouragement relate to the return of Christ for you and me and the resurrection of “in Christ” believers who die before His return. In other words, Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians and us with the Bible details related to the return of Christ. Specifically he wants them to know how the Lord’s return will affect both the living and the dead. According to 1 Thessalonians 4, the sequence of events associated with Christ’s return offers genuine hope to all readers past and present (4:13).

Why? Why should we be encouraged as we read 1 Thessalonians 4? Why should we have hope about union with Christ and reunion with all loved ones prior to the tribulation? Because the promises (4:16) of 1 Thessalonians 4 are laid upon the historic reality of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (4:14) and the reliability of the Word of God (4:15). The gospel is validated in the resurrection of Christ and extends hope to those who have placed their faith and trust in Him (cf., Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5).

Are you missing a departed loved one? Are you wondering about the return of Christ? Do you have anxious thoughts about eternity? 1 Thessalonians 4 is a word of encouragement that not only informs us with the right biblical data, it inspires our hope for life today and life beyond today.