Here is the stated purpose of the foregoing discourse: “Therefore, encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). The aim is not to satisfy curiosity about the particulars of the Lord’s coming, but to provide reassurance about the future of departed loved ones. “The question is, is it any encouragement to us? It can only fail to appear relevant if we approach the passage with a false attitude and with false questions…. If, however, we are to look beneath the traditional superstructure of eschatological imagery, we arrive at the conviction which was uppermost in the apostle’s mind, and which was indeed our Lord’s own concern to show (John xiv.), that those who die in Christ live in Christ …” (W. Neil, Thessalonians 107).
The most extensive single account in the NT of Christ’s future return (1 Thess. 4:13–5:11) does not attempt to answer all the questions we might have about specific aspects of the event, nor was it intended to spark fanciful interpretations and unending speculations. It is a message of comfort, hope, and reassurance. Let us, therefore, take it no further than its original intent and be encouraged by it.
--Kevin L. Moore
1 Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are the author’s own translation.
2 See, e.g., Plutarch, Consolatio ad Apollonium 113C; Lucian, Of Funerals 13; Seneca, On Consolation to Polybius 2.1-8; Cicero, de Divinatione 2.25.
3 Some premillennialists cite Zech. 14:4, “And in that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives …” But applying this text to the second coming of Christ is to ignore its symbolic (apocalyptic) nature and its fulfillment in less than six centuries after the prophecy was made, not long after Christ’s first advent. This is the same “day of the Lord” spoken of by Joel (1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14), fulfilled in the NT (Acts 2:16-21); and Malachi (4:1-6), fulfilled in the NT (Luke 1:16-17; Matt. 3:1 ff.). See K. L. Moore, “The Day of the Lord,” Moore Perspective (1 Feb. 2014) <Link>.
4 Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; 16:10; 19:16-17; Lev. 16:2; Num. 9:15-22; 10:11-12; 1 Kgs. 8:10-12; 2 Chron. 5:13-14; 6:1; Neh. 9:12, 19; Psa. 97:2; Isa. 19:1; Ezek. 1:4-28; Dan. 7:13; Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34-35; 1 Cor. 10:1-2. As a symbol of divine judgment, see Isa. 19:1; Jer. 4:13; Psa. 68:4, 34; 104:3; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-16.
Related Posts: Anticipating Christ's Return Part 1, No Room for the Rapture, Coming with All His Saints, Man of Lawlessness Part 1