We would not have (ou thelomen). We do not wish.
You ignorant (humas agnoein). Old word, not to know (a privative, gnȯ, root of ginōskō). No advantage in ignorance of itself.
Concerning them that fall asleep (peri tōn koimōmenōn). Present passive (or middle) participle (Aleph B) rather than the perfect passive kekoimēmenōn of many later MSS. From old koimaō, to put to sleep. Present tense gives idea of repetition, from time to time fall asleep. Greeks and Romans used this figure of sleep for death as Jesus does (Joh_11:11) and N.T. generally (cf. our word cemetery). Somehow the Thessalonians had a false notion about the dead in relation to the second coming.
Even as the rest which have no hope (kathōs hoi loipoi hoi mē echontes elpida). This picture of the hopelessness of the pagan world about the future life is amply illustrated in ancient writings and particularly by inscriptions on tombs (Milligan). Some few pagans clung to this hope, but most had none.
1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,…. As they seem to have been, about the state of the pious dead, the rule and measure of mourning for them, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, the second coming of Christ, and the future happiness of the saints; wherefore the apostle judged it necessary to write to them upon these subjects: the Alexandrian copy and others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, “we would not have you to be ignorant”, &c.
concerning them which are asleep; that is, dead: it was in common use among the Eastern nations, when they spoke of their dead, to say they were asleep. This way of speaking is used frequently both in the Old and the New Testament; see 1Ki_2:10 1Co_15:20 and very often with the Targumists; so the Targum on Ecc_3:4 “a time to weep”, paraphrases it,
“a time to weep על שכיבא, “over them that are asleep”:”
and in Ecc_4:2.
“I praised ית שכיבא, “those that are asleep”,”
the dead: the reason of this way of speaking was, because there is a likeness between sleep and death; in both there is no exercise of the senses, and persons are at rest, and both rise again; and they are common to all men, and proper and peculiar to the body only. The apostle designs such persons among the Thessalonians, who either died a natural death, or were removed by violence, through the rage and fury of their persecutors, for whom their surviving friends were pressed with overmuch sorrow, which is here cautioned against:
that ye sorrow not, even as others that have no hope; the apostle’s view is not to encourage and establish a stoical apathy, a stupid indolence, and a brutal insensibility, which are contrary to the make of human nature, to the practice of the saints, and even of Christ and his apostles, and our apostle himself; but to forbid excessive and immoderate sorrow, and all the extravagant forms of it the Gentiles ran into; who having no notion of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, had no hope of ever seeing their friends more, but looked upon them as entirely lost, as no longer in being, and never more to be met with, seen, and enjoyed; this drove them to extravagant actions, furious transports, and downright madness; as to throw off their clothes, pluck off their hair, tear their flesh, cut themselves, and make baldness between their eyes for the dead; see Deu_14:1 practices forbidden the Jews, and which very ill become Christians, that believe the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead: the words are to be understood not of other Christians, who have no hope of the eternal welfare of their deceased friends; not but that the sorrow of those who have a good hope of the future Well being of their dear relatives, must and ought to be greatly different from that of others, who have no hope at all: it is observed by the Jews (b) on those words in Gen_23:2 and “Abraham came to mourn for Sarah”, &c. that
“it is not said to weep for Sarah, but to mourn for her; “for such a woman as this, it is not fit to weep”, after her soul is joined in the bundle of life, but to mourn for her, and do her great honour at her funeral; though because it is not possible that a man should not weep for his dead, it is said at the end, “and to weep for her”:”
but here the words are to be understood of the other Gentiles that were in a state of nature and unregeneracy, who had no knowledge of the resurrection of the dead, or and hope of a future state, and of enjoying their friends in it: they are called οι λοιποι, “the rest”; and the Syriac version renders it, “other men”.
(b) Tzeror Hamnaor, fol. 23. 4.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
The leading topic of Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Act_17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects (compare 1Th_5:10).
I would not — All the oldest manuscripts and versions have “we would not.” My fellow laborers (Silas and Timothy) and myself desire that ye should not be ignorant.
them which are asleep — The oldest manuscripts read present tense, “them which are sleeping”; the same as “the dead in Christ” (1Th_4:16), to whose bodies (Dan_12:2, not their souls; Ecc_12:7; 2Co_5:8) death is a calm and holy sleep, from which the resurrection shall waken them to glory. The word “cemetery” means a sleeping-place. Observe, the glory and chief hope of the Church are not to be realized at death, but at the Lord’s coming; one is not to anticipate the other, but all are to be glorified together at Christ’s coming (Col_3:4; Heb_11:40). Death affects the mere individual; but the coming of Jesus the whole Church; at death our souls are invisibly and individually with the Lord; at Christ’s coming the whole Church, with all its members, in body and soul, shall be visibly and collectively with Him. As this is offered as a consolation to mourning relatives, the mutual recognition of the saints at Christ’s coming is hereby implied.
that ye sorrow not, even as others — Greek, “the rest”; all the rest of the world besides Christians. Not all natural mourning for dead friends is forbidden: for the Lord Jesus and Paul sinlessly gave way to it (Joh_11:31, Joh_11:33, Joh_11:35; Phi_2:27); but sorrow as though there were “no hope,” which indeed the heathen had not (Eph_2:12): the Christian hope here meant is that of the resurrection. Psa_16:9, Psa_16:11; Psa_17:15; Psa_73:24; Pro_14:32, show that the Old Testament Church, though not having the hope so bright (Isa_38:18, Isa_38:19), yet had this hope. Contrast Catullus [Carmina 5.4], “When once our brief day has set, we must sleep one everlasting night.” The sepulchral inscriptions of heathen Thessalonica express the hopeless view taken as to those once dead: as Aeschylus writes, “Of one once dead there is no resurrection.” Whatever glimpses some heathen philosophers, had of the existence of the soul after death, they had none whatever of the body (Act_17:18, Act_17:20, Act_17:32).
But I would not have you to be ignorant – I would have you fully informed on the important subject which is here referred to. It is quite probable from this, that some erroneous views prevailed among them in reference to the condition of those who were dead, which tended to prevent their enjoying the full consolation, which they might otherwise have done. Of the prevalence of these views, it is probable the apostle had been informed by Timothy on his return from Thessalonica; 1Th_3:6. What they were we are not distinctly informed, and can only gather from the allusions which Paul makes to them, or from the opposite doctrines which he states, and which are evidently designed to correct those which prevailed among them. From these statements, it would appear that they supposed that those who had died, though they were true Christians, would be deprived of some important advantages which those would possess who should survive to the coming of the Lord. There seems some reason to suppose, as Koppe conjectures (compare also Saurin, Serm. vol. 6:1), that the case of their grief was two-fold; one, that some among them doubted whether there would be any resurrection (compare 1Co_15:12), and that they supposed that they who had died were thus cut off from the hope of eternal happiness, so as to leave their surviving friends to sorrow “as those who had no hope;” the other, that some of them believed that, though those who were dead would indeed rise again, yet it would be long after those who were living when the Lord Jesus would return had been taken to glory, and would be always in a condition inferior to them.
See Koppe, in loc. The effect of such opinions as these can be readily imagined. it would be to deprive them of the consolation which they might have had, and should have had, in the loss of their pious friends. They would either mourn over them as wholly cut off from hope, or would sorrow that they were to be deprived of the highest privileges which could result from redemption. It is not to be regarded as wonderful that such views should have prevailed in Thessalonica. There were those even at Corinth who wholly denied the doctrine of the resurrection 1Co_15:12; and we are to remember that those to whom the apostle now wrote had been recently converted from paganism; that they had enjoyed his preaching but a short time; that they had few or no books on the subject of religion; and that they were surrounded by those who had no faith in the doctrine of the resurrection at all, and who were doubtless able – as skeptical philosophers often are now – to urge their objections to the doctrine in such a way as greatly to perplex Christians. The apostle, therefore, felt the importance of stating the exact truth on the subject, that they might not have unnecessary sorrow, and that their unavoidable grief for their departed friends might not be aggravated by painful apprehensions about their future condition.
Concerning them which are asleep – It is evident from this that they had been recently called to part with some dear and valued members of their church. The word sleep is frequently applied in the New Testament to the death of saints. For the reasons why it is, see the Joh_11:11 note; 1Co_11:30; 1Co_15:51 notes.
That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope – That is, evidently, as the pagan, who had no hope of future life; compare notes on Eph_2:12. Their sorrow was caused not only by the fact that their friends were removed from them by death, but from the fact that they had no evidence that their souls were immortal; or that, if they still lived, that they were, happy; or that their bodies would rise again. Hence, when they buried them, they buried their hopes in the grave, and so far as they had any evidence, they were never to see them again. Their grief at parting was not mitigated by the belief that the soul was now happy, or by the prospect of again being with them in a better world. It was on this account, in part, that the pagans indulged in expressions of such excessive grief. When their friends died, they hired men to play in a mournful manner on a pipe or trumpet, or women to howl and lament in a dismal manner. They beat their breasts; uttered loud shrieks; rent their garments; tore off their hair; cast dust on their heads, or sat down in ashes. It is not improbable that some among the Thessalonians, on the death of their pious friends, kept up these expressions of excessive sorrow. To prevent this, and to mitigate their sorrow, the apostle refers them to the bright hopes which Christianity had revealed, and points them to the future glorious re-union with the departed pious dead. Hence, learn:
(1) That the world without religion is destitute of hope. It is just as true of the pagan world now as it was of the ancient pagans, that they have no hope of a future state. They have no evidence that there is any such future state of blessedness; and without such evidence there can be no hope; compare notes on Eph_2:12.
(2) That the excessive sorrow of the children of this world, when they lose a friend, is not to be wondered at. They bury their hopes in the grave. They part, for all that they know or believe, with such a friend for ever. The wife, the son, the daughter, they consign to silence – to decay – to dust, not expecting to meet them again. They look forward to no glorious resurrection when that body shall rise, and when they shall be reunited to part no more. It is no wonder that they weep – for who would not weep when he believes that he parts with his friends for ever?
(3) It is only the hope of future blessedness that can mitigate this sorrow. Religion reveals a brighter world – a world where all the pious shall be reunited; where the bonds of love shall be made stronger than they were here; where they shall never be severed again. It is only this hope that can sooth the pains of grief at parting; only when we can look forward to a better world and feel that we shall see them again – love them again – love them forever – that our tears are made dry.
(4) The Christian, therefore, when he loses a Christian friend, should not sorrow as others do. He will feel, indeed, as keenly as they do, the loss of their society; the absence of their well-known faces; the want of the sweet voice of friendship and love; for religion does not blunt the sensibility of the soul, of make the heart unfeeling. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, and religion does not prevent the warm, gushing expressions of sorrow when God comes into a family and removes a friend. But this sorrow should not be like that of the world. It should not be:
(a) Such as arises from the feeling that there is to be no future union;
(b) It should not be accompanied with repining or complaining;
(c) It should not be excessive, or beyond that which God designs that we should feel.
It should be calm, submissive, patient; it should be that which is connected with steady confidence in God; and it should be mitigated by the hope of a future glorious union in heaven. The eye of the weeper should look up through his tears to God. The heart of the sufferer should acquiesce in him even in the unsearchable mysteries of his dealings, and feel that all is right.
(5) It is a sad thing to die without hope – so to die as to have no hope for ourselves, and to leave none to our surviving friends that we are happy. Such is the condition of the whole pagan world; and such the state of those who die in Christian lands, who have no evidence that their peace is made with God. As I love my friends – my father, my mother, my wife, my children, I would not have them go forth-and weep over my grave as those who have no hope in my death. I would have their sorrow for my departure alleviated by the belief that my soul is happy with my God, even when they commit my cold clay to the dust; and were there no other reason for being a Christian, this would be worth all the effort which it requires to become one. It would demonstrate the unspeakable value of religion, that my living friends may go forth to my grave and be comforted in their sorrows with the assurance that my soul is already in glory, and that my body will rise again! No eulogium for talents, accomplishments, or learning; no pegans of praise for eloquence, beauty, or martial deeds; no remembrances of wealth and worldly greatness, would then so meet the desires which my heart cherishes, as to have them enabled, when standing around my open grave, to sing the song which only Christians can sing:
1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again,…. As every Christian does, for both the death and resurrection of Christ are fundamental articles of faith; nothing is more certain or more comfortable, and more firmly to be believed, than that Christ died for the sins of his people, and rose again for their justification; on these depend the present peace, joy, and comfort of the saints, and their everlasting salvation and happiness: and no less certain and comfortable, and as surely to be believed, is what follows,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. The saints that are dead are not only represented as asleep, as before, but as “asleep in Jesus”; to distinguish them from the other dead, the wicked; for the phrase of sleeping in death is promiscuously used of good and bad, though most commonly applied to good men: and so say the Jews (c),
“we used to speak of just men, not as dead, but as sleeping; saying, afterwards such an one fell asleep, signifying that the death of the righteous is nothing else than a sleep.”
To represent death as a sleep makes it very easy and familiar; but it is more so, when it is considered as sleeping in Jesus, in the arms of Jesus; and such as are asleep in him must needs be at rest, and in safety: some join the phrase “in”, or “by Jesus”, with the word bring, and read the passage thus, “them that are asleep, by Jesus will God bring with him”; intimating, that God will raise up the dead bodies of the saints by Christ, as God-man and Mediator; and through him will bring them to eternal glory, and save them by him, as he has determined: others render the words, “them which sleep through”, or “by Jesus”; or die for his sake, and so restrain them to the martyrs; who they suppose only will have part in the first resurrection, and whom God will bring with Jesus at his second coming; but the coming of Christ will be “with all his saints”; see 1Th_3:13 wherefore they are best rendered, “them that sleep in Jesus”; that is, “in the faith of Jesus”, as the Arabic version renders it: not in the lively exercise of faith on Christ, for this is not the case of all the saints at death; some of them are in the dark, and go from hence under a cloud, and yet go safe, and may be said to die, or sleep, in Jesus, and will be brought with him; but who have the principle, and hold the doctrine of faith, are, and live and die, true believers; who die interested in Christ, in union with him, being chosen and blessed, and preserved in him from everlasting, and effectually called by his grace in time, and brought to believe in him; these, both their souls and bodies, are united to Christ, and are his care and charge; and which union remains in death, and by virtue of it the bodies of the saints will be raised at the last day: so that there may be the strongest assurance, that such will God bring with him; either God the Father will bring them with his Son, or Jehovah the Son will bring them with himself; he will raise them from the dead, and unite them to their souls, or spirits, he will bring with him; the consideration of which may serve greatly to mitigate and abate sorrow for deceased friends.
(c) Shebet Juda, p. 294. Ed. Gent.
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 1Co_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.
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, Joh_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.” Zec_14:5. “And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh, with thousand of his saints;” Jud_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.’”
Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him (καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ).
(1) Which sleep should be, which have been laid asleep or have fallen asleep, giving the force of the passive.
(2) Διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ can by no possibility be rendered in Jesus, which would be ἐν Ἱησοῦ: see 1Co_15:18; 1Th_4:16. It must mean through or by means of Jesus.
(3) The attempt to construe διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ with τοὺς κοιμηθέντας those who have fallen asleep by means of Jesus, gives an awkward and forced interpretation. It has been explained by supposing a reference to martyrs who have died by Jesus; because of their faith in him. In that case we should expect the accusative, διὰ τὸν Ἱησοῦν on account of or for the sake of Jesus. Moreover Paul is not accentuating that idea. Κοιμηθέντας would be universally understood by the church as referring to the death of Christians, so that by Jesus would be superfluous.
(4) Διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ should be construed with ἄξει will bring. Rend. the whole: them also that are fallen asleep will God through Jesus bring with him. Jesus is thus represented as the agent of the resurrection. See 1Co_15:21; Joh_5:28; Joh_6:39, Joh_6:44, Joh_6:54. Bring (ἄξει) is used instead of ἐγειρεῖ shall raise up, because the thought of separation was prominent in the minds of the Thessalonians.
By the word of the Lord (ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου)
Or in the word. Λόγος of a concrete saying, Rom_9:9; Rom_13:9. We do not say this on our own authority. Comp. 1Co_7:10, 1Co_7:12, 1Co_7:25. No recorded saying of the Lord answers to this reference. It may refer to a saying transmitted orally, or to a direct revelation to Paul. Comp. Gal_1:12; Gal_2:2; Eph_3:3; 2Co_12:1, 2Co_12:9.
Po. and only in this Epistle. The plural we indicates that Paul himself expected to be alive at the parousia.
Shall not prevent (οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν)
The A.V. misses the force of the double negative – shall in no wise prevent. Prevent in the older sense of anticipate, be beforehand with. See on Mat_17:25, and see on 1Th_2:16. The living shall not share the blessings of the advent sooner than the dead in Christ.
This we say unto you by the word of the Lord – This I have, by express revelation, from the Lord: what he now delivers, he gives as coming immediately from the Spirit of God. Indeed, human reason could not have found out the points which he immediately subjoins; no conjectures could lead to them. Allowing even the general doctrine of the resurrection to be believed, yet what follows does not flow from the premises; they are doctrines of pure revelation, and such as never could have been found out by human ingenuity. In no place does the apostle speak more confidently and positively of his inspiration than here; and we should prepare ourselves to receive some momentous and interesting truth.
We which are alive, and remain – By the pronoun we the apostle does not intend himself, and the Thessalonians to whom he was then writing; he is speaking of the genuine Christians which shall be found on earth when Christ comes to judgment. From not considering the manner in which the apostle uses this word, some have been led to suppose that he imagined that the day of judgment would take place in that generation, and while he and the then believers at Thessalonica were in life. But it is impossible that a man, under so direct an influence of the Holy Spirit, should be permitted to make such a mistake: nay, no man in the exercise of his sober reason could have formed such an opinion; there was nothing to warrant the supposition; no premises from which it could be fairly deduced; nor indeed any thing in the circumstances of the Church, nor in the constitution of the world, that could have suggested a hint of the kind. The apostle is speaking of the thing indefinitely as to the time when it shall happen, but positively as to the Order that shall be then observed.
Shall not prevent them which are asleep – Those who shall be found living in that day, though they shall not pass through death, but be suddenly changed, shall not go to glory before them that are dead, for the dead in Christ shall rise first – they shall be raised, their bodies made glorious, and be caught up to meet the Lord, before the others shall be changed. And this appears to be the meaning of the apostle’s words, μη φθασωμεν, which we translate shall not prevent; for, although this word prevent, from prae and venio, literally signifies to go before, yet we use it now in the sense of to hinder or obstruct. Φθανειν τινα signifies the same, according to Hesychius, as προηκειν, to go before, προλαμβανειν, to anticipate, be before. Those who shall be found alive on that day shall not anticipate glory before the dead in Christ; for they shall rise first, and begin the enjoyment of it before the others shall be changed. This appears to be the apostle’s meaning.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
by the word of the Lord — Greek, “in,” that is, in virtue of a direct revelation from the Lord to me. So 1Ki_20:35. This is the “mystery,” a truth once hidden, now revealed, which Paul shows (1Co_15:51, 1Co_15:52).
prevent — that is, “anticipate.” So far were the early Christians from regarding their departed brethren as anticipating them in entering glory, that they needed to be assured that those who remain to the coming of the Lord “will not anticipate them that are asleep.” The “we” means whichever of us are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. The Spirit designed that believers in each successive age should live in continued expectation of the Lord’s coming, not knowing but that they should be among those found alive at His coming (Mat_24:42). It is a sad fall from this blessed hope, that death is looked for by most men, rather than the coming of our Lord. Each successive generation in its time and place represents the generation which shall actually survive till His coming (Mat_25:13; Rom_13:11; 1Co_15:51; Jam_5:9; 1Pe_4:5, 1Pe_4:6). The Spirit subsequently revealed by Paul that which is not inconsistent with the expectation here taught of the Lord’s coming at any time; namely, that His coming would not be until there should be a “falling away first” (2Th_2:2, 2Th_2:3); but as symptoms of this soon appeared, none could say but that still this precursory event might be realized, and so the Lord come in his day. Each successive revelation fills in the details of the general outline first given. So Paul subsequently, while still looking mainly for the Lord’s coming to clothe him with his body from heaven, looks for going to be with Christ in the meanwhile (2Co_5:1-10; Phi_1:6, Phi_1:23; Phi_3:20, Phi_3:21; Phi_4:5). Edmunds well says, The “we” is an affectionate identifying of ourselves with our fellows of all ages, as members of the same body, under the same Head, Christ Jesus. So Hos_12:4, “God spake with us in Beth-el,” that is, with Israel. “We did rejoice,” that is, Israel at the Red Sea (Psa_66:6). Though neither Hosea, nor David, was alive at the times referred to, yet each identifies himself with those that were present.
With a shout (en keleusmati). Note this so-called instrumental use of en. Old word, here only in N.T., from keleuō, to order, command (military command). Christ will come as Conqueror.
With the voice of the archangel (en phōnēi archaggelou). Further explanation of keleusmati (command). The only archangel mentioned in N.T. is Michael in Jud_1:9. But note absence of article with both phōnēi and archaggelou. The reference may be thus indefinite.
With the trump of God (en salpiggi theou). Trumpet. See same figure in 1Co_15:52.
The dead in Christ shall rise first (hoi nekroi en Christōi anastēsontai prōton).
First here refers plainly to the fact that, so far from the dead in Christ having no share in the Parousia, they will rise before those still alive are changed.
The Lord himself – That is: Jesus Christ shall descend from heaven; shall descend in like manner as he was seen by his disciples to ascend, i.e. in his human form, but now infinitely more glorious; for thousands of thousands shall minister unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand shall stand before him; for the Son of man shall come on the throne of his glory: but who may abide the day of his coming, or stand when he appeareth?
With a shout – Or order, εν κελευσματι· and probably in these words: Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment; which order shall be repeated by the archangel, who shall accompany it with the sound of the trump of God, whose great and terrible blasts, like those on mount Sinai, sounding louder and louder, shall shake both the heavens and the earth!
Observe the order of this terribly glorious day:
1. Jesus, in all the dignity and splendor of his eternal majesty, shall descend from heaven to the mid region, what the apostle calls the air, somewhere within the earth’s atmosphere.
2. Then the κελευσμα, shout or order, shall be given for the dead to arise.
3. Next the archangel, as the herald of Christ, shall repeat the order, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment!
4. When all the dead in Christ are raised, then the trumpet shall sound, as the signal for them all to flock together to the throne of Christ. It was by the sound of the trumpet that the solemn assemblies, under the law, were convoked; and to such convocations there appears to be here an allusion.
5. When the dead in Christ are raised, their vile bodies being made like unto his glorious body, then,
6. Those who are alive shall be changed, and made immortal.
7. These shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.
8. We may suppose that the judgment will now be set, and the books opened, and the dead judged out of the things written in those books.
9. The eternal states of quick and dead being thus determined, then all who shall be found to have made a covenant with him by sacrifice, and to have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, shall be taken to his eternal glory, and be for ever with the Lord. What an inexpressibly terrific glory will then be exhibited! I forbear to call in here the descriptions which men of a poetic turn have made of this terrible scene, because I cannot trust to their correctness; and it is a subject which we should speak of and contemplate as nearly as possible in the words of Scripture.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven – notes, Act_1:11.
With a shout – The word here used (κέλευσμα keleusma), does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It properly means a “cry’ of excitement, or of arging on; an outcry, clamor, or shout, as of sailors at the oar, Luc. Catapl. 19; of soldiers rushing to battle, Thuc. 3:14; of a multitude of people, Diod. Sic. 3:15; of a huntsman to his dogs, Xen. Ven. 6:20. It does not mean here, that the Lord would himself make such a shout, but that he would be attended with it; that is, with a multitude who would lift up the voice like that of an army rushing to the conflict.
With the voice of the archangel – The word archangel occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Jud_1:9, where it is applied to Michael. It properly means a chief angel; one who is first, or who is over others – ἄρχων archōn. The word is not found in the Septuagint, and the only archangel, therefore, which is named in the Scriptures, is Michael; Jud_1:9; compare Rev_12:7. Seven angels, however, are referred to in the Scriptures as having an eminence above others, and these are commonly regarded as archangels. Rev_8:2, “and I saw the seven angels which stood before God.” One of these is supposed to be referred to in the Book of Tobit, 12:15, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.” The names of three only of the seven are mentioned in the Jewish writings: Michael, the patron of the Jewish nation, Dan_10:13, Dan_10:21; Dan_12:1.
Gabriel, Dan_8:16; Dan_9:21; compare Luk_1:19, Luk_1:26. Raphael, Tobit 3:17; 5:4; 8:2; 9:1, 5; 12:15. The Book of Enoch adds that of Uriel, pp. 187, 190, 191, 193. Michael is mentioned as one “of the chief princes,” Dan_10:13; and as “the great prince,” Dan_12:1; compare notes on Eph_1:21, and see an article by Prof. Stuart in the Bibliotheca Sacra. No. 1, on Angelology. It seems evident from the Scriptures, that there is one or more among the angels to whom the name archangel properly belongs. This view is in accordance with the doctrine in the Scriptures that the heavenly beings are divided into ranks and orders, for if so, it is not unreasonable to suppose that there should be one or more to whom the most exalted rank pertains; compare Rev_12:7. Whether there is more than one to whom this name appropriately belongs, it is impossible now to determine, and is not material. The word here (in Greek) is without the article, and the phrase might be rendered, “with the voice of an archangel.”
The Syriac renders it, “with the voice of the prince of the angels.” On an occasion so august and momentous as that of the coming of the final Judge of all mankind; the resurrection of the dead, and the solemn transactions before the tribunal of the Son of God deciding the destiny of countless million for ever, it will not be inappropriate that the highest among the heavenly hosts should be present and take an important part in the solemnities of the day. It is not quite certain what is meant here by “the voice of the archangel,” or for what purpose that voice will be heard. It cannot be that it will be to raise the dead – for that will be by the “voice of the Son of God” Joh_5:28-29, and it seems most probable that the meaning is, that this will be a part of the loud shout or cry which will be made by the descending hosts of heaven; or perhaps it may be for the purpose of summoning the world to the bar of judgment; compare Mat_24:31.
And with the trump of God – The trump which God appoints to be sounded on that solemn occasion. It does not mean that it will be sounded by God himself; see the notes on Mat_24:31.
And the dead in Christ – Christians.
Shall rise first – That is, before the living shall be changed. A doctrine similar to this was held by the Jews. “Resch Lachisch said, Those who die in the land of Israel shall rise first in the days of the Messiah.” See Wetstein, in loc. It is implied in all this description, that the interval between their resurrection and the change which will occur to the living, will be brief, or that the one will rapidly succeed the other compare notes, 1Co_15:23, 1Co_15:51-52.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,…. Not by proxy, or by representatives; not by the ministry of angels, as on Mount Sinai; nor by the ministers of the word, as under the Gospel dispensation; nor by his spirit, and the discovery of his love and grace, in which sense he descends in a spiritual manner, and visits his people; but in person, in his human nature, in soul and body; in like manner as he went up to heaven will he descend from thence, so as to be visible, to be seen and heard of all: he will come down from the third heaven, whither he was carried up, into which he was received, and where he is retained until the time of the restitution of all things, and from whence the saints expect him: and this descent will be
with a shout; the word here used is observed by many to signify such a noise or shout as is made either by mariners, when they pull and row together; and shout to direct and encourage one another; or to an army with the general at the head of it, when about to undertake some considerable action, to enter on a battle, and make the onset; Christ will now appear as the King of kings, and Lord of lords, as the Judge of the whole earth, attended with the host, or armies of heaven, and the shout of a king will be among them: perhaps the same is intended, as by the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters, and of mighty thunderings upon the coming of Christ, the destruction of antichrist, and the marriage of the Lamb, in Rev_19:1. The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions render it, “in”, or “with command”; and the Arabic version, “with his own government”, or “authority”; that is, he shall descend, either by the command of his Father, as man and Mediator, having authority from him, as the son of man, to execute judgment; or with his commanding power and authority over the mighty angels, that shall descend with him: it follows,
with the voice of the archangel; so Michael is called, in Jud_1:9 with which compare Rev_12:7 and who perhaps is no other than Christ himself, who is the head of all principality and power; and the sense be, that Christ shall descend from heaven with a voice, or shall then utter such a voice, as will show him to be the archangel; or as the Syriac version renders it, “the head”, or “prince of angels”; and which whether, it will be an articulate voice, such as was expressed at the grave of Lazarus; or a violent clap of thunder, which is the voice of God; or the exertion of the power of Christ, is not certain: it is added,
and with the trump of God; called “the last trump”, 1Co_15:52 because none will be blown after it, and may be the same with the seventh trumpet, Rev_11:15 and here the trump of God, because blown by his order; or by Christ himself, who is God, and so be the same with the voice of the archangel; and these figurative expressions are used, to set forth the grandeur and magnificence in which Christ will come; not in that low, mean, and humble form in which he first came, but with great glory, and marks of honour and respect; with angels shouting, trumpets blowing, and saints rejoicing. This is said in allusion to the trumpet which was heard on Mount Sinai at the giving of the law, and of which the Jews say (d), that it מיתיא מאחא, “quickened the dead”; for they have a notion, that, when the Israelites first heard the voice of the Lord, they died; but upon hearing it the second time, they returned to life (e): and they suppose also in the time, to come, at the resurrection of the dead, a trumpet will be blown, which will quicken the dead (f), and the day of judgment (g); and this is reckoned by them as one of the signs of the Messiah’s coming (h):
“Michael shall shout with a great shout, and the graves of the dead shall be opened at Jerusalem, and the holy blessed God will restore the dead to life, and Messiah the son of David shall come,” &c.
And the dead in Christ shall rise first; the same with those that are asleep in Jesus, 1Th_4:14 not only the martyrs that died for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel; nor merely those who die in the lively exercise of faith in Christ; but all that die interested in him, and in union with him: and these shall “rise”, in consequence of their being his; being given to him, made his care and charge, and engaged for by him, and in virtue of their union to him; and shall rise to an entire conformity to his glorious body, and in order to enjoy eternal life and glory with him: and these will rise “first”, before the wicked, which is the first resurrection, Rev_20:5 even a thousand years before them; the righteous will rise in the morning of the resurrection, and so will have the dominion in the morning, Psa_49:14 even at the beginning of the thousand years, as soon as Christ will come; but the wicked will not rise till the evening of that day, or till the close of the thousand years: and this agrees with the notions of the Jews, who thought that some will rise before others;
“Wheresoever thou findest the dead, take them and bury them, and I will give thee the first place in my resurrection.” (2 Esdras 2:23)
Having mentioned those words in Psa_116:9 “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living”, it is asked (i),
“is there no land of the living but Tyre and its neighbours, and Caesarea, and its neighbours, where is cheapness and fulness? says R. Simeon ben Lekish, in the name of Bar Kaphra, the land in which the dead live, תחילה, “first”, in the days of the Messiah:”
and on the same place elsewhere (k) they observe, that
“our Rabbins say two things, or give two reasons, why the fathers loved to be buried in the land of Israel, because the dead in the land of Israel חיים תחילה, “live”, or “rise first”, in the days of the Messiah, and shall enjoy the years of the Messiah:”
and in another place (l) they take notice of what is written in Isa_26:19 “and the earth shall cast out the dead”: says R. Jochanan,
“the dead which are in the land (i.e. of Israel), they shall “live first”; as it is said, “thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise”: these are they that are without the land; “awake and sing ye that dwell in the dust”, these are they that die in the wilderness:”
and again (m),
“as it is said,
Isa 40:26 “that bringeth out their host by numbers”, come see, it is said, all that die in the land of Israel יקומון בקדמיתא, “shall rise first”, because the holy blessed God shall awake them, and raise them, according to Isa_26:19.”
Once more they say (n),
“they that study in the law as they ought, these are they that shall “rise first” to everlasting life, as it is said Dan_12:2, “and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life”, &c. and these are for everlasting life, because they study in everlasting life, which is the law:”
to which may be added the following passage (o),
“they that are worthy to be buried in the land of Israel, shall “be raised first”–and they shall be raised and quickened before the rest of the children of the world, who draw the waters of the law; and they draw, because they study to draw out of the waters of the law; and they are strengthened by the tree of life, and they shall go out “first”, because the tree of life is the cause why they shall “rise first”:”
they sometimes endeavour to fix the time, how long they will rise before the rest (p);
“”many of those that sleep”, &c. these are the righteous that shall “go before” others in life, and how many years shall they go before them? R. Judah says, two hundred and ten years; R. Isaac says, two hundred and fourteen; according to others, the righteous shall go (or be raised) a year before the rest of men; says R. Nachman, it will be according to the computation (of time) that the carcass has been in the dust; R. Jose replies, if so, there will be many resurrections.”
These instances may suffice to show, that the Jews had a notion of some persons rising before others, to which the apostle may have some reference; though his sense is not only this, but also that the dead in Christ shall rise before the living saints are changed, and taken up to be with Christ, and so shall not go before to him; which illustrates and proves what he had before asserted.
(d) Targum Jon. in Exod. xx. 18. (e) Kettoreth Hassamamim in ib. (f) Mechilta in ib. & Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 11. 4. (g) Zohar in Lev. fol. 42. 2. 4. (h) Abkath Rocel, p. 138. Ed. Huls. (i) T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 32. 3. & Cetubot, fol. 35. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 74. fol. 65. 1. (k) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 96. fol. 83. 4. & 84. 1. & Shemot Rabba, sect. 32. fol. 135. 2. (l) Zohar in Gen. fol. 68. 4. (m) Zohar in Gen. fol. 79. 3. (n) lb. fol. 100. 3. (o) Ib. fol. 103. 1. (p) Ib. fol. 83. 1.
Then (epeita). The next step, not the identical time (tote), but immediately afterwards.
Together with them (hama sun autois). Note both hama (at the same time) and sun (together with) with the associative instrumental case autois (the risen saints).
Shall be caught up (harpagēsometha). Second future passive indicative of harpazō, old verb to seize, to carry off like Latin rapio.
To meet the Lord in the air (eis apantēsin tou Kuriou eis aera). This special Greek idiom is common in the lxx like the Hebrew, but Polybius has it also and it occurs in the papyri (Moulton, Proleg., p. 14, n. 3). This rapture of the saints (both risen and changed) is a glorious climax to Paul’s argument of consolation.
And so (kai houtōs). This is the outcome, to be forever with the Lord, whether with a return to earth or with an immediate departure for heaven Paul does not say. To be with Christ is the chief hope of Paul’s life (1Th_5:10; Phi_1:23; Col_3:4; 2Co_5:8).
Then we which are alive – Those who shall then be alive; see 1Th_4:15. The word here rendered “then” (ἔπειτα epeita), does not necessarily mean that this would occur immediately. It properly marks succession in time, and means “afterward, next, next in the order of events;” Luk_16:7; Gal_1:21; Jam_4:14. There may be a considerable interval between the resurrection of the pious and the time when the living shall be caught up to meet the Lord, for the change is to take place in them which will fit them to ascend with those who have been raised. The meaning is, that after the dead are raised, or the next thing in order, they and the living will ascend to meet the Lord. The proper meaning of the word, however, denotes a succession so close as to exclude the idea of a long interval in which other important transactions would occur, such an interval, for example, as would be involved in a long personal reign of the Redeemer on earth. The word demands this interpretation – that the next thing in order after the resurrection of the righteous, will be their being caught up with the living, with an appropriate change, into the air – though, as has been remarked, it will admit of the supposition of such a brief, momentary interval ἐν ἄτομος ἐν ῥιπη ὀφθαλμου en atomos en rhipē ophthalmou, 1Co_15:51-52) as shall be necessary to prepare for it.
Shall be caught up – The word here used implies that there will be the application of external force or power by which this will be done. It will not be by any power of ascending which they will themselves have; or by any tendency of their raised or changed bodies to ascend of their own accord, or even by any effort of their own will, but by a power applied to them which will cause them to rise. Compare the use of the word ἁρπάζω harpazō in Mat_11:12, “the violent take it by force;” Mat_13:19, “then cometh the wicked one and snatcheth away;” Joh_6:15, “that they would come and take him by force; Joh_10:12, “the wolf catcheth them;” Act_8:39, “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; 2Co_12:2, “such an one caught up to the third heaven;” also, Joh_12:28-29; Act_23:10; Jud_1:23; Rev_12:5. The verb does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament In all these instances there is the idea of either foreign force or violence effecting that which is done. What force or power is to be applied in causing the living and the dead to ascend, is not expressed. Whether it is to be by the ministry of angels, or by the direct power of the Son of God, is not intimated, though the latter seems to be most probable. The word should not be construed, however. as implying that there will be any reluctance on the part of the saints to appear before the Saviour, but merely with reference to the physical fact that power will be necessary to elevate them to meet him in the air. Will their, bodies then be such that they will have the power of locomotion at will from place to place?
In the clouds – Greek, “in clouds” – ἐν νεφέλαις en nephelais – without the article. This may mean “in clouds;” that is, in such numbers, and in such grouping as to resemble clouds. So it is rendered by Macknight, Koppe, Rosenmuller, Bush (Anasta. 266), and others. The absence of the article here would rather seem to demand this interpretation Still, however, the other interpretation may be true, that it means that they will be caught up into the region of the clouds, or to the clouds which shall accompany the Lord Jesus on his return to our world. Mat_24:30; Mat_26:64; Mar_16:19; Mar_14:62; Rev_1:7; compare Dan_7:13. In whichever sense it is understood, the expression is one of great sublimity, and the scene will be immensely grand. Some doctrine of this kind was held by the ancient Jews. Thus rabbi Nathan (Midras Tillin, 48:13) says, “What has been done before will be done again. As he led the Israelites from Egypt in the clouds of heaven, so will he do to them in the future time.”
To meet the Lord in the air – In the regions of the atmosphere – above the earth. It would seem from this, that the Lord Jesus, in his coming, would not descend to the earth, but would remain at a distance from it in the air, where the great transactions of the judgment will occur. It is, indeed, nowhere said that the transactions of the judgment will occur upon the earth. The world would not be spacious enough to contain all the assembled living and dead, and hence the throne of judgment will be fixed in the ample space above it.
And so shall we ever be with the Lord – This does not mean that they will always remain with him in the air – for their final home will be heaven – and after the trial they will accompany him to the realms of glory; Mat_25:34, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom,” etc. The time during which they will remain with him “in the air” is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. It will be as long as will be necessary for the purposes of judging a world and deciding the eternal doom of every individual “according to the deeds done in the body.” There is no reason to suppose that this will be accomplished in a single day of twenty-four hours; but it is impossible to form and conjecture of the period which will be occupied.
18Comfort. He now shews more openly what I have previously stated — that in the faith of the resurrection we have good ground of consolation, provided we are members of Christ, and are truly united to him as our Head. At the same time, the Apostle would not have each one to seek for himself assuagement of grief, but also to administer it to others.
Wherefore comfort one another – Margin, “exhort.” The word comfort probably best expresses the meaning. They were to bring these glorious truths and these bright prospects be fore their minds, in order to alleviate, the sorrows of bereavement. The topics of consolation are these: first, that those who had died in the faith would not always lie in the grave; second, that when they rose they would not occupy an inferior condition because they were cut off before the coming of the Lord; and third, that all Christians, living and dead, would be received to heaven and dwell forever with the Lord.
With these words – That is, with these truths.
Remarks On 1 Thessalonians 4
1. This passage 1Th_4:13-18 contains a truth which is to be found in no pagan classic writer, and nowhere else. except in the teachings of the New Testament. For the elevated and glorious view which it gives of future scenes pertaining to our world, and for all its inestimable consolations, we are wholly indebted to the Christian religion. Reason, unassisted by revelation, never dared to conjecture that such scenes would occur; if it had, it would have had no arguments on which the conjecture could be supported.
2. The death of the Christian is a calm and gentle slumber; 1Th_4:13. It is not annihilation; it is not the extinction of hope. It is like gentle repose when we lie down at night, and when we hope to awake again in the morning; it is like the quiet, sweet slumber of the infant. Why, then, should the Christian be afraid to die? Is he afraid to close his eyes in slumber? Why dread the night – the stillness of death? Is he afraid of the darkness, the silence, the chilliness of the midnight hour, when his senses are locked in repose? Why should death to him appear so terrible? “Is the slumbering of an infant an object of terror?”
3. There are magnificent scenes before us. There is no description anywhere which is more sublime than that in the close of this chapter. Great events are brought together here, any one of which is more grand than all the pomp of courts, and all the sublimity of battle, and all the grandeur of a triumphal civic procession. The glory of the descending Judge of all mankind; the attending retinue of angels, and of the spirits of the dead; the loud shout of the descending host; the clangor of the archangel’s trumpet; the bursting of graves and the coming forth of the million there entombed; the rapid, sudden, glorious change on the million of living people; the consternation of the wicked; the ascent of the innumerable host to the regions of the air, and the solemn process of the judgment there – what has ever occurred like these events in this world. And how strange it is that the thoughts of people are not turned away from the trifles – the show – the shadow – the glitter – the empty pageantry here – to these bright and glorious realities!
4. In those scenes we shall all be personally interested. If we do not survive until they occur, yet we shall have an important part to act in them. We shall hear the archangel’s trump; we shall be summoned before the descending Judge. In these scenes we shall mingle not as careless spectators, but as those whose eternal doom is there to be determined, and with all the intensity of emotion derived from the fact that the Son of God will descend to judge us, and to pronounce our final doom! Can we be too much concerned to be prepared for the solemnities of that day?
5. We have, in the passage before us, an interesting view of the order in which these great events will occur. There will be:
(1) The descent of the judge with the attending hosts of heaven;
(2) The raising up of the righteous dead;
(3) The change which the living will undergo (compare 1Co_15:52);
(4) The ascent to meet the Lord in the air; and,
(5) The return with him to glory.
What place in this series of wonders will be assigned for the resurrection of the wicked, is not mentioned here. The object of the apostle did not lead him to advert to that, since his purpose was to comfort the afflicted by the assurance that their pious friends would rise again, and would suffer no disadvantage by the fact that they had died before the coming of the Redeemer. From Joh_5:28-29, however, it seems most probable that they will be raised at the same time with the righteous, and will ascend with them to the place of judgment in the air.
6. There is no intimation here of a “personal reign” of Christ upon the earth. Indeed, there is no evidence that he will return to the earth at all. All that appears is, that he will descend “from heaven” to the regions of “the air,” and there will summon the living and the dead to his bar. But there is no intimation that he will set up a visible kingdom then on earth, to continue a thousand or more years; that the Jews will be re-collected in their own land; that a magnificent city or temple will be built there; or that the saints will hover in the air, or reign personally with the Lord Jesus over the nations. There are two considerations in view of this passage, which, to my mind, are conclusive proof that all this is romance – splendid and magnificent indeed as an Arabian tale – but wholly unknown to the apostle Paul. The one is, that if this were to occur, it is inconceivable that there should have been no allusion to it here. It would have been such a magnificent conception of the design of the Second Advent, that it could not have failed to have been adverted to in a description like this. The other consideration is, that such a view would have been exactly in point to meet the object of the apostle here. What could have been more appropriate in comforting the Thessalonian Christians respecting those who had died in the faith, than to describe the gorgeous scenes of the “personal reign” of Christ, and the important part which the risen saints were to play in that great drama? How can it he accounted for that the apostle did not advert to it? Would a believer in the “persocial reign” now be likely to omit so material a point in a description of the scenes which are to occur at the “Second Advent?”
7. The saints will be forever with the Lord. They will dwell with him in his own eternal home; Joh_14:3. This expression comprises the sum of all their anticipated felicity and glory. To be with Christ will be, in itself, the perfection of bliss; for it will be a security that they will sin no more, that they will suffer no more, and that they will be shielded from danger and death. They will have realized the object of their long, fond desire – that of seeing their Saviour; they will have suffered the last pang, encountered the last temptation, and escaped forever from the dominion of death. What a glorious prospect is this! Assuredly we should be willing to endure pain, privation, and contempt here for the brief period of our earthly pilgrimage, if we may come at last to a world of eternal rest. What trifles are all earthly sorrows compared with the glories of an endless life with our God and Saviour!
8. It is possible that even the prospect of the judgment-day should be a source of consolation; 1Th_4:18. To most people it is justly an object of dread – for all that they have to fear is concentrated on the issues of that day. But why should a Christian fear it? In the descending Judge he will hail his Redeemer and friend; and just in proportion as he has true religion here, will be the certainty of his acquittal there. Nay, his feelings in anticipation of the judgment may be more than the mere absence of fear and alarm. It may be to him the source of positive joy. It will be the day of his deliverance from death and the grave. It will confirm to him all his long cherished hopes. It will put the seal of approbation on his life spent in endeavoring to do the will of God. It will reunite him to his dear friends who have died in the Lord. It will admit him to a full and glorious view of that Saviour whom “having not seen he has loved;” and it will make him the-companion of angels and of God. If there is anything, therefore, which ought to cheer and sustain our hearts in the sorrows and bereavements of this life, it is the anticipation of the glorious scenes connected with the Second Advent of our Lord, and the prospect of standing before him clothed in the robes of salvation, surrounded by all those whom we have loved who have died in the faith, and with the innumerable company of the redeemed of all ages and lands.