Comforted By His Coming :: By Steven Pace

“Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NASB 95).

Needing a Word of Comfort

We all experience difficult times in life, and the church in Thessalonica was no different. Some of their loved ones had died in Christ, and they needed a word of comfort to encourage them. The word comfort (parakaleō) is a present tense imperative that means they were to continue applying Paul’s words every day, not just once. Many believers throughout history have found comfort in Paul’s words, just as the Thessalonians did.

Comforted By His Coming

The church in Thessalonica was a Macedonian port city that Paul visited on his second missionary journey (see Acts 17:1-14).

He, along with Silas and Timothy, encountered much opposition from a group of jealous Jews while there. After a short stay, they would move on to their destination of Berea. The letter to the Thessalonians was written for several reasons; one of those was to answer concerns about what would happen to those Christians who died before the Lord’s return. Would they miss out? Did they have some advantage over their loved ones who had already died?

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul provides a detailed description of the event known as the rapture. The term “rapture” comes from the Latin Vulgate’s translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which uses the word “rapturo.” What does this word mean? The Greek word “harpazō” means to seize, catch up, or snatch away. Essentially, it conveys the idea of forcefully carrying something away. We find two helpful examples of the use of “harpazō” in the New Testament. First, in Acts 8:39, the Lord is said to have “snatched” Philip away, taking him to Azotus. Second, in 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul describes being “caught up” into the third heaven.

Paul did not want the believers in Thessalonica to be uninformed like those without hope. Instead, Paul gives them a word from the Lord that one day Jesus would return, resurrect those who died in Christ, and that we would all be together with Him forever. The fact that the Lord promised to do this was assurance that it would happen.

Sometimes, we think of hope as merely wishful thinking. The biblical understanding is certain assurance based on the promises of God.

“Whether we Christians live or die, we have nothing to fear because Jesus will come either with us or for us! The fact of His return is a comfort to our hearts.” [1]

“Many ills of life can be healed only by the Lord’s return.

We all have loved ones on the other side. And the many problems of this life – incurable diseases, pain, sorrow, and difficulties of all kinds – will be made all right. We can face the trials and challenges of life because God has given us this blessed hope of the Lord’s return.” [2]

Comfort for Those Who Believe

We all experience difficulties in life, but the Lord has given us a word of comfort. One day, the Lord will return and begin to make all things right. We can rest assured because the promise is from the Lord Himself. It should be noted that the promise is given to those who “believe that Jesus died and rose again.” My prayer is that the promise is for you because you, too, have believed in Christ.


Dr. Steven F. Pace

Senior Pastor
Decatur Bible Church

[1] Warren Wiersbe. The Bible Exposition Commentary – Vol II, pg. 178.
[2] John Walvoord. 1& 2 Thessalonians Commentary, pg. 82.