The reassurance Paul gave the believers at Thessalonica is much needed today. The true faith is under threat from unbelief and misbelief, an undefined sort of belief. The majority of people die having no personal future hope, while some have a vague idea of a spirit’s continuing existence in heavenly realms, for which there is no evidence in God’s word.

Paul clears up any doubts about the certainty of our future life when Jesus comes – for those who have committed their lives to him and have been baptised into his name. His words are a message of hope. His assurance was so “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (4:13) concerning those who die having held the true faith. Paul then writes about those who are still alive and what he says is vitally important, “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

Other scriptures make it clear that those accounted as righteous through his grace will have some capacity in aiding his reign on the earth (see Revelation 5:10; 20:6; Matthew 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:12).

Finally, note the last 2 verses of chapter 3, which are meaningful for those seeking to be on the side of Christ and to have the same commitment of mind as existed in the first century. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”