Sorrow for the Dead
1 Thessalonians 4:13
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not…

Observe —

I. THAT SORROW IS A MERCIFUL RELIEF TO A SOUL BEREAVED. Sorrow is nowhere forbidden. It may be an infirmity; but it is at the same time a solace. The religion of the Bible does not destroy human passions. We do not part with our nature when we receive the grace of God. The mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good. A griefless nature can never be a joyous one.

II. THAT SORROW FOR THE DEAD IS AGGRAVATED BY IGNORANCE OF THEIR FUTURE DESTINY. The radius of hope is contracted or expanded in proportion to the character and extent of intelligence possessed. The heathen who have no satisfactory knowledge of the future life, give way to an excessive and hopeless grief. It was the dictum of an old Greek poet — a man once dead there is no revival; and these words indicated the dismal condition of unenlightened nature in all lands and ages. What an urgent argument for missions.


1. That death is a sleep: i.e., to the body; as to the soul, it is the birth into a progressive life; a departure to be with Christ.

(1) Sleep is expressive of rest. When the toil of life's long day is ended, the great and good Father draws the dark curtain of night and hushes his weary children to rest. "They enter into rest."(2) Sleep is expressive of refreshment. The body is laid in the grave, feeble, emaciated, worn out. Then a wonderful process goes on, perceptible only to the eye of God, by which the body acquires new strength and beauty, and becomes a fit instrument and suitable residence for the glorified soul.

(3) Sleep implies the expectation of awaking. We commit the bodies of the departed to the earth in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection.

2. That the dead in Christ will be roused from their holy slumber and share in the glory of His second advent. "Will God bring with Him." The resurrection of the dead is a Divine work. "I will redeem them from the power of the grave." Christ will own His people in their persons, their services, and their sufferings. They shall receive His approval, be welcomed and crowned by Him.

3. That the resurrection of Christ from the dead is a pledge of the restoration and future blessedness of all who sleep in Him. "For if we believe," etc. Christ Himself is the Resurrection, not only as revealing and exemplifying it, but as effecting it (John 5:25; John 6:39). The Word of God sheds a light across the darkness of the grave, and opens a vista radiant with hope and immortal blessedness. A vital knowledge of Christ silences every murmur, and prepares for every emergency.Lessons:

1. An ignorant sorrow is a hopeless one.

2. To rise with Jesus we must live and die to Him.

3. Divine revelations regarding the future life greatly moderate the grief of the present.

(G. Barlow.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

WEB: But we don't want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don't grieve like the rest, who have no hope.

Sleeping in Jesus
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