a transformation!

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul writes to his readers “concerning those who have fallen asleep”. What would happen to those who are not left alive until the coming of the Lord? What does he say regarding these “dead in Christ” (4:16)?

What does not follow is what people usually say about it in Christianity. There you hear things like: he or she is now in a better place, he is now rejoicing before God’s throne, etc. The dead are actually dead and have no consciousness (Ps.115:17; Isa.38:18; Eccl.9 :5; Job 7:21).

What Paul puts forward in 1 Thessalonians 4 is that the hope (:13) for the dead consists in the fact that God is going to raise them up. The dead in Christ will then rise. Paul therefore encourages his readers to encourage each other with this (:18).

What the resurrection body looks like is not discussed in this chapter. In fact, we hardly find anything about it. There is no way to describe it, for the resurrection body is spiritual, glorified, and incorruptible with powers unknown to us (1 Cor. 15:42-44). In 1 Corinthians 15 we do find examples from creation that give us some idea of ​​what it will be like. There are many things in nature that illustrate resurrection.

from caterpillar to butterfly
But we have our weak, limited and perishable body as a frame of reference. Try explaining to a caterpillar what it will be like to become a butterfly. That’s not possible, and yet it happens. Because God promises it to us in His word. Paul describes the same moment in Philippians 3 as in 1 Thessalonians 4:

Philippians 3
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will make the body of our humiliation conformable to the body of his glory (…)

We now have a corruptible body, which is called in verse 21: the body of our humiliation. The Lord himself will descend from heaven (compare: 1 Thess. 4:16) and change our humble body. What is translated here as giving a different appearance, is one word in Greek: metaschematisei. It has to do with changing figure, in other words: transformation. Our body will be conformed to His glorified body, it says here.

He is the Firstfruit (1 Cor.15:20) who has received this resurrection body and we who are Christ’s (1 Cor.15:23) will soon follow. At that moment He comes down from heaven and not only takes us up, but leaves our bodies, both dead and alive (1 Thess 4 :16-17 ) undergo a complete transformation .

Raised incorruptible, in glory and power! Indeed : like a caterpillar transformed into a Butterfly.

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