Friday, November 4, 2011
Dying and Rising with Jesus
The oldest Christian writing we have is St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians. It was written only about 17 years after Jesus died and rose, well before the first Gospel. As such, it is a valuable glimpse into the beliefs of the earliest Christians.
Most of them expected Jesus to come back in their own lifetime. By the year 50 some of them are dying and the Thessalonians are wondering what will happen to those who die before Jesus returns. One of the main reasons that Paul writes the letter is to assure them that those still alive will not have an advantage over those who are dead. He says,
"We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus." (4:14)
I find it heartening that this belief was already so clearly stated so early in Christian history.