1 Thessalonians 4:14 speaks of those who have “fallen asleep in Jesus”, 4:16 speaks of those who are “dead in Christ”. Verse 14 uses the Greek verb ‘koimao’ in the passive tense. As it was explained to me, this means that the believer is put into a calm, [permanent at the earthly level] sleep by God – through no action of their own. Basically, God calls them home. The world sees this as death – however since Christ has conquered death, the believer does not really experience what the world sees as death, but are asleep in Jesus.
Now, here is the thing I found most interesting (although all of it was of interest…) – it was Christians who began calling the graveyard the “cemetery”. This is from the Greek ‘koimētērion’ – sleeping chamber, or basically ‘bedroom’.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (ASV)
- 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: 57 but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.