1 Thess 4
These verses contain one of the most important prophetic portions in the Scriptures.
They teach the imminent and impending coming of the Lord for His blood-bought Church.
The Coming of the Lord for His Church is the next event on the agenda of God’s programs.
Notice how important the truth of the Coming of the Lord was to Paul. He mentions it in every chapter in 1st and 2nd Thessalonians.
A subject that is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the N.T. or once in every 25 verses surely demands our attention.
One thousand years before His birth Jesus said, “Lo, I come.” Psalm 40:7. He kept that promise.
Near the end of His life, He said, “O, Father, I come to Thee. He kept that promise.” John 17:11
All heaven welcomed Him home. Psalm 24.
As He was about to leave His own He said, “If I go I will come again.” John 14:3.
He has gone … and He has promised, “If I go I will come again.” He is coming …soon.
In the well-known type, Isaac was last seen on the way to the altar. Gen 22:6.
The next mention of him is when he came to “meet his bride.” Gen 24:62-65.
The problem at Thessalonica was that Paul had taught the young church about the imminence of the Lord’s coming. He said, that the Lord could come in his life-time, but never said that He would come.
Some misinterpreted his teaching and believed that the Lord was coming in their life-time and stopped working.
The Lord did not come … some of the saints had died… had they missed the RAPTURE!
To allay their fears Paul now describes the order of events of the time of the Lord’s coming.
“I do not want you to be uninformed about those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, so that you may not grieve for them in the same way “as those who have no hope, (beyond the grave).”
We are introduced to a new concept here.
Believers who have passed on are sleeping. Three times.
Our word “cemetery” means “sleeping place.”
Paul is speaking of the body sleeping: Not the soul.
There is a similarity between sleep and death.
A person sleeping does not cease to exist.
A believer’s body, which is sleeping in Jesus, has liberated the soul and spirit to be present with the Lord, which is “GAIN” and “FAR BETTER”. Phil 1:21
Sleep is temporary. Death is temporary.
Sleep has its waking. Death has its resurrection.
These are comforting words, therefore, Paul wrote that we should not sorrow as those who have no hope.
We do mourn when a loved one is taken home.
We sorrow not for them, for with them “it is for better”.
We shed tears for ourselves. Loneliness. Companionship.
The empty chair … the silent voice … the absence of the intimate touch, etc.
But we have hope, we shall see them again, our sorrow is not like those who have no hope. Experiences.
“If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”
The basis for the believers hope is the resurrection of Christ. But now is Christ risen. 1 Cor 15.
The second part of the verse is difficult to understand.
The introduction of God into the text at this time is confusing.
When the Lord comes for His Bride
Scholars believe that this verse refers to the time when the Lord returns to the earth in great glory and power, God will bring with Christ, those who have died in Christ. In faith.
Paul is saying to the questioning believers: “Don’t worry about those who have died. They will not miss out in the glory of the coming kingdom. God will bring them back with Jesus when He returns to set up His Kingdom.”
This interpretation raises another question. How can this be, for their bodies now lie in the grave?
The answer is given in verses 15 thru 17.
Before Christ comes to set up His kingdom, He will return in the air to take His blood-bought people home with Him to heaven.
Then seven years later He will come back with them.
“This we say to you by the Word of the Lord,” A.D. 51
Paul has received a new direct revelation from God. This revelation and its contents was not known to men up to this time. Cp. 1 Cor 15 with 1 Thess 4.
“That we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent (precede) them who are asleep.”
Note two things worthy of note here.
Paul believed that the Lord could have come in his life-time.
Secondly, he emphatically declares that those who are alive shall not precede or have an advantage over those who have previously fallen asleep.
These truths were comforting and encouraging to the disturbed believers in Thessalonica.
v. 16 – Quote
In verses 16 and 17 the exact order of events at Christ’s coming for His saints is now given.
“The Lord Himself” will descend from heaven.”
“He will descend with a shout, like the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”
The shout is the voice of the Lord Jesus Himself, which raises the dead. John 5:25
And changes the living.
The voice like an archangel, summons the angels as a military escort to accompany the Lord and His people through enemy territory, back to heaven.
See Luke 16:11. Lazarus
The trumpet of God is the last trumpet of 1 Corinth 15.
It calls the saints to eternal blessing.
“The dead” in Christ “will rise first”.
Every believer who has died since Pentecost will be raised at this time, i.e. Those “in Christ.” Not a (?) left behind. Unborn children.
“Then the living will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
“IN THE AIR” This is Satan’s domain.
This is the prince of the power of the air. Eph 2;2.
He is the Ruler of the Powers of the Air.
He is the commander of the spiritual powers of the air.
Beloved, in the center of Satan’s knowledge the triumphant Christ will display the transcendent riches and the incomparable wealth of His grace.
The Lord will proudly present to His embarrassed enemies the fruit and travail of His Cross-work.
Thus the victorious Christ will display the harvest of His atoning work in open defiance of the devil in his own fortress.
Let us pause to consider all that is involved at this time.
The earth and the sea yielding up the dust of those who have died in Christ.
Then consider the great miracle of that dust being formed into glorified bodies.
Free forever from the effects of the curse. Rev 21 and 22.
No sickness … pain … sorrowed or tears … death.
Then there will be the space – flight to heaven.
It takes light nine minutes to come from the sun to the earth 92 million miles away.
All the afore-mentioned will take place in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. 1 Cor 15:52
Good news … Bad news
One has said, in connection with the Lord’s coming … there is a sound to hear … a sight to see … a miracle to feel … a meeting to enjoy … and a comfort to experience.
Please note the frequent use of the word Lord in these verses.
The word of the Lord – v. 15
The coming of the Lord – v. 15
The Lord Himself – v. 16
To meet the Lord – v. 17
Always be with the Lord – v. 17
Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.
Revelation 1:10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as a trumpet.”