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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Paul, Silas and Timothy had been in Thessalonica only a few months certainly less than six months
before they were driven out of the city by unbelieving Jews. Despite this, the assembly that sprang into
being there was flourishing in their faith, even in the midst of persecution.
Yet Timothy had reported to Paul that there were a few concerns regarding the assembly, which Paul
addressed in his letter to them. Pauls exhortations were given so that the Thessalonians would abound
more and more in love, so that God could establish their hearts blameless in holiness.
One major concern that Paul had was that the Thessalonians must keep themselves from fornication,
possessing their bodies in sanctification and honor, in recognition that their body was a temple of the Holy
Spirit. Paul also encouraged the Thessalonians to love one another as brothers in Christ for they are all
part of the family of God. Finally, Paul urged them to live tranquil lives, not meddling in the affairs of one
another, but working diligently at whatever common work the Lord had given them to do in life.
Last week, I mentioned that the reason Paul was encouraging the Thessalonians in this particular area may
have been that they had perhaps misconstrued what Paul had taught them about the return of the Lord
Jesus, thinking that Jesus would be returning immediately.
This would explain the overzealous aspect of Thessalonian believers, evangelizing to the extent that they
were becoming disruptive in the community of believers and even in the city, and abandoning their
livelihoods to do what they thought was the Lords work (1 Th 4:11).
The historical record bears witness to such religious hysteria: At the beginning of the third century, a
bishop in Pontus announced that Jesus would return by the end of a particular year. Many in his
congregation sold their property, and so became destitute (Hippolytus of Rome, Commentary on Daniel,
4.19).
Do you think that Paul announced Jesus was returning at a specific time? Thats unlikely. If we were to
look through Pauls letters, we would find that Paul makes it clear that the return of the Lord was certain,
and that those who were His should be prepared for His return; but Paul never claimed to know when the
Lord was going to return.
In Pauls early letters, he seemed to think it possible that the Lord may come back during his lifetime (1 Th
4:15, 1 Cor 15:51). In Pauls later letters, he seemed to think it more likely that the Lord would return after
he died (2 Cor 4:14, Phil 2:17, 2 Tim 4:6-8).
But in all his letters, Paul had an earnest hope, an eager anticipation of Jesus returning; and he was
determined to be ready to give His Master a good report whenever he saw Him, face to face. So that is
what he encourages all the believers to do in Thessalonica and elsewhere to always be ready for Jesus
to return.
Paul had made it clear that to be ready for Jesus entailed abounding more and more in love, and therefore in
submission, which leads to sanctification (1 Th 3:12-13). He also made it clear that being ready did not
entail being a troublemaker, a busybody, or an idler (1 Th 4:11-12).
So having issued these correctives, Paul was now free to address the very subject that seemed to so
preoccupy the Thessalonians: the return of Jesus. We are to be occupied with the thought of His return,
arent we? Just not preoccupied. His return should always be in mind; just not the only thing. So after

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Paul gives the Thessalonians more detail concerning the coming of Jesus, in the conclusion of his letter,
Paul will once more exhort them in how they should occupy themselves until He returns.
As we begin this section of Pauls letter, in verse 13, we will see that Paul must have been responding to a
question that was raised by the believers in Thessalonica.
4:13 The question concerned those who have fallen asleep. Paul will continue to refer to this group
throughout this passage, contrasting them with those who are alive and remain. He refers to those who
have fallen asleep in this verse; those who sleep in Jesus in verse 14; and those who are asleep in verse
15.
But in verse 16, this same group is now called the dead and that would be, because they were. Sleep
was a common euphemism for death that is, a polite way of referring to it. Today, we might say the
dearly departed.
Sleep is a good metaphor for death, isnt it? The body is still in sleep as in death. And the body is resting
from its earthly toils when it sleeps; as it does, when it has died. The Jews and even the pagan Gentiles also
spoke of the sleep of death. But for those who had believed into Jesus, speaking of death as sleep carried a
further meaning.
When you sleep, you are no longer conscious to this world, to the earthly realities. But are you completely
unconscious? No, you are conscious to a different reality the world of dreams. And when the alarm clock
goes off, you wake up; sleep is only temporary; you continue in life.
So it is with death for the believer; those who sleep in Jesus. They are no longer conscious to the earthly
realities; but what is now real to them? The heavenly realities; they are now fully conscious to them. That
is their reality now, and always will be. And in Gods perfect time, they will wake up their bodies will
awaken from their slumber of death, to continue forever in Life everlasting.
So in Pauls letter to the Thessalonians, he is using sleep as a metaphor for death, for the believer. In fact,
this metaphor is always used for the death of a believer in the NT for death has been transformed for the
believer.
Through one man Adam sin entered the world, and death through sin; and so death passed upon all
men, because all men sinned in Adam (Rm 5:12).
When Adam sinned, he took the entire creation of mankind into death with him, because Adam was the
proof that given the freedom to choose, men would choose to act independently of God, and sin. And so
death passed upon all men.
God has appointed for men to die once and after that, what happens? The judgment (Heb 9:27). And
then? The Second Death in the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:14). That the penalty for sin death.
But Jesus took our sin upon Himself on the cross, suffering for sin in our stead. He took the penalty for our
sin our death so that we who believe in Him would not come into condemnation, but instead would pass
from death into life (Jn 5:24). That transformed death for us, from a penalty into a door. We simply
pass through the door of death, from this life, into Life everlasting thanks to Jesus.

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Our soul enters directly into the Lords presence as Paul will later write, absent from the body, present
with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). The soul of man has a continuous existence (see the story of the rich man and
Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31).

Meanwhile, our bodies sleep in death to be awakened one day to new life in a glorified body, when the
Lord returns. So death is just sleep for the believer a temporary rest for his body.
The Thessalonian believers were concerned about those who had fallen asleep that is, those who had died.
They would have communicated this concern through Timothy, who had visited them, and then returned to
Paul in Corinth. Apparently, during the time in which they had been separated from Paul, some of the
members of the community of believers had died, and the Thessalonians did not know what would happen
to them.
When Paul says, I do not want you to be ignorant, it means that they were ignorant that is, unknowing
specifically in this case, about what would become of believers when they die. In that Paul writes, lest
you sorrow as others who have no hope, we have the sense that the Thessalonian believers were concerned
that those who had died might miss out on the hope that Jesus gives to believers.
Now, what is that hope? It is Life everlasting in a body of glory (1 Pet 1:3-4). Somehow, the
Thessalonian believers thought that those who had died might miss out on that hope; or that they would
somehow receive something less hoped-for; or that their hope would be delayed. In their minds, they had
the concept that death could change what God had promised to the believer, in Christ.
Now, we can see from the very next verse (v. 14) that Paul did teach the Thessalonians about the
resurrection of Jesus. Of course he did that is an essential part of the gospel. And the resurrection of
Jesus is what all the hope of those who believe in Jesus is based upon; if Christ is not risen, your faith is in
vain (1 Cor 15:17).
That hope is for everlasting Life in a body of glory so would Paul have missed teaching the
Thessalonians, no matter how short the time, that the resurrection of Jesus meant that those who believe in
Him will not perish, but have everlasting Life they will have a resurrection body, like that of Jesus? Yes.
Then why are they concerned about those who have died?
Remember that the Thessalonians were Greeks and the Greek thinking was that resurrection was
foolishness (1 Cor 1:23). The Thessalonians could believe that Jesus rose from the dead after all, He is
the Son of God. But perhaps, in the face of the death of their fellow believers, they could not conceive of
them rising again; for death seemed so permanent; so irreversible; so final.
They were so certain that the Lord was returning soon but now, some of their members had died. So they
forwarded a question to Paul, who had taught them about Jesus what would happen to their loved ones,
who believed in Jesus, but had died? Was there still a hope for them?
Paul wrote to show the Thessalonian believers that, whether alive or dead, the hope was still the same
because it was based on the work of Jesus Himself (v. 14), and it was ordained by the word of the Lord (v.
15); they had His word on it, and He always makes good on His word.

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Those who do not know the Lord have no such hope. An ancient Greek poet wrote, Hopes are among the
living; the dead are without hope (Theocritus). The pagans saw death as sleep, but one from which a
person never wakes. No wonder they suffered such despair over death! That despair has not changed in
our day.
But Paul would remind the Thessalonian believers that they had a know-so hope. There was no need for
them to grieve like unbelievers did, if the one who died had believed into Jesus.
Notice Paul did not say that there was no need to sorrow; he said there was no need to sorrow as others
who have no hope. There is still the sorrow of separation; the grief of missing the one who has died. But it
is not a despondent, hopeless grief, because it is gilded with the consolation of seeing the loved one again,
in heaven and then there will be no more separation.
Now, as mentioned, Paul had taught the Thessalonians about Jesus returning for His Body of believers; we
have already seen evidence of that teaching in this letter. They knew that Jesus was coming back for them
(1 Th 1:10); they knew that they would enter into His presence (1 Th 2:19), and that of God the Father (1
Th 3:13); so they knew that when Jesus returned, He would be taking them to heaven.
Paul now wrote to expand their understanding, giving them more details of the return of Jesus, and what
would happen to those believers who had died before Jesus came back. This is the most comprehensive
statement on the return of Jesus for His church that we have in Scripture thanks to the question of the
Thessalonians!
v. 14 Paul was saying, we have a hope, and its based on the work of Jesus His death and resurrection.
Now, what have we said is our hope? The hope of Life everlasting, in a body of glory. That hope is based
on the death and resurrection of Jesus for out of His death, He brought forth Life everlasting in a body of
glory. Our Life comes out of His.
Jesus expressed this in a metaphor, shortly before His death. Turn to John chapter 12. Jesus was speaking
to a crowd in the court of the Gentiles of the temple in Jerusalem. He indicated that His glorification was at
hand, speaking of His imminent death on the cross.
[John 12:24] Jesus was that grain of wheat, who came to the earth to die, in the stead of sinful men. His
body was like a seed-coat, that contained the germ of life Life everlasting, in a body of glory within it.
When Jesus died, that germ of life was released to all mankind to any and all who would come to Jesus,
believing, to receive that Life. In dying, Jesus produced much grain many sons of glory. Our life is
rooted in His.
Paul would write of this later to the believers in Rome. Turn to Romans chapter 6.
[Romans 6:3-5]
v. 3 Paul is writing, not about water baptism, but spiritual baptism; through believing, the we are baptized
in the Holy Spirit, into the Body of Christ, and so are baptized into Him so what is true of Christ is true of
the believer. We were baptized into His death, freeing us from the power of sin; were dead to sin (v. 11).
v. 4 Through our baptism into Christs death, were buried with Christ; its as if this body of death is
already dead. And just as Christ was raised from the dead in what? In a body of glory thats how were
to walk as if we are already in a sinless, perfect body of glory. We can do that here and now; just by

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reckoning it to be true (v. 11). We present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and the members
of our bodies as instruments of righteousness unto God (v. 13).
We can live, here and now, as if we are already in our bodies of glory which prepares us for the day when
we will be in them. So we again see that Life everlasting in a body of glory comes out of Jesus out of His
death and resurrection. Paul wrote of this also to the assembly in Corinth. Turn to First Corinthians chapter
15. Paul has just made his case to these Greek believers concerning the resurrection of the dead.
[First Corinthians 15:20-22]
v. 20 The firstfruits were the first ripened part of any crop. The grain in the firstfruits came to maturity
first, but the entire crop consisted of the same grain, and so the firstfruits were considered the foretaste of
more to come; that is, it was the promise of a harvest. Christ was the firstfruits; the dead in Christ will be
the harvest, in the resurrection.
v. 21-22 Adam brought the whole creation of mankind into death, through his sin. This speaks of the
penalty of death, which will be executed on the physical body. But for those who are in Christ, the body
will be resurrected to Life everlasting.
[Return to First Thessalonians]
So our Life comes out of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In verse 14, the Greek word translated if
can also mean since, which bears out Pauls meaning here Since we believe that Jesus died and rose
again Note that, unlike for the believer, Paul speaks of Jesus, not having gone to sleep, but having died.
In the NT, it is never said of Jesus death that He fell asleep; He endured the full horror of death due to our
sin. The Son of God had to become the incarnate Son of Man, Jesus, in order to die, so that He might
transmute death for His followers into sleeping in Him; the believer who has died now sleeps in Jesus.
The last part of verse 14 requires a little bit of thought and study. Clearly, those who sleep in Jesus are
believers who have died, the topic that Paul is discussing. What is meant by God will bring with Him
those who sleep in Jesus?
First, lets review what happens to believers when they die. Turn to Second Corinthians chapter 5. Paul
wrote of the persecution that the missionaries were experiencing, despite which they did not lose heart,
because of the glory that the Lord was working into them through it. Then Paul considered what would
happen if their tents were actually destroyed. The tent is a metaphor for the natural body, in which life is
housed on earth.
[2 Corinthians 5:1-8]
v. 1 The tent is a temporary dwelling. Paul contrasts this with a house that God makes thats a
permanent dwelling place speaking of the body of glory. Paul speaks of this house as if the believer
already possesses it, for God has purposed it for the sons of God it is as good as done. In the heavenly
plan, its already there, in heaven.
v. 2 This speaks of our eager anticipation to receive our bodies of glory, which fit us for heaven. Amen!

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v. 3 Paul was cautioning members of the assembly to be certain of their salvation. The believer has already
been clothed he has received the garment of righteousness from Christ, having believed into Him.
Nakedness is a metaphor that goes back to the garden, for the exposed sinner (Gen 3:7). Anyone who is
found naked who is still in their sin cannot be clothed with a body of glory. One must have the
righteousness of Christ first.
v. 4 Further clothed beyond that garment of righteousness that Jesus gives us clothed with a body of
glory.
v. 5 Those who believe in Jesus have received the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the firstfruits the promise of
a full harvest a glorified body (Rm 8:23).
v. 6-8 So while we are still in our tents, we are absent from the Lord; we cannot enter into His presence.
But if it so be that we become absent from the body we leave our tents that is, we die we will be
present with the Lord.
The we is whats inside the body; that would be our inner man, our soul of spirit-being. Thats how we
initially go into the presence of the Lord, when we die; we leave our earthly tent, leaving it behind on earth,
and go to dwell with Him, until such time as our bodies are raised in glory in the resurrection.
An example of such disembodied souls can be found in Revelation 6:9-11, which speaks of the souls of
those who are martyred during the Great Tribulation. They are alive in heaven with the Lord. Paul makes
it clear in this passage and others that to be absent from the body and present with the Lord is the far better
thing (Phil 1:23). And yet to come is the best of all receiving the body of glory, in the resurrection.
[Return to First Thessalonians]
So we return to the last part of verse 14, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. The with
Him refers to with Jesus; and those who sleep in Jesus means believers; but did Paul mean that the souls
of believers will accompany Jesus from heaven, when He returns for His church? Or did he mean that
Jesus will bring back the bodies of those who have died with Him to heaven?
Remember that Paul was speaking of death, under the metaphor of sleep. The word for sleep in the
Greek means to lie down. What lies down? A body. What sleeps? A body. What dies? A body. The
Greek word for rise (v. 14, 16) means to stand again, or stand up. What stands up? A body. The soul and
spirit of the inner man can do none of these.
When Jesus returns for His church, He will be bringing back to heaven everyone who believed in Him
living and dead. The bodies of those who sleep in Jesus will be raised and reunited with their living souls,
which are in heaven with Jesus.
This would infer that these living souls come back with Jesus, to inhabit their resurrected bodies of glory;
but the passage points to them in their bodies being brought back to heaven. This also fits the parallelism of
the verse: Jesus died and rose again; even so, believers who have died will rise again, and He will bring
them back to heaven with Him.

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Nonetheless, it is likely that Jesus will be in the company of the living souls of believers who have died,
when He returns for His church. This was alluded to in chapter 3, verse 13 the Lord Jesus Christ will
come for His church with all His saints, both angels and believers who are already in heaven.
Paul then gave more detail on how believers will come into the Lords presence when He returns.
v. 15 Paul indicated that what he was relating to the Thessalonians was not his own word; it was the Lords
word.
We have no record of this word. Nothing is written concerning the coming of Christ for His church in the
OT, for the church was a mystery. Nothing is specifically recorded in the gospels, either, with the exception
of one allusion that Jesus made to His disciples, before His death.
Turn to John chapter 14. Jesus was speaking to His disciples in the upper room, just before He went to the
garden of Gethsemane and then to the cross. They were troubled at the prospect of Jesus leaving them.
He encouraged them by relating to them that soon, they would be together forever.
[John 14:1-3]
v. 1 Thats always the answer to a troubled heart; believe in God; believe in Jesus.
v. 2 The word translated mansions here comes from a word that means a place to stay. It refers simply
to dwelling places. In what shall we dwell in the Fathers house heaven? Well dwell in bodies of glory.
Those are the many dwelling places to which Jesus was referring here; they are reserved in heaven for
you (1 Pet 1:4).
v. 3 This is the single statement Jesus made concerning Him coming for His church He will come again,
and receive all of those who believed in Him to Himself, to be in heaven with Him.
Although the gospels contain much on the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth, this was all that Jesus said
to His followers regarding Him coming first for them. Most of what is recorded in the gospels pertained to
the Jews; the church was still a mystery, until Christ died and rose again.
[Return to First Thessalonians]
Besides Scripture, the word of the Lord includes the sayings of Jesus what He had revealed by word of
mouth with His disciples.
It is only in Pauls writings that we come upon any fine details concerning the return of Jesus for His
church; so it is most likely that this was a special revelation that Jesus had made to Paul himself.
After his conversion, Paul spent three years in Nabatean Arabia (Gal 1:16-18), where the Lord Himself
opened up Pauls understanding to the Scriptures (Acts 9:22); Paul would later write that the gospel that
was preached by him was not according to man, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal
1:11-12); Jesus had revealed it to him.
It is possible that the return of Jesus for His church was part of that revelation. What was revealed to Paul
at that time was later confirmed as the truth by James, Peter and John (Gal 2:9, 2 Pet 3:14-16).

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Paul will later write to the believers at Corinth, Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we
shall all be changed (1 Cor 15:51). The return of Jesus for His church was a mystery until it was revealed,
most likely to Paul himself. So the Lord Jesus had revealed at some time what would happen when He
returned.
Paul wrote that those believers who are still alive when the Lord returns will not precede those believers
who had died. The Thessalonian believers would be reassured to know that, far from those who died
receiving a lesser or a later reward, they would actually be given deference; they would be allowed to go
first. After all, some of them have been waiting thousands of years!
Then Paul related what would initiate the departure of the believers.
v. 16-17 So it is the Lord Himself who will return for His church. Jesus could have sent angels to bring His
church to heaven; they will be sent to gather the elect, at the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth, after the
Great Tribulation (Mt 24:31). Why does Jesus come back Himself for His church?

Because this is personal; we are members of His Body; of His flesh and of His bones (Eph 5:30); there can
be no greater intimacy. This is the Bridegroom, returning for His bride. He loves her, and gave Himself for
her (Eph 5:25). He has come again, to receive her to Himself, so she can be with Him (Jn 14:3). It is a
personal act of love.
The Lord will descend from the highest heaven the home of God, where Jesus has been since His
ascension; where Jesus has prepared a place for His bride, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2). Jesus will
descend into the air the atmosphere of the earth. He will not set His foot upon the earth; that will await
His Second Coming to the earth, when He will set up His kingdom (Rev 14:1).
Paul mentions three things that will accompany the descent of the Lord: a shout, the voice of an archangel,
and the trumpet of God. These will signal the departure of the church from the earth.
The shout which is spoken of has the ring of authority, as well as a note of urgency; as if a commander is
telling His troops to fall in. I want to show you two passages with some similarities to this.
The first is in Revelation chapter 4. After the Lord gave John words to write to the seven churches in Asia,
He gave John a revelation of the scene in heaven.
[Revelation 4:1-2] Note that the voice that John heard was like a trumpet. This was the voice of Jesus,
who was giving John the revelation. John was commanded to Come up here to heaven and
immediately, he was transported there, in the Spirit.
Now turn to Revelation chapter 11. This passage speaks of the two witnesses who will testify during the
last 3 years of the Tribulation. Then they will be put to death.
[Revelation 11:11-12] So the two witnesses will be resurrected. And a loud voice from heaven called them
to Come up here and so they did.
We are not told what it is that is shouted, when Jesus descends from heaven; but it is probably not unlike
what John and the two witnesses heard; it is a summons to come up and meet the Lord.

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The voice of an archangel will also be heard, when Jesus descends for His church. The word archangel in
the Greek comes from archon, meaning chief or ruler, and aggelos, meaning angel or messenger. It refers
to certain angels that have authority over other angels. It can also refer to the head, or ruler of the angels,
which is sometimes the way the Lord Jesus is shown in Scripture (Heb 1:4, Jude 9).
Turn to Revelation chapter 10. This part of the revelation given to John is a vision of Jesus claiming His
inheritance the earthly kingdom.
[Revelation 10:1-3] Who is this mighty angel? Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who will rule and
reign over the earth.
Jesus spoke to the Jews of the voice that would summon the dead back to life in the resurrection. Turn to
John chapter 5.
[John 5:24-29]
v. 24-27 The Father has given Jesus the authority to give Life everlasting to men, as well as to execute
judgment. If you will not receive Life from Jesus, you will come into His judgment.
v. 28-29 Whose voice will the dead hear? The voice of Jesus. The bodies of those who have believed into
Jesus will be commanded to come forth as bodies of glory in the resurrection of Life. The bodies of those
who have not believed into Jesus will also be called forth to the resurrection of condemnation, for
judgment. These two resurrections are actually separated by 1000 years (Rev 20:4-15).
So here we see that it will be the voice of Jesus who summons the dead from the graves.
Finally, Paul said that the Lord will descend with the trumpet of God. The trumpet is associated with divine
activity in Scripture. It was used to announce the approach or the presence of God. In the OT, trumpets
were also used to call the congregation to assemble, and to direct their movements (Num 10:2). In the NT,
we see trumpets prevalent in the divine execution of judgment upon the earth dwellers.
Turn to Revelation again chapter 1. In the Spirit, John heard a voice.
[Revelation 1:10-11a] Whose voice was this, loud, like a trumpet? Jesus.
A shout an order from the Commander. A voice a divine message from the Head of the angels. A
trumpet a signal to assemble. Perhaps three ways of describing the same sound, announcing the arrival of
the Lord Jesus, and summoning the bride to come up to meet her Bridegroom. It is a breathtaking, majestic
description of a long-awaited reunion.
The dead in Christ will rise first. Notice they are dead in Christ; even death cannot separate believers from
the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rm 8:38-39). The bodies of the believers who have died, which
had been sown into the earth in corruption, will be raised in incorruption (1 Cor 15:42), then reunited with
their souls and spirits, which have been in heaven with the Lord. Then living believers will rise, their
bodies being changed as they ascend, into glorious bodies.
How long will all this take? Not long. The word that Paul uses here for the believers being caught up
together means to be seized upon, or snatched away. In the Latin the noun form is rapere, from which the
word rapture comes.

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10

Rapture is in common use today to describe the church being caught up to the Lord, but unfortunately, its
true meaning has been lost. Most people think of rapture as ecstasy, or bliss, reflecting the joy of the
reunion and it will be joyous.
But the true meaning of the verb conveys the idea of force being suddenly exercised. The church is caught
up by the sudden and irresistible power of God. The church will not arise and on her own accord; the
Bridegroom will sweep the bride off her feet; and He will do so swiftly.
Turn to First Corinthians chapter 15. This is another letter in which Paul gives some details about the
catching up of the church.
[1 Corinthians 15:50-54]
v. 50 The only way to have an inheritance in the kingdom of God is if you have been born again by
incorruptible seed into the family of God. Flesh and blood cannot inherit because those are bodies of
corruption. Those in the family of God have incorruptible bodies of glory, that fit them for Gods kingdom.

v. 51-54 Paul again relates the same order he did to the Thessalonians the dead shall rise first. Notice
that Paul mentions a trumpet here, calling it the last trumpet. The last trumpet is a military allusion; this
would be familiar to people of that day. This trumpet will be the last that the church will hear on earth,
calling them to their Lord and signaling Christs resounding victory over death.
Not all believers will die, but all will be changed, into bodies of glory, that fit them for Gods kingdom.
How long will this change take? A moment the twinkling of an eye. Not even enough time for an eye to
blink! Thats how swiftly the church will be caught up to her Lord. People who remain on earth will not
be able to witness something that occurs that quickly; this will be a private reunion between the Lord and
His bride.
This is a passage in Acts that may give us a little more of an idea of what the return of Jesus will be like.
Turn to Acts chapter 1. This passage describes the ascension of Jesus back into heaven.
[Acts 1:9-11]
v. 9 He Jesus. Revelation 12:5 alludes to the ascension of Jesus, saying that He was caught up to God
and His throne. The term used for caught up is the same as that in our passage in First Thessalonians
it was sudden, swift, and forceful.
v. 10-11 They His disciples. The two men in shining white apparel were angels a heavenly witness.
Note their words: Jesus would come in like manner. He will descend from heaven, in a cloud, in His
glorified body, and His disciples, who will be looking steadfastly for Him, will be the only ones who are
aware that He has come back; and they will rejoin Him. As mentioned before, it will be a private gathering.
[Return to First Thessalonians]

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11

There will be a joyful reunion of the entire church, down through the ages right there in the clouds (v. 17)
clouds being another token of the divine presence. But the reunion of believers will pale in comparison
to meeting our Lord.
Even having not seen Him, we love Him. Though we have not seen Him, yet believing, we rejoice with joy
inexpressible and full of glory (1 Pet 1:8) so what must it be like when we see Him? And then He will
bring us to our heavenly home where we will be with Him, forever.
v. 18 The word comfort here means to come alongside giving comfort, consolation and encouragement.
Pauls words would have been a great comfort to the Thessalonians concerning their dead; and his words
are a great encouragement to us, who live with the same know-so hope that Paul and the Thessalonians had,
as we wait with great anticipation for Jesus to return.
With this vision in mind, Paul encouraged believers to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). Maranatha!
In three weeks: 1 Th 5. Read Mt 24.