Rapture Passages – 1 Thessalonians 4

06Apr11

1 Thes. 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. [14] For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. [15] For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

This beautiful, powerful and encouraging passage demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that some day the Lord will appear and those who are His will be resurrected and will forever be with the Lord. There is so much in this rich passage that it will be nearly impossible to work through it all without missing some things.

Note the initial context is that this involvled concern over those who have passed away. The Thessalonians, possibly influenced by the Sanhedrin or pagan doctrine fear that those who have passed will miss the Second Coming. Paul is wiritng to assure them of the Resurrection that will accompany the Second Coming (refer to the Wanna Sound Really Smart post for more on this.)

Paul then goes on to describe the Resurrection in a beautiful and poetic manner. Note how his description differs in detail to the other “comings” we have discussed thus far. I will do this bullet form for ease of reference.

  • The Lord is “descending” rather than “ascending” like we found previously in Daniel 7 and the other passages referencing Daniel 7.

Dan 7:13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came [up] to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

  • This descending matches the angel’s description of how the Lord was prophesied to return in Acts 1

Acts 1:10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

  • This event is a very “loud” one which is great contrast to the “secret, quiet ” Rapture of the Left Behind theologians. The term “secret rapture” is quite apropos as it is even a secret to the Bible
  • The dead are raised – This is the resurrection
  • Those who are alive are also “caught up” or “raptured

The above distinguish this event from the previously discussed events. The action or movement of the Lord toward His people and their movement toward Him show a distinct difference from the other passages as well..

It should be noted that this passage ends with the idea that we will always be with the Lord from that point forward. There is no “second” return or set up of millennial, earthly kingdom in view. From that point forward we will bask in the eternal presence of the Lord. This is an “eternal” position, not seven year “get together.”

We will always be with Him from that point forward!

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