The Study of Last Things
by James T. Bartsch
Learning about the Future to Live Better Today
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, ... and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." 1 Thess. 4:16-17
Looking at Rapture Passages
The Apostle Paul's Explanation. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The Apostle Paul did not want the new Thessalonian Christians to be ignorant about what would happen to believers who died before Jesus returned to take them to be with Him. Observe the following:
(1) Christians are not to be ignorant about what happens to believers in Jesus who die (1 Thess. 4:13).
(2) When a fellow-Christian dies, there is grief, but not the despairing kind of grief of unbelievers, who have no hope in the future (1 Thess. 4:13).
(3) We Christians believe that Jesus died and rose again (1 Thess. 4:14).
(4) When Jesus returns for His Bride, He will bring with Him the departed spirits of Church-Age believers (1 Thess. 4:14).
(5) We Christians who are left alive on the earth when Jesus returns for His Bride, the Church, will not have an advantage over those Christians who have already died (1 Thess. 4:15).
(6) Jesus Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16). (7) Then the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thess. 4:16).
(7) Then we who are alive and remain shall be snatched up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17).
(8) Both the previously deceased and the still living believers will be given resurrection bodies! (1 Cor. 15:50-52).
(9) From that point on we will always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17).
(10) We Christians are to comfort one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:18)!
(11) This passage makes the most sense assuming that Paul taught a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, he sought to rectify the concern they had that fellow believers who had died would completely miss Christ's return to Earth's atmosphere to collect believers and take them with Him to the Father's house (John 14:1-6). This letter allays their concern. No believer would miss the Rapture. Both the dead believers' bodies and the living believers would be caught up ever to be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:16-17). That makes the Pre-Tribulation Rapture an enormous comfort to Christians bereaved of fellow-believers in Christ!