FIRST THESSALONIANS 4:13-18

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

FIRST THESSALONIANS 4:3-18 From: Kingdom Concepts Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

There will take place a glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven, a shout of battle from the armies of Heaven, the powerful cry of the chief angel, the trumpet of God, and the resurrection of the dead and living saints. This greatest of all events will take place immediately after the great tribulation.

Christ is coming from Heaven and we shall be caught up together with all the saints from all time to meet Him in the air. But we must prepare ourselves today because the Day of Christ will not come until there has been a worldwide revolt against all lawful authority and the Satan-filled man of sin is revealed.

FIRST THESSALONIANS 4:13-18 

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

What a hope we have in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! Our hope is that we will see our loved ones again; not in a vague, far-off dream world of spiritual fantasy but as solid, joyous, speaking, laughing people with whom we shall be reunited in the grandest fellowship hour of all time.

We are not ignorant concerning our loved ones who have passed into Heaven for a brief season. We understand that our families and friends are alive and well in the Presence of God and Christ and the elect angels. If they have been believers on the earth they are among the saints of all ages.

It is we who are alive now who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

The unsaved are filled with anguish when a loved one dies. To them it is an eternal loss of a relative or friend. But we Christians have the assurance that those whom we love are alive and are not far from us. They are among the great cloud of witnesses who surround us.

It is no tragedy when a soul goes to Heaven to be with God and the Lamb and we ought to bring as much hope, peace and joy as we can into our funeral services. 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

Our hope that we will see our loved ones again is based on the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Every person who has died while abiding in Christ is with Jesus now. He or she is "sleeping" in Jesus. The spirit and the soul are in Heaven with the Lord. But the physical body is "sleeping" for a brief season, having succumbed to old age or sickness or some type of accident or violence.

Again, let us state there is no tragedy here. Regardless of the pain or the extent of destruction of the physical body, if the spirit and soul are dwelling in the Presence of God and the Lamb, the saints, and the elect angels, then no true harm, no evil whatever, has come to the one who has passed from our view. Not a hair of his or her head has perished.

There is no basis for prolonged anguish of heart and mind. The loved one is not dead, only asleep for a short period.

We shall see him or her again soon. The relative or friend will be recognizable, "human" as we have always known him or her, except that all that was undesirable and of concern to us will have vanished.

When Jesus comes He will not come alone. God will bring with Jesus those who have died in faith in Christ. Our saved loved ones will return with the Lord Jesus at His appearing. This is why we do not grieve for those who have gone on to be with the Lord. 

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [be resurrected before] them which are asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15)

Paul is speaking here by the direct command of Christ, "by the word of the Lord." Christ always is especially diligent concerning the passages of Scripture that tell of His second coming because there will be much deception relating to this glorious event. The Scriptures are clear and we must be careful to follow the Lord’s Word exactly as it is written.

Notice the expression, "the coming of the Lord." Five verses later (5:2), Paul speaks of "the day of the Lord," obviously referring to the preceding passage. First Thessalonians 4:13-18 is the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ. It is the first resurrection from the dead.

The coming of the Lord and the hour of the resurrection from the dead are discussed also in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians and the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of the Book of Revelation.

We are speaking also of "that day" to which the Prophet Isaiah refers so often—the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ, the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The "blessed hope" of the Christian Church is the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, and the resurrection and catching up of the dead and the living saints. Apart from this hope we are of all people on the earth the most to be pitied.

Our Lord is coming "after the tribulation of those days" (Matthew 24:29), and then we shall be reunited with our loved ones who have died in the faith. Then we shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus in the air.

We understand from the Scriptures that great tribulation is coming to the earth and that a Satan-possessed man will rule the nations of the world. The saints are called on to stand firm throughout all that comes to pass on the earth. God will protect us from Satan if we will remain steadfast before Him. The believer who patiently endures to the end of his or her life on earth shall be saved.

There will be some Christians whom God will keep alive throughout this entire period. They will be living on the earth at the time Christ returns.

The saints whom God has ordained to be living and serving Christ at the hour of the Lord’s return are a privileged group indeed. They will never experience physical death. They will walk into glory standing upright. They will be a company of Enochs who will be resurrected and will ascend to meet Christ in the air without having to lay down their mortal bodies for a season.

But in spite of this special opportunity they will not be resurrected before those who are sleeping. The deceased saints of all of history will be raised first. Then those of us who are yet alive on the earth will be transformed instantly, passing from flesh-and-blood life into Holy-Spirit life.

Then, perhaps after "forty days" (the Lord ascended forty days after His resurrection) of fellowship, greeting old friends, marveling together at the goodness and greatness of the Lord Jesus, we all shall be caught up together in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)

"The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven."

This is the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ. Christ is coming from Heaven. Every eye shall see Him.

First Thessalonians 4:13-18 is the long-awaited coming of the Lord from Heaven, the blessed hope of the church. It is at this time, at the appearing of the Lord, that "two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." Where will she be taken ? She will be taken to meet Christ in the air. She is an "eagle," feeding on the body and blood of the Lamb. She will go to the slain Lamb.

When will she be taken? She will be taken "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (see the context of Matthew 24:41) but before the wrath of God is poured out. Lot, a type of the saved, was brought out of Sodom before the fire came down and destroyed them all.

Listen to the Word of God: 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days [the great tribulation] shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29)

It is not possible that the Lord Jesus can return to earth until the four great signs that announce His coming have come to pass. The Scriptures cannot be changed. If an angel from Heaven teaches some other doctrine we will reject him. Christ has spoken clearly and distinctly.

The saints in Thessalonica, two thousand years ago, thought Paul meant the next event that would take place in the world would be the return of Christ. Many of them quit their jobs because of the imminence of Christ’s return. 

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. (II Thessalonians 3:11)

Therefore, in Second Thessalonians Paul told the saints in Thessalonica to go back to their jobs because the Day of Christ will not come until the worldwide revolt against authority has taken place (which is taking place now) and the man of sin has ascended the Throne of God in the Temple of God in Jerusalem, sitting on the golden Mercy Seat between the wings of the Cherubim of Glory, declaring he is God Almighty and there is no God except himself.

As we have said, some of the believers in Thessalonica were persuaded that Christ would return to earth immediately. With this in mind they had abandoned their daily work and were waiting for the coming of the Lord. It was fortunate for them Paul instructed them to go back to work considering two thousand years have passed since then.

The Scriptures inform us that Christ will not come until the worldwide revolt against authority has taken place; the man of sin has been revealed; the sun has been darkened; the moon has ceased to give its light; the stars have fallen from heaven; and the powers of the heavens have been shaken.

It is possible that these last four signs have a spiritual as well as a physical fulfillment: Christ has been removed from the attention of the world as being anything more than a human philosopher and teacher of the past (the sun has been darkened); the testimony of the Church has been overcome (the moon has ceased to give its light, being covered with "blood"—the persecution of the saints during the time of Antichrist); Satan and his angels have been cast down from the heavens (the stars have fallen from the heaven); and the spiritual thrones in the heavenlies have been shaken in preparation for the saints to ascend the thrones formerly occupied by fallen lords of the heavenlies (the powers of the heavens have been shaken).

The Spirit of God has carefully instructed us concerning the events that will lead up to the return of the Lord from Heaven.

God has a purpose in telling us of the things that must come to pass—events that will prepare the Church and the world for the return of the Lord. God’s purpose is that we may have an awareness, a vision, an understanding of history—past, present, and future. When we have a "vision" of history we can prepare ourselves accordingly.

God’s saints are not to walk in darkness. The Day of Christ will not overtake the righteous as a thief. Christ has told us what to look for. When we behold the worldwide mutiny against authority, the man of sin sitting in the Temple of God, the sun grow dark, the moon cease to give light, then we know that the coming of Christ is near—"even at the doors" (Matthew 24:33).

First Thessalonians 4:16 informs us that the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the chief angel, and with the trumpet of God. This is the coming of Christ of which Jesus spoke in Matthew, Chapter 24, the hour when two will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other left (Matthew 24:40).

Notice in First Thessalonians 4:16: 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)

Compare the following verses with I Thessalonians 4:16: 

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)

There shall take place a glorious appearing from Heaven, a shout of battle from the armies of Heaven, the mighty cry of the chief angel, the trumpet of God, and the resurrection of the dead and living saints. All of this will occur immediately after the great tribulation.

When the Church and the world have been prepared, when both the wheat and the tares have come to maturity, the Lord Jesus will return. The tares will be bound in bundles to be burned. The wheat, the Lord’s saints, will be glorified in righteousness in the kingdom of their Father.

The coming of the Son of Man will not be a secret event. It will be as the lightning that comes out of the east and shines to the west (Matthew 24:27).

After Jesus made it so very clear He would not come in secret we are still teaching a "secret rapture." Will we ever learn?

According to Matthew 24:30,31, the Son of Man is "coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." At the sound of the trumpet of God the angels will gather together the elect of Christ from one end of Heaven to the other.

First Thessalonians teaches us there will be a shout, the voice of the chief angel (perhaps commanding the angels to gather together the elect), and the trumpet of God.

The "clouds" are mentioned, and the gathering together of the elect in Christ. Christ will bring all of His saints, His elect, with Him. We who are alive on the earth at that time will be "caught up together with them."

This is the same gathering together of the elect mentioned in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew.

The "elect," as we are told so many times in the New Testament writings, are the people, both Jews and Gentiles, whom God has called out of the world and given to Christ (Romans 8:33; 9:11; 11:7; Colossians 3:12; Titus 1:1; I Thessalonians 1:4; II Timothy 2:10).

Christ is coming from Heaven and we shall be caught up together with all the saints from all time to meet Him in the air. But we must prepare ourselves today because the Day of Christ will not come until there has been a worldwide revolt against all lawful authority and the Satan-filled man of sin is revealed.

Jesus will destroy this man, the Antichrist, with the glory of His coming.

Great darkness even now is coming upon us. We are to prepare ourselves by prayer, by learning God’s Word and living what we learn, and by consecrating our lives, our loved ones, our possessions, to Christ.

If we are living carelessly and at ease today we will not be able to endure the circumstances that are coming. We will fall. But if we learn to trust Christ today we will escape the events that are coming to pass and we will stand in victory and joy before the Son of Man.

Every saint is to prepare himself and his household today by prayer, by assembling with fervent disciples, by behaving as a Christian should. We are to untangle ourselves from the cares of the world and begin to live as disciplined soldiers of Christ.

There is a spiritual battle that must be fought before the Lord returns from Heaven. Let us get ready so we are not caught off guard. 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

Paul is emphasizing the catching up, the gathering of the elect to be forever with the Lord Jesus. But we know that the catching up cannot take place until the elect have first been resurrected, have been reunited with their bodies in the state of eternal life.

Paul mentions the resurrection in another passage: 

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. (I Corinthians 15:52)

"We shall be changed." Those who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord from Heaven will be people of great faith, of mature spiritual life. They will be living in heavenly places in Christ. They will be required to hold steady with their eyes on Jesus as the processes of life in them are converted from flesh and blood digestion and metabolism into the life-force of the Spirit of God.

The living saints will be changed from mortal beings into immortal beings while they are physically conscious on the earth. Think of it! Then they will be able to join together in loving fellowship with those whose bodies (some of which have been in the grave for thousands of years) have just emerged from the land and the waters.

At the time the trumpet of God sounds each person who professes faith in Christ will be required to make a decision. Either he will possess the faith and the "oil" to go to meet the Lord or else he will fall back in unbelief and disobedience.

The ability of each individual to respond to the resurrection trumpet will be determined by the preparation he or she has made before that fateful hour. "Remember Lot’s wife"!

"To meet the Lord in the air." We do not meet the Lord in Heaven. We meet Him in the air, directly overhead, where the glorious unity of the saints in Christ in God can be witnessed by the world (John 17:21-23).

Today Satan and his angels rule the earth from their thrones in the air above us. But Christ will assign His saints to their positions on those thrones in preparation for His descent on the Mount of Olives to take His lawful place on the Throne of David.

The purpose of the first resurrection of the dead is to change the occupants of the thrones in the air that influence the behavior of people on the earth. The wicked lords of the heavenlies will be cast down and the saints will take their place. Only the victorious saints are qualified to participate in the first resurrection from the dead. The remainder of the believers are not authorized or competent to sit in the awesome thrones in the air that govern the earth.

Spiritual darkness is filling the world today. It will become darker yet—much darker than it is today. An age of moral horrors is upon us. Both Christ and Antichrist will perfect their images in the personalities of human beings. The wheat and the tares will come to maturity side by side.

At the "midnight hour," the hour of greatest darkness, the cry will be heard: "Go forth to meet the Lord Jesus!" The slain Lamb will appear in the heavens above us. Those who live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood will be drawn upward to Him. Eternal Life will call and the eternal Life in the saints will answer.

Those who are filled with the spirit of the world, Christian or not, will be bound to the earth. They will not be able to leave all and rise to be with Christ. As Lot’s wife, they will glance backwards. That one final act of unbelief and disobedience will seal their doom. The eternal doors will close in their face. They will be put into outer darkness. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Those who are teaching the believers that they all will be caught up in their carelessness and lukewarmness to meet the Lord and return with Him to Paradise will be screaming in terror in that Day—and their deceived followers along with them. 

The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)

"The sinners in Zion"! Not the sinners in the world but in the household of God! 

Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. (Amos 5:18,19)

We know that if we have been faithful to the Lord we shall be gathered to Him to be with Him forever. We know we shall be reunited with our loved ones who have passed away. We "comfort one another with these words" concerning the coming of Christ.

We have sorrow and pain now because we are not a part of the present world. We are girding ourselves for the final battle that lies ahead. We are not afraid; we stand in the Word of God Almighty.

Many of our fellow believers profess Christ but they are at ease in the world. They claim to be "Jews," to be the Lord’s people. But they despise those who are bearing their cross. They cannot understand why we are rejecting the world when they appear to possess both Christ and the world.

One day soon our Lord will appear from Heaven. Those who fear the Lord and trust in Him alone will be filled with glory. They will rise to be forever with the Lord Jesus and with the saints and holy angels.

The multitudes who have attempted to serve both Christ and money will be bowed down with their "treasures." They will not be able to rise to meet the Lord in the air. They have been disobedient to the Gospel and their disobedience has closed the doors of the Kingdom against them.

The Lord Jesus be with all who love Him in sincerity.