“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NKJV)
Among the Thessalonians, some were worried that those in their church who had died would not share in the return of Christ and the final triumph of his kingdom. Paul assures them that they will share in his death and resurrection. Believers who have died, far from being at a disadvantage, will be raised to life first. Believers still alive will join them, and together they will meet Christ and be with him for ever.
This is the only place in the New Testament that a “rapture” (caught up) is clearly referred to. It is designated here as the immortalizing and glorifying of the bodies of the Christians alive on the earth when Jesus returns. Lack of need for the resurrection will necessitate such a change in their still-living but mortal bodies. Some believe that this will be secret, but Paul seems to be describing something open and public with loud voices and trumpet blast.
This is our glorious hope. We who are still alive when Jesus returns will be caught up with Him “in the clouds…and we will be with the Lord” forever!
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
The NKJV Bible
Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Third Edition. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2002.
Zondervan NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.