Summary: There are six things I want to point out about these 3 verses. The events of the Lord’s return and of the resurrection are clearly spelled out in these verses.
Last Wednesday in 1 Thess. 4: 13-15, Paul told us he didn’t want us to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep. He basically told us that it was OK to grieve over the loss of our loved ones, but he said not to grieve as one who has no hope.
He assured us that our loved ones who have died will be caught up in the sky with Jesus when the rapture takes place. The last thing he reminded us was that we who are still alive when the Lord comes will not precede those who have fallen asleep. In other words, the dead in Christ will arise first. Tonight we continue with that thought as we look at verses 16-18. READ.
There are six things I want to point out about these 3 verses. The events of the Lord’s return and of the resurrection are clearly spelled out in these verses.
1. First, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven. So the very first event of the Rapture will be the appearance of the Lord God Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ will tear open the heavens and miraculously appear in all the glory and power of heaven itself. Now when He appears three things will happen:
a. The Lord will appear “with a loud command.” The commander in chief of the universe will shout louder than any voice has ever shouted.
b. The voice of the archangel will cry out. What will he shout? It will probably be a rallying cry for all the heavenly angels to join in the praise of this glorious event. Jesus taught that the angels would be with Him when He returned to earth. (Mt. 24:31; 25:31)
c. The trumpet of God shall sound. I play the trumpet. The trumpet is a loud instrument. It’s always been used to arouse the attention and give warning. The whole universe—both earth and heaven, believers, unbelievers, and angels—will be aroused and all unbelievers will be warned. The Lord God Himself is now appearing and the events of the end time are now being launched upon earth.
2. Second, the dead in Christ will rise first. Why do they get to go first? Because of the Lord’s great love and car. The first expression of love and care will be shown to those who have passed through the shadow of death. It’s the very nature of Christ to show tenderness and love to those who have suffered the most. So they will be the first to meet the Lord in the air. Let’s note several facts about this:
a. Only departed believers will arise. No unbeliever will be resurrected; not at this point. Only those who are dead in Christ who died believing in Jesus Christ will be resurrected when the Lord opens the skies.
b. It will be the bodies of the departed believers that are resurrected. The believers themselves, that is, their spirits, are already with the Lord. Their bodies are being raised and transformed to live forever with God. The shout of the Lord to “come out” will call together (now listen carefully to what I am about to say). The Lord will call together all the atoms of a person’s body, no matter where the various parts of a person’s body may lie. The atoms of a person’s body will be transformed to structure an eternal and perfect body.
c. The bodies of the departed believers will arise first—arise before we who are alive are caught up. And yes, we will probably bear witness to that happening. We will probably see this happen.
3. Third, we who are alive will be caught up right after the dead have risen. There will be a glorious transformation of our bodies just as there will be of those whose bodies have decayed in the earth. The change will be as Scripture declares. We will have a new nature.
Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:53 – “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
a. The nature of the believer’s present body is corruptible and mortal; the nature of his new body will be imperishable and immortal.
- The perishable and mortal nature means that men are earthly; they age, deteriorate, die, decay, and decompose. That means that every one of us will return to the earth unless Jesus returns while we are still living.
- The imperishable and immortal nature means that believers will be made heavenly. They will be transformed and given a perfect nature that will never age, deteriorate, die, decay, or decompose. They will be given a body that is perfect; a body that is perfected to live with God in the new heavens and earth.
b. Note the word “must” in 1 Cor. 15:53. It shows the absolute necessity for the change of man’s body. If man is to live with God, his body must be changed. It’s essential, a must, if man is to live forever.