“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep“
will by no means precede those who are asleep
The word “precede” means to come before. Those still living when Christ comes back will not precede in the Rapture all those who died before the Rapture. Jesus will raise all dead bodies of all Christians of all ages before He raptures the church.
The words “no means” are very emphatic. The reality of deceased Christians joining live Christians at the Rapture is without doubt. God has a plan, not only for the resurrection of Israel but also for us as individuals.
The body sleeps, not the soul. The New Testament guarantees that those forming the class of living believers at Christ’s return shall in no wise precede Christians who died before the Rapture. This shows that those who died did not die by accident. The Lord deliberately chose a specific number to die, whereas the living were deliberately left over. It is absolutely impossible for living saints to get the advantage or start over departed saints.
The reason is obvious. Deceased believers whose souls are in Heaven have a part in the coming of Christ from the very start. They are like those in the first division of a parade associated with the dignitaries, marshals, and escorts. Living believers are like a division that joins the parade along the line of march.
Souls in heaven will join living people on earth in the resurrection of their bodies from death.
Christians should not get the idea that when believers go to heaven, they are somewhere in outer space sleeping in nylon nighties! That is a fairy tale that is more like a nightmare! When we go to Heaven, we will be more awake than we are now. Our souls and spirits will be in heaven fully conscious, but our bodies will remain on earth until just before the Rapture when God will resurrect our bodies and transform them so they will be just like the resurrection body of Christ (Philippians 3:21).
Christians in heaven will join living people on earth in the resurrection and rapture of their bodies to Heaven. Their souls and spirits will join their bodies in the Rapture of the church.