“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“
Paul now shows why the living will not precede the dead by elaborating on the prophetic order of events at the Rapture.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
The word “descend” literally means to go down. The Lord Himself will descend personally from heaven to the sky. If there is to be rapture, He can employ no lesser agency or person than Himself. He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).
The word “shout” carries the idea of a call, summons, shout of command. This shout is a signal for the church to get ready for the Lord to rapture it. Jesus will summon His church to be with Him forever just as a general would summon his soldiers or an admiral, his sailors. Such a shout both demands and expects instant compliance even in the heat of battle. The call knows no defeat in the conflict and conquest. There can be only one result once the life-giving voice of the Son of God rings forth (John 11:43; 5:25, 28-29).
with the voice of an archangel,
An “archangel” is an angel of exalted rank, the highest rank of any angel. Jesus’ shout will be with the authority of the ultimate rank of an archangel. The rapture is one of the greatest interventions into the affairs of men in the history of the universe. It is backed by all the authority, power and majesty of heaven.
The Rapture not only marks the culmination of the progressive sanctification of the saint but also the completion and glorification of the church. No wonder Jesus shouts with the voice of an archangel. This is an announcement of the victory of the redeemed over sin and the world.
and with the trumpet of God.
A trumpet is a wind instrument usually made of bronze or iron broadening out to a megaphone. Ancients blew the trumpet on solemn occasions to stir up others to get their attention. This was true of the seven angels of Revelation. They used the trumpet in war for various signals of military actions.
Trumpets in the Old Testament were a signal to God’s people (not to the lost). This signified the approach of God to His people and their assembly before Him (Exodus 19:13,16-17,19), the ongoing march (Numbers 10:2), movements in battle, divine deliverance and great festival occasions. God’s trumpet sound is an indication of something momentous. This is the divine summons that the church has awaited for centuries.
And the dead in Christ will rise first.
This phrase is an explicit statement about the resurrection of the believer from physical death. The word “rise” literally means to stand up or to make to stand up. Jesus will cause Christians to live physically again.
Dead believers will rise before living believers (1 Corinthians 15:52). Not just any person will rise from the dead but only those who are “in Christ.” This phrase refers to the spiritual position into which God places Christians when they believe in the death of Christ to forgive their sin. The Bible never claims that the Old Testament saint is “in Christ.” Christ makes positional truth possible by virtue of His work on earth. Death does not disturb our spiritual union with Christ.
God is able to rebuild a decaying body into a resurrected body.
God will restore our present physical bodies in the resurrection into a likeness of the resurrected body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
This resurrection of physical bodies into the likeness of Christ’s resurrected body is only for those who have a right relationship with God. We enter this relationship when we place our trust solely in the death of Christ to obtain forgiveness for our sins.