“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 in the affairs of men in the history of the universe. It is backed by all the authority, power, and majesty of heaven.
The Rapture marks not only 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 a 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 in 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.
Hello Grant, I love your commentaries. I like the way your break the scriptures verse by verse for better understanding.
I have a question, this verse said in the day of rapture the dead in Christ will rise first, meaning Christians who were dead will come back to life, also another of your commentary you said when a Christian dies He goes straight into the presence of God (I think you mean heaven). So how then will a Christian die and go into the presence of God and on the day of rapture still come back to the physical body. I need clearer explanation on this using bible references. Thanks so much, awaiting your response
Konani, thanks for your comment.
2 Corinthians 5:8 says that the moment the physical body dies, the believer goes immediately into the presence of Christ. He will have a face-to-face relationship to Christ at that point (PROS–face-to-face).
In the case of 1 Thes 4 the issue is the body, not the soul (mind, emotion and will). The body and soul will be reunited at the rapture. The body of the believer will be like the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus (Phil 3:21).
Where do those spirits go who have not known Christ immediately upon their death?
Frank, they will go into Hades immediately upon death and then Hades will be dumped into the Lake of Fire later (Revelation 20:11-15).
Grant, our dear brother-in- Christ, Scriptures elucidated by the Spirit of our Lord and explained in your commentaries, makes a great material to understand the hidden mysteries.
Based on your commentaries on Revelation 20 and this passage (1 Thessalonians 4:16), I have the following understanding and questions. Correct me, if my understanding is wrong; Help me tie-up the loose ends.
1. Souls of the dead-in-Christ will go to the presence of GOD (Paradise – Luke 23:43) and face the Judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8-10)
2. Souls of all others after death during the Church-age and Tribulation will go immediately into the Hades (Luke 16:23; Rev. 20:13,14)
3. Old Testament Martyrs will be part of the souls under the Alter in Rev. 6:9-11. Their numbers will be completed with those who would be likewise killed during Tribulation. They will all be resurrected to live and reign with Christ for 1000 years (Rev.20:4).
4. How about the Souls of the other Old Testament righteous who died before the Church-age (including OT Saints like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, .. ..)?
a. Are they also now in the presence of GOD (Paradise)?
b. How will they participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; and in the 1000 year reign of CHRIST?
c. When will they be transformed into their resurrected bodies?
5. Praise GOD for your ministries; and appreciate your help.
My answers to your questions will be indicated by number:
1. Those dead in Christ go immediately upon death into the presence of God, not paradise (2 Co 5:8). They will later be reviewed for rewards at the Bema Seat or Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Co 5:8-10).
4. They are in paradise, but at the Second Coming (not the Rapture) OT saints will be resurrected. The purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel back to God; at the end of the Trib. Jesus will gain victory for the nation Israel. Both Israel and the church will be ushered into the Millennial Kingdom. The NT believer will receive a body just like the resurrected body of Jesus upon death (Php 3:21). Israel will receive that body at the Second Coming.
5. Thank you Samuel. You are a blessing as well.
Thank a lot grant,
1.Please why will the dead in christ rise first?
2. Is Christ coming to raise the dead in Him and rapture the saints on earth same time ? If not when will He rapture the saints since the dead in Christ will go first? 1these 4:16
3 what is the difference between the first resurrection and the second Rev 20:5?
4 where will the Christians or believer be during the 1000ur reign ? Since the dead in Christ will enjoy the reign only Rev 20: 4-6
Ebenezer, thanks for your blog.
1. At the Rapture believers will receive their resurrection bodies (Php 3:21).
2. The “dead” in the context of 1 Thes 4 are all believers.
3. Note my study on this question: https://versebyversecommentary.com/1999/01/26/revelation-204-6/
4. Christian will be in heaven with the Lord. They will not go through the Tribulation. https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/doctrine/rapture-and-second-coming/rapture-vs-the-second-coming/
You may be interested in this study: https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/doctrine/future-body-of-the-believer/intermediate-state/
Thank you for your work.
For those believers already in heaven what difference is there in their present glorified body and that which they receive after 4.16 where the dead in Christ rise?What is your opinion if you could speculate?
God Bless You
Judd, if you go to my studies on 2 Corinthians 5, I develop that issue thoroughly.
Last Sunday our Presbyterian (PCA) interim minister said that the phrase “… WE who remain and are alive …” shows Paul believed Christ’s return was imminent (within Paul’s or at least some of the disciples’ lifetimes) and since that didn’t happen, Paul was wrong and the inerrancy of scripture is suspect.
I know the typical conservative evangelical interp is that Paul is saying ” whomever … is still alive .. ” (contrasting that to his initial clarification on the ‘dead’ so that the Thess’s ‘have hope’ that the dead are not just lost foreever) … but
is there valid reasoning to take Paul’s use of ‘WE’ as ‘whomever’ so the timing isn’t locked in to Paul’s/other apostles lifetimes.
Or some other way to see this and still hold to inerrancy?
First, note that the argument begins in verse 13 and continues until verse 18. The issue is a future event, which is given the category of “hope,” a hope that is future, not present.
Second, verse 14 places the event in the future from Paul—“God will bring with him.” “Will bring” is a future active indicative. The future tense in Greek carries the idea of logical progression. Paul does not say that this event will happen in his lifetime, but it is a logical outcome of some time in the future, which could also be during his lifetime but not necessarily so.
Third, the “until” in the phrase “left until the coming” means “with a view to.” Paul is not speaking about something current, but he speaks of an anticipated event.
Fourth, the “we” of verse 17, “we who are alive” is collective. Since Paul did not know when the event would occur, he puts himself in a class of those who would take place in the rapture.