“According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (Reference: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 )
I do not know how consistent this narrative of the “Day of the Lord” is to other narratives, either written by the same writer as that of 1 Thessalonians (Paul) or by other epistle writers. It would be an interesting study. Such a study would need to take into account whether the “Day of the Lord” is the one of punishment or the gathering of the faithful – both dead and still living. Even in this series of verses on the theme of “Day of the Lord” has not been consistent in its accounts.
It is accounts such as these from the first letter to the Thessalonians that rapture stories are made of. I remember them first in the early to mid 1970’s, and then again with the “Left Behind” series, that has been a subject of many of my postings. In fact in December 6, 2009 I wrote about the “Left Behind” series and made some observations about that series in conjunction to this passage and a possible explanation as to why Paul wrote what he did to the Thessalonians. Clink on the underlined Dec 6 date to be taken to that post. I also post there what historic Anabaptist Jan van Hasebroeck wrote to his wife. It is, beloved, a love letter. It is of course a reminder and exhortation to faith – a great deal of the writings of the historic Anabaptist were. But it is also a love letter, testifying to his love for his wife and children and the hope that a time will come when they will no longer be separated.
This portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is also a love letter, outlining the love that God and our Lord Jesus Christ have for the believers, both those now dead and those still living. If Paul’s vision is accurate and correct, it is also still relevant. That everyone one who Paul knew and wrote to has already passed away, and their families also have passed away, and even theire descendents have passed away, and that countless generations after that have passed away – none of that matters if Paul’s vision is still accurate. It could still happen! Will it happen that way though? I do not know. But it is a lovely thought and vision.
May you beloved hold fast to your faith and belief so that when Christ returns, however the Divine returns, you will be welcomed into that holy presence! See you there! Selah!!