Reunited at the Rapture
Despite intense persecution, the Thessalonians had a vibrant testimony. Members of this young church were known for their attitude that looked forward to the Rapture. They had the expectation that the Lord would return in their lifetime. The fate of Christians who had passed away, however, confused them.
Would those who had died miss out on the Rapture? Paul’s answer reveals an astonishing truth.
“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. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Th. 4:16-18).
Paul not only wanted the Thessalonians, but all who would subsequently read his letter to understand the specifics associated with the “snatching away of the church.”
Yes, deceased Christians will indeed participate in the Rapture. At a set time on God’s prophetic calendar, all Christians throughout church history will hear the reverberating shout of the Lord—accompanied by the voice of an archangel and the trump of God—as Jesus Christ descends in the clouds for the church (v. 16).
Instantaneously, living Christians all over the earth will be “caught up” to meet Him in the air (v. 17). The Greek word harpadzo translated “caught up” means to dramatically snatch away. It is the same Greek word used in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) to describe Elijah’s translation to heaven. The Latin word communicating the concept is rapturos, which is why this event is most often referred to as the Rapture in English.
Those who have died “in Christ” and living breathing Christians will meet the Lord in the air at a set time known only to the Father (1 Cor. 15:50-54).
UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
None of the world religions boast an event like the Rapture; it is unique to Christianity. Paul emphasized that two things will happen almost simultaneously.
A split second after the bodies of deceased Christians are raised, those still living will be snatched instantaneously and bodily from the earth to join a magnificent throng to meet the Lord in the air (v. 17).
When Paul penned his letter, the church of Thessalonica was experiencing intense persecution. Like much of the worldwide church today, they needed encouragement. Thus, it is fitting that Paul urged Thessalonian Christians and those reading his epistle today to, “comfort one another with these words” (v. 18).
No matter what the church may be experiencing at any point in history, we can be assured that a joyful reunion is in our future. The Rapture is an event every authentic Christian can look forward to with absolute certainty. It will be an awesome scene as the completed church—every individual Believer from every part of the globe and every period of the Church Age—joyfully gathers for our appointed meeting with the Lord in the air!
Do you have believing loved ones that have passed away? Look forward to the unique meeting in the air when we will be reunited with them in the single most joyful reunion ever experienced in the history of the world!
1) Illustrative featured image and photo collage, [Public domain]. Digital composition, MKM Portfolios
2) Banner Detail: Jesus Christ Returns for the Church. Background image, Lehava Activity 2012/Pikiwiki Israel/Wikimedia Commons. Foreground image, [Public domain]. Digital composition, MKM Portfolios
Copyright © 2018 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.