A Study in 1 Thessalonians: The Comfort of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
The passage for our study is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and is describing an event called the Rapture of the Church. While it is true the word rapture does not occur in the word of God the definition of the word does describe the event. In this lesson we will look at some facts about the rapture and how it is different than the second advent of Jesus Christ as well as show why it should give us comfort.
Facts from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
- At the rapture there is a resurrection of people from the dead. There are also people that are alive and are caught up to meet the Lord in the air (verses 14, 16,17).
- The Lord will descend from heaven but note that we meet him in the clouds he does not come to the earth at this time (verses 16,17).
- The dead in Jesus go up first and then those who are alive will go up next (verses15-17).
- Jesus descends from heaven with a shout with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God.
In 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 the word of God gives a companion passage to the one in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When these two passages are compared together side by side it is plain to see that they describe the same event.
Facts from 1 Corinthians 15:51-57:
- There are people being resurrected and people who are alive and being changed (verses 51,52).
- This event is said to happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (verse 52).
- This event is connected with victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 57).
To show clearly that this event is not the 2nd Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth we will look at a very important 2nd Advent passage, Revelations 19:11-16.
Facts from Revelation 19:11-16:
- When Jesus comes back at the 2nd Advent he will be riding a white horse (verse 11).
- Jesus will have many crowns upon his head (verse 12).
- Jesus is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood (verse 13).
- Armies from heaven clothed in fine linen follow him riding upon white horses (verse 14).
- There is a sword that proceeds out of Jesus’ mouth and it destroys the armies of the anti-christ who are gathered to battle against him (verse 15, 17-19).
Revelation 19:11-16 does not match at all the passages from 1 Thessalonians or 1 Corinthians and that is because it is two different events. Even though Revelation 1:7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 both say something about Jesus coming with clouds, they are not the same. Note that in Revelation 1:7 the whole world see him. In 1 Corinthians 15 it says the event happens in the twinkling of an eye. The rapture will be over before anyone realizes what happened.
Another thing that messes people up concerning the two events is the use of the word trump and trumpet. 1 Corinthians says that the rapture will happen at the last trump, and 1 Thessalonians says it will happen with the sound of the trump of God. Therefore some people say this is the seventh trumpet which is at the end of the tribulation. This would make the rapture at the end of the tribulation and also make the church go through the tribulation. But when you look at Revelation 11:15-19, which is the seventh trumpet you will see that the events described in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians do not match the events of the seventh trumpet. Therefore they are not the same event and the rapture of the church takes place before the tribulation starts.
Why should the passage about the rapture bring us comfort?
The passage about the rapture was written to give us comfort. One of the most scary thought for people who are without Jesus Christ is what will happen after death. The passage gives a saved person comfort in regards to death. It also gives them comfort concerning saved loved ones who have died.
Reasons for this passage bringing us comfort are as follows:
1) It is a Promised event. (verse 15)
- Note that the verse says that the rapture will happen by the word of the Lord.
- The word of God is true and will never lie (Psalm 119:160 ; John 17:17)
2) It is has the Power of God. (verse 16)
- Jesus himself will descend from heaven and accomplish this feat.
- Note also in verse 14 the word of God says that if we believe that Jesus died and rose again then those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
- Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). That same Holy Spirit dwells in us through salvation and he will raise us up at the rapture if we die before it happens.
3) It has a Pre-Requisite. (verse 14)
- In verse 14 we see the phrase “in Jesus” in verse 16 we see the phrase “in Christ”. The phrase “in Jesus” or “in Christ” is denoting a saved person.
- When a person is saved they are spiritually baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
- This Pre-Requisite means that the only way to make the rapture is to be saved. being saved is believing on Jesus Christ and trusting his shed blood for your sins.
4) It gives us preservation (verse 17).
- Once this event takes place saved people from the church age are forever with the Lord.
The last verse of the passage tells us to comfort one another with these words.These 4 facts about the rapture should give us comfort beyond compare. Therefore if you are in need of comfort concerning the death of a loved one, you should read this passage.
A Study in 1 Thessalonians
The Comfort of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) : Handout
1) What is the purpose of this passage?
2) Show why this passage is not the 2nd Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3) List 4 reasons why the Rapture should bring us comfort.