1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “Who Will Be Raptured and How?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – Bible Study & Exploration

Believers in Christ Who Have Died

Paul begins verse 13 by stating that his desire for the Thessalonians is that they understand fully the order of the rapture. This is not just some random event that will happen haphazardly. He explains to the Thessalonians that Christ is the model for this order of the rapture.

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. “

1 Thessalonians 4:14

Is There an Order to the Rapture?

Absolutely! Verse 14 is the basis of that order as Paul explains.

What Will Happen to Those Who Have Already Died in Christ?

Just as Christ died and rose again, so also will those who have died in Christ be the first to be raptured. Then those who are still alive in Christ will follow after them to meet and be with the Lord forever.

Isn’t that such a beautiful phrase for our minds to comprehend, “…be with the Lord forever.” It brings so much joy and peace to my soul to know that. Those who truly have given themselves to Christ know this day is fast approaching.

The realization of knowing what would happen to their loved ones who have “fallen asleep” in Christ came as a great comfort to the Thessalonians. This was one question that truly left them uneasy.

Who Are The Dead in Christ Who Will Be Raptured?

The ones who have truly given their life to Christ and died will be those who’ll be raptured first. This will include all who have died (fallen asleep) from the time when Christ came to earth to extend God’s free gift of salvation up to the time of the rapture.

How about those who died before Christ came to earth but believed in and dedicated their life to God? These saints never experienced the covenant of salvation that came to earth through Christ, so they have a different path to follow in their reunification with God. This path is explained in the Old Testament and finally in the book of Revelation.

These saints will be resurrected after the Tribulation when Christ returns to earth.

This clearly falls in line with God’s word established through the Bible that God’s plan has an order. All of His works have a time and a season and a purpose.

What is the Rapture?

The rapture is an event whose time is set by the Father that not even the Son knows. It is an imminent event that draws closer and closer as we see the fulfillment of Bible prophecy coming to fruition at a remarkable rate. This fulfillment of prophecy is happening at a greater rate than any other time in the history of mankind.

Imminent means that nothing has to happen for the rapture to occur. There is no trigger event that will cause the rapture. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that there will be events that will occur before the rapture. There will also be events that will occur after the rapture. But none of them will trigger the rapture. If there was a trigger event, then we would know when the rapture would occur.

“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.”

1 Thessalonians 4:17

The phrase “caught up” is the definition of the rapture. The English word “rapture” was translated from the Latin word “rapturo.” This word was translated from the Greek word “harpazo” which comes from the original Greek text.

While the Bible never uses the word “rapture,” its definition is used in its place.

Is the Rapture the Second Coming of Christ?

Absolutely not! When Christ comes to gather His church to Himself, he will not be returning to earth. As Paul states at the end of verse 17, “we will meet the Lord in the air.” At His Second Coming, he will return to the Mount of Olives when He first appears. The rapture and the Second Coming are two distinct and separate events.

“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.”

Zechariah 14:4-11

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:11

In Revelation, John describes Jesus’s Second Coming in this way.

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.”

Revelation 19:11-16

Does this sound like the Jesus who’s coming to gather His people to Himself? Absolutely not! Rather, this Jesus that is coming to rule and judge those who have rejected Him, His people and His land.

The rapture is imminent and has no warning. The Second Coming will occur at the end of the tribulation which will be seven years after the antichrist establishes a covenant with the Holy Land of Israel.

“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

Daniel 9:27

Paul closes this passage with some wonderful advice. We should use these words of the coming of our Blessed Hope to spiritually prepare ourselves through sanctification so that we will be made holy and righteous. Let us use these exciting words of anticipation to edify one another all the more as the day fast approaches.