22ndSeptemberdeath, resurrection, Rapture, prophecy, end times, Bible | 2008 | by Ken Horn | 4 comments
I am confused about the meaning of “dead in Christ” in 1 Thessalonians 4:16: “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.” I have always been taught that when we die, we instantly go to heaven. If we are already in heaven and alive with Christ, how are we dead in Christ and caught up at His reappearance?
The apostle Paul makes it clear that believers go immediately into the Lord’s presence when they die. He calls this being “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, NIV). Those who are “dead in Christ” are called “those who have fallen asleep in him [Jesus]” (v. 14), “those who have fallen asleep” (v. 15), and “those who fall asleep” (v. 13). Sleep is stressed, not to indicate lack of consciousness but because, for believers, death is simply the appearance of sleep.
The body is dead and the spirit is with Christ. When Jesus returns he brings these believers with him (1 Thessalonians 4:13), their bodies will be glorified (made incorruptible) and reunited with their spirits “in the air” (v. 17).
“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53; read the whole chapter).