1 Thessalonians 4: 1-18, instructions, rapture
VV 1-8, 1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
Paul encouraged his audience to walk worthy of their calling in good conduct that is pleasing to Him. God’s will was to sanctify them for holy living. There were to abstain from sexual immorality, lead holy lives, and transparent in their dealings with others. They were not to take vengeance by retaliating against their persecutors because vengeance belonged to God. Whoever rejected Paul’s instructions did not reject Paul but rejected God and the Holy Spirit.
VV 9-12, 9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
Paul encouraged his audience to love one another particularly the Christian brothers and sisters in Macedonia with brotherly love. Paul encouraged them to be more loving, lead quiet lives, not interfere with the affairs of others, work, and be gainfully employed.
VV 13-18, 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The Thessalonian Christians were expecting Christ’s second coming but when many of them died and Christ had not returned, they began to worry. Paul assured them that there was hope for those who had died. Christians will be resurrected from the dead just as Christ was resurrected from the dead. The next prophetic event on God’s calendar is the rapture. Jesus Christ will return from heaven with the voice of Archangel Micheal, accompanied by a trumpet blow, and Christians will be resurrected into glorified bodies, caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be united with Him forever. Christians who had died will be resurrected first followed by those who are still alive, 1 Cor 15:51-54.
Greek for caught up is “harpazo”. Latin for caught up is ‘“rapturo”, or rapture. The rapture is different from the second coming of Christ. In the rapture, Christ comes to take Christians to heaven. In the second coming Christ comes with the Christians from heaven to earth to set up His millennial kingdom on earth. There are three positions on the timing of the rapture. Pre, before the 7-year tribulation, mid, in the middle of the 7-years tribulation, and post, at the end of the 7-year tribulation. This exposition is based on a pre-tribulation rapture. The rapture is imminent and can happen at any time.
1 Cor 15:51-54, Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Paul’s instructions to his audience also apply to us. We are to walk worthy of our calling, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and lead holy lives. We are to love others with brotherly love, lead quiet lives, minding our affairs, work, and be gainfully employed. .
The rapture is imminent. Those who are born again as Christians will have nothing to worry about. They will escape the 7 years of tribulation on earth, the wrath of God, the 666, etc.
Heavenly Father, we pray for those who have not believed in You to turn from sin, believe in You, surrender to You, and return to You. We pray for Your mercy and grace. We thank You for salvation and justification by grace through faith in Christ, in Jesus’ name, Amen.