1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is a passage that should provide great comfort to every faithful Christian. In it, Paul was addressing a pressing question that the Thessalonians had: would they see their loved ones who had died in the Lord again? Paul’s emphatic answer was: Yes, they would see their loved ones again at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Likewise, if we remain faithful till death, we too will someday be reunited with our loved ones who have died in the Lord.
In the midst of these 6 verses are 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which is sometimes described as the “noisiest” passage in the Bible. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” For the rest of this article, let us examine the “noisiest” passage in the Bible to uncover some spiritual truths that should provide us with great comfort and reassurance.
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven…” – The Scriptures consistently affirm that Jesus will return some day. Though some may scoff and mock at the idea of Christ coming again (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-7), we would do well to heed His promise that He has gone to prepare a place, and that He will come again (John 14:1-3). Will we be ready when He returns?
“…with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…” – The Lord will not return secretly, as some have asserted. Jesus Christ is not secretly walking among us right now. When He returns, it will be a very NOISY and AUDIBLE event, that no one will miss! When He returns, it will be a VISIBLE event, for just as the apostles could see Him ascend into Heaven, He will return in a similar manner (Acts 1:11). When He returns, the whole earth and all the works in it will be burned up with fire (2 Peter 3:10). Brethren, do not be deceived by fables and stories asserting that Jesus will return secretly.
“…and the dead in Christ shall rise first…” – Those who have died in the Lord will not be left to rot in their graves. There will be a resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ (cf. John 5:28-29; cf. John 11:25-26) and the dead will rise! Though we are saddened over our loved ones who have died in the Lord, we do not need to be sorrowful like others which “have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). The proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ also serves as proof that there will be a resurrection of the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
“…then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds…” – What a grand reunion that will be! At the Second Coming, every single faithful person, both living and dead, will meet in Heaven. We will get to meet heroes of faith like Abraham and Moses, and we will get to meet faithful family members who had passed on before us. I do not claim to know how we will recognise each other since we will have different, spiritual bodies (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35), but I do know that the Scriptures teach that there will be personal recognition in the life to come (cf. Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:19-31). Are we motivated to remain faithful by the thought of this grand reunion to come?
“…to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” – What an exciting and comforting thought, to know that we can be with Jesus forever! The difficulties and problems we are experiencing in this life will melt away and be forgotten at the sight of our Glorious God who will wipe away all tears from our eyes, in the place with no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, because the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4). We will have the opportunity to worship our great God forevermore together with the angels round the throne of God – “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12) What a comforting thought, that if we remain faithful till the end of our life – “so shall we ever be with the Lord!”