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1 Thessalonians
Chapter 4

Theme: The Coming of Christ is an emotional and liberating hope to TRUE believers. The Coming of Christ is a purifying hope; a reassuring hope; a comforting hope.    

Is the Rapture Doctrine Taught in the New Testament?

The word rapture is NOT in the Bible. Opponents of this doctrine claim that the Rapture as we proclaim it, are corrupting the Word of God. Most churches, Bible scholars, evangelists, theologians and Christians DO believe in a coming Rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, is the Passage on which they base their beliefs on, in what happens when the Rapture occurs.

What IS the Rapture?

The Bible clearly tells us that BEFORE the Great Tribulation comes upon the earth, the Lord will remove TRUE believers from the Earth.
1 Thes. 4:16-18  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: 17 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (KJV)
1 Thes. 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (KJV)
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (KJV)
Rev. 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (KJV)

The word Rapture comes from the Greek translation of the Bible, the words "caught up" is the word "harpazo," which means to seize, catch away, pluck, pull, take by force.

WHO Is Jesus Coming For?

There is a gloomy warning here. NOT everyone shall be taken at the Rapture, as is very clear from the parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins (Mat.25:1-13). The idea here is this: Jesus IS coming for those who are eagerly watching for him.

Most often, ‘religious’ conversation is about WHO the Antichrist might be. Jesus is Coming for those who are eagerly waiting for HIM. That is what we should be thinking and talking about . . . that is what we should be LOOKING for . . . NOT wondering about who the evil Antichrist will be. My friend, IF you are a TRUE believer, you will NOT be here after the Rapture . . . and that is when the Antichrist shall appear, AFTER the Rapture. As soon as the Rapture takes place, the Tribulation shall begin (Dan.9:27), and it is not necessary for us to know WHO the Antichrist will be. Looking for Jesus’ Return: (Phil.3:20; Tit.2:13; 1 Thes.1:10; Heb.9:28; 10:27; 11:10. 12:2; 2 Pet.3:12-14; Jude 1:21)

As Christians should NOT to look for the Tribulation, or for the Antichrist, but instead for:
1 Thes. 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (KJV) . . . The wrath to come is the Great Tribulation (Mat.24:21).

Jesus is the pattern.

As it happened to Jesus, so too, it will happen to us. Those who have been conformed to His death, will also be conformed to His resurrection (Rom.8:29). Jesus is the pattern. We were shown a picture of the Rapture at the Rapture of Jesus.
Acts 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (KJV)

WHY do I think that the Rapture will take place BEFORE the beginning of the last seven years . . . the Great Tribulation?
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (KJV) . . . Sixty nine weeks have been fulfilled, ending in the Messiah being "cut off" (death on the cross). Shortly after the crucifixion of Christ Jesus, the "mystery" of the church age began a little while later at Pentecost. http://www.godcannotlie.org/eph_ch5.htm

What is a mystery in Scripture?

It is NOT a whodunit or a mystery story, and it is NOT something you wonder about: Was it the butler who committed the crime? A mystery in Scripture means that God is revealing something, that up to that time, He had not revealed. There are two elements which always enter into a New Testament mystery: #1. It cannot be discovered by man, for it is always a revelation from God; and #2. it is revealed at the right time and not concealed, and enough is revealed to establish the fact, without all the details being disclosed.

Paul explains that the church age was a "mystery" hidden from the prophets of old and only revealed after the Resurrection of Christ. The church age will close with the Rapture. After that, the story goes back to Israel to finish out the 70th week which is clearly stated to be determined upon Israel and Jerusalem. And then the Lord will return to rule and reign upon the Throne of David in Jerusalem.

See end of this chapter about when the Antichrist shall appear.

How Believers Are To Walk (1 Thes.4:1-12)

1 Thes. 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. (KJV)

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more . . . this section teaches how TRUE believers are to walk here on Earth in light of the Coming of Christ. It all is in that little word walk, which we find here and in verse 12. This is the direct feature of the hope of the Coming of the Lord. TRUE believers have a deep desire to look forward to the day when we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. But . . . Paul tells us in the time our feet are down here on the Earth, we need to do some walking, some RIGHT and proper walking! We must walk (live) in a way that will please God. We must keep improving, growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him (2 Pet.3:18). The WALK of the believer is very important. It is stressed in many portions of Scripture, and it is the emphasis here. A believer cannot do as he pleases; he must do as Christ commands (Jn.14:15,21,23).
Walking, believers’ conduct: (Rom.6:4; 8:1; 13:13; 2 Cor.1:12; 5:7; Gal.5:16; Eph.5:2; Phil.1:27; 3:16; Col.1:10; 2:6; 1 Tim.3:15; 4:12; 2 Tim.3:10; Heb.13:7,18; 1 Pet,1:17; 2 Pet.3:11; 1 Jn.1:7)

1 Thes. 4:2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. (KJV)

For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus . . . Paul gave some commandments to the Thessalonians; and the Lord Jesus also gave commandments. Some of these commandments are new commandments. New Commandment: (Jn.13:34; 1 Jn.2:7-8; 2 Jn.1:5).      
The Ten Commandments have NO part in a sinner's salvation, nor are they standard for Christian conduct. The purpose of the Ten Commandments is to take us by the hand, and bring us to the Cross, telling us that we NEED a Saviour. The Ten Commandments were NOT given to save us; they were given to show us that we are sinners and that we need a Saviour (Gal.3:24-25). That is their purpose.
The Commandments for Christian conduct, given to us by Jesus are: Mat. 22:36-39  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (KJV)
There are commandments for believers, and the standard for Christian conduct is on a much higher plane than the Ten Commandments. In chapter 5 we will find twenty-two commandments for believers given. A TRUE Christian life is NOT easy!
A question: IF man could not keep the Ten Commandments, HOW can he keep the higher commandments? The Bible makes it very clear that man was NOT able to keep the Ten Commandments (Rom.3:10-23). Israel transgressed these commandments time and time again.  http://hisservants.org/israel%27s_ten_failures_h_s.htm . . . She kept on keeping on in their disobedience, but, so do the Gentiles!

SO . . . IF we cannot keep the Ten Commandments, HOW can we to keep any higher commandments of Christian conduct? We CANNOT do it alone! This can be accomplished ONLY by the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 8) who dwells within the believer (Rom.8:9).
For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. Believers are not lawless. We should be disciplined, and we should obey Christ Jesus, and it should be a relationship motivated by love. John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments. (KJV)

1 Thes. 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: (KJV)

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication . . . sanctification is a wonderful word, but it is really misunderstood. In the Scriptures, the word sanctification has several different meanings. But, when it is used in reference to Christ, as it is here, it means that He has sanctified believers . . . meaning He has set us apart for God.
Sanctified: (Jn.17:17; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom.15:16; 1 Cor.1:2; 6:11; Eph.5:6; 1Thes.5:23; 1 Tim.4:5; 2 Tim.2:21; Heb.2:11; 10:10,14; 13:12; Jude 1:1).
Sanctification does NOT simply refer to a sinless state, but instead, that we have been set apart for God.
 2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (KJV) . . . Some of those holy men Peter spoke of have life stories that do NOT make them sound very holy! Moses, for instance, was a murderer (Ex.2:11). David, who wrote so many wonderful Psalms, was also a murderer (2 Sam.11:6-25). They were sinners . . . BUT . . . they were sanctified, holy, because they had been set aside for God.  
Sanctification of the believer is the work of the Spirit of God. There is a threefold feature of sanctification:
#1. Positional sanctification means that Christ has been made unto us sanctification. We are accepted in the Beloved, and we will never be more saved than at the very moment we put our trust in Christ. We are NEVER accepted because of who we are, but because of what Christ has done. This positional sanctification is perfection in Christ.
#2. Practical sanctification is the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce holiness in our walk, our conduct. This practical sanctification will NEVER be perfect as long as we are in these bodies with our old sinful flesh.
#3. Total sanctification will happen in the future when we are conformed to the image of Christ Jesus (Rom.8:29). Only then both the position and the practice of sanctification will be perfect.

The moment a lost sinner comes to Christ and accepts Christ as Saviour, that person is set aside for God's use. This is clearly taught in the Old Testament in the tabernacle. God taught the Old Testament believers great doctrinal truths through very simple, practical lessons. In the tabernacle there were vessels and instruments which were used in the sacrifices. After they had gone through the wilderness for 40 years, those pots and pans were well beaten and battered. BUT, God called them holy vessels. They were holy because they were set aside for the use of God. That is what made them holy. In the same way this applies to a person. When he comes to Christ, he is saved. He is redeemed; he belongs to Christ. Paul says, This is the will of God, even your sanctification. All those sanctified are set aside for a holy purpose, for God's use. EVERY child of God, not just preachers, missionaries or Christian workers, but every TRUE believer . . . is sanctified, is set aside for the use of God.
That ye should abstain from fornication . . . it was NOT only the Thessalonians who needed this warning from Paul. They were NOT the only ones who engaged in sins, especially the sins of the flesh. It was NOT only in Roman times that idolatry involved sins of sex. Today we see the rise of Satan worship, and the practice of the occult. And there is always sex involved in all of it. And today homosexuality is rampant! Has God changed His mind on the FACT that this is sin? NO! NO! NO! He has NOT changed (Rom.1:18-32). He shall punish ALL who do not repent, just as He punished Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.19:24).
Should a Christian strive for holiness? YES! We need to understand that it is only in Christ that we can ever be acceptable to God the Father (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12).

Fourteen requirements of the will of God and of sanctification (1 Thes.4:3-18):
#1. Abstain from fornication or all kinds of sex sins (1 Thes.4:3; Mat.5:32).
#2. Know how to possess the vessel in sanctification and honor (1 Thes.4:4).
#3. Not in the lust of concupiscence or strong sexual desire (1 Thes.4:5; Col.3:5). Here it means excessive sexual lust like that of the Gentiles who knew no bounds.
#4. That no man defraud his brother in any matter (1 Thes.4:6).
#5. Walk in holiness, not in uncleanness of sexual perversion (1 Thes,4:7; Rom.1:24).
#6. Do not despise men (1 Thes.4:8).
#7. Love one another (1 Thes.4:9; 1 Cor.13).
#8. Increase in love (1 Thes.4:10; 3:12).
#9. Study to be quiet (1 Thes.4:11; 2 Tim.2:15).
#10. Be diligent in business (1 Thes.4:11).
#11. Work with your hands (1 Thes.4:11; 1 Cor.4:12; Eph.4:28; 2 Thes.3:10).
#12. Walk honestly before men (1 Thes.4:12).
#13. Have a hope of His Coming (1 Thes.4:13-17).
#14. Comfort one another (1 Thes.4:18).

1 Thes. 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (KJV)

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour . . . Paul adds this as a means to prevent that sin. In sanctification, in chastity, and honour . . . as marriage is honorable to all men (Heb.3:4), so to live upright and virtuously in a married estate is honorable. For by whoredom (Eze.23), man gets dishonor, and his reproach shall not be wiped away (Pro.6:33). Some understand that vessel to be the body, which is the vessel of the soul.
Fornication is said above all other sins to be a sin against the body (1 Cor.6:18), and he that keeps his body pure possesses his vessel, keeps it under control; while by fornication we give it to a harlot . . . and that which is a member of Christ we make it the member of a harlot (1 Cor.6:15); and although the words are directed to the masculine sex, it seems that the female is meant as well. Ye should abstain from fornication is a duty that requires care, skill and being watchful against temptations. That is why Paul says that every man (and woman) may know how to possess his vessel (body) in sanctification. He adds, and in honor because ALL acts of uncleanness dishonor the body. Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: (KJV)

1 Thes. 4:5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: (KJV)

Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God . . . concupiscence is a strong, burning desire for sex. Any aggressive or fierceness of affection is called passion, whether it is love, or anger or desire. Concupiscence, or said passions should NOT occur to a wise man, and certainly not a TRUE Christian. Even as the Gentiles . . . this was, and is, a common vice among the heathen (Acts 15:20; Rom.1:29; Eph.4:17-19), as reported of missionaries everywhere.
Which know not God . . . (Rom.1:21,28; Eph.2:12).

1 Thes. 4:6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. (KJV)

That no man go beyond . . . this word means to go over, as a wall or mountain; to overpass certain limits, to transgress; to go too far, to go beyond right, to cheat or defraud. It is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. The idea of overreaching is that which is implied in its use here.
And defraud his brother in any matter . . . to oppress or overreach. It seems to mean take advantage of any one, to outwit, defraud to cheat. It is rendered got an advantage (2 Cor.2:11; defraud (2 Cor.7:2; 1 Thes.4:6); a gain (2 Cor.12:17-18). For the use of the adjective (1 Cor.5:10-11; 6:10; Eph.5:5); and the noun (Mk.7:22; Lk.12:15; Rom.1:29; 2 Cor.9:5; Eph.5:3; 1 Thes.2:5; 2 Pet.2:3,14). It is the word commonly used to mean covetousness. Taking advantage of, is the idea which it conveys here.
Because that the Lord is the avenger of all such . . . of all that are guilty of fraud; God will punish (Rom.12:19; Eph.6:9).
As we also have forewarned you and testified . . . no doubt when he was with them.

1 Thes. 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (KJV)

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness . . . when He called us to be His followers, it was not that we should lead lives of impurity, but of holiness. We should fulfil the purposes for which we were called into His Kingdom. The word uncleanness correctly means impurity, filth; and in a moral sense, lewdness, pollution, as opposed to chastity (Rom.1:24; 6:19; 2 Cor.12:21; Gal.5:19; Eph.4:19; 5:3; Col.3:5). Unto holiness . . . (Lev.11:44; Heb.12:14; 1 Pet.14-16).

1 Thes. 4:8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. (KJV)

He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God . . . despise means rejected. Whoever disregards such commands as these, which call him to a holy life, is really rejecting and disobeying God. Some might say that these were merely the precepts of man (Isa.29:13; Mat.15:9), and so it was not important whether they were obeyed or not. Paul assures them, in the most solemn manner, that although communicated to them by man, yet they were really the commands of God.
Who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit . . . Paul did NOT give these commands as his own, but as taught to him by the Spirit of God (1 Cor.2:10,13; 7:40; 12:3).

1 Thes. 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (KJV)

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you . . . Paul goes from chastity and justice to brotherly love. The statement Paul makes on love is quite amazing. A TRUE believer must have love for the brethren. This love is a supernatural love that is taught of God: The fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal.5:22). It is not an imaginary kind of love, it is real love that can only be produced in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. I believe that love is the identifying mark of a child of God.
For ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another . . . Paul says that he need not write to teach them that which they have already been taught of God (Jn.15:12,17).

1 Thes. 4:10  And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; (KJV)

And indeed ye do it . . . as a proof of the truth of their love for which he commended them, and that they were taught love by God, Paul said they profess it, but ye do it so (2 Cor.8:11). They perform the doing of it. Love is not an inactive word, but a word of action.
Toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia . . . was a large province, where there were planted many churches. Their love reached out to all that were brethren.
But we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more . . . but their love was not yet perfect, and so Paul begged them to abound more and more in love. Neither love, nor any other grace, is made perfect all at once; even those that are taught of God . . . they are learned by degrees. Love is a grace very suitable to the Gospel, and in their present suffering state, he especially encourages them to progress in it.

1 Thes. 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; (KJV)

And that ye study to be quiet . . . Paul encourages quietness and hard work. And to study to be quiet, because the thing may be difficult, especially in some circumstances. Quietness is what we should pursue with a holy ambition. Orderly, peaceful living in the practice of the calm virtues of life. No Christian should be involved with a mob; none should be identified with the popular excitements which lead to disorder and to the disregard of the laws.
And to do your own business . . . attend to their own concerns, without interfering with the affairs of others. The ban here is one of the beautiful precepts of Christianity, well adapted to promote the good order and the happiness of society. It prevents the rude and unauthorized prying into the affairs of others, to which so many are prone.
And to work with your own hands, as we commanded you . . . anyone who is consistently idle have very little concern to godliness, and condemns idleness. The same precept Paul gives to the Ephesians (Eph.4:28), not to steal, but to work with their hands, that they may not only eat their own bread (2 Thes.3:12), but have enough to give to him that lacks.
As we commanded you . . . when he was with them. He might have detected some reason for this commandment. By meddling in others' affairs, disorderly actions and idleness, they might dishonor their Christian profession among the heathen, which might be the chief reason of this commandment.

1 Thes. 4:12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. (KJV)

That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without . . . those not in the church (Col.4:5). Honestly means correctly, fittingly, in a proper manner (Rom.13:13; 1 Cor. 14:40). It does not refer here to just honesty in the transaction of business, but to their general treatment of those who were not professing Christians (unbelievers). They were to conduct themselves in all respects in a suitable manner, being honest with them; faithful to their engagements; to be kind and courteous in their associations with them; to show respect where it was due; and to try, in every way, to do good to them. There are few principles of religion more important than those which instruct Christians the duty of proper treatment of those who are not connected with the church.
And that ye may have lack of nothing . . . a TRUE child of God cannot do such questionable things because we are to "walk honestly toward them that are without." That means that everything that we do with unbelievers are to be painstakingly honest. We shall be judged, if we do not walk honestly. According to works: (Ps.62:12; Pro.24:12; 24:29; Lam.3:64; Mat.16:27; 2 Tim.4:14; 1 Pet.1:17; Rev.2:23; 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12). 

The Coming of Christ Is a Comforting Hope (1 Thes.4:13-18)

We now come to the next section of this Letter, a section which has been labeled one of the most important prophetic Passages in the Scriptures. It teaches the imminent (looming) and impending (forthcoming) Coming of Christ for His church. This does NOT mean the immediate or soon Coming of Christ, but means it shall absolutely happen, on God’s time clock, not ours. Paul did not want people to assume it would be in their own lifetime or shortly afterward. It has been over nineteen hundred years now. But to say that the Coming of Christ is imminent, means that it is approaching, and I believe that it is the very next event on God's program.

Paul makes it very clear that he believed in the imminent return of Christ. I think that Paul believed that the Lord Jesus could come in his lifetime. He expressed this thought: Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (KJV)

Paul labeled this Coming of Christ for His church, when we are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, the Rapture of the church. There are those today who hold a different viewpoint. They say the Bible does not teach the Rapture and that one cannot find that word in the New Testament. The word rapture may not be found in the Bible, but its doctrine certainly is, and the point is that the Rapture of the church could take place at any moment! It is the very next event to happen in the program of God. Are you ready? Are you watching? (Mat.24:42-44; 25:13; Mk.13:33-37).

The main thought here is not the Rapture, the specific question Paul is answering is: What about believers who have died before the Rapture has taken place? We need to review the background of this Letter to understand why this question was so important to the Thessalonian believers. Paul went to Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:2), and was there less than a month. In that month, he performed an enormous task, doing the work of a missionary. He preached the Gospel, converts were made, and established a church. Then he taught these new believers the great Truths of the Christian faith. It is very interesting that he even taught them of the Rapture of the church.

It is clear that Paul taught the Thessalonians that the Rapture of the church might occur at any moment, that it was imminent. When Paul left Thessalonica; he went to Berea, established a church and was there for some time. Then he took a ship and went to Athens. We don't know how long he was there either. He was waiting for Timothy and Silas to bring word from Thessalonica. They didn't come, and he went down to Corinth. After he was there for a while, Timothy and Silas came. They came with questions from the Thessalonians to ask of Paul. So Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians to encourage them and to answer their specific questions with regard to the Rapture of the church. During the time after Paul had left them, some of the saints in Thessalonica had died. They wondered if they had missed the Rapture.

Clearly Paul had taught them the imminent Coming of Christ, or this question would not have come up. Paul had told them that the Lord Jesus might come at any moment. These saints had died, and the Lord had not come . . . their question: had they missed the Rapture? What would happen to them? Paul gives the answer to this question in this Letter.

There is a serious danger today in setting dates for the Coming of the Lord. Some do this and it is dangerous because NO one knows when Jesus will return. The Lord said that we do not know the hour He will come. We simply must trust His Words and WATCH! Are you ready? Are you watching? (Mat.24:42-44; 25:13; Mk.13:33-37). When dates are set, they rob believers of the opportunity of looking for Him to come.

The Thessalonians were concerned about the saints who had died before the Rapture had taken place. We need to keep that in mind as we go through the rest of this chapter.

1 Thes. 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (KJV)

I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren . . .  I love the way Paul says that. We can see it also in the Corinthian Letters (1 Cor.10:1; 12:1; 2 Cor.1:8; 2:11).
Concerning them which are asleep . . . Paul is referring to the death of the body. This NEVER refers to the soul or the spirit of man (soul sleep), because the spirit of man does not die.
See Different deaths: http://www.hisservants.org/death_then_what_1.1.htm
There are several reasons that the death of the body is spoken of as being asleep.
#. There is a similarity between sleep and death. A dead body and a sleeping body are actually very similar. I'm sure you have been to a funeral where someone has said that So-and-so looks just as if he were asleep. In a way this is true . . . the body of a believer is asleep. Sleep is temporary; but death is also temporary. Sleep has its waking; death has its resurrection. It is not that life is existence and death is non-existence.
#2. The word asleep means to lie down. And the very interesting thing is that the word for resurrection is a word that refers only to the body.
#3. The Bible teaches that the body returns to the dust from which it was created, but the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecc.12:7). Even the Old Testament teaches this. The dust . . . is our body (Gen.3:19). It was the body that was taken from the dust, and then God breathed into man the breath of life, or the spirit. It is the body that will go to sleep until the resurrection, ONLY the body. The spirit of a believer will return to God.
The spirit or the soul does NOT die, and therefore the spirit or the soul is NOT raised. Only the body can lie down in death, and only the body can stand up in resurrection. This is quite obvious when Paul says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor.5:8). The only thing that is carried over in resurrection is the body. It's one kind of body when it dies, a natural body, a corrupt body (1 Cor.15:42). It's raised a body, but a spiritual body, an incorrupt body, dominated now by the spirit . . . BUT it is still a body.
Daniel is another writer who spoke of the death of the body as sleep. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan.12:1).
That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope . . . the pagan world had no hope; so for them death was a fearful thing. In Thessalonica they have found an inscription that said: "After death no reviving, after the grave no meeting again." A Greek poet wrote: "Hopes are among the living; the dead are without hope." That was the belief of the ancient world. It is very pessimistic and sad. Believers are NOT to sorrow as the pagans. A Christian has sorrow at the death of a loved one, but he also has hope.

Eight Christian Hopes:

# 1. Salvation (Rom.8:20-25; 15:4,13; 1 Thes.5:8; 2 Thes.2:16; 1 Pet.1)
#2. Righteousness (Gal.5:5)
#3. God's calling (Eph.1:18; 4:4)
#4. Eternal inheritance (Col.1:5; Eph.1:11-18; Heb.9:15; 1 Pet.1:4)
#5. God's glory (Rom.5:1-5; Col.1:27)
#6. Resurrection (Acts 23:6; 24:15; 1 Thes.4:13; Tit.2:13; 1 Jn.3:3)
#7. Eternal life (1 Cor.13:13’ 15:19; Eph.2:12; Col.1:23; Tit.1:2; 3:7; Heb.3:6; 6:11,18-19; 7:19; 1 Pet.1:3-13)
#8. TRUE Believers safe in Heaven (1 Thes.2:19)

1 Thes. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (KJV)

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him . . . Paul says that "Jesus died and rose again." It does not say Jesus slept. He died. How true this is! There are three kinds of death in Scripture. There is physical death, which is the separation of the spirit from the body. That is what we ordinarily call death. Adam didn't actually die physically until 930 years after the Fall.
There is also spiritual death. Paul says that to be carnally minded is death (Rom.8:6), which means separation from God. This is what happened to man in the Garden of Eden when God said that man would die in the day he ate of the fruit. Man became separated from God. Adam hid from God; he ran from God when God came into the garden, because there was now a separation between them. Adam did die the day he ate the fruit . . . a spiritual death. Paul describes this spiritual death. Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (KJV)
In reality, there are millions now living who will never die (TRUE believers) . . . while on the other hand . . . there are millions now living who are already dead! (wicked dead Rev.20:14).
See Different Deaths: http://www.hisservants.org/death_then_what_1.1.htm

1 Thes. 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (KJV)

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord . . .  Paul is assuring them that he is giving God's answer to their question. Paul knows that they had been worrying about those who had died before the Rapture and wants them to know that the dead in Christ will absolutely have a part in the Rapture. All God’s TRUE children who have already died (physically), whose bodies now sleep, shall bethe first ones to go to meet Jesus in the air! And my dear friend . . . there will NOT be even one who will be forgotten!
We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep . . .  the word prevent is an old English word meaning precede. Those who are still living when Christ Jesus appears in the clouds, who are alive at the time of the Rapture, will not go ahead of them who have already died. The dead in Christ will go first!

1 Thes. 4:16 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: (KJV)

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven . . . I love this! Jesus, Himself, shall come for us! He will NOT send angels to do this job! When He comes at the Second Coming (Rev.19:11-21; Zec.14:1-5) to the Earth to establish His Kingdom, He will send His angels to the four corners of the Earth to gather the elect, who will be both Israelites and Gentiles who enter the Kingdom. There is NO angel ministry connected with the Rapture of the church. Angels announced the birth of Christ, but how was He announced? As the Son of David, the newborn King. He was announced as a King. The wise men wanted to know where they could find Him who was born King of the Jews. In contrast to this, at the establishment of the church on the Day of Pentecost, there were NO angels. The Holy Spirit Himself came down. When the Lord Jesus takes His church out of the world, the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven. There will be NO angels. Angels are connected with Israel but NOT with the church.
He will descend from heaven with a shout . . . meaning a voice of command, the same voice Jesus used when He stood at the tomb of Lazarus and said, "Lazarus, come forth" (Jn.11:43).
And the voice of the archangel . . . WHOA! Isn't that an angel connected with the Rapture? No, it is Jesus’ Voice that will be LIKE the voice of an archangel, meaning the quality of His voice, the majesty and the authority of it.
And with the trump of God . . . will there be trumpets there? No, I think it is His voice that will be like a trumpet. How can we be sure of this? Rev. 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (KJV) . . . John said Jesus’ Voice sounded like a trumpet! John turned to see who it was, and he saw the glorified Christ. It is the voice of the glorified Christ that is like the sound of a trumpet.

See: Rapture, Second Coming: http://www.hisservants.org/rapture,_second_coming_h_s.htm

The Lord Jesus will NOT need the help of Gabriel. Do you think the Lord Jesus needed Gabriel to come and help Him raise Lazarus from the dead? The Lord Jesus will NOT need anyone to help Him. When He calls His church, their bodies will come up out of the graves. There are those who ask: What about those burned to death? What about those cremated? What about those lost at sea? To me, these are stupid questions! WHO was it that created these bodies, out of the dust of the ground? Don’t you think He can restore those supposed destroyed bodies? With God, all things are possible (Mk.9:23).

1 Thes. 4:17 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. (KJV)

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 . . . caught up means to grab quickly, snatch up, to lift, transport or rapture. The Rapture shall be a very orderly procedure. The dead will rise first. Stephen, the first martyr, shall come out of the grave, along with the  apostles and all those millions who have laid down their lives for Jesus. They will just keep coming from right down through the centuries. Finally, IF we are alive at that time, we will get our turn! I truly do think that the vast majority of the church has already gone through the doorway of physical death. Personally, I cannot see that it will be too much longer for Jesus to come and take us out in the Rapture before God’s judgment in the Tribulation. NO! I am NOT saying I know when He shall come, I do NON know! . . . I am saying that I think the world is getting worse and worse, like in the days before the Flood (Gen.6:5-7), and I think God shall lower the boom one day soon on this wicked and immoral world, just as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.19:24-28). God is certainly a God of mercy, or He would have done so before now.
If you have not accepted Jesus as your Saviour and Lord, please do so before it is too late.
http://www.hisservants.org/truth_about_salvation_h_s.htm
http://www.godcannotlie.org/saving_faith.htm
http://www.godcannotlie.org/gospel_of_jesus_christ.htm
http://www.godcannotlie.org/true_children_of_god.htm

1 Thes. 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (KJV)

Wherefore comfort one another with these words . . . Paul does not say we should terrify one another with these words. We should NOT be afraid of the Rapture! The Rapture should be a comfort to us, and we should pass our comforting hope on to others. The thoughts, that those which sleep in Jesus shall rise again, and that we shall meet them again, and we and they shall be for ever with the Lord together, are a great relief against the sorrows of their departed loved ones. And the comforts arising, may serve to support us under other sorrows as well as these, which the apostle also might intend in the words.

Ten Purposes for the Rapture

#1. To receive saints to Himself as promised (1 Thes.4:17; Jn.14:1-3; Eph.5:27)
#2. To separate and resurrect the dead in Christ from among the wicked dead (1 Thes.4:14-17; Phil.3:11; Rev.20:4-6)
#3. To take saints to Heaven to live in the New Jerusalem and receive rewards due them, or losss of rewards they could have had (1 Thes. 3:13; 4:17; Jn.14:1-3; 1 Cor.3:13-15; 2 Cor.5:10; Heb.12:22-23; Rev. 19:1-10; 21:9-10)
#4. To change bodies of saints from corruption to incorruption and immortality (1 Thes.4:16-17; 1 Cor.15:35-58; Phil.3:21)
#5. To present saints before God (1 Thes.3:13; 4:17; Jn.14:1-3; Jude 1:24; Rev.19:1-10)
#6. To make saints perfect in body, soul and spirit (1 Thes.4:16-17; 5:23; Phil.3:21)
#7. To receive the fruit of the early and latter rain (Jam.5:7; Jn.14:1-3)
#8. To remove the saints before the Great Tribulation (1 Thes.1:10; Rev.3:10; 1 Thes.4:16-17; 5:9)
#9. To remove the One who hinders lawlessness (2 Thes.2:7; Rev.4:1)
#10. To reveal the Antichrist (Dan.7:8; 8:9; 9:26-27; 2 Thes.2:3; 1 Jn.2:18; :3; 2 Jn.1:7)

The Timing of the Antichrist’s Rise

Although we may be able to imagine in our minds what the Antichrist will be like and even some aspects of what will happen when he appears, we still do not know the timing of his coming with respect to other events. In studying end-times prophecy, it is always important to keep the overall picture in focus, especially when concentrating on one particular event. It is easy to get isolated from other prophecies, and that can bring on wrong conclusions, which can results that may not go along with the Bible.

Those who have tried to identify the Antichrist as simply the latest evil leader to arise in a troubled world, have fallen into this trap. They understand that the man of sin (2 Thes.2:3,8-10; Dan.7:25; Rev.13:11-18), will be a tremendous leader and extremely wicked in all his ways, but they lose sight of the fact that the Bible provides us with more thorough details; information that does not allow wrong interpretations.

Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (KJV) . . . Although this verse was buried within the prophecies of Israel’s future, it nevertheless contains very important information concerning the rise of the Antichrist. The events within this one verse describe perfectly the major events of the Antichrist’s reign, and they also relate perfectly with other major prophecies dealing with him. This prophecy describes the final seven-year period, the Tribulation Period, which is divided into two 3-1/2 year segments, and is actually marked in time by the actions of the Antichrist.  Each event within Daniel’s Seventieth Week can be related somehow to what is prophesied to happen as a result of the Antichrist’s leadership. A week is 7 years.

So . . . in the above prophecy, the Bible gives details regarding the beginning, the middle and end of the Antichrist’s kingdom. His reign will start when he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (a peace treaty with Israel for 7 years), and probably set up the new one-world government. I believe that this shall be AFTER the church has been removed (raptured). As soon as all the Raptured saints have been safely removed from Earth by Jesus, the Tribulation will begin. Jesus will not let TRUE believers here on Earth during the Tribulation. Rev. 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (KJV)

And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease . . . in the middle of the peace treaty with Israel, Antichrist will abruptly discontinue the sacrifices in the rebuilt Jewish Temple which will have been built, and he shall proclaim himself to be God in the Holy of Holies. This “abomination”, as the Lord calls it, will quickly cause the entire world to become a desolate wasteland of destruction.

Daniel finishes the prophecy by saying that the judgment of God will ultimately be poured out upon he who caused the desolation.

If we combine this prophecy with what was said in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts (Dan.7), we have the information needed to identify the Antichrist when he arrives. In that section, we saw that the “little horn” will uproot three of the first ten horns in his ascent to power. Adding this information to what is contained in the above prophecy, we find that after the Antichrist conquers three of the ten countries of the alliance he will then sign a world-wide peace treaty establishing his empire. These events mark the initial actions of the Antichrist in the world and will in the end help identify him when he arises.

With this in mind, the timing of his coming must correspond to the start of the final seven years of the history of this age . . . or the last seven years before Christ Returns (Rev.19:11-21; Zec.14:1-5).  Before that period (Tribulation) begins, his identity will remain efficiently hidden by the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Thes.2:6). Any guesswork on our part concerning who the Antichrist might be is pure stupidity. Right now we could not identify him even if we wanted to, because the Lord has simply not yet allowed him to be revealed.

Let us, as TRUE Christians, be wise and look for the Coming of Christ in the clouds (1 Thes.4:13-18).

1 Thessalonians

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