Q. Paul said the dead in Christ will rise first and after that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes 4:16-17). Do you have any thoughts as to why the dead rise first? It seems to me that God can make both the dead and those alive change into perfect bodies at the same time.
A. Someone once joked that the dead will rise first because they have six feet further to go!
If you back up to 1 Thes. 4:13 and begin reading there you can see that Paul was responding to a concern that believers who had died would miss out on the rapture. In effect Paul was saying, not only will they not miss out, they’ll be the first to receive their resurrection bodies. He said God will bring the spirits of those who have died with Jesus so they can receive resurrection bodies first and then the living believers will be changed.
In 1 Cor. 15:51-53 Paul said this will all happen in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, so for all practical purposes it is a single event that will be over before anyone realizes it has begun.