Q. In the posting of April 23, you addressed a question about the validity of the Rapture. While I was reading in that portion of Scripture, the phrase “to the coming of the Lord” from verse 15 of 1 Thessalonians 4 caught my attention. Reading the verse from the beginning, it reads “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.” My question is what does Paul mean when he says those who remain “to the coming of the Lord…” Is this a timing statement?
A. Paul was responding to a question the believers in Thessalonica had posed to him. From 1 Thes. 4:13-14 it appears they were afraid that that those who died before the Lord returns for us would miss out on the rapture. Paul reassured them that when Jesus comes for the living He will bring the spirits of the dead with Him (1 Thes. 4:14). Then in 1 Thes. 4:15-17 he said not only will the living not precede the dead, but the dead will receive their resurrection bodies first and after that we who are left and are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
In 1 Thes. 4: 15-17 Paul didn’t explain the timing of the rapture relative to other end times events because he had already done so in 1 Thes. 1:10 where he said Jesus will rescue us from the coming wrath. There are two different Greek words that can be translated “from.” This one means “out of ” and refers to both time and place. Therefore Jesus will take us out of both the time and the place of the end times judgments.