Q. To my highly valued workman of God’s Word, do you have any insight on a point of curiosity on the rapture? Paul makes it perfectly clear that the rapture will happen in the twinkling of an eye. Yet, he also clearly indicates that the dead in Christ will rise first, followed by those still alive. Since no human could distinguish “first” then “second” if it all happens in a “twinkling,” is there another layer of understanding to being told that the dead shall go before the living?
A. Some commentators have facetiously explained that if we all get to heaven at the same time then the dead have to rise first because they’ve got 6 feet farther to go. But here’s what I think happened.
Paul had been asked if believers who died before the rapture would miss out on the promises to the Church (1 Thes. 4:13-14). Paul’s answer was not only would they not miss out, they’ll be the first to go. (1 Thes. 4:16-17) I think it was was more of a reassurance for the living than a noticeable head start for the dead.