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1. Continued growth 4:1-2
In this last major section of the epistle, introduced by "Finally," Paul urged his readers to continue walking (behaving day by day) as the missionaries had instructed them (cf. Galatians 5:25). They needed to "excel still more." The highest motive is to "please God" by a life of obedience to His "commandments." These express His will and chart a safe course for the Christian by leading him or her safely to the goal of spiritual maturity. "To walk and please God," means "to walk so as to please God" (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:15).
"When a man is saved by the work of Christ for him it does not lie open before him as a matter for his completely free decision whether he will serve God or not. He has been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). He has become the slave of Christ. Christian service is not an optional extra for those who like that kind of thing. It is a compelling obligation which lies upon each one of the redeemed." [Note: Morris, The First . . ., pp. 118-19.]
This does not mean, however, that every Christian should serve God in the same particular vocation.
A. Christian living 4:1-12
Paul used the opportunity this epistle afforded him to give his readers basic instruction concerning Christian living. He did this to promote their maturation in Christ and to guard them from error (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:10).
III. PRACTICAL INSTRUCTIONS AND EXHORTATIONS 4:1-5:24
The second major part of this epistle contains instructions and exhortations about Christian living in general, the Rapture, personal watchfulness, church life, and individual behavior. All of this is vital for believers who are undergoing opposition for their faith.
The will of God for the Christian is clear. Positively it is sanctification, namely, a life set apart from sin unto God. Negatively it involves abstinence (self-denial) from all kinds of sexual behavior that is outside the prescribed will of God including adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, etc. Rather than participating in these acts the believer should learn how to control his or her body and its passions in sanctification and with honor. We should not behave lustfully like Gentiles who do not have special revelation of God and His will. The Greeks practiced sexual immorality commonly and even incorporated it into their religious practices.
"Pagan religion did not demand sexual purity of its devotees, the gods and goddesses being grossly immoral. Priestesses were in the temples for the service of the men who came." [Note: Robertson, 4:28.]
"Long ago Demosthenes had written: ’We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body; we keep wives for the begetting of children and for the faithful guardianship of our homes.’ So long as a man supported his wife and family there was no shame whatsoever in extra-marital relationships." [Note: Barclay, p. 231.]
"Chastity is not the whole of sanctification, but it is an important element in it . . ." [Note: Bruce, p. 82.]
Another less probable interpretation of "possess his own vessel" (1 Thessalonians 4:4) sees the vessel as the wife of the addressee. [Note: Thomas, p. 271; footnote in NIV.] This view takes ktasthai ("possess") as "acquire," its normal meaning, and skeuos ("vessel") as "wife." The use of skeuos, "vessel," to describe one’s body is more common in Greek writings, and its use to describe a woman or wife is more common in Jewish writings. Elsewhere Paul never used skeuos to describe a wife but gune, "woman." [Note: Martin, p. 125.] He used skeuos of one’s own body elsewhere (Romans 9:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:7; cf. 1 Samuel 21:5). Ktasthai can refer to one’s treatment of himself as well as his wife.
2. Sexual purity 4:3-8
This section opens and closes with explicit references to the will of God.
Sexual immorality is wrong not only because it transgresses the will of God, but because it injures the partner in sex. It brings God’s judgment down on two people, not just one, and it defrauds the partner of God’s blessing. Paul probably had the Lord’s future judgement of believers in view rather than His present discipline (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17).
The general principle the Thessalonians were to keep in mind was that God’s purpose for all Christians is not impurity but purity. It is a life set apart from sin unto holiness (cf. Ephesians 2:10).
To reject these exhortations amounted to rejecting God, not just the Apostle Paul. Lest someone think that this standard is impossibly high, Paul reminded his readers that God has given His Holy Spirit to all believers to enable us to do God’s will (cf. Galatians 5:22-23).
"While Paul deals with sexual immorality in other letters, most notably 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, nowhere does he employ such coercive language to enforce proper Christian conduct. The serious and even threatening tone of 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8 suggests very strongly that Paul was dealing with a problem that had actually emerged in the community at Thessalonica and that he viewed with considerable concern." [Note: Wanamaker, pp. 158-59.]
Whereas the previous exhortation to avoid sexual immorality is a negative prohibition, this one is a positive encouragement. The Thessalonians needed instruction from Paul concerning their sexual behavior. However, God Himself had taught them by His Spirit to love one another (cf. Galatians 5:22).
3. Brotherly love 4:9-12
Paul’s words were only encouragements to maintain the loving behavior that they had learned and had manifested already. The Greek text has one command, "we urge," an object, "you," followed by four infinitives (1 Thessalonians 4:10 b, 11), and a final clause that gives the intended outcome (1 Thessalonians 4:12). Paul’s readers demonstrated brotherly love by reaching out to other needy Christians who lived in their province. They did respond to this charge and reached out still farther. This is clear from 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.
"Christianity sprang up in a land and culture where clan ties were strong and society was more corporate than individualistic. Not so the Greco-Roman culture; hence, Paul’s constant emphasis on love." [Note: Hubbard, p. 1354.]
Three aspects of behavior demonstrate love for others. First, a person who leads a restful rather than a frantic life avoids disturbing the lives of others. He or she also enjoys life more himself or herself. Second, one who tends to his own affairs does not meddle in the business of others. Third, the person who works to provide for his or her own needs and the needs of his or her family does not put a burden on others to support him or her. Greek culture degraded manual labor, but Christianity together with Judaism viewed it as an honorable pursuit (cf. Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:17). [Note: Thomas, p. 274.]
". . . it was not Paul’s intent that the church disrupt society or overthrow governments. Rather, he encouraged Christians to be good citizens and exemplary members of their families and of their society but to do so in a manner consistent with the teachings of Christ. Only in this sense was the Pauline gospel intended to change society. It set out to change the individuals who made up society while awaiting that climactic event when the power of God would truly change the world forever." [Note: Martin, p. 138.]
Such behavior not only results in the Christian meeting his or her own needs, but it meets with the approval and admiration of non-believers who observe him or her.
Paul wrote that to be uninformed about the future as a Christian is not good, even though some in our day say that eschatology is unimportant. Those "asleep" are the dead in Christ (cf. Mark 5:39; John 11:11). "Cemetery" (koimeterion) comes from the word used here (koimao) and means "a place of sleep." The ancients commonly used "sleep" as a euphemism for "death" (e.g., 1 Kings 2:10). [Note: Bruce, p. 95; Martin, p. 143; Wanamaker, p. 167.] Knowing the future of believers who have died gives hope in the midst of grief. Paul did not deny that the death of a believer brings grief to his or her loved ones (cf. John 11:35). Nevertheless he insisted that Christians need not grieve as those who have no hope grieve.
"Aeschylus wrote, ’Once a man dies there is no resurrection.’ Theocritus wrote, ’There is hope for those who are alive, but those who have died are without hope.’ Catullus wrote, ’When once our brief light sets, there is one perpetual night through which we must sleep.’" [Note: Barclay, p. 235.]
"The risen Lord robbed death of its sting and horror for the believer and has transformed it into sleep for those in Christ." [Note: Hiebert, p. 188. Cf. Philippians 1:23.]
Pretribulationists and posttribulationists agree that the Thessalonian believers were grieving for two reasons. They grieved because their loved ones had died and because they thought the resurrection of dead Christians would take place after the Rapture. Pretribulationists believe the Thessalonians erroneously thought this resurrection would follow the Tribulation. Some posttribulationists believe the Thessalonians incorrectly thought that this resurrection would take place at the end of the Millennium. [Note: E.g., Robert Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, p. 101.] Both of these conclusions rest on the interpretation of other passages that indicate the time of the Rapture. It was not the resurrection as such that disturbed the Thessalonians but the fact that they might not see their departed brethren for a long time that did. Specifically it was the fact that their dead fellow Christians might not participate in the Rapture with them that upset them. They apparently thought that one had to be alive to participate in the Rapture. [Note: Wanamaker, pp. 169, 172. See also Joseph Plevnik, "The Taking Up of the Faithful and the Resurrection of the Dead in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46 (1984):281.]
B. The Rapture 4:13-18
Paul next turned to another subject on which his readers needed instruction in view of their newness in Christ (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:10). He outlined the immediate hope of his readers. He did this to explain that those of their number who had died, or would die in Christ, would share in His glory with those who were living when He returned. This pericope deals with the relation of their dead brethren to Christ’s return.
"It would seem that some, at least, of the Thessalonians had understood him to say that all who believed would see the Parousia; but now some believers had died and they had begun to wonder about them." [Note: Morris, The Epistles . . ., p. 83.]
The time of the Rapture has been a matter of disagreement among conservative interpreters. Some believe it will take place before the Tribulation (pretribulationists). Others believe that it will take place after the Tribulation (posttribulationists). Others conclude that it will take place during the Tribulation (midtribulationists). Still others hold that the Lord will catch away only some Christians, not all (partial rapturists). What does 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 reveal about the time of the Rapture? How do advocates of the various schools of interpretation cited interpret these verses? 1 Thessalonians 4, 5 are "probably the most important passages dealing with the Rapture." [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 94.] Other key New Testament passages that deal with the Rapture are John 14:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.
I believe it is fair to say that more pretribulationists base their belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation on 1 Thessalonians 4 than on any other one passage of Scripture. This passage also contains more detail about the Rapture than any other one. It has major significance. All conservative interpreters agree that the translation of living Christians and the resurrection of dead Christians will take place at the same time. On this issue there is agreement regardless of when the Rapture will occur in relation to the Tribulation.
We could translate "If" "Since." This word introduces a first class condition in the Greek text, which in this case is a condition true to reality. The death and resurrection of Christ are among the best attested facts of history. [Note: See Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone?] Furthermore the Scriptures predicted these events before they occurred. Therefore we can be equally certain that the events of the Rapture, which Paul predicted here, will also happen. Paul told his readers that God would bring the spirits of Christians who had died back with Jesus when He returned for the saints still living on earth. It is only those who have died "in Jesus" (saints "in Christ," i.e., Christians as contrasted with all the saved of all ages) who will accompany our Lord. The terms "in Christ" and "in Jesus" when used of believers consistently describe believers who are members of the body of Christ, the church.
Pretribulationists identify this return of Christ with the Rapture that, we believe, will occur before the Tribulation. Posttribulationists contend that this return of Christ (the Rapture) will occur at the end of the Tribulation just before the second coming of Christ.
Paul further stressed the truth of his teaching (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 a) by explaining that it was a revelation from the Lord, not just his opinion. Paul expected to be in the company of the living when Christ returned. He believed in an imminent Rapture, one preceding the Tribulation. Even some amillennialists acknowledge this. [Note: E.g., Morris, The First . . ., p. 136.] (Amillennialists and postmillennialists are typically also posttribulationists, though not all posttribulationists are amillennialists or postmillennialists. Some are premillennialists.) The "coming" (Gr. parousia, lit. "appearing") of Christ is His appearing in the clouds (cf. Acts 1:11). It is not His second coming following the Tribulation, the coming at which time He will remain on the earth, set up His earthly kingdom, and reign for 1,000 years (cf. Revelation 19:11-21). The differences in the descriptions of these comings present them as separate events (cf. Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Some posttribulationists have asserted that the "word of the Lord" referred to in this verse is what Jesus taught in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:30-31; Luke 17:34-35). That was His revelation concerning His second coming, which they believe will follow the Rapture immediately. [Note: E.g., J. Barton Payne, The Imminent Appearing of Christ, p. 68; and Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of Christ, p. 140, cf. pp. 267-68.] Pretribulationists, on the other hand, believe "the word of the Lord" is not a reference to what Jesus taught in the Olivet Discourse. Most pretribulationists see no reference to the Rapture in the Olivet Discourse. We take "the word of the Lord" as referring to revelation Jesus gave Paul that the Gospels do not record, as did some posttribulationists. [Note: E.g., Ladd, pp. 72-73; and Gundry, p. 102.] In short, we cannot identify "the word of the Lord" certainly with Jesus’ teaching concerning His second coming recorded in the Gospels.
This leads to another question. Are there any prophesied events that must take place before the Rapture occurs? Posttribulationists say there are, namely, the events of the Tribulation (Daniel’s seventieth week) and preparations for the second coming of Christ (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24; Revelation 4-18). Pretribulationists say there are no events that God predicted would take place before the translation of the saints in the passages that speak of that translation (i.e., the Rapture).
The fact that the living will have no advantage over the dead when Christ returns makes excessive sorrow for dead Christians, beyond the sorrow connected with their dying, unjustified.
A supernatural announcement will precede the Lord Jesus’ return for His own. God will announce the event with a shout, an angelic voice, and a trumpet blast. Probably believers will hear them if not all people living on the earth. These may be three descriptions of one event or three separate events. It appears that these three events will take place literally (cf. Acts 1:9; 1 Corinthians 15:52). In any case, God will herald the return of Christ from heaven. Note that only the dead "in Christ" experience resurrection. That is, God will reunite their resurrected, glorified bodies with their spirits (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
Many posttribulationists identify this trumpet blast with the one that will announce Christ’s second coming (Matthew 24:31) or with one of the trumpet blasts that heralds judgments coming on the world in the Tribulation (Revelation 8:2; Revelation 8:7-8; Revelation 8:10; Revelation 8:12; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 9:13; Revelation 11:15). Pretribulationists believe this must be a different trumpet blast since the Rapture will precede the Tribulation. [Note: See Showers, pp. 259-67.] One’s interpretation of this event will rest on when he or she believes the Rapture will take place relative to the Tribulation.
Then God will catch up the saints alive on the earth into the air and unite us forever with Christ. The word in the Latin Vulgate translated "caught up" is rapturo from which the term "Rapture" comes. In Greek it is harpazo (cf. Acts 8:39; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4). Living saints will experience translation-their bodies will become immortal-and saints who have died will experience resurrection with immortal bodies. Both kinds of Christians will meet (Gr. apantesis, cf. Matthew 25:6; Acts 28:15) in the air with Christ with whom we will remain never to experience separation from Him. Since we will always be with the Lord from then on we will return to earth with Him at His second coming, participate in His earthly millennial kingdom with Him, and finally dwell with Him in the new heavens and earth. Old Testament believers will evidently experience resurrection at the end of the Tribulation (Daniel 12:1-13; Isaiah 26:13-19). [Note: See John F. Walvoord, "The Resurrection of Israel," Bibliotheca Sacra 124:493 (January-March 1967):3-15.] Probably Paul included himself in the living group because he believed that the Lord’s return was imminent. He set an example of expectancy for the church of all ages. [Note: J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of Paul, p. 67.]
Why will God snatch Christians up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air? Pretribulationists answer that we will go with Christ to heaven where we will abide with Him in the place He has prepared for us there (John 14:1-3). We will receive our rewards at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and await our return with Him at His second coming (Revelation 19:14). Thus we will spend the seven-year Tribulation with the Lord in heaven, not on the earth. Posttribulationists respond that Christ never actually returns to the earth in such a view. He has to change direction and return to heaven immediately. This seems unnatural to them. Pretribulationists say this is not unusual in view of what Jesus said about His coming to take His bride, the church, to His Father’s house (John 14:3).
Posttribulationists say God will snatch Christians up to meet Christ in the air to join Him as He proceeds to the earth to set up His kingdom. [Note: Ladd, p. 78.] Pretribulationists point out that it is even more unnatural for Christians to change direction and return to earth immediately than it is for Christ to change direction and return to heaven (cf. John 14:1-3).
"A meeting in the air is pointless unless the saints continue on to heaven with the Lord who has come out to meet them." [Note: Thomas, p. 279. Cf. George Milligan, St. Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians, p. 61.]
Most amillennialists affirm that this catching up will result in Christians going to heaven and not ever returning to the earth, as the following quotation shows.
"Those who meet the Lord in the air (the space between the earth and the heavens in Jewish cosmology) are caught up in a heavenly ascent by the clouds without any indication that they then return to earth." [Note: Wanamaker, p. 175.]
Most amillennialists, of course, do not believe that there will be an earthly messianic (millennial) reign for Christians or Christ to return to the earth to participate in. Barclay took this section as poetry, a seer’s vision that the reader should not take literally. [Note: Barclay, p. 236.]
Posttribulationists believe that since the Scriptures elsewhere present the Rapture as taking place at the end of the Tribulation, they say, it must be Christians who change direction in mid-air rather than Christ.
Are there any other passages of Scripture that clarify when this translation of living saints will occur? Both pretribulationists and posttribulationists agree that this event will happen at the same time as a resurrection of believers from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). However we disagree about what resurrection is in view. Some posttribulationists identify this resurrection with one that will take place at Christ’s second coming. [Note: E.g., Reese, pp. 214-15; Gundry, pp. 134-39.] Some of them hold that this resurrection is "the first resurrection" (Revelation 20:4-5) and that no resurrection will precede this one, specifically one before the Tribulation. [Note: E.g., Ladd, p. 82.] However, pretribulationists point out that there has already been at least one resurrection, namely, Christ’s. The resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus were really resuscitations since these people died again. Consequently "first" must not mean the first ever but first in relation to others, probably the first of the two mentioned in Revelation 20:4-5. This "first resurrection" evidently refers to a resurrection of believers that will take place at the end of the Tribulation. The second resurrection, the resurrection of unbelievers, will occur at the end of the Millennium. This interpretation opens the possibility for another resurrection of believers before the Tribulation. [Note: For a very helpful account of the history of the Rapture debate, see Stanton, pp. 306-401.]
Marvin Rosenthal offered a unique interpretation that he called the "pre-wrath Rapture." [Note: Marvin Rosenthal, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.] He believed that the only time when God will pour out His wrath on the world will be the last quarter, rather than the last half, of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27). He equated this 21-month long period with the day of the Lord (Joel 2:1-2). [Note: The chart below is from John A. McLean, "Another Look at Rosenthal’s ’Pre-Wrath Rapture,’" Bibliotheca Sacra 148:592 (October-December 1991):388.]
Most premillennialists have understood the day of the Lord to describe the whole seventieth week (seven years) plus the messianic (millennial) kingdom. [Note: See Showers, pp. 30-40, and Stanton, pp. 70-91, for excellent discussions of "the day of the Lord."] We view the whole seven-year Tribulation as a period of the outpouring of divine wrath (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1). [Note: For refutations of Rosenthal’s view, see Gerald B. Stanton, "A Review of The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church," Bibliotheca Sacra 148:589 (January-March 1991):90-111; Paul Karleen, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church: Is It Biblical? and Showers, The Pre-Wrath Rapture View: An Examination and Critique.]
"Just as each day of creation and the Jewish day consisted of two phases-a time of darkness (’evening’) followed by a time of light (’day’) [Genesis 1:4-6]-so the future Day of the Lord will consist of two phases, a period of darkness (judgment) followed by a period of light (divine rule and blessing)." [Note: Idem, Maranatha . . ., p. 33.]
A representative amillennial explanation of this passage is as follows.
"Although an attempt has been made here [in his commentary] to organize the details of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 f. into a reasonably coherent picture of the events of the end, it must be acknowledged that Paul was probably not interested in giving us a literal description. His goal was to reassure the Thessalonians that their fellow Christians who had died would participate on equal terms with them in the salvation experience accompanying the parousia of the Lord." [Note: Wanamaker, p. 176.]
Yet there are no clues in the passage that we should take what Paul said as anything other than a literal description.
The hope of being reunited with saints who have died and, what is more important, with Christ, gives believers a hope that we can and should use to comfort one another when loved ones die.
"Paul’s central point [in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18] is that Christians who have died are in no way behind those who are alive at the Lord’s coming, since the dead will actually rise first; then, we will all go together to meet the Lord in the air." [Note: Thomas R. Edgar, "An Exegesis of Rapture Passages," in Issues in Dispensationalism, p. 204.]
Note that it is not the Lord’s return by itself that Paul offered as encouragement here (cf. Titus 2:13) but the reunion of dead and living saints and their shared glory in His presence.
Both pretribulationists and posttribulationists agree that the revelation Paul just gave is a comfort to believers. The hope of translation before death that Paul revealed is greater than the hope of resurrection after death that the Thessalonians had held. Will this translation occur before the Tribulation or after it? Pretribulationists say it will occur before. Consequently we have a very comforting hope. Not only may our translation precede our death, but it will also precede the Tribulation. Furthermore it may take place at any moment. Posttribulationists say our hope consists only in the possibility of our being translated before we die. We may have to go through the Tribulation. Therefore the Rapture is not imminent in their view.
"The hope of a rapture occurring after a literal great tribulation would be small comfort to those in this situation [i.e., in mourning for loved ones who have died]." [Note: Walvoord, The Blessed . . ., p. 96.]
". . . although the church has gone through periods of great persecution in the past and undoubtedly may go through greater and even more intense persecutions before Christ returns, nevertheless, the view of a posttribulational rapture is impossible for the simple reason that it makes meaningless the very argument that Paul was presenting in the Thessalonian letters. Paul was arguing for the imminence of Christ’s return. This is to be the major source of comfort for suffering believers. If Christ will not come until after the great tribulation (that is, a special period of unusual and intense suffering still in the future), then the return of the Lord is not imminent and tribulation rather than deliverance is what we must anticipate." [Note: James Montgomery Boice, The Last and Future World, pp. 41-42.]
I prefer the pretribulational explanation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for the following reasons. The passage pictures the Rapture as an imminent event, but it is not if the Tribulation must come first. Second, Christians are not destined to experience the outpouring of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10), which the Tribulation will be. Third, the prospect of an imminent Rapture is a much greater comfort than the prospect of a posttribulation Rapture, and Paul revealed this information to provide comfort. Fourth, there is no mention of the Tribulation in the passage, but that would be appropriate and reasonable if it will precede the Rapture. The pretribulation view existed in the church long before John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) popularized it. [Note: See Timothy J. Demy and Thomas D. Ice, "The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation," Bibliotheca Sacra 152:607 (July-September 1995):306-17.]
A comparison of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 with John 14:1-3 shows that they refer to the same event.
|John 14:1-3||1 Thessalonians 4:13-18|
|trouble||John 14:1||sorrow||1 Thessalonians 4:13|
|believe||John 14:1||believe||1 Thessalonians 4:14|
|God, me||John 14:1||Jesus, God||1 Thessalonians 4:14|
|told you||John 14:2||say to you||1 Thessalonians 4:15|
|come again||John 14:3||coming of the Lord||1 Thessalonians 4:15|
|receive you||John 14:3||caught up||1 Thessalonians 4:17|
|to myself||John 14:3||to meet the Lord||1 Thessalonians 4:17|
|be where I am||John 14:3||ever be with the Lord||1 Thessalonians 4:17|
A similar comparison of 1 Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 19, which describes the second coming of Christ, reveals that these two chapters must describe different events. [Note: Both comparisons are from J. B. Smith, A Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 312.]
|1 Thessalonians 4||Revelation 19|
|Only the righteous are in the picture.||Only the wicked.|
|The dead are raised to life.||The living go to death.|
|The saints ascend to meet the Lord.||Saints descend with the Lord.|
|They are the guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb.||They constitute the supper of the great God.|
|They are forever with the Lord.||The leaders and all their followers are cast into the lake of fire.|
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany