1st Thessalonians


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Can someone help me with this, not only am I discussing it with my father, who is Protestant and claiming it is talking about the rapture, but after reading and rereading and rereading, I’m not getting it either.

What is St. Paul talking about?

13 And we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are sleeping, so as not to be sorrowful, like these others who do not have hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus has died and risen again, so also will God bring back with Jesus those who sleep in him.

15 For we say this to you, in the Word of the Lord: that we who are alive, who remain until the return of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

16 For the Lord himself, with a command and with the voice of an Archangel and with a trumpet of God, shall descend from heaven. And the dead, who are in Christ, shall rise up first.

17 Next, we who are alive, who are remaining, shall be taken up quickly together with them into the clouds to meet Christ in the air. And in this way, we shall be with the Lord always.

18 Therefore, console one another with these words.


It refers to what will happen at the Second Coming on the Last Day. The error of the typical Rapture teaching lies in positing that believers will be called away sometime before the Last Day and get to avoid some or all of the final Tribulation.


Hmmm well he is also using it to deny an individual judgement after death. Basically, according to his belief, you die, hang out, sleep, do something until the second coming and then you are judged…

Any thoughts?


The passage confirms (as Catholics have always believed) that the physical resurrection of the dead will not occur until the end … but it actually says nothing about what happens to their souls in the meantime. Paul, like Jesus, refers to them as having “fallen asleep,” true, but elsewhere he writes of the “great cloud of witnesses” and, near the end of his own life, looks forward to death and being with the Lord.

Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, while it is not primarily meant as a detailed breakdown of the afterlife, depicts souls that have been judged immediately after death, while close relatives of theirs are still alive on Earth. And that story was told by Someone who would actually know.


From the commentary of the 1941 Confraternnity New Testament:


4, 13-18: Witnessed by the Dead. At the Second Advent of Christ the just shall rise first, and then both the living and the risen just shall be taken up in the air to meet Christ and share alike in everlasting life. The time of Christ’s Second Coming is unknown and uncertain. Vigilance, therefore, is necessary. 13. Those who are asleep: i.e., the dead. 14. After so understand the words: “we believe that.” Fallen asleep through Jesus: those who die united to Jesus by grace shall share in His glorious resurrection. There is a necessary bond between the resurrection of Christ and that of the just. Cf. 1 Cor. 15, 13-16.20-21.50-55. Through Jesus can also be construed with bring. 15. The evident meaning of Paul’s words here is that the just who are alive at the last day will pass into the glorified state without experiencing death. This meaning is supported by the Vatican Codex reading of 1 Cor. 15, 51: “We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed.”

In the word of the Lord: either the teaching of Christ, such as that recorded in Matt. 24, 31.36.44; or a special revelation given to Paul. He is insisting that his teaching on the parousia is that of Christ Himself. This point is helpful for an interpretation of the words which follow, because Christ did not teach that the parousia was imminent.

We who live, who survive (also 17): the traditional interpretation, namely, that Paul is expressing ignorance as to the time of the parousia, and is not asserting, nor implying that he and his readers will survive until the parousia, is supported by the true notion of inspiration, the rules of logic, the usage of Greek grammar, and a decision of the Biblical Commission. (1) The Catholic notion of inspiration required that no erroneous statement be made by the sacred writer. Paul, therefore, writing under inspiration cannot erroneously assert that he and his readers will be alive at the parousia. (2) The rules of logic do not permit one to say that although Paul teaches no error, he nevertheless, by his form of expression, indicates that his personal opinion was that the parousia was imminent. No such indication or connotation can be admitted. The same words of Paul cannot be interpreted to mean lack of knowledge as to the time of the parousia, and also conviction, conjecture, personal opinion, or implication that the parousia is imminent. (3) Greek syntax permits one to translate: “we, if we be alive, if we survive,” and such a translation removes all difficulty. Or, Greek grammar through the figure of enallage, whereby one person of the verb is substituted for another, permits one to regard the pronoun “we” as equivalent to “they.” We Christians, i.e., those who shall be alive, who shall survive. This figure also occurs in 1 Cor. 11, 31-32, where “we” is used in place of “you.” (4) In its decision of June 18, 1915, the Biblical Commission declared that Catholic exegetes are not permitted to say that on the question of the parousia Paul is expressing his own human views into which error and deception can enter. Catholic interpreters, therefore, maintain that on the subject of the Second Coming of Christ Paul is setting forth Christian doctrine and not personal opinion or conjecture.

Paul teaches the Thessalonians that those living at the Second Coming of Christ will have no advantage over those who have died, because the living will not go before them to glory nor receive glory without them. The Thessalonians, therefore, need not grieve over the lot of the dead.

  1. The cry of command, voice of archangel, and trumpet of God, probably signify the same thing, namely, God’s command to the dead to arise. Cf. Matt. 24, 30 f; Luke 21, 27; Acts 1, 11; 2 Thess. 1, 7.

The “Rapture” goes all the way back to the 1600s and the Puritans - who were not the nicest of Christians.


St. Paul talks about the brothers that have fallen asleep

1 Thessalonians 5:6-10 "So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him.


“Fallen asleep” is the typical early Christian expression describing the bodies of the dead.

That is why we have the word “cemetery,” which comes from a Greek word for a dormitory for servants, “koimeterion.”

However, the whole passage by Paul about the “cloud of witnesses” shows that he thought of the souls of the dead in Christ as active, aware, and intensely interested in the struggles of those of us still alive on Earth. There are many other OT and NT passages to that effect. Certainly the Transfiguration shows that Moses and Elijah are up and about.


Just as the First Advent of Christ was
misunderstood by the Chosen people
of God - the Jews, so the Second Advent
or the Second Coming of Christ is
misunderstood. “No man knows the Day
or the Hour, [but only the Father]” Matt. 25:13
“Do not be weighed down w/ drunkenness,
dissipation and the cares of this life, b/c
[the Appearing] will come on all who live on
the face of this earth, but be on the alert
and pray that you will have the strength
to escape the things that will take place
and that you will be able to stand before
the Son of Man [when He comes]” Luke 21:34ff
There is such a thing as “the First Resurrection”
which will take place when Christ appears.
Rev. 20:5 Those who are part of THAT are
the Perfect in Christ at the time of His
appearing, as this verse implies, not ALL
the dead or the living will be “caught up”
but only those who will reign w/ Christ
for a Thousand years.


That’s the reign of the Saints

1 Corinthians 4:8 “Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!”

2 Timothy 2;12 “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him”

Revelation 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth”

Ephesians 2:4 “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”

Revelation 3:2 “To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Luke 22:29 “as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”


In regards to verse 17, Jesus is returning to earth the same way he left. When the resurrected Jesus left, he ascended into the air and disappeared into a cloud, and so when returning, Jesus will reverse the process. On his return to earth, to the ground, he will appear from the clouds, in the air. However, on his return, he will not be alone, he will be accompanied by the saints who have died, and then the saints still living will also be caught up into the air so they, too, can accompany Jesus all the way to his arrival to earth. This is visible to everybody, so the Christians who have been mocked and persecuted by the world will be publicly vindicated, in triumph to all.

The rapturists make the mistake of not realizing that the saints that have been caught up to meet Jesus in the air will continue to descend back to earth. This is Jesus’ permanent return and hence we will always be with Jesus.


It is about the Resurrection of the Body.

Falling asleep is referring to those who have died. At the end of time those in heaven (already dead), will meet those who remain on earth (alive) and meet Jesus ‘in the air’ to make One Glorified Body of Christ. All in one instance where there will be a trumpet sound… A trumpet sounds at the arrival of Jesus Christ who will be arriving on a white horse at the second coming…

For #15… St Paul says that those dead will not be raised with the Lord until those on earth join them because they still have work to do and that’s to pray for those souls on earth to go to heaven. That speaks to our intercessory prayer which we will do in heaven.

When they are all joined they will be risen with their bodies… Their glorified bodies… Which will change in that same blink of an eye…


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