|The Second Coming of Christ 5
Paul closes his first epistle to the Thessalonians with a wish for them: that they would be sanctified, and they would be preserved blameless in spirit and
soul and body unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Does this mean that the Thessalonians would be sanctified? Or does that depend upon their faith
and actions? Paul prayed that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved. Does that mean that their spirit and soul and body would be preserved unto
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ? Again, does this mean they would be preserved? Or does that depend upon their faith and actions? What is the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ? Is this a reference to the judgment of the Lord coming in temporal condemnation, or is it a reference to the return in the clouds
promised by the angels? Whichever it is, there is no question that the Lord is able to do it.
There have been throughout the centuries those who tried to separate the parts of man, saying sin can infect one part without infecting the other. Thus, one
can sin with the body without sinning in their soul. Sin, however, does not affect only the spiritual or the physical; sin is accomplished by both. If the body
sins, so does the soul; and vice-versa. Paul’s wish for the Thessalonians is that they would be blameless in body, soul and spirit when that day of coming
arrives. Only by the power of the blood of Christ, only with the help of the Spirit, only by the power of God, will that be possible. Paul wishes that they
would be holy, be washed, be sanctified at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a prayer for their salvation.
What is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ then? There is nothing in the context which would limit this coming to a temporal judgment other than the
predisposition to make it one. The more logical and reasonable interpretation is a reference to the coming promised by the angels in Acts 1. His wish is not
that they would survive a temporal judgment and be delivered from it; but, his prayer reached beyond the here and now, and wished for their eternal
salvation at that time that would see them receive their eternal reward.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we
believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,
that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another
with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 KJV)
The Thessalonians seemed to be concerned about brethren who had died, thinking that somehow, they had, in essence, “missed the ship” when it came to
being with Jesus. This mindset, however, was based in ignorance.
Jesus would take care of those who had died. When Jesus came back, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Based upon faith in
the death and resurrection of Jesus, God is able to raise from the dead those who have gone on. It is based upon a direct revelation from God, those who are
living when Jesus comes again will not go before or without those who have died. When the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the
voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God ¬¬– at the return of Jesus described and promised by the angels in Acts 1 – the dead in Christ shall rise
first – the dead will be resurrected as the first thing that will happen. After the dead are resurrected, those who are alive will rise in the air with those who
have been resurrected to be with the Lord forever. Realizing this scenario, they could comfort each other recognizing that the eternal life in the heavens was
not dependent upon their remaining alive until Jesus returned.
The events when Jesus returns are plainly stated in this passage. There is nothing to suggest that it should be understood “spiritually” or “figuratively.”