by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4 December 28, 2014 Dayton, Texas
16 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:
17 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.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 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;
17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
I. Because The Lord Himself Shall Descend.
A. The "oti" introduces the rationale for the previous verse.
1. The previous verse declares the primacy of those who have been put to sleep (those living until the coming of the Lord are not the "more blessed"; those who were put to sleep by Him are).
2. It is because "The Lord Himself" shall raise "the dead" first.
a. Biblically, "the dead" are not "inactive" in their realm. When Jesus was "dead" (1:10), He was pretty busy (1 Peter 3:18-19), and being "absent from the body" in no way means "unconscious" or "inactive" (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Paul would have never written that being "with Christ" in a post-death, pre-resurrection, reality is "far better" if it is not "far better".
b. Being raised "first" means that the ultimate salvation reality is experienced "first" by those who have been subjected to "death" rather than "transformation".
c. It is the Lord, Himself, Who is going to confer this "ultimate salvation experience" upon "the dead" "first" that gives the initial rationale for the previous verse.
B. The Descent of "The Lord Himself".
1. The "Himself" is deliberately emphatic.
2. The "descriptors" that all precede the primary verb.
a. With a shouted command.
1) Sole use of this term in the New Testament, but Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon has extensive information.
2) The basic idea is to shout over any/all competing noise in order to get someone to take some specific action.
3) The order of the descriptors implies a rather noisy setting wherein a "shouted command" is necessary in order to get things moving according to plan.
b. With the voice of the archangel.
1) The archangel's most basic identity is to oversee all of the other angels.
2) If "The Lord's shouted command" is directed primarily to the archangel, it stands to reason that the archangel's "voice" is directed to "The Host of Heaven".
c. And with the trumpet of God.
1) The "kai" implies that the voice of the archangel triggers the sounding of the trumpet.
2) The sounding of the trumpet is most likely the initiation of the "descent"; The Host is on the move.
a) Matthew 24:31 -- the trumpet is used to issue "orders"/"directions" for activity.
b) 1 Corinthians 14:8 -- uses a "generic" reference to "trumpets" with what appears to be a most fundamental use: preparation for battle.
c) Revelation 4:1 -- John hears a voice that is trumpet-like calling for him to "come up here".
3) If the trumpet of God signals the Host to move out, there is the question as to why the Host is involved.
a) This Host was involved in the events surrounding the incarnation/birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
b) There are multitudes of spiritual forces of wickedness in high places that are ready to do battle over the plans of God (Revelation 12:7).
2. The Descent is from heaven (1:10).
a. There is no indication of the time frame involved.
b. The statement of 3:13 includes "all of His holy ones". There is no "clarification" as to the identity of these "holy ones". Since both "holy angels" and "justified saints" fit the characterization, the question seems "open". However, our current text indicates that at least a part of His "holy ones" is the large body of those who have been put to sleep until this event.
c. The connection of the trumpet and the resurrection of the dead is not made in this text, but in 1 Corinthians 15:52. It is possible that both the movement of the Host of Heaven and the resurrection of the dead are instigated by the same trumpet sound, but this "trumpet" is linked to the "descent" of the Lord, Himself, not the subsequent resurrection of the dead.
II. And The Dead in Christ Shall Be Raised First.
A. There is this switch: "the dead" rather than "those who have been put to sleep".
1. This probably correlates to 1:10 where the Son is characterized as "dead" until His own resurrection.
2. The issue of "the dead" is the issue of having been removed from the realm of those who are yet physically alive in their Adamic state so that they may have no further impact.
3. There is the specific characterization of the dead: they are "in Christ". This is a particularly significant issue in that Paul is writing about the Church and not any other of the people of God. This resurrection from the dead does not include Israel, or any other of the pre-Pentecostal believers of the Old Testament era. Daniel 12:1-2 puts the resurrection of Israel into a post tribulation time frame. Daniel, himself, is told to "go thy way till the end: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days" (Daniel 12:13).
B. The announcement is that resurrection shall be applied to "the dead" before the "living, left overs" are caught up.
1. Paul continues to focus upon the order of the "blessedness" that is extended to the believers in Jesus: the dead are raised first.
2. Even if we continue to ponder this focus -- what difference does it really make? -- we are directly told that believers are to "call one another alongside" with "these words". This has to mean something worthy of "summoning one another alongside so that there is a minimizing of the grief of loss".
a. Grief is indisputably caused by the denial of a "beloved" objective.
b. As such it is extremely dangerous in that "beloved objectives" are not always shared with God as they should be.
c. There are legitimate issues of "grief", but most of them are simply selfishness that sponsors "grief" because the "grief-stricken" have a problem with God over what has happened.
3. The "first" to be raised are those whose course in this world ran its full path and they are "blessed" first with resurrection bodies and a full godly perspective; then the "left-overs" participate also.