11 17th, 2018


“The Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of [Yahweh]: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Master.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Most Christians understand these verses to mean that some saints will not see death. Instead, they will be taken up to the clouds alive and never die.

This view is in direct contradiction to many scriptures that clearly indicate all men must die at least once. Based on the following study it seems clear that the common understanding of these verses needs to be reviewed and interpreted in another way.

Genesis 3:16-19, ” Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because you have hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and you shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”

The curses that Yahweh put upon the serpent (vs.14), women, and men have not yet been lifted. The serpent still crawls on its belly; women still give birth in pain and sorrow and must be ruled over by their husbands; the ground does not yield as it did prior to sin; man must still work hard for his food; and, above all, man must return to dust. It is part of the curse that has fallen upon all, from Adam to the Apostles, and that will continue until death is thrown in the Lake of Fire.

Romans 5:12, ” Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”

Death passed upon all men as a result of Adam’s sin. The free gift of eternal life has not literally been given yet, so all continue to die and indeed must die.

Numbers 16:29, ” If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then Yahweh has not sent me.”

Death is common to all men, no exceptions.

Job 30:23, ” For I know that thou will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.”

The grave is appointed for all the living, no exceptions.

Psalm 89:48, ” What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.”

┬áThe answer to the first question is not, “Those that are alive and remain unto Yeshua’s coming.” There is no man that shall not see the first death.

Ecclesiastes 3:1,2, ” To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;”

Yahweh’s purpose for the death of men is punishment for sin. As we shall see later, it is an appointed time.

Ecclesiastes 3:19,20, ” For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of dust, and all turn to dust again.”

Again, there are no exceptions.

Ecclesiastes 9:5a, “For the living know that they shall die:”

Those that are “alive and remain” unto Yeshua’s coming know this too.

Isaiah 65:20, ” There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.”

Death will continue to befall men during the millennium as well.

John 6:39,40, “ And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Yeshua will resurrect all those that Yahweh has given him. Every believer, including those that are “alive and remain” will be resurrected. “The last day” in vss.39,40 is not the particular day of the week that Messiah returns but pertains to the Day of Yahweh which begins prior to the resurrection and is an extended “day.”

John 12:24, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.”

Yeshua equated himself with a grain of wheat that must die to bear fruit. Believers are also symbolized as wheat and must die to bear the type of fruit Yeshua meant. (See I Cor 15:35-37).

Romans 6:5, ” For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”

If our symbolic resurrection out of the water will become a literal resurrection one day, then our symbolic death and burial will also become a literal death and burial one day. Those that are “alive and remain” will also undergo baptism so this applies to them as well.

Philippians 3:10,11, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

Paul’s desire was to be conformed to Yeshua’s death and resurrection by undergoing these things himself though he included himself among “we which are alive and remain.”

Hebrews 9:27, ” And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

All men are appointed to die the first death at least once. These appointments are as sure as Yahweh’s appointments of the sun, moon, feast days, etc.

1 Peter 1:24, ” For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away:”

Once again, there are no exceptions.

The previous scriptures are irrefutable proof that all men must die as a result of sin. Why, then, do we have a misunderstanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17? There is only one other verse in all scripture that seems to support such an erroneous belief, 1 Corinthians 15:51,52. “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The context of this chapter is clear. Paul’s intention was to refute the belief that there is no resurrection of the dead (vss. 12,32). He states that all die as in Adam (vs.22) and since all must die, all must be made alive or resurrected. All must follow Yeshua in the resurrection since he led the way as firstfruits. Paul then states in vss. 36-38 that unless a person is sown in death he cannot be raised to life (see John 12:24). Unless he is raised from the dead he will not be given a heavenly body from Yahweh. Verse 42 says the dead are raised in incorruption; it does not say the living are made incorruptible.

This brings us to verse 51. “We shall not all sleep” does not mean “we shall not all die.” It means, “we shall not all remain sleeping in the grave.” A word study of “koimao,” number 2837 in Strong’s Concordance will reveal that it refers to people that are already dead and sleeping in the grave. If Paul had meant living saints he would have said, “We shall not all fall asleep” which refers to the act of dying. There is no mention of any living saints being transformed in this verse.

Paul makes his statement, “we shall not all sleep” as a summation of his refutation to the false teaching of no resurrection. The false teachers said “no one resurrects. Everyone sleeps.” Paul opposes them and says, “we shall not all sleep” or “we shall not all remain dead.”

This leaves us with one verse unexplained, 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Notice the first word, “then.” ┬áThe Greek word is “epeita” also meaning afterward or next. The Greek word “tote” means; then, at that time. “Tote” would have been more appropriate if the living were caught up at the same time as the dead or even shortly after. However, “epeita” was used instead. This word was also used in Gal.1:18 meaning three years later; in Gal.2:1 meaning fourteen years later; and in James 4:14 meaning an indefinite number of years later.

The proper understanding of this verse, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, is that Yeshua will come to resurrect the dead when the seventh trumpet is blown (Revelation 11:15). This resurrection of the saints is pictured in Revelation 12:5. Those that are “alive and remain” are pictured in Revelation 12:17. They are eventually killed by the beast and resurrected at some point prior to Armageddon which takes place years later. Then Yeshua will come with all the saints to set up the Kingdom of Yahweh.

The current understanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 is incorrect and must be changed to understand the truth of Revelation and end-time prophecy.