I did a search on the Title of the Article that I recently wrote and your comment came up on the alltheweb search engine. I thought I might respond - you may like what I have come to understand from the bible.
Paul is seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 to counsel His students to avoid sleep. Does this mean that to be a faithful Christian we are to give up sleep? Yes – at least the kind of sleep Paul is referring to in these verses.
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 5:6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.
This type of “sleep” is then the type that causes a person to not be alert or sober.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 refers to people who are asleep and the same sleep is referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5:7. The subject is the state of those people called the “sleepers” and that subject has not changed as the transition is made from chapter 4 to chapter 5. The proof that there has been no change in topic is seen as the word “them” is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. The use of this word suggests a continuation of the conversation concerning the group of people mentioned in chapter 4.
This means that the “sleep” referred to is actually the sinful condition of some of Paul’s fellow Christians.
This same “sleep” is likened to being “dead in Christ” in 1 Thessalonians 4 verses 16. This can be called being dead in sins and transgressions, Ephesians 2:1.
The terms "dead" and “dead in Christ” link 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52.
This sleeping condition is referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and 16. The method of change from “sleeping” to being “awake” is alluded to in these verses. That method is attention directed towards the sound of the “Last Trumpet”. The Lord descends in the sound of the Last Trumpet. At the same time the person's glance is directed towards the sound of the “last trumpet”.
1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 make reference to the Lord descending. He descends in a moment – in a glance of the eye – and in the sound of the last trumpet.
Jesus is the first and the Last. He is the personification of the sound of the Last trumpet, Revelation 1:10-18.
-- New American Standard Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,
-- New American Standard Revelation 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
1 Corinthians 15:52. |1722| in |0823| a moment |1722| in |4493| a glance |3788| of an eye, |1722| at |3588| the |2078| last |4536| trumpet. |4537| will trumpet |1063| For, |2532| and |3588| the |3498| dead ones |1453| will be raised |0862| incorruptible |2532| and |2249| we |0236| will be changed.
1 Thessalonians 4:16. |3754| Because |0848| himself |3588| the |2962| Lord |1722| with |2752| a word |1722| of command |5456| by a voice |0743| of an archangel, |2532| and |1722| with |4533| a trumpet |2316| of God, |2597| will descend |0575| from |2772| Heaven, |2532| and |3588| the |3498| dead |1722| in |5547| Christ |0450| will rise again
These verses show the reader how a person “changes” from a corruptible state to one of incorruptibility.
By implication this is also the method whereby so called “sleeping Christians” can “Wake Up”.
This is really becoming apparent to most believers. It is a glance towards Jesus and adherence to His words, similar to what happened with the Apostle Peter in the stormy sea, Matthew 14:30.
To literally interpret an obvious “parable” is to read the bible through the eyes of the unlearned Christians or unbelievers. We don’t have to guess as to whether or not these verses are expressed in parabolic language. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51 that this information is expressed in a “mystery” or parable.
A parable is a “mystery” or message expressed in Tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:2 and Matthew 13:14. This shows us that Paul intended the reader or recipient of this letter to understand that he was veiling this information in a “mystery” and not speaking literally.
-- New American Standard 1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
-- New American Standard Matthew 13:13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
-- New American Standard Matthew 13:14 "And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, `You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
A literal interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 distorts the meaning of these verses in order to suggest what is commonly called a “rapture”. A mystery or parable is intended to allow believers to understand and to hide the true meaning from unbelievers and unlearned or "ungifted" believers, 1 Corinthians 14:16 and 23.
If the verses in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 are referring to the same “sleep” then it is apparent that the sleep referred to is that of being willfully involved in sin.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:15 the group of “sleepers” is contrasted to the group who has remained in the coming or “presence” of the Lord.
The word translated “coming” can just as accurately be translated as “presence” as is shown in the following definition from the Strong’s concordance.
3952. parousia parousia, par-oo-see'-ah
from the present participle of 3918; a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specially, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physically, aspect:--coming, “presence”.
This being the case, Paul would be saying in 1 Corinthians 15:51 that all Christians will not willfully fall into sin and forsake the “presence” of the Lord. All Christians however, regardless of their being "awake" or "asleep", will be changed towards incorruption through their attention to the Lord Jesus Christ and His words.
To understand these verses a few adjustments in translation must be made and the basis for these adjustments must be understood as accurate translation. As the verses which require alternate translation are studied the reasons and the accuracy of the new wording will be shown to be equally as accurate as the original translation.
A person should understand that the translation from the Greek is not exact. Each word can be translated accurately and defined accurately by several English words.
When looking closely at the verses in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 beginning at verse 13 we can understand the following -
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.
Paul is writing to His brethren and encouraging them not to grieve over those who are "asleep".
The first term that needs to be defined and explored in this context is “asleep”.
Verse 14 further defines those who "sleep" as “the Christians who have fallen asleep in Jesus”.
So we know that these people were Jesus followers before they fell asleep.
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
We also now know from verse 14 that God the Father will do to those who “sleep” just as He did with Jesus. This is evidenced through the use of the phrase “even so” which means “in like manner”.
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
The Greek word “Coming” in verse 15 can be accurately translated as “Presence” as is seen in the above reference from the Strong’s concordance. The word “until” is generally translated as the English word “in” as is seen from the following reference -
1519. eiv eis, ice
a primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.); also in adverbial phrases:--(abundant-)ly, against, among, as, at, (back-)ward, before, by, concerning, + continual, + far more exceeding, for (intent, purpose), fore, + forth, in (among, at, unto, -so much that, -to), to the intent that, + of one mind, + never, of, (up-)on, + perish, + set at one again, (so) that, therefore(-unto), throughout, til, to (be, the end, -ward), (here-)until(-to), ...ward, (where-)fore, with. Often used in composition with the same general import, but only with verbs (etc.) expressing motion (literally or figuratively).
With these valid adjustments in translation verse 15 can now accurately be read as follows ---
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain “until” (In the) “coming” (Presence) of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
Those who have fallen asleep in Jesus are separated and made to appear distinct from those who have “remained in the presence of the Lord”. Those who are not in the “presence” of the Lord are those people referred to as having “fallen asleep” in Christ.
So to summarize what has been said so far -- there is one group who has remained in the presence of the Lord and one group who has forsaken the presence of the Lord.
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Verse 16 requires that the reader remember that Paul is telling his brethren why they should not grieve concerning those who have fallen asleep. The Lord will descend and deal with the brethren who “sleep” in Christ and have not remained in Jesus presence. These are described by the contemporary term of “backsliders”. They will ultimately “rise” after the Lord has intervened in their lives.
There is of course a method in which Jesus deals with these “sleeping Christians”. That method is described in 1 Thessalonians 5 verses 2 and 3 as the "birth pains" or “travail” which occurs during the “Day of the Lord”.
Here it is necessary to understand what Paul meant when He spoke of “rising”. Paul’s understanding of “rising” is seen in Colossians 3:1.
-- New American Standard Colossians 3:1 If then you have been “raised up with Christ”, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
This resurrection is clearly seen to be a progression as is understood from Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:11-13. In these verses Paul states with reference to the resurrection from the dead that He had not yet attained it but continued to strive towards it. This striving is happening in Paul's life on earth and the resurrection spoken about happens while a person is on earth.
Christians are described as being “risen” when they seek the things above where Jesus is seated, Colossians 3:1. It is seen that Christians begin their resurrection from the dead at conversion. Throughout their lives they should continue to strive towards the fulfillment of that resurrection. This is a resurrection from the condition of being dead in sins and transgressions.
A person described as being “asleep” is now seen to be Christian who has not remained in Jesus presence. This person requires divine intervention to “wake up” or stop sinning. They have not continued to seek the things, which are, as Colossians 3:1 suggests, “above where Jesus is seated”. Jesus intervention is necessary to help them continue what is called the “resurrection” from the dead or the first resurrection.
The new term introduced at this point is “wake up” or “awake”. In this context the state of being “awake” is seen to be one where a person does not dwell in darkness, 1 Thessalonians 5:5. Darkness in this verse is not a literal absence of the sun’s light, but the spiritual sinful condition of being separate from the light of Christ, John 8:12. This same thought of being in darkness can be expressed as a person who is not in the light of Jesus “presence” and not seeking the things that are above.
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 5:5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;
-- New American Standard John 8:12 Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."
It becomes clear that these people who “sleep” are not those who are physically dead but are those Christians who have not remained in the spiritual condition called the "presence" of the Lord. They have fallen “asleep” or fallen back into sin.
Keep in mind that the "Coming of the Lord" is accurately translated "Presence of the Lord". This understanding prevents many misunderstandings in this area of Christian doctrinal interpretation.
Paul tells His brethren in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 not to grieve over those, which are asleep in Jesus, as they would grieve over those who have no hope. In other words He tells them not to consider the backsliders to be in the same hopeless condition as that of the hopeless unbelievers.
God will “raise” the “sleeping Christians” or as 1 Thessalonians 4:14 says, “bring” or “bring forth” those sleepers.
The word bring can and is translated as “bring forth” (Strongs word number 71) in two instances in the KJV.
71 agw ago ag’-o a primary word; ; v AV-bring 45, lead 12, go 7, bring forth 2, misc 5, vr bring 1; 72
The term “bring them forth with Jesus” refers to God helping them progress in their spiritual resurrection just as He physically raised Jesus from the dead.
Philippians 1:6 illustrates what is happening and being described in these verses from 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians.
-- New American Standard Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it "until" (in or during) the day of Christ Jesus.
God is finishing the good work that He began in the lives of the backslidden brethren by initiating the “retribution” or the judgment of the “Day of the Lord”. The fallen brethren will be perfected or made incorruptible and brought forth into the resurrected life of Christ as a result of this judgement. This is more clearly understood when seen from the perspective of 1 Corinthians 11:32.
-- New American Standard 1 Corinthians 11:32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.
To further identify this so-called “sleep” notice that in 1 Thessalonians 5: 6 the brethren are encouraged not to “sleep”.
Paul encourages the brethren not to sleep as those who are "dead in Christ" do. The admonition keep themselves from “sleeping" suggests they have the choice of whether to sleep or remain awake. It becomes clear then that the aforementioned “sleeping” Christians would have previously and “willfully” chosen to go to “sleep”.
The word “willfully” is very important and pertains directly to the way in which Jesus will descend to deal with these sinful Christians.
Paul tells the people who are awake and in Jesus presence (the obedient Christian’s) that the brethren who are sinning are not in a hopeless condition. He is saying that God will teach the sinning brethren not to sin. In scriptural terminology this refers to bringing about their resurrection from spiritual death.
The Christians who (as 1 Thessalonians 4:15 suggests) have remained in the presence (Coming) of the Lord are instructed not to “prevent” or “stand in the way of” or “discourage” those Christians who are “asleep”.
Sinful Christians are not to be condemned by the faithful followers of Jesus. They are to be gently corrected as we are told in Galatians 6:1.
-- New American Standard Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Below is the definition of the Greek word translated "Prevent" in the King James Version of the Bible(KJV).
5348. fyanw phthano, fthan'-o apparently a primary verb; to be beforehand, i.e. anticipate or precede; by extension, to have arrived at:--(already) attain, come, prevent.
It is very important to understand that Paul is relaying a "command" from the Lord Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Jesus is saying that the faithful Christians are not to hinder the repentance of the sleeping brethren.
Since the Lord (through the Apostle Paul) issued this "command" so assertively we can (possibly) make the following assumption.
Some of the Christians of that time period were reluctant to let their sinful brethren return to the fellowship, even after they had repented.
The believers of that time period had trouble forgiving their sinful brothers and sisters, just as contemporary Christians do.
New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until (In) the coming (Presence) of the Lord, shall not precede (prevent or Stand in the way of) those who have fallen asleep.
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;
Those that are dead in Christ are said to “rise” first. This resurrection must take place before something can happen. This “something” that must take place first is their resurrection. After their resurrection occurs or more properly “is resumed” (since they were in Christ before they fell asleep) they can then join or meet their brethren in the presence of the Lord.
Those referred to as dead in Christ will first rise (rise from being dead in transgressions and sin) and then they will join those that have faithfully remained in the “presence” of the Lord. They will not join their brethren in the “presence” of the Lord until they have stopped willfully sinning.
Why must they “rise” first before they can join their brethren who have remained in the presence of the Lord? A person cannot dwell in the “presence” or Coming of the Lord while they are “asleep” or while they willfully remain in a sinful condition.
-- New American Standard 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (seized) together with them in the clouds (Spirit) to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
They will meet the faithful followers who have remained in Jesus “presence” in the “Air”.
The “air” is the domain of the one called the prince of the power of the air as Ephesians 2:2 illustrates.
-- New American Standard Ephesians 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
The word “air” shows that this happens during this lifetime and while we are susceptible to the influences of the “prince of the power of the air” in other words, the devil.
As to this sinful condition of “sleep” being a “willful” condition consider the following –
Right after Paul tells the faithful brethren not to stand in the way of the “sleeping” or sinful brethren He then goes into a discussion concerning the “Day of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.
The Day of the Lord is a time or period of recompense. It becomes clear that the willfully sinful brethren will be brought back to the “presence” of the Lord through the correction or recompense visited upon them during the time of recompense, 1 Corinthians 11:32.
This recompense is designed by God to cause them to do what is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:52, “change or make progress towards incorruptibility ”. The sinful brethren will “rise” as they gaze at or fix their spiritual eyes (or attention) upon Jesus.
As the Lord descends upon these sinful Christians He deals with them through judgement in order to correct the corrupt behavior.
This judgement of the “Day of the Lord” is described after the question about the Dead in Christ is addressed. This shows us that the “sleep” has been willful sin because the Day of the Lord (or the time of judgement) is to be expected only after a Christian “willfully” sins, Hebrews 10:26-27. This concept of willfully sinning is contrasted with the person who accidentally or ignorantly sins.
-- New American Standard Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27. but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
During the time or period of recompense called the “Day of the Lord” only Jesus Christ will be exalted or considered acceptable. Everyone else will be humbled.
Jesus will be the standard or measuring rod against which others will be judged.
Isaiah 2:11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
Isaiah 2:17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
Thus ends the rapture – smapture discussion.
Th – Th – That’s all folks!