Are you eager for Christ’s return? Evangelist Billy Sunday once preached: “The mission of the church—the bride of Christ, or body of Christ—is to be ready to meet the bridegroom. When the body of Christ is completed He will reveal Himself to the members who are alive and in this world at that time, and at the same moment they will be caught up to meet those who have gone on before in the air, and from that moment they are forever with the Lord.”
The “Rapture” is the name we use to talk about meeting Christ in the air, as described in today’s reading (v. 17). This will be followed by the Tribulation and then Christ’s Second Coming. From the moment Jesus ascended to the Father, the church has been looking forward to His return: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
The Thessalonians believed in Christ’s return, but it seems they thought everyone had to stay alive until that time. As pagan Gentiles, they saw death as the end and therefore any believer who died before His return would lose their chance at eternal life. Paul corrected that error, teaching that when Christ comes back, the dead will rise first (vv. 15–16) and those still alive will meet Him in the air (v. 17). No one who trusts in Jesus will miss out!
One day we will hear “the trumpet call of God” and “the voice of the archangel” and our waiting will be over (v. 16). We long for this day: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
We are to encourage one another to remain faithful. Today’s reading says, “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (v. 18). How can you encourage a brother or sister in the Lord today? Send a message on social media, make a phone call, or pay a visit. Together, we can hold tight to the promise that Christ will return!