Today’s reading: 1 Thes 4
Two interesting things in today’s reading. First, Paul points out to them that God finds pleasing how you live your life:
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
Second, we see the verse that is the basis for the idea of “the Rapture”, made popular in the “Left Behind” series of books and movies.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
However, even just a simple reading of the passage shows that the idea of a rapture before the second coming is faulty. In the passage the righteous being caught up to heaven coincides with the second coming of Jesus; there is not a period of tribulation after the rapture where non-believers are given a final chance to convert. The point Paul is making in the passage is that the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of the last generation will happen at the same time as the second coming. The idea of a rapture that occurs before the second coming with an intervening tribulation did not first appear until about 150 years ago. It is another indication how the interpretation of scripture untethered from tradition and the Church can produce spurious results.
Tomorrow: 1 Thes 5