1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.” vs. 17
When taken literally these words of Paul paint a spectacular picture of Christ’s Second Coming. Those who have died will burst from their graves and shoot into the air with all living believers, and together all the saints will meet their Lord in the air. This description fits well with the teachings of those who believe in what is commonly called the Rapture. The “Left Behind” series of books builds on this interpretation and presents a many volumed graphic depiction of those “Last Times.” Others believe that apocalyptic images, such as Paul uses in these verses, should never be taken literally. Paul simply wanted to offer words of encouragement about death to these new Gentile believers. He wants them to know that death is not the end–and that there will be a new beginning for their loved ones who have died. The Jewish apocalyptic language, already familiar to Paul, was intended to be a comfort, and not a blueprint for future events. We too wonder about the future! Some are painting apocalyptic pictures of impending global catastrophes–they see nothing but violence and destruction. Paul brought comfort by pointing to Christ–and for followers of Jesus, that continues to be the only source of hope for our troubled world!
Thought for the Day: What will be my comfort in the months ahead?