|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:13-18 Here is comfort for the relations and friends of those who die in the Lord. Grief for the death of friends is lawful; we may weep for our own loss, though it may be their gain. Christianity does not forbid, and grace does not do away, our natural affections. Yet we must not be excessive in our sorrows; this is too much like those who have no hope of a better life. Death is an unknown thing, and we know little about the state after death; yet the doctrines of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, are a remedy against the fear of death, and undue sorrow for the death of our Christian friends; and of these doctrines we have full assurance. It will be some happiness that all the saints shall meet, and remain together for ever; but the principal happiness of heaven is to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him for ever. We should support one another in times sorrow; not deaden one another's spirits, or weaken one another's hands. And this may be done by the many lessons to be learned from the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ. What! comfort a man by telling him he is going to appear before the judgment-seat of God! Who can feel comfort from those words? That man alone with whose spirit the Spirit of God bears witness that his sins are blotted out, and the thoughts of whose heart are purified by the Holy Spirit, so that he can love God, and worthily magnify his name. We are not in a safe state unless it is thus with us, or we are desiring to be so.
Verse 17. - Then we which are alive and remain; or, are left; that is, the saints who shall then be found alive on the earth. The apostle classes himself among the living, because he was then alive. Shall be caught up. The expression describes the irresistible power with which the saints shall be caught up, perhaps by the ministry of angels. Together with them; with the dead in Christ who are raised. In the clouds. Our Lord is described as coming to judgment in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7). According to the Old Testament representation, God is described as making the clouds his chariot (Psalm 104:3). To meet the Lord; in his descent from heaven to earth. In the air. Not that he shall fix his throne in the air, but that he passes through the air in his descent to the earth. And so shall we ever be with the Lord; shall share a blessed eternity in the vision and participation of his glory. The apostle does not here describe the solemnities of the judgment; but stops at the meeting of Christ and his risen saints, because his object was to comfort the Thessalonians under bereavement.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then we which are alive and remain,.... See Gill on 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
shall be caught up; suddenly, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and with force and power; by the power of Christ, and by the ministry and means of the holy angels; and to which rapture will contribute, the agility which the bodies both of the raised and changed saints will have: and this rapture of the living saints will be
together with them; with the dead in Christ, that will then be raised; so that the one will not come before the other, or the one be sooner with Christ than the other; but the one being raised and the other changed, they will be joined in one company and general assembly, and be caught up together:
in the clouds; the same clouds perhaps in which Christ will come, will be let down to take them up; these will be the chariots, in which they will be carried up to him; and thus, as at our Lord's ascension a cloud received him, and in it he was carried up out of the sight of men, so at this time will all the saints ride up in the clouds of heaven:
to meet the Lord in the air; whither he will descend, and will then clear the regions of the air of Satan, and his posse of devils, which now rove about there, watching all opportunities, and taking all advantages to do mischief on earth; these shall then fall like lightning from heaven, and be bound and shut up in the bottomless pit, till the thousand years are ended: here Christ will stop, and will be visible to all, and as easily discerned by all, good and bad, as the body of the sun at noonday; as yet he will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive him; but when that and its works are burnt up, and it is purged and purified by fire, and become a new earth, he will descend upon it, and dwell with his saints in it: and this suggests another reason why he will stay in the air, and his saints shall meet him there, and whom he will take up with him into the third heaven, till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over, and to preserve them from it; and then shall all the elect of God descend from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband, and he with them, and the tabernacle of God shall be with men; see Revelation 21:1. The resurrection by the Mahometans is called (q), "a meeting of God", or a going to meet God:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord; now the saints are with him at times, and have communion with him, but not always; but then they shall be ever with him; wherever he is; first in the air, where they shall meet him; then in the third heaven, where they shall go up with him; then on earth, where they shall descend and reign with him a thousand years; and then in the ultimate glory to all eternity: and this will be the issue and accomplishment of the counsel and covenant of grace, of the sufferings and death of Christ, and of his preparations and prayers.
(q) Alkoran, Surat. 6. v. 31. p. 113. Ed. Hinckelman.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. we which are alive … shall be caught up—after having been "changed in a moment" (1Co 15:51, 52). Again he says, "we," recommending thus the expression to Christians of all ages, each generation bequeathing to the succeeding one a continually increasing obligation to look for the coming of the Lord. [Edmunds].
together with them—all together: the raised dead, and changed living, forming one joint body.
in the clouds—Greek, "in clouds." The same honor is conferred on them as on their Lord. As He was taken in a cloud at His ascension (Ac 1:9), so at His return with clouds (Re 1:7), they shall be caught up in clouds. The clouds are His and their triumphal chariot (Ps 104:3; Da 7:13). Ellicott explains the Greek, "robed round by upbearing clouds" [Aids to Faith].
in the air—rather, "into the air"; caught up into the region just above the earth, where the meeting (compare Mt 25:1, 6) shall take place between them ascending, and their Lord descending towards the earth. Not that the air is to be the place of their lasting abode with Him.
and so shall we ever be with the Lord—no more parting, and no more going out (Re 3:12). His point being established, that the dead in Christ shall be on terms of equal advantage with those found alive at Christ's coming, he leaves undefined here the other events foretold elsewhere (as not being necessary to his discussion), Christ's reign on earth with His saints (1Co 6:2, 3), the final judgment and glorification of His saints in the new heaven and earth.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 Parallel Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 4:17 NIV
1 Thessalonians 4:17 NLT
1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
1 Thessalonians 4:17 NASB
1 Thessalonians 4:17 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible