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1 Thessalonians 4:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Lord himself - That is: Jesus Christ shall descend from heaven; shall descend in like manner as he was seen by his disciples to ascend, i.e. in his human form, but now infinitely more glorious; for thousands of thousands shall minister unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand shall stand before him; for the Son of man shall come on the throne of his glory: but who may abide the day of his coming, or stand when he appeareth?

With a shout - Or order, εν κελευσματι· and probably in these words: Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment; which order shall be repeated by the archangel, who shall accompany it with the sound of the trump of God, whose great and terrible blasts, like those on mount Sinai, sounding louder and louder, shall shake both the heavens and the earth!

Observe the order of this terribly glorious day:

  1. Jesus, in all the dignity and splendor of his eternal majesty, shall descend from heaven to the mid region, what the apostle calls the air, somewhere within the earth's atmosphere.
  • Then the κελευσμα, shout or order, shall be given for the dead to arise.
  • Next the archangel, as the herald of Christ, shall repeat the order, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment!
  • When all the dead in Christ are raised, then the trumpet shall sound, as the signal for them all to flock together to the throne of Christ. It was by the sound of the trumpet that the solemn assemblies, under the law, were convoked; and to such convocations there appears to be here an allusion.
  • When the dead in Christ are raised, their vile bodies being made like unto his glorious body, then,
  • Those who are alive shall be changed, and made immortal.
  • These shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.
  • We may suppose that the judgment will now be set, and the books opened, and the dead judged out of the things written in those books.
  • 9. The eternal states of quick and dead being thus determined, then all who shall be found to have made a covenant with him by sacrifice, and to have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, shall be taken to his eternal glory, and be for ever with the Lord. What an inexpressibly terrific glory will then be exhibited! I forbear to call in here the descriptions which men of a poetic turn have made of this terrible scene, because I cannot trust to their correctness; and it is a subject which we should speak of and contemplate as nearly as possible in the words of Scripture.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven - notes, Acts 1:11.

    With a shout - The word here used ( κέλευσμα keleusma), does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It properly means a “cry‘ of excitement, or of arging on; an outcry, clamor, or shout, as of sailors at the oar, Luc. Catapl. 19; of soldiers rushing to battle, Thuc. 3:14; of a multitude of people, Diod. Sic. 3:15; of a huntsman to his dogs, Xen. Ven. 6:20. It does not mean here, that the Lord would himself make such a shout, but that he would be attended with it; that is, with a multitude who would lift up the voice like that of an army rushing to the conflict.

    With the voice of the archangel - The word archangel occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Jude 1:9, where it is applied to Michael. It properly means a chief angel; one who is first, or who is over others - ἄρχων archōnThe word is not found in the Septuagint, and the only archangel, therefore, which is named in the Scriptures, is Michael; Jude 1:9; compare Revelation 12:7. Seven angels, however, are referred to in the Scriptures as having an eminence above others, and these are commonly regarded as archangels. Revelation 8:2, “and I saw the seven angels which stood before God.” One of these is supposed to be referred to in the Book of Tobit, 12:15, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.” The names of three only of the seven are mentioned in the Jewish writings: Michael, the patron of the Jewish nation, Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1.

    Gabriel, Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; compare Luke 1:19, Luke 1:26. Raphael, Daniel 10:13; and as “the great prince,” Daniel 12:1; compare notes on Ephesians 1:21, and see an article by Prof. Stuart in the Bibliotheca Sacra. No. 1, on Angelology. It seems evident from the Scriptures, that there is one or more among the angels to whom the name archangel properly belongs. This view is in accordance with the doctrine in the Scriptures that the heavenly beings are divided into ranks and orders, for if so, it is not unreasonable to suppose that there should be one or more to whom the most exalted rank pertains; compare Revelation 12:7. Whether there is more than one to whom this name appropriately belongs, it is impossible now to determine, and is not material. The word here (in Greek) is without the article, and the phrase might be rendered, “with the voice of an archangel.”

    The Syriac renders it, “with the voice of the prince of the angels.” On an occasion so august and momentous as that of the coming of the final Judge of all mankind; the resurrection of the dead, and the solemn transactions before the tribunal of the Son of God deciding the destiny of countless million for ever, it will not be inappropriate that the highest among the heavenly hosts should be present and take an important part in the solemnities of the day. It is not quite certain what is meant here by “the voice of the archangel,” or for what purpose that voice will be heard. It cannot be that it will be to raise the dead - for that will be by the “voice of the Son of God” John 5:28-29, and it seems most probable that the meaning is, that this will be a part of the loud shout or cry which will be made by the descending hosts of heaven; or perhaps it may be for the purpose of summoning the world to the bar of judgment; compare Matthew 24:31.

    And with the trump of God - The trump which God appoints to be sounded on that solemn occasion. It does not mean that it will be sounded by God himself; see the notes on Matthew 24:31.

    And the dead in Christ - Christians.

    Shall rise first - That is, before the living shall be changed. A doctrine similar to this was held by the Jews. “Resch Lachisch said, Those who die in the land of Israel shall rise first in the days of the Messiah.” See Wetstein, in loc. It is implied in all this description, that the interval between their resurrection and the change which will occur to the living, will be brief, or that the one will rapidly succeed the other compare notes, 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    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.
    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 832

    These angels were of the company that had been waiting in a shining cloud to escort Jesus to His heavenly home. The most exalted of the angel throng, they were the two who had come to the tomb at Christ's resurrection, and they had been with Him throughout His life on earth. With eager desire all heaven had waited for the end of His tarrying in a world marred by the curse of sin. The time had now come for the heavenly universe to receive their King. Did not the two angels long to join the throng that welcomed Jesus? But in sympathy and love for those whom He had left, they waited to give them comfort. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrews 1:14. DA 832.1

    Christ had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. The disciples had beheld the cloud receive Him. The same Jesus who had walked and talked and prayed with them; who had broken bread with them; who had been with them in their boats on the lake; and who had that very day toiled with them up the ascent of Olivet,—the same Jesus had now gone to share His Father's throne. And the angels had assured them that the very One whom they had seen go up into heaven, would come again even as He had ascended. He will come “with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” “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.” “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory.” Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 25:31. Thus will be fulfilled the Lord's own promise to His disciples: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. Well might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord's return. DA 832.2

    When the disciples went back to Jerusalem, the people looked upon them with amazement. After the trial and crucifixion of Christ, it had been thought that they would appear downcast and ashamed. Their enemies expected to see upon their faces an expression of sorrow and defeat. Instead of this there was only gladness and triumph. Their faces were aglow with a happiness not born of earth. They did not mourn over disappointed hopes, but were full of praise and thanksgiving to God. With rejoicing they told the wonderful story of Christ's resurrection and His ascension to heaven, and their testimony was received by many. DA 832.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Lift Him Up, 373.5

    Between the first and the second advent of Christ a wonderful contrast will be seen. No human language can portray the scenes of the second coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. He is to come with His own glory, and with the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. He will come clad in the robe of light, which He has worn from the days of eternity. Angels will accompany Him. Ten thousand times ten thousand will escort Him on His way. The sound of the trumpet will be heard, calling the sleeping dead from the grave. The voice of Christ will penetrate the tomb, and pierce the ears of the dead, and “all that are in the graves ... shall come forth”.... LHU 373.5

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 90.2

    The Day of God's Revealings—The last great day is right upon us. Let all consider that Satan is now striving for the mastery over souls. He is playing the game of life for your souls. Will there be sins committed by you on the very borders of the heavenly Canaan? Oh, what revealings! The husband will know for the first time the deception and falsehood that have been practiced by the wife whom he thought innocent and pure. The wife for the first time will know the case of her husband, and the relatives and friends will see how error and falsehood and corruption have been clustering about them; for the secrets of all hearts will stand revealed. The hour of judgment is almost here—long delayed by the goodness and mercy of God. But the trump of God will sound, to the consternation of the unprepared who are living, and awaken the pale nations of the dead. The great white throne will appear, and all the righteous dead will come forth to immortality. TSB 90.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Upward Look, 352.2

    The great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, ... will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith. Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time. We need now larger breadth, and deeper, more earnest, unwavering faith in the leadings of the Holy Spirit. If we needed the manifest proof of the Holy Spirit's power to confirm truth in the beginning, after the passing of the time, we need today all the evidence in the confirmation of the truth, when souls are departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. There must not be any languishing of soul now. UL 352.2

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