The Meaning of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 Explained

1 Thessalonians 4:16

KJV: For 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 first:

YLT: because the Lord himself, in a shout, in the voice of a chief-messenger, and in the trump of God, shall come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first,

Darby: for the Lord himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

ASV: For 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 first;

What does 1 Thessalonians 4:16 Mean?

Verse Meaning

A supernatural announcement will precede the Lord Jesus" return for His own. God will announce the event with a shout, an angelic voice, and a trumpet blast. Probably believers will hear them if not all people living on the earth. These may be three descriptions of one event or three separate events. It appears that these three events will take place literally (cf. Acts 1:9; 1 Corinthians 15:52). In any case, God will herald the return of Christ from heaven. Note that only the dead "in Christ" experience resurrection. That Isaiah , God will reunite their resurrected, glorified bodies with their spirits ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
Many posttribulationists identify this trumpet blast with the one that will announce Christ"s second coming ( Matthew 24:31) or with one of the trumpet blasts that heralds judgments coming on the world in the Tribulation ( Revelation 8:2; Revelation 8:7-8; Revelation 8:10; Revelation 8:12; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 9:13; Revelation 11:15). Pretribulationists believe this must be a different trumpet blast since the Rapture will precede the Tribulation. [1] One"s interpretation of this event will rest on when he or she believes the Rapture will take place relative to the Tribulation.

Context Summary

1 Thessalonians 4:9-18 - United Now And Hereafter In The Lord
It is suggested that God Himself is the teacher of love. Others may teach the lower classes in the school of grace, but the highest is reserved for the Supreme Teacher. Note that recurring more and more, 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:10. The distribution of goods in the early Church may have led to abuses, which the injunctions here given were intended to rectify. It is well to bring up every child to know one means of livelihood, and children are much more likely to grow up into noble and useful people, if they are encouraged to work for their living. Do something in the world!
These disciples anticipated the speedy return of the Lord and feared lest those who had died would be worse off than they: The Apostle bade them dismiss such fears, because they who remained alive until the coming of the Lord would have no precedence over others who had died. Paul assures them that they who had fallen asleep were with Jesus, and that they would accompany Him when He came again; To those who needed to be raised, Jesus would be "the Resurrection"; to those who were living, He would be "the Life." They that believed in Him, though they had died, yet would they live; and they who lived till He came would never die. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Thessalonians 4

1  He exhorts them to go forward in all manner of godliness;
6  to live holily and justly;
9  to love one another;
11  and quietly to follow their own business;
13  and last of all, to sorrow moderately for the dead
17  followed by a brief description of the resurrection, and second coming of Christ to judgment

Greek Commentary for 1 Thessalonians 4:16

With a shout [εν κελευσματι]
Note this so-called instrumental use of εν — en Old word, here only in N.T., from κελευω — keleuō to order, command (military command). Christ will come as Conqueror. [source]
With the voice of the archangel [εν πωνηι αρχαγγελου]
Further explanation of κελευσματι — keleusmati (command). The only archangel mentioned in N.T. is Michael in Judges 1:9. But note absence of article with both πωνηι — phōnēi and αρχαγγελου — archaggelou The reference may be thus indefinite. With the trump of God (εν σαλπιγγι τεου — en salpiggi theou). Trumpet. See same figure in 1 Corinthians 15:52. The dead in Christ shall rise first First here refers plainly to the fact that, so far from the dead in Christ having no share in the Parousia, they will rise before those still alive are changed. [source]
With the trump of God [εν σαλπιγγι τεου]
Trumpet. See same figure in 1 Corinthians 15:52. [source]
The dead in Christ shall rise first [οι νεκροι εν Χριστωι αναστησονται πρωτον]
First here refers plainly to the fact that, so far from the dead in Christ having no share in the Parousia, they will rise before those still alive are changed. [source]
First []
here refers plainly to the fact that, so far from the dead in Christ having no share in the Parousia, they will rise before those still alive are changed. [source]
The word of the Lord []
1 Thessalonians 4:15, is apparently not intended to include the specific details which follow. In that word the revelation was to the effect that all believers simultaneously should share the blessings of the advent. The following description of the Lord's descent from heaven is intended to emphasize the fact that the reunion of dead and living believers will be accomplished by the Lord in person ( αὐτὸς ) Ὅτι does not indicate the contents of the word of the Lord (that, as A.V.), but means for or because; and the details are meant to strengthen the more general declaration of 1 Thessalonians 4:15. In the details themselves there are traces of certain O.T. theophanies, as Exodus 19:11-18; Micah 1:3. [source]
Shall descend from heaven []
Used nowhere else of Christ's second coming. Frequently in the Fourth Gospel, of Christ's descent to earth as man. See John 3:13; John 6:33, John 6:38, John 6:41, etc. In Ephesians 4:9, of his descent by the Spirit in order to endow the church. [source]
With a shout [ἐν κελεύσματι]
N.T.oOnce in lxx, Proverbs href="/desk/?q=pr+30:27&sr=1">Proverbs 30:27). From κελεύειν tosummon. Often in Class. Lit. a shout of command, as of a general to his army, an admiral to his oarsmen, or a charioteer to his horses. [source]
Archangel [ἀρχαγγέλου]
Only here and Judges 1:9. Not in O.T. The Pauline angelology shows traces of Rabbinical teachings in the idea of orders of angels. See Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16; Romans 8:38. The archangels appear in the apocryphal literature. In the Book of Enoch (see on Judges 1:14) four are named, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel. Michael is set over the tree which, at the time of the great judgment, will be given over to the righteous and humble, and from the fruit of which life will be given to the elect. In Revelation href="/desk/?q=re+8:2&sr=1">Revelation 8:2. See also on Judges 1:9, and comp. Daniel 12:1. [source]
With the trump of God [ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ]
For the trumpet heralding great manifestations of God, see Exodus 19:13, Exodus 19:16; Psalm 47:5; Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14; Zephaniah 1:16; Joel 2:1; Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:1. Of God does not indicate the size or loudness of the trumpet, but merely that it is used in God's service. Comp. harps of God, Revelation 15:2; musical instruments of God, 1 Chronicles 16:42. The later Jews believed that God would use a trumpet to raise the dead. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Thessalonians 4:16

1 Corinthians 15:48 As is the earthly [οιος ο χοικος]
Masculine gender because of αντρωπος — anthrōpos and correlative pronouns Christ in his ascended state (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 2:20; Philemon 3:20.). -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
[source]

1 Corinthians 15:52 In the twinkling of an eye [εν ριπηι οπταλμου]
Old word ριπη — ripē from ριπτω — riptō to throw. Only here in N.T. Used by the Greeks for the flapping of a wing, the buzz of a gnat, the quivering of a harp, the twinkling of a star. At the last trump (εν τηι εσχατηι σαλπιγγι — en tēi eschatēi salpiggi). Symbolical, of course. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; note on Matthew 24:31. [source]
1 Corinthians 15:52 At the last trump [εν τηι εσχατηι σαλπιγγι]
Symbolical, of course. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; note on Matthew 24:31. [source]
1 Thessalonians 4:14 Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him [καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ]
(1) Which sleep should be, which have been laid asleep or have fallen asleep, giving the force of the passive. (2) Διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ can by no possibility be rendered in Jesus, which would be ἐν Ἱησοῦ :see 1 Corinthians 15:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It must mean through or by means of Jesus. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
(3) The attempt to construe διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ with τοὺς κοιμηθέντας thosewho have fallen asleep by means of Jesus, gives an awkward and forced interpretation. It has been explained by supposing a reference to martyrs who have died by Jesus; because of their faith in him. In that case we should expect the accusative, διὰ τὸν Ἱησοῦν onaccount of or for the sake of Jesus. Moreover Paul is not accentuating that idea. Κοιμηθέντας would be universally understood by the church as referring to the death of Christians, so that by Jesus would be superfluous. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
(4) Διὰ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ should be construed with ἄξει willbring. Rend. the whole: them also that are fallen asleep will God through Jesus bring with him. Jesus is thus represented as the agent of the resurrection. See 1 Corinthians 15:21; John 5:28; John 6:39, John 6:44, John 6:54. Bring ( ἄξει ) is used instead of ἐγειρεῖ shallraise up, because the thought of separation was prominent in the minds of the Thessalonians. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
[source]

1 Thessalonians 1:10 From heaven [ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν]
Lit. from the heavens. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:47; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7. Paul uses the unclassical plural much oftener than the singular. Although the Hebrew equivalent has no singular, the singular is almost universal in lxx, the plural occurring mostly in the Psalm. Οὐρανός is from a Sanscrit word meaning to cover or encompass. The Hebrew shamayim signifies height, high district, the upper regions. Similarly we have in N.T. ἐν ὑψίστοις inthe highest (places), Matthew 21:9; Luke 2:14: ἐν ὑψηλοῖς inthe high (places), Hebrews 1:3. Paul's usage is evidently colored by the Rabbinical conception of a series of heavens: see 2 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians 4:10. Some Jewish teachers held that there were seven heavens, others three. The idea of a series of heavens appears in patristic writings, in Thomas Aquinas's doctrine of the celestial hierarchies, and in Dionysius the Areopagite, Through the scholastic theologians it passed into Dante's Paradiso with its nine heavens. The words to await his Son from heaven strike the keynote of this Epistle. [source]
2 Timothy 1:5 First [πρῶτον]
With reference to Timothy, and with a comparative sense, as Matthew 5:24; Matthew 7:5; Mark 3:27; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, etc. This is shown by the last clause of the verse. The writer merely means that faith had already dwelt in Timothy's grandmother and mother before it did in him. How much farther back his believing ancestry went he does not say. Comp. Acts 16:1. [source]
2 Timothy 4:1 Who shall judge [του μελλοντος κρινειν]
“The one going or about to judge” (regular idiom with μελλω — mellō). The quick and the dead “Living and dead.” See 1 Thessalonians 4:16. And by his appearing (και την επιπανειαν — kai tēn epiphaneian). Accusative of conjuration (verbs of swearing), after διαμαρτυρομαι — diamarturomai as is βασιλειαν — basileian (by his kingdom). See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:27. For επιπανειαν — epiphaneian see note on 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. [source]
Jude 1:9 Michael the archangel [ο Μιχαελ ο αρχαγγελος]
Michael is mentioned also in Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Revelation 12:7. Αρχαγγελος — Archaggelos in N.T. occurs only here and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, but in Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:20; Daniel 12:1. [source]
Revelation 8:2 Seven trumpets [επτα σαλπιγγες]
We see trumpets assigned to angels in Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 4:1, Revelation 4:4. See also the use of trumpets in Joshua 6:13; Joel 2:1. These seven trumpets are soon to break the half hour of silence. Thus the seven trumpets grow out of the opening of the seventh seal, however that fact is to be interpreted. [source]
Revelation 20:5 Lived not until the thousand years should be finished [ουκ εζησαν αχρι τελεστηι τα χιλια ετη]
See Revelation 20:4 for the items here. “To infer from this statement, as many expositors have done, that the εζησαν — ezēsan of Revelation 20:4 must be understood of bodily resuscitation, is to interpret apocalyptic prophecy by methods of exegesis which are proper to ordinary narrative” (Swete). I sympathize wholly with that comment and confess my own ignorance therefore as to the meaning of the symbolism without any predilections for post-millennialism or premillennialism.This is the first resurrection (αυτη η αναστασις η πρωτη — hautē hē anastasis hē prōtē). Scholars differ as to the genuineness of this phrase. Accepting it as genuine, Swete applies it to “the return of the martyrs and confessors to life at the beginning of the Thousand Years.” According to this view the first resurrection is a special incident in the present life before the Parousia. It has no parallel with 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where the dead in Christ are raised before those living are changed. Some think that John here pictures the “Regeneration” (παλινγενεσια — palingenesia) of Matthew 19:28 and the “Restoration” (αποκαταστασις — apokatastasis) of Acts 3:21. No effort is here made to solve this problem, save to call attention to the general judgment out of the books in Revelation 20:12 and to the general resurrection in John 5:29; Acts 24:15. [source]
Revelation 20:5 This is the first resurrection [αυτη η αναστασις η πρωτη]
Scholars differ as to the genuineness of this phrase. Accepting it as genuine, Swete applies it to “the return of the martyrs and confessors to life at the beginning of the Thousand Years.” According to this view the first resurrection is a special incident in the present life before the Parousia. It has no parallel with 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where the dead in Christ are raised before those living are changed. Some think that John here pictures the “Regeneration” (παλινγενεσια — palingenesia) of Matthew 19:28 and the “Restoration” (αποκαταστασις — apokatastasis) of Acts 3:21. No effort is here made to solve this problem, save to call attention to the general judgment out of the books in Revelation 20:12 and to the general resurrection in John 5:29; Acts 24:15. [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 mean?

because Himself the Lord with a loud command the voice of an archangel and [the] trumpet of God will descend from heaven the dead in Christ will rise first
ὅτι αὐτὸς Κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ σάλπιγγι Θεοῦ καταβήσεται ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον

ὅτι  because 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὅτι  
Sense: that, because, since.
αὐτὸς  Himself 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
Κύριος  Lord 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: κύριος  
Sense: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
κελεύσματι  a  loud  command 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: κέλευσμα  
Sense: an order, command, spec.
φωνῇ  the  voice 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: φωνή  
Sense: a sound, a tone.
ἀρχαγγέλου  of  an  archangel 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: ἀρχάγγελος  
Sense: archangel, or chief of the angels.
σάλπιγγι  [the]  trumpet 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: σάλπιγξ  
Sense: a trumpet.
Θεοῦ  of  God 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
καταβήσεται  will  descend 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Middle, 3rd Person Singular
Root: καταβαίνω  
Sense: to go down, come down, descend.
οὐρανοῦ  heaven 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: οὐρανός  
Sense: the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it.
νεκροὶ  dead 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: νεκρός  
Sense: properly.
Χριστῷ  Christ 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: Χριστός  
Sense: Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God.
ἀναστήσονται  will  rise 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Middle, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἀναπηδάω 
Sense: to cause to rise up, raise up.
πρῶτον  first 
Parse: Adverb, Superlative
Root: πρῶτον 
Sense: first in time or place.