1 Thessalonians 4:16

1 Thessalonians 4:16

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven
Not by proxy, or by representatives; not by the ministry of angels, as on Mount Sinai; nor by the ministers of the word, as under the Gospel dispensation; nor by his spirit, and the discovery of his love and grace, in which sense he descends in a spiritual manner, and visits his people; but in person, in his human nature, in soul and body; in like manner as he went up to heaven will he descend from thence, so as to be visible, to be seen and heard of all: he will come down from the third heaven, whither he was carried up, into which he was received, and where he is retained until the time of the restitution of all things, and from whence the saints expect him: and this descent will be

with a shout;
the word here used is observed by many to signify such a noise or shout as is made either by mariners, when they pull and row together; and shout to direct and encourage one another; or to an army with the general at the head of it, when about to undertake some considerable action, to enter on a battle, and make the onset; Christ will now appear as the King of kings, and Lord of lords, as the Judge of the whole earth, attended with the host, or armies of heaven, and the shout of a king will be among them: perhaps the same is intended, as by the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters, and of mighty thunderings upon the coming of Christ, the destruction of antichrist, and the marriage of the Lamb, in ( Revelation 19:1 Revelation 19:6 Revelation 19:7 Revelation 19:14 Revelation 19:15 ) . The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions render it, "in", or "with command"; and the Arabic version, "with his own government", or "authority"; that is, he shall descend, either by the command of his Father, as man and Mediator, having authority from him, as the son of man, to execute judgment; or with his commanding power and authority over the mighty angels, that shall descend with him: it follows,

with the voice of the archangel;
so Michael is called, in ( Jude 1:9 ) with which compare ( Revelation 12:7 ) and who perhaps is no other than Christ himself, who is the head of all principality and power; and the sense be, that Christ shall descend from heaven with a voice, or shall then utter such a voice, as will show him to be the archangel; or as the Syriac version renders it, "the head", or "prince of angels"; and which whether, it will be an articulate voice, such as was expressed at the grave of Lazarus; or a violent clap of thunder, which is the voice of God; or the exertion of the power of Christ, is not certain: it is added,

and with the trump of God;
called "the last trump", ( 1 Corinthians 15:52 ) because none will be blown after it, and may be the same with the seventh trumpet, ( Revelation 11:15 ) and here the trump of God, because blown by his order; or by Christ himself, who is God, and so be the same with the voice of the archangel; and these figurative expressions are used, to set forth the grandeur and magnificence in which Christ will come; not in that low, mean, and humble form in which he first came, but with great glory, and marks of honour and respect; with angels shouting, trumpets blowing, and saints rejoicing. This is said in allusion to the trumpet which was heard on Mount Sinai at the giving of the law, and of which the Jews say F4, that it (aytym) (axam) , "quickened the dead"; for they have a notion, that, when the Israelites first heard the voice of the Lord, they died; but upon hearing it the second time, they returned to life F5: and they suppose also in the time, to come, at the resurrection of the dead, a trumpet will be blown, which will quicken the dead F6, and the day of judgment F7; and this is reckoned by them as one of the signs of the Messiah's coming F8:

``Michael shall shout with a great shout, and the graves of the dead shall be opened at Jerusalem, and the holy blessed God will restore the dead to life, and Messiah the son of David shall come,'' &c.

And the dead in Christ shall rise first;
the same with those that are asleep in Jesus, ( 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ) not only the martyrs that died for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel; nor merely those who die in the lively exercise of faith in Christ; but all that die interested in him, and in union with him: and these shall "rise", in consequence of their being his; being given to him, made his care and charge, and engaged for by him, and in virtue of their union to him; and shall rise to an entire conformity to his glorious body, and in order to enjoy eternal life and glory with him: and these will rise "first", before the wicked, which is the first resurrection, ( Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:6 ) even a thousand years before them; the righteous will rise in the morning of the resurrection, and so will have the dominion in the morning, ( Psalms 49:14 ) even at the beginning of the thousand years, as soon as Christ will come; but the wicked will not rise till the evening of that day, or till the close of the thousand years: and this agrees with the notions of the Jews, who thought that some will rise before others;

``Wheresoever thou findest the dead, take them and bury them, and I will give thee the first place in my resurrection.'' (2 Esdras 2:23)

Having mentioned those words in ( Psalms 116:9 ) "I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living", it is asked F9,

``is there no land of the living but Tyre and its neighbours, and Caesarea, and its neighbours, where is cheapness and fulness? says R. Simeon ben Lekish, in the name of Bar Kaphra, the land in which the dead live, (hlyxt) , "first", in the days of the Messiah:''

and on the same place elsewhere F11 they observe, that

``our Rabbins say two things, or give two reasons, why the fathers loved to be buried in the land of Israel, because the dead in the land of Israel (hlyxt Myyx) , "live", or "rise first", in the days of the Messiah, and shall enjoy the years of the Messiah:''

and in another place F12 they take notice of what is written in ( Isaiah 26:19 ) "and the earth shall cast out the dead": says R. Jochanan,

``the dead which are in the land (i.e. of Israel), they shall "live first"; as it is said, "thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise": these are they that are without the land; "awake and sing ye that dwell in the dust", these are they that die in the wilderness:''

and again F13,

``as it is said, Isa 40:26
"that bringeth out their host by numbers", come see, it is said, all that die in the land of Israel (atymdqb Nwmwqy) , "shall rise first", because the holy blessed God shall awake them, and raise them, according to ( Isaiah 26:19 ) .''

Once more they say F14,

``they that study in the law as they ought, these are they that shall "rise first" to everlasting life, as it is said ( Daniel 12:2 ) , "and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life" and these are for everlasting life, because they study in everlasting life, which is the law:''

to which may be added the following passage F15,

``they that are worthy to be buried in the land of Israel, shall "be raised first"--and they shall be raised and quickened before the rest of the children of the world, who draw the waters of the law; and they draw, because they study to draw out of the waters of the law; and they are strengthened by the tree of life, and they shall go out "first", because the tree of life is the cause why they shall "rise first":''

they sometimes endeavour to fix the time, how long they will rise before the rest F16;

``"many of those that sleep" these are the righteous that shall "go before" others in life, and how many years shall they go before them? R. Judah says, two hundred and ten years; R. Isaac says, two hundred and fourteen; according to others, the righteous shall go (or be raised) a year before the rest of men; says R. Nachman, it will be according to the computation (of time) that the carcass has been in the dust; R. Jose replies, if so, there will be many resurrections.''

These instances may suffice to show, that the Jews had a notion of some persons rising before others, to which the apostle may have some reference; though his sense is not only this, but also that the dead in Christ shall rise before the living saints are changed, and taken up to be with Christ, and so shall not go before to him; which illustrates and proves what he had before asserted.


F4 Targum Jon. in Exod. xx. 18.
F5 Kettoreth Hassamamim in ib.
F6 Mechilta in ib. & Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 11. 4.
F7 Zohar in Lev. fol. 42. 2. 4.
F8 Abkath Rocel, p. 138. Ed. Huls.
F9 T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 32. 3. & Cetubot, fol. 35. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 74. fol. 65. 1.
F11 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 96. fol. 83. 4. & 84. 1. & Shemot Rabba, sect. 32. fol. 135. 2.
F12 Zohar in Gen. fol. 68. 4.
F13 Zohar in Gen. fol. 79. 3.
F14 lb. fol. 100. 3.
F15 Ib. fol. 103. 1.
F16 Ib. fol. 83. 1.