"We Who Are Alive, Who Are Left"
Sane and Sensible Perspectives on the Last Days
The fascinating thing about this passage is the way Paul readily includes himself in the company of those who will go through all of the terrible things he expects to come upon the earth in the run up to the Lord’s return. There is no thought here that the Church will be taken out of the way. He looks forward to being “left behind” and on the ground, still alive and waiting for Jesus to come down. In Paul’s mind, the “tribulation saints” won’t be some supposed second-string team, recruited in the last days of the campaign, but the most seasoned players the Lord has on the field. Why would we have ever imaged otherwise?
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ESV