"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."--I. Thess. iv: 15-176.
We regard this as obscure and highly figurative language.
Christ's second coming was not a literal, visible, but a spiritual coming. All the other language is to be interpreted in harmony with his coming. There was no shout, no literal trump, nor did the literal dead literally rise at his coming, which occurred diring the generation which was on earth when he lived. "The dead in Christ were first;" that is, those who had died Christians rose to the first position in the estimate of mankind.
The imagery all points to that second coming which occurred while some of those lived to whom the words of the epistle were addressed.
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