What will happen to the dead when Jesus returns?

The study of the last things, or eschatology, continues with more on the resurrection. When Jesus returns, all people who have died will rise from the grave.   The sequence of the Last Day is given in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Christ will return with the souls of the dead believers, who are resurrected first. After their bodies rise from the grave, being changed into glorified bodies, the living believers’ bodies will be changed instantaneously, without having to go through death. Paul also related that fact in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” The resurrection of the dead is universal: unbelievers’ bodies will rise also. Both Old and New Testament passages speak of this, such as Daniel 12:2 and Acts 24:15. In John 5:28, Jesus declared, “‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.’”

After Jesus returns and the dead are raised, Judgment Day will begin.  That’s the next blog.

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