“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV).
Having comforted the Thessalonians with the assurance that he was praying for them, the Apostle Paul will now transition to a subject that holds interest for every generation: the return of Christ. One scholar provides us with an overview of this topic in the context of the passage quoted above…
“The church of all ages has looked with joyous anticipation to the promised future return of Christ. As His first advent secured our redemption, so His second advent is the blessed hope of the church for the full consummation of His kingdom. The New Testament term most often used to point to Christ’s return is the Parousia. The Parousia refers to the ‘appearing,’ ‘manifestation,’ or ‘coming’ of Jesus in glory at the end of the age. It refers to the church’s expectation of the promised Second Coming or Second Advent of Christ.” (1)
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 offers a detailed description of what will take place during this period…
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
We can associate this portion of Scripture with an event that has come to be known as the “rapture of the church.” This term derives from an ancient translation of the Scriptures known as the Vulgate. That version renders the phrase “caught up” as raptus, a word that serves as the root of our modern-day word “rapture” and offers a convenient way to identify this Biblical doctrine.
For those Christians who are alive at the time of Jesus’ return, this event will bypass the physical death process and provide for their immediate entrance into eternal life with a glorified body. Yet despite having shared this information with the Thessalonian Christians (both in person and within his previous letter), it appears that many within the Christian community in Thessalonica were still anxious regarding this subject. We’ll take a closer look at the subject of anxiety (and how to deal with it) next.
(1) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2137). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.