4:17caught up. This description of the catching-up or “rapture” of the church is not presented so as to satisfy all our cravings for detailed knowledge of end-time chronology. For instance, we are not told whether the assembled company will descend to earth or return to heaven. The presentation is pastoral, to comfort those grieved and confused by the death of beloved Christians. The assurance that all the righteous without distinction will be with the Lord forever, and united at the coming of Christ, is the burden of this passage (v. 18). The “cry,” “voice,” and “trumpet” of v. 16 give the distinct impression that the rapture will be public and not secret (Luke 17:24; 21:35; Rev. 1:7). See note 5:1–11.
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