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.
The hope we have of being with Christ immediately upon death is not our ultimate hope. After death, we will be alive with Christ, but without our resurrected bodies. This state between death and the resurrection is not our ultimate destiny.
At the first advent, Christ came as a tiny infant, laid in a manger, and unrecognized by most as the Son of God. When the resurrected Christ returns, he will come in his majestic splendour as the reigning Monarch, the Messiah, the Greater Son of David, the sovereign King of kings, and Lord of lords. This coming is our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) because we will at that time be raised from the dead with resurrected bodies and everything will change.
The time of the second advent is not known, although the signs preceding his coming indicate that Jesus is returning soon (Matthew 24:3-14,36). Christ will return personally, bodily, and visibly just as Christ ascended to heaven bodily and visibly (Acts 19ff).
The Christians in Thessalonica were concerned about their loved ones who had fallen asleep in the Lord. What would happen to them? Paul explained the events that will occur at the Second Coming. The departed believers will not be left behind. In fact, the dead in Christ will rise first with their resurrected bodies. Then Christians who are alive at that time will also be transformed and ascend together with the departed saints and they will be caught up together to meet the Lord.
This good news should remove all fear and doubts. We need to encourage ourselves with these words. As our faith is strengthened by the Word of God, we find that God removes all fear from our hearts.
Thank God that we can encourage each other with the good news that Jesus is coming again. When fear threatens your heart, choose to take courage in the thought that you will live with him forever.