But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

This is obviously a description of the first resurrection and a confirmation of a gathering of the dead into the air which we have come to associate with the Rapture, which follows and is made to be a part of that gathering. But the question remains are there multiple parts to the first resurrection separated by time? This is the question that must be answered in order to help resolve the rapture debate.

This passage speaks of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, and of the dead in Christ. The passage actually makes them the same. Most who had accepted Jesus as the Christ have now died. So we can say that they are the dead in Christ, but what of those dead that Jesus visited along with the thief in paradise while in the belly of the earth? Are they also the dead in Christ? Eph. 4 says that they were led captive. Paradise was moved to heaven. If they are now dead in Christ, and residing in heaven are they then not included in this same resurrectionl. But that still does not answer the total question at hand.

The Lord teaches a resurrection and rapture from the four corners of Heaven and the earth. We see this in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. His in fact is the first description of the timing of the Rapture to take place in conjunction with His return that is recorded within the Scriptures. When Daniel speaks of the Lord taking dominion in His coming kingdom we are not told the sequence of these events as to the Rapture. It is not mentioned, although it could be implied, for there were those still alive on earth.

Pre-Trib theology tells us that the first resurrection has many parts. The following is supposed to be one of those.

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; (Matthew 27:52).

Many Jewish bodies were raised in conjunction with Jesus’ own resurrection, but not all of those then in the grave, just many. So this definitely qualifies as a miracle maybe even a much greater one then the resurrection of Lazarus. It also qualifies as a sign from heaven showing God’s control over Jesus’ resurrection, but it is not “the first resurrection” as we will see. The fact that the first resurrection is not mentioned is significant, but the lack of a word is not proof. And further based on this scripture we have no idea if these who were resurrected ever died again as did Lazarus. But then we can’t really point to a scripture saying that he died again.

What we do know is that all the dead of Israel had not been resurrected, for had they been there would have been crowds exiting the tombs at the time of Jesus resurrection. Multiple times more than those already in the city for Passover. So was this a part of the first resurrection? Think about this. The first resurrection requirements are immortality and incorruption. The biggest requirement is that no one in Christ preceded Him in a resurrection to eternal life, because He alone is stated to be the first fruits. Lazarus was resurrected before Him, but his body was not an eternal life resurrection body like Jesus’ body, which was able to appear and disappear. He walked through walls. He carried the scars of His death, yet showed no signs of their effect on Him physically. If these Saints had been first resurrection saints would there not have been much written about them in history to include their appearance and their feats, since we know that they did walk the streets of Jerusalem?

Yet, this is exactly when the first resurrection of Israel CANNOT take place if you believe in the Scripture. Let me explain: Daniel was told in Chapter 12. But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”

Daniel 12:13.

Consider if Daniel was resurrected with Christ as first fruits as some teach then the age for Israel is over and the 1290 days of Jacobs trouble is also over. Some also tell us that Jesus’ resurrection was part of the first resurrection. But it was He who made resurrection to eternal life possible.

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” (Matthew 20:18-19).

This is where Jesus predicts His own resurrection, and other Scripture calls Him the first fruits of the resurrection. But although His resurrection makes the resurrection to eternal life possible, it is not the first resurrection of the dead. That resurrection is reserved for only those “in Him” that Paul says His coming will trigger.

If we look back to Daniel chapter 7 we find the little horn and his dominion being judged and the establishment of the kingdom of the Lord, but no description as to resurrections and rapture. In chapter 12:2 of Daniel we read of the resurrection of some to everlasting life, and of others to everlasting contempt. A cursory reading of this passage would imply only two resurrections. One of the just and another of the unjust. But there is no teaching of how this will occur. So Jesus’ teaching is the first we have regarding these events.

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.” (Mark 12:24-27).

Jesus is here proving the resurrection as fact, because there has been division over this between the Sadusees and Pharisees. And He is proving that Israel’s saints are definitely included in the resurrection. Even Pre-Tribulation scholars believe this to be true. Many of them place Israel’s resurrection at the end of Tribulation.

So, here is the pre-Tribulation problem: THE resurrection is taught to precede the Rapture. This is Paul’s teaching. There then, based on literal scriptures wording, will not be a Rapture before all who are in Christ are raised. “For the dead in Christ are raised first”. In order to make the Rapture pre-Trib, one must prove that there will be no one coming out of The Tribulation who has a position in Christ. Yet, the Tribulation Saints are Resurrected to reign with Christ for 1000 years just as we are. They therefore are in Christ.

Of Jesus own resurrection it is said. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying (Matthew 28:6).

This is the actual account of Jesus resurrection. The only account that we see using the term first resurrection is not until we come to Revelation.

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).

These that John is seeing are Tribulation saints who are to be killed obviously during the tribulation and before the kingdom age; and they are in Christ and of the first resurrection. They will reign with Christ as will we for 1000 years.

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:5-6).

The Lords coming to Rapture us as a thief is on the day of the Lord and is announced by Him to occur following Tribulation just as Paul has told us.

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2

(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.

Revelation 16:15-16 NASB

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

Mark 13:24-27

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not comeunless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 NASB

Jesus says His Coming is during a time of darkness — the Sun and moon are not shining and the stars are falling. Paul states this in such a way that we cannot miss it. Paul says that His Coming is as a thief in the night. Think about that. His coming for us is in total darkness. The only time that it can be dark all over the world is when the sun, moon and stars are not shining. That will be following the Tribulation and during the Battle of Armageddon when He pours out His Orge Wrath that we His people are promised to escape.

Unless one can prove a pre-Tribulation Resurrection for all the new covenant saints which would be separate from Israel’s own New Covenant blessing; then these scriptures offer very strong evidence for the post-Trib timing of the first resurrection. The Holy Spirit has stated very clearly the fact that “This is the first resurrection.” It occurs on the Day of the Lord. It corresponds with His coming following the Tribulation.

One other thing that we know for sure that effects timing is Israel’s own salvation. Jacobs trouble leads to it, and Jacobs trouble happens in the last half of Tribulation. All of these who are alive and remain when Jesus Comes, then must be Raptured. These are part of the one new man. This Rapture also occurs on the day of the Lord, and the beginning of Messiah’s reign.

But the pre-trib answer to this is to point us to the coming of the Lord as a thief in 1 Thessalonians 5. But wait just a moment for this coming also occurs on the Day of the Lord just as we saw — remember– Listen:

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2

So it is evident that all mankind who are in Christ will be resurrected at the end of the age, as one bride to reign with Him where He is in Jerusalem during the millennium.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 NASB

But one will say, where is the actual proof that the church will see great Tribulation. So to Thyatira Jesus said:

20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

Revelation 2:20,22-23 NASB

12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

Revelation 22:12 NASB

Who will we reign over?– read the book if you dare do so.