16 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.
17 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.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Himself (v.16) — in the position of emphasis in the original
shout (v.16) = a word of command, often used for military commands
archangel (v.16) = angel of the highest rank, chief angel — The word that forms the prefix here, “arche,” is translated “principalities” or “rulers” in Colossians 1:16. — Michael is the only archangel mentioned in Scripture (Jude 1:9).
Vine believes the descriptions in verse 16 may all describe a single sound, “with a shout in the archangel’s voice, even with the voice of the trump of God.”
dead in Christ (v.16) — those who sleep (vs. 13-15) — “in Christ” refers only to believers who have died. The resurrection of the unsaved to judgment happens at a different time.
caught up (v.17) — conveys the idea of force suddenly exercised — 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 — the word “rapture” comes from the Latin for “caught up”
Elsewhere it is stated concerning the dead in Christ that they shall be raised in incorruptible bodies, i.e., bodies not liable to decay which sooner or later reduces to its elements every living organism of which mankind has any experience. This change is described in a series of contrasts in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, and further in vs. 52-54.
And concerning the living believers it is stated that, in as much as in its present natural condition the body cannot enter upon its heavenly inheritance, their bodies shall be changed, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” and without passing through the experience of death; for “this mortal [body] must put on immortality,” 1 Corinthians 15:47-49; Philippians 3:20-21. — Vine, page 69
comfort (v.18) = encourage, exhort, be an advocate for
To go beyond this passage for a moment … I believe the Judgment Seat of Christ, where believers with be rewarded for their good works, will occur at the Rapture.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).