Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5
January 4, 2015
17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1901 ASV Translation:
17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
- I. Being "Alive".
- A. At the bare minimum, this refers to those who are of the family of God. This is directly linked to 4:14...IF we believe that Jesus died and rose again... .
- B. An outworking of His own Being: 1:9. He is the living and true God.
- C. An outworking of the faithfulness of disciples: 3:8. A 'disciple' has a real impact upon the one who is doing the 'discipling' if the 'discipler' is genuine in his motivation.
- D. An outworking of the believer's relationship with Jesus without regard for the condition of the body: 5:10.
- E. At essence, "living" is having the "joy" of God resident in one's soul (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 to 3:6-10).
- II. Being "Left-overs".
- A. The "remaining" means "being left over from the pursuit of an objective" (used in the pursuit, but not ultimately, methodologically, significant because the objective was achieved by others, of which we are "left over").
- B. This is no "slam", but it does put us in our place if we are yet alive when Jesus comes: we may well be "left over" because we are continuing to be useful to God in bringing others into their final state of development, but we, ourselves, are not reckoned to be "ready" to be "put to sleep" in the light of God's plans. This does not necessarily mean our character is somehow flawed (though it might); we could be a "left over" because someone needed our input worse than we needed to be swallowed up by GLORY (Philippians 1:24). But, whatever the case, "sleep" was not to be our lot in the Big Program.
- III. Caught Up.
- A. The word means "seized out of" some situation. It has no "good" connotation associated with it (wolves seize sheep out of their flock and safety) of necessity; the context colors the issue of the character of the seizing. It simply means "jerked out of whatever...".
- B. Multiple qualifiers: "at once"; "together with them"; "in clouds"; "unto a meeting"; and "and thusly always...".
- C. Taken at once... .
- 1. The "at once" is an adverb.
- 2. It signals an attendant issue. The idea seems to be that those "remaining" are "caught up" as an attendant issue to Christ's resurrection of the dead "first". It does not seem to necessarily mean the "attendance" is "temporal" (i.e., "at the same time"), but that it is tightly "connected with" (i.e., the resurrection of the dead in Christ means that there is also a transformation of the "yet alive" -- a concept clearly spelled out in 1 Corinthians 15:52: we shall not all sleep but we all shall be changed from mortal to immortal).
- D. Together with them... .
- 1. Here there is a deliberate "connecting". It intensifies the sense that the resurrection/transformation events are necessarily connected to the greater plan to bring the "in Christ" persons to their eternal positions in the Kingdom of God.
- 2. That there is a "then" prior to the "together with them" means that the living are lagging behind the "firsters".
- E. In clouds... .
- 1. Some have suggested that the "clouds" are "clouds of the saints"; others refer to the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1 and the ascension of the prophets in Revelation 11:12 to argue for physical clouds.
- 2. The real issue is why "clouds" are of any significance at all. Why include them in the narrative?
- a. The first New Testament reference to a "cloud" is Matthew 17:5 where Jesus is transfigured while being "overshadowed by a bright cloud" and a voice comes out of the "cloud" to identify Him.
- b. Both Matthew 24:30 and 26:64 tie the coming of the Christ to "the clouds of heaven".
- c. Luke 12:54 ties a "cloud" to the issue of "rain".
- d. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 refer to the "cloud" that signaled the presence of God in the Exodus.
- e. False teachers are characterized as "clouds carried by a tempest" in 2 Peter 2:17.
- f. Jude 12 goes further and identifies false teachers as "clouds without water".
- g. In the intro to Revelation, 1:7 says, "Behold He comes with the clouds...".
- h. Revelation 11:12 says the two witnesses are summoned up to heaven "in a cloud".
- i. In Revelation 14:14-16 the Son of Man sits upon a white cloud with a sickle in His hand and "reaps the earth".
- 3. Physiologically, "clouds" form when moisture in the atmosphere is subjected to a significant temperature differential. The "moisture" is always there, but it is not always visible as a "cloud". We could say, "When God decides to appear, a cloud keeps Him from being seen in any distinct form".
- 4. Conclusions:
- a. "Clouds" are uniformly referenced when there is a presence of God made manifest.
- b. That false teachers are "clouds without water" indicates that "doctrine" is the "water" by which the saints live in this world by faith.
- c. That Jesus is the Water Bearer in John's "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink..." (John 7:37) tightly ties the idea of "life" to "water" and Jesus' "I thirst" (John 19:28) indicates the separation of Him from the Father as the sacrifice for sin.
- d. Very early on, the saints were identified as "fish" who were totally dependent upon a water-environment for life and that identity was reinforced when "I shall make you to become fishers of men" was uttered as a declaration of evangelism. Thus, "clouds" of water signal an ancient association of God as the Life-source of men. Drought, as an active discipline of men by God, simply reinforces this thesis.
- e. That Jesus comes and we are caught up into clouds means our redemption has finally been completely accomplished.
- F. So we shall ever be with the Lord.
- IV. Wherefore Encourage One Another With These Words.