July 7, 2024 – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Lesson Date: July 7, 2024

Focal Scripture Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

AIM: To lead students to discover what happens to Christians when they die and to living Christians when Christ returns to Rapture His church, and to use these truths to comfort themselves and others.


Before class: Read the notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Ask a volunteer who is comfortable reading aloud to look up John 14:3 and be prepared to read it aloud when called upon.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Share the following story with the class:

Three-year-old Patsy was excited about going to her first day of daycare.  After staying home with Mommy the first three years of her life, the time had come for Patsy to go to daycare, so Mommy could take a public job to supplement the family’s income.

Patsy had been excited about the idea of playing with the other kids and playing on the beautiful playground at the daycare, but as Mommy was leaving her at the door, she became very clingy and started crying.  “Mommy, don’t leave me,” she cried.

Mommy tried to comfort Patsy and told her everything would be okay.  “As soon as I finish work, I’m coming right back to get you and take you home with me,” she promised.

Ask: “What did Mommy do to comfort Patsy?” (she promised to come back, get her, and take her home with her).

Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read John 14:3.  Explain that before leaving this earth, Jesus promised His followers much the same thing, saying He was coming back to take them home with Him.

Tell the students in today’s lesson we are going to learn more about Jesus’ promised return to take His followers home to heaven with him.  Tell them the title of today’s lesson is The Rapture of the Church.  Tell them we will discover what takes place when Jesus returns to Rapture His church, so we can use these truths to comfort ourselves and others.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Relationships That Honor God; we discovered some key elements to having and maintaining relationships that honor God and bless others).
    • Ask: “Have your relationships honored God this week?”  
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (1 Thess. 4:3).
  2. Comfort Concerning Deceased Christians.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
    • Ask: “Who was Paul addressing, Christians or non-Christians?” (Christians, whom he referred to as his “brethren”).
    • Ask: “Who do you think the words ‘them which are asleep’ refers to?” (Christians who have died).
    • Ask: “Have any of your saved loved ones already died?” (the answer for everyone is probably yes).
    • Ask: “Paul didn’t want them to sorrow like other people who ‘have no hope.’ Who do you think those hopeless people are?” (unsaved people whose unsaved loved ones have died).
    • Explain that false teachers had come to Thessalonica teaching that Christians who died before Jesus returned would be forever lost, so Paul wrote this letter to counter that false teaching.
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14.
    • Ask: “What comforting truth did Paul share?” (Jesus will bring our saved loved ones who have died with Him when He returns at the Rapture).
    • Ask: “If Jesus will bring them with Him, where are they now?” (with Jesus).
    • Ask: “How much certainty should we have about this truth?” (we should believe it with the same certainty we believe Jesus arose from the dead).
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
    • Ask: “According to the first phrase of this verse, on what authority was Paul teaching these truths?” (“by the Word of the Lord”).
    • State that if we reject or disbelieve any of these truths, we are rejecting the Word of God!
    • Ask: “What does this verse promise about Christians who are living at the time of the Rapture?” (they will not precede or “prevent” or get preference over those believers who have already died).
    • Explain that the Bible makes it clear the dead in Christ will rise first at the time of the Rapture.
    • Summarize: The Word of God comforts believers by promising that their deceased loved ones are with Jesus and will return with Him at the Rapture.
  3. Coming of Jesus for His Children.
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
    • Ask: “Who will descend from heaven?” (the Lord Jesus Himself).
    • Stress the fact that Jesus won’t send an angel or some other representative, He will come personally to take His children to be with Him.
    • Ask: “Three sounds are listed in this verse. What are those three sounds?” (the Lord will descend “with a shout,” the “voice of the archangel,” and “the trump[et] of God”).
    • Explain the following:
      • We don’t know what Jesus will shout, but perhaps He will verbally call His followers to Himself, just as He shouted to call Lazarus out of the grave (John 11:43).
      • The voice of the archangel (the highest-ranking of the angels) may echo the announcement made when ancient bridegrooms came to claim their bride: “Behold, the bridegroom cometh;” Matt. 25:6).
      • Trumpets were used in ancient times to signal, gather, and rally people (see 1 Sam. 13:3 and 1 Kings 1:39 for examples).
      • This trumpet reminds us of the trumpet that called the ancient Israelites out of their camp to meet with God (Ex. 19:16-19).
    • Ask: “What happens after these three sounds?” (the “dead in Christ shall rise first”).
    • Ask: “Where have the dead in Christ been since they died?” (with Christ in heaven; see verse 14 and 2 Cor. 5:8).
    • Ask: “If they are already with Jesus and He brings them with Him, what will rise?” (their bodies).
    • Explain the following:
      • When a Christian dies, his or her spirit (1 Thess. 5:23) goes immediately to be with Jesus in heaven, but his or her body is buried in the earth and ultimately decays.
      • When Jesus returns at the Rapture, He will call forth the bodies of deceased Christians, transform them into gloried bodies, and reunite them with their spirits that have been with Him in heaven ever since their death.
      • It makes no difference whether the Christian’s body has been buried, cremated, destroyed in an explosion, or buried at sea and eaten by undersea creatures.
      • Jesus will miraculously gather the remains of all the Christians who have died, reconstitute them, and transform them into glorified bodies fit for heaven.
    • Summarize: At the Rapture, Jesus will come from heaven to gather to Himself all of His children who have previously died.
  4. Catching Away of Living Christians.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
    • Ask: What happens after the Lord Jesus calls all the dead in Christ out of their graves to meet Him?” (Christians who are alive will be caught up to meet Jesus and the resurrected saints in the air).
    • Explain the following:
      • Some people deny the Rapture because the word does not appear in the Bible.
      • The Greek word translated “caught up” in this verse is harpazo.
      • When that Greek word was translated into Latin for some of the earliest Bibles, the Latin word was raptura, which literally means to snatch away or carry off.
      • Our English word Rapture is a transliteration of that Latin word.
      • The Rapture is when Jesus comes to snatch away all His followers from the earth and take them home with Him to heaven.
      • The return of Jesus (the Second Coming) happens seven years later, when Jesus defeats the Antichrist and sets up His 1000-year reign on earth.
    • Ask: “How long will we be with Jesus?” (forever).
    • Tell the class another passage of scripture explains more about what happens when Jesus snatches living Christians off the planet.
    • Ask everyone to turn to 1 Corinthians 15.
    • Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.
    • Ask: “What are the last five words of verse 51?” (“we shall all be changed”).
    • Ask: “What are the last four words of verse 52?” (“we shall be changed”).
    • Tell the students verse 53 says to enter Jesus’ presence our corruptible bodies must become incorruptible, and our mortal bodies must become immortal.
    • Summarize: At the Rapture, Jesus will catch away all the living Christians on earth, transform their mortal bodies into glorified bodies, and take them to be with Him forever.
  5. Comfort for All Believers.
    • Ask everyone to turn back to 1 Thessalonians 4.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 4:18.
    • Ask: “Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the Apostle Paul to write these words?” (so we can comfort one another with them).
    • Remind the class that the young believers in Thessalonica were troubled by false teachers who claimed that Christians who died before the Rapture were eternally lost.
    • Ask: “How would the truths we have learned today comfort such people?” (it would comfort them to know that their believing deceased loved ones are, and always have been, with Jesus).
    • Ask: “How do these truths comfort us today?” (they give us confidence that Jesus has a plan for our future: if we die before the Rapture, we will go immediately to heaven and then return with Jesus when He comes; and if we live until the Rapture, Jesus will snatch us off the planet and take us home to heaven with Him).
    • Summarize: The Bible’s teachings about the Rapture bring comfort to those whose believing loved ones have already died and to those who know and live for Jesus now.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students of the story you told at the beginning of class.  Tell them the following:

At the end of the workday, Mommy came back and picked up Patsy, just as she promised. Mommy took Patsy home to be with her.  Mommy kept her promise.

Similarly, Jesus has promised to come back and take all His children home to be with Him forever.  Jesus never fails and never lies, so we can be certain He will keep His promises.

Remind everyone that the title of today’s lesson is The Rapture of the Church.  Tell them in the verses we studied today we have learned the following truths:

  • We can be comforted in knowing that believers who have already died are with Jesus.
  • We can be comforted in knowing that Jesus is coming back for His children.
  • We can be comforted knowing that one day Jesus will catch away all the living Christians and take them to heaven with Him.
  • We should comfort one another with these truths.

Ask: “Before studying this passage, did you need comfort about any of these truths?  If so, which ones?” (allow time for some responses).

Ask: “Do you know anyone who needs to learn these comforting truths?” (they probably do).

Ask: “Will you accept these scriptural truths to comfort yourself and others?”

Voice a closing prayer, thanking the Lord that He has our future planned out, and that none of those He has saved will ever slip out of His care.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  Tell them to be on the lookout this week for someone they can comfort with this teaching, and to thank God daily that He has our future planned out.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *