In 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Paul gives us the best descriptions of the rapture that we find in the New Testament, except for Jesus's in Matthew 24. We find these great verses in 1 Thess 4-5 and then again in 2 Thessalonians 2.
In 1 Thess 4, Paul describes this great event by first declaring that he heard it directly from the Lord Himself. He then talks about the dead rising first and then those of us who are alive... I encourage you to read it. It starts in 1 Thess 4:15- 5:11. He ends this first description of the rapture by saying that "God has not appointed us to incur His wrath..." and that we should "encourage one another"
In 2 Thess 2, Paul gives us clues as to the timing of the rapture, telling us that the rapture will not occur until there is a great turning away from the faith and then the antichrist will appear.
But smack dab in the middle of these two explanations of the rapture, we find some very useful instructions that really hit me while I was reading them. I believe Paul was hoping that in light of the soon return of Jesus, the Thessalonians would follow his advice. I love it when our walk with Jesus is put in such easy terms. I'm a list person. I keep a list for everything that I need to do and everything I need to buy at the store the next time I go out, so this list of things is something I can really wrap my heart around.
Here goes. 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22
- Live at peace with one another
- Admonish those believers who are out of line
- Encourage the timid
- Help the weak
- Be patient with everyone
- Do not repay evil for evil
- Show kindness to all
- Seek to do good to everyone
- Be happy and rejoice always
- Be unceasing in prayer (not just once or twice a day, but all day long!)
- Thank God for everything, no matter the circumstances
- Do not subdue or suppress the Holy Spirit
- Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of prophetic revelations
- Do not despise inspired instructions or warnings
- Test and prove all things
- Hold fast
- Abstain from Evil in whatever form it takes
Can you imagine our great witness to the world if we could follow this list every day? Can you imagine how pleased our Father would be? I also believe that the more we follow these things, the closer we will be to Jesus.
Here's the actual Scripture in the Amplified
Live in peace with one another. We urge you, believers, admonish those who are out of line [the undisciplined, the unruly, the disorderly, encourage the timid who lack spiritual courage, help the spiritually weak, be very patient with everyone, always controlling your temper. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation no matter what the circumstances be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench, subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning. But test all things carefully so you can recognize what is good. Hold firmly to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil withdraw and keep away from it.
May the Lord find us diligent to do these things when He returns for us!