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Do Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 Refer to the Same Second Coming?

July 7th, 2011

Here is an interesting question, “Is the return of Christ described in Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 the same?”

Passage #1: Paul Describes Return of Jesus in I Thessalonians 4

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Passage #2: Jesus Describes the Return of Jesus in Matthew 24

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky… They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:30-31)

Here are similarities I see between the two passages:

  1. Both say Jesus comes down from heaven
  2. Both say Jesus appears in the sky
  3. Both refer to Jesus coming with angel(s)
  4. Both refer to a trumpet call
  5. Both refer to a gathering of Believers
    1. Paul says Christians both dead and living will be “caught up”
    2. Jesus more generally says “the elect” are gathered
  6. Both refer to meeting in the atmosphere
    1. Paul says “caught up in the air
    2. Jesus says “gathered his elect from the four winds
  7. Neither passage teach Jesus coming down all the way to earth, only coming in the sky to gather believers
  8. At the beginning of the Thessalonian passage Paul states what he’s about to write next is based on Jesus’ words. This gives futher credence to the two passages referring to the same event.

2 Responses to “Do Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 Refer to the Same Second Coming?”

  1. Greg Says:

    OK. Let’s talk about the differences between the two passages:

    1T: No mention of a special display of power and glory
    M: Son of man comes with power and great glory

    1T: No sign of the Son of Man mentioned
    M: Sign of the Son of Man appears in the heavens

    1T: No mention of the unsaved even seeing the Lord
    M: All tribes of the earth mourn

    1T: No mention of angels, other than the archangel
    M: Son of Man sends His angels to gather the elect

    1T: Voice of the archangel.
    M: No voice mentioned, archangel not mentioned

    1T: The Lord descends with a shout
    M: No shout mentioned

    1T: Dead in Christ rise, living believers follow
    M: Elect are gathered from the heavens, not the earth

  2. nick Says:

    Briefly, similarities from points 1-4 above all refer to 1 Thessalonians omitting information.

    That’s perhaps to be expected as Paul is summarizing the second coming in passing while making an unrelated point: that we shouldn’t grieve over the death of loved ones as those without a future hope of resurrection. In contrast, the Olivet discourse in Matthew is a lengthy treatise on Second Coming events, filled in with more detail.

    Having said that, it does appear Paul was privy to several additional details: see below.

    Point #5-7: These are interesting, and perhaps stickiest as these points consist of “new” information not in the Matthew passage. While the other points you’ve mentioned are either omissions, derivations, or extrapolations from Matthew 24, these appear to be extra revelation.

    The question is, do these extra points (to wit: the Lord coming with a shout, an archangel speaking, and a precise order of resurrection given) “fit in” with Matthew 24, or are they mutually exclusive to the point of obviously referring to an entirely separate event?

    First, I would maintain the additional details in 1 Thessalonians must have came from the Lord, in special revelation (see 1 Corinthian 4:1). However, my opinion is that these additional details are regarding the Lord’s Second Coming, and not describing an entirely seperate rapture event altogether.

    For instance, take point 7: In both cases there is a gathering from around the globe. I say each passage reveals various details on how it will happen. Matthew paints in broad strokes that everyone is joined together, Thessalonians gives a more precise order.

    Another thing to compare is if the details Paul filled out in 1 Thessalonians are validated by later revelation given to John on Patmos regarding the Lord’s glorious second coming?

    For instance, the voice of an angel speaking: while it’s true that is not mentioned in Matthew 24, it IS mentioned in Revelation 19:17 and there is no question Revelation 19 and Matthew 24 are both referring to the some public second coming of the Lord.

    In the same way, while Matthew 24 doesn’t mention the Lord shouting, Revelation 19:15 & 19:21 do refer to the Lord vanquishing his enemies by the sword of his mouth. Could this “sword” not also refer to an audible noise, perhaps even a shout? I don’t know, but it seems plausible.

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