January 13, 2013
Focal Scripture Passage:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
To lead students to be able to describe what will happen at the time of the
Rapture, and to encourage them to use these truths to comfort someone this
Read the notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 found in the Sunday School
Teacher Book. Scan the news media, Internet, or bookstore for stories,
articles, or books that appeal to people’s curiosity about life after
death. If possible, ask several random people during the week what they
believe happens when a person dies. Write or print the words “Life
After Death” on a
large sheet of paper. Write or print the word “Rapture”
on another sheet. Write the following lesson outline on the marker board or
Don’t Sorrow! – 13
Proof Positive – 14
Who’s Going First? – 15
What will Happen? – 16
Jesus will Come Personally
Bodies of Dead Christians Rise
Meeting in the Air – 17
Comfort! – 18
(Create Learning Readiness): Hold
up the sheet containing the words “Life
After Death.” Read
those words aloud. Tell the class there is a lot of interest in life after
death. If you found news stories, Internet sites, or books on the subject
this week, briefly tell your class about them.
Tell the class that just as there is a lot
of interest in life after death, there are also many different ideas about
what happens after a person dies. Ask the class to name a few. If you
asked that question of other people during the week, share some of their
answers. Tell the class that some people believe in reincarnation,
while others believe in annihilation (that dead humans, like animals,
simply cease to exist). Some believe all the dead go to a place of
peace and bliss, while many believe in purgatory. Others believe the
spirits of the dead inhabit (or haunt) their earthly homes. Some
people believe they can even communicate with the dead.
Say: “There is a lot of interest in life
after death, and there are many different opinions, but in today’s lesson we
will discover what the Bible has to say on the subject.”
HEART OF THE LESSON
Use the lesson titles to briefly review the previous lessons in 1
Tell the class that after expressing love and seeking to encourage
the young believers at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul began in last week’s
lesson to give them some specific instructions.
Ask: “What did he tell them in last week’s lesson?” (to stay
Defining the Rapture.
Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
Ask: “What were the Thessalonian believers worried about?”
(their Christian loved ones who had died).
Hold up the sheet with the word “Rapture”
Tell the class that while he was in Thessalonica, Paul taught the new
believers about the Rapture.
Ask: “What is the Rapture?” (when Jesus comes to take His
church from the earth to heaven).
Lecture on the following facts about the Rapture.
Some people don’t believe in
the Rapture because the word is not found in the Bible.
The words “Bible” and
“trinity” are not in the Bible either, but we don’t reject them for that
The word “Rapture” comes from
a Latin word that was used to translate the Greek word in verse 17 that
appears in our English Bibles as the phrase “caught up.”
The Rapture is the future time
when the Lord Jesus suddenly snatches His children from earth to meet Him in
Tell the class that the Thessalonian Christians believed in the
coming Rapture of the church, but they were worried that their loved ones
who had already died (“them which are asleep”) before experiencing the
Rapture would be left out. They were full of sorrow.
Proof of the Rapture.
Refer to the lesson outline on the board. Verse 13 tells us “Don’t
Sorrow,” and in verse 14 we receive “Proof Positive.”
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14.
Ask: “What fact gives us proof positive that Jesus will bring the
dead in Christ with Him?” (the fact of the resurrection of Jesus
In other words, if we believe in the resurrection, we must
also believe Christians who have died will return with Jesus at the
Rapture. The Rapture is no less believable than the resurrection, and the
resurrection is no more believable than the Rapture. According to verse 14
if you believe in one you must also believe in the other.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-8.
Explain that the Christian who dies is immediately in the presence of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Order of the Rapture.
Refer again to the lesson outline.
Tell the class that 1 Thessalonians 4:15 tells us “Who’s Going
First.” Ask a volunteer to read that verse.
Explain that the word prevent literally means “to go before or
Ask: “Will those alive at the time of the Rapture get to heaven
before those who have already died?” (no, the living will not precede
Events and Sounds of the
Refer to the lesson outline again.
Tell the class that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us “What will
Happen?” at the Rapture. Read that verse.
Explain the following.
The Lord Jesus will not send
an angel or some other representative – He will come personally to take His
children out of this world and home to heaven.
Three sounds will accompany
the Rapture. They are all listed in this verse. Ask: “What are those
three sounds?” (the Lord’s shout, the voice of the archangel, and the
trumpet of God).
The bodies of dead Christians
will arise to be reunited with their spirits.
Living Christians at the
Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
Ask: “Where will the living Christians be taken?” (to the
clouds where the dead in Christ will be).
Ask: “Who will they meet there?” (the Lord Jesus Christ).
Ask: “How long with they be with the Lord?” (forever).
Refer to the lesson outline again. Verse 17 describes the glorious
“Meeting in the Air.”
For clarification, explain the difference between the Rapture and the
Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
At the Rapture, the Lord calls
His children forth to meet Him in the air, and then takes them home with Him
Seven years of terrible
Tribulation will then occur on earth.
After the Tribulation Jesus
will return bodily to earth and establish His 1,000-year reign from
Jerusalem. That is the Second Coming.
The Value of the Truths
about of the Rapture.
Refer again to the lesson outline.
Remind the class that the Thessalonians were troubled and Paul wanted
to comfort them.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18.
Ask: “What is the value of this teaching about the Rapture?”
(the Bible says they are useful for comfort – we should comfort one another
with these truths about the Rapture).
Review the lesson by referring to the lesson outline and asking the class to
explain what each point means.
Remind the class that our world is full of
theories and opinions about life after death, but the things they have
learned today from the Bible are the truth. We learned in 1
Thessalonians 4:8 that these words are the Word of God, not merely the
opinions of men.
Ask: “Do thoughts of death worry or
trouble you?” Say: “If you are saved, you have no need to fear; but
if you are not a true believer you have every reason for fear and dread. If
you’re not saved, please accept Christ’s free gift of salvation today.”
Ask: “Who do you know who needs to
receive the comfort this Bible passage offers?” Encourage them to make
definite plans to “comfort one another with these words.” Lead a closing
Ask everyone to memorize 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Tell the class to
thank God daily that He has their future already planned, and ask them to
look for opportunities to encourage someone with these truths this week.