For this, we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1Th 4:15-18 NKJ)
Paul was not only a Jew but a Roman citizen. As we saw in our study of Acts 17 when Paul was speaking in Athens, he was well versed in scripture, philosophy and the nuances of Greek and Roman culture. From the Ptolemaic period (an era just after the death of Alexander the Great) to the second century of the common era “parousia’ (translated in 1 Thes 4:15 as ‘coming.’) was used as an expression to denote the arrival or visit of a king or emperor, and celebrated the glory of the sovereign publicly. People would rush out to meet the emperor and escort him back into the city. In memory of the visit of Emperor Nero to the cities of Patras and Corinth, advent coins were struck that carried the legend Adventus Augusti Corinth.
Paul’s thinking then would not have been the common interpretation of today, with Derby’s ‘Rapture’ teaching, but the thought of the King’s coming and the people being caught up in excitement at the coming of the King of Kings.