In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; what does that mean when Jesus said those that died believing in Christ will rise first?
The simple explanation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 depends on the verse just before it. Verse 15 says the living will not precede (prevent in the King James Version) the dead. Then in the verses you ask about he gives a short timeline. The dead will rise first, so that the world will have all the dead and living at once. An instant later all will meet Christ in the air. For all to do so at the same time, the dead must rise first. That way nobody will get there first. It will all happen so quickly that it probably won’t even be noticeable. We will all be on earth, then we will all be before God’s judgement seat.
Among other things, this passage shows that there will be no “rapture” where some will be “left behind.” The point of the passage is that all will go at once.