Index To All Six Sections
Part I... Defining "Heaven" as The Promised Kingdom of God
Part II... The Location and Nature of Heaven... The Promises and The Prophecies
You Are Here Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body
Part IV... A New Heaven and A New Earth
Part IV B... No More Sea?
Part V... What The Bible Says About The Resurrected Body
Part VI... Will There Be Time and Space In The New Earth?
Part VII... The Bema or Judgment Seat of Christ, and Rewards in Heaven
On This Page
Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body
With Those Who Have Fallen Asleep In Jesus
Those Who Are Alive Will "Meet" Him In The Air
The Bible tells us
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NASB]
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. [1 Corinthians 15:20-24 NASB]
As mentioned before, when they die, believers go to the "third heaven", or the present abode of God, where they await the resurrection of their bodies, which will take place at the last trumpet. However, since they are already in a celestial heaven and, apparently, managing quite well without a physical body, I have to wonder what the point of a bodily resurrection is?
The answer is very simple... It was never intended that they stay there permanently. Departed believers don't need their physical bodies where they are now, but will in order to return to earth.
This is one of the most important and most frequently mentioned doctrines of the New Testament, which describes it in such graphic detail, that we are left in no doubt that His return will be physical. In other words, He will return to earth in exactly the same manner as He left it. However, the difference is that while only His disciples saw Him ascend, the entire world will see Him return. It will be a glorious happening.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." [Acts 1:9-11 NASB]
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. [Revelation 1:7 NASB]
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [1 Thessalonians 4:16 NASB]
With Those Who Have Fallen Asleep In Jesus
However, in more than one place in the New Testament, we are told that the Lord will not return alone. Matthew, using the Greek word aggelos (messenger), said He will return with His angels to administer judgment.
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels (Gk. aggelos) with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; [Matthew 25:31-32 NASB]
However, Jude spoke of the Lord coming with His Holy Ones using the word hagios, as did Paul in the book of Thessalonians.
It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones (Gk. hagios), to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." [Jude 1:14-15 NASB]
so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints (Gk. hagios). [1 Thessalonians 3:13 NASB]
The word hagios means sacred or holy, and used to describe something or someone.
While the Lord is called "holy and true" in Revelation 6:10, hagios is, more often than not, clubbed together with another word. For example, it is often used together with the Greek Pneuma (breath) to refer to the Holy Spirit. Jude 1:20 refers to a "most holy faith (Gk. pistis)". Peter speaks about the "holy prophets (Gk. prophetes)" [2 Peter 3:2], the "holy mountain (Gk. oros). [2 Peter 1:18], and the "holy commandment (Gk. entole). In Revelation 11:2, hagios is used with the Greek polis which refers to the holy city... Jerusalem. In Revelation 14:10, it is used together with aggelos, and translated "holy angels".
However, when hagios is used by itself, it refers to believers, and is usually translated "saints" (See, for example 1 Corinthians 16:1, and 1 Timothy 5:10, Jude 1:3). In fact, the book of Romans clearly tells us that Christians are called hagios...
to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints (Gk. hagios): Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [Romans 1:7 NASB
Which should make it pretty obvious that the Lord is returning with both His angels (Matthew 25:31-32) and departed believers (Jude 1:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 3:13). However, In case of any lingering doubt, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 unambiguously states that "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus". [See That Earth-Shaking Seventh Trumpet]
Quite obviously, when the Bible states that Christ returns with departed believers, it is their spirits that is being referred to. In other words, when a believers dies, his body remains on earth, but his soul goes to be with Christ in "heaven". This temporary period of often referred to as the 'Intermediate State', and finds support when Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 5:8, that to be absent from the body at death is to be present with the Lord. Also, in considering his death in Philippians 1:23, he speaks of having a desire to "depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better."
However this is a very temporary situation. At this momentous time their spirits will be reunited with their bodies, after which those who are alive will be "caught up together with them in the clouds" and we will meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Resurrection Of The Dead
Although there are a few that dispute this, the Bible unambiguously teaches that our actual physical bodies will, on that day, be raised, by Jesus Himself.
This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:39-40 NASB)
The phrase resurrection of the dead is used at least thirteen times in the New Testament, sometimes in connection with Christ, but at other times used in regard to humans. Examples of the latter are...
"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." (Matthew 22:31-32 NASB)
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; (1 Corinthians 15:12-13 NASB)
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB)
The very term resurrection of the dead means that something that has already died is made alive... If God were starting from scratch, it could not possibly be termed a resurrection. In fact the evidence for a physical resurrection is pretty much irrefutable. 1 Corinthians 15:42, which says the believer's body "... is sown a perishable body", but "raised an imperishable body" establishes that there is a continuity between our current bodies and our resurrected bodies. Romans 8:23 speaks of "...the redemption of our body". Our bodies will not be discarded, but redeemed or recovered.
You may have wondered how God could possibly raise a body that has been dead for decades, if not hundreds of years. Matter never completely disappears or ceases to exist, but simply transforms from one type to another as the particles eventually break down. And, I guess, in order to re-create the whole person, God simply has to keep track of the atoms or molecules of the original body... not a very large problem for the Lord and Creator of the universe.
"Meeting" The Lord Jesus Christ In The Air
The entire wondrous events are described in the book of Thessalonians
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet (Gk. apantesis) the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NASB]
According to the Scriptures, after the bodies of the "dead in Christ" are resurrected, believers who are alive at the time will be "caught up together with them" to meet the Lord in the air. This leaves two questions. 1) When does this take place, and 2) What happens after we meet the Lord in the air, since it hardly seems likely that we stay suspended in space.
Incidentally, in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus clearly tells us when this single "rapture" will take place.
"But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. [Matthew 24: 29-30.]
Paul was equally explicit... He linked the resurrection of the dead to two simultaneous events.... Jesus' second coming and the last trumpet... [All Emphasis Added]
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:23 NASB)
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [1 Corinthians 15:50-52 NASB] [See The Rapture]
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB)
Paul says all this takes place at the Seventh Trumpet, the last in the series which is, in many ways, the most consequential of all the judgments, since at this call significant and apparently rapid changes take place. While believers and their newly resurrected body are off the earth, God rains down the seven bowls that ends the judgement of the earth and its inhabitants. [See That Earth-Shaking Seventh Trumpet]
The Meaning of The Word "Meet"
Since we can be reasonably sure that, after meeting the Lord in the air, we do not stay suspended in space for all eternity, the question is what happens next?
The word translated "meet", in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 above is the Greek apantesis, which is used only three other times in the NT. Two of the three occurrences are in the parable of the ten virgins, with the third in Acts 28:15
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.... But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' [Matthew 25:1, 6 NASB]
And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. [Acts 28:15 NASB]
The quotes from Matthew 25 are in the context of a parable about ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Five of them who were foolish, took their lamps, but no oil, while the wise five took both. Consequently, when the groom arrived unexpectedly at midnight, the lamps of the foolish ones had gone out and only the five wise ones, who were prepared, went in with him to the marriage feast: The door was then shut behind them. However, while the point of the story is that the Lord could return unexpectedly at any time and we need to always be prepared, in the context of this article the salient point is that when the virgins go out to meet the groom, he does not turn around and go back to his home, taking the five wise virgins along with him. Much to the contrary, the five wise virgins, came out to greet the bridegroom and escort him back to the bride's home, which is where they came from.
It is exactly the same situation in Acts.
Paul is being sent, under guard as a prisoner to Rome. The Roman Christians who hear of his imminent arrival go out on the road to meet him, then turn around and accompany Paul back to Rome.
Both situations demonstrate that the word apantesis is used in the context of going out to meet someone who is headed your way, then turning around and accompanying that person to their intended destination. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 402, (Nelson, 1985) says this about the word apantesis
"It is used in the papyri of a newly arriving magistrate. "It seems that the special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary" 
Sine we only have two other occurrences of the word, they should dictate how we should interpret apantesis in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.... at the end of the great tribulation, the church of believers will be "caught up" into the air to meet the returning Christ. We shall be changed at that moment, then turn around and accompany Christ back to earth , to set up His Kingdom, at last. Besides which, it is only in the context of Christ returning to the earth to establish His kingdom, that the words of the second Psalm make any sense whatsoever. If we were to go up to "meet" the Lord in the air and then accompany Him to an ethereal "heaven", then God's words ring very hollow indeed.
"I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. [Psalms 2:7-8 NASB]
"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; [Luke 1:32 NASB]
At the Seventh Trumpet, the spirits of the faithful, who have already died, will return with Christ and receive their resurrected bodies. Immediately after which those believers who are still alive on earth will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord, receiving their 'glorified' bodies in the process. Then Christ and those who have been His disciples from the days of Abraham will return to earth, when He will set up His everlasting kingdom.
Considering the many, many, prophecies that state Christ will rule from Zion, it is no wonder that He comes to earth in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem
In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. [Zechariah 14:4 NASB]
But it isn't going to be exactly the same earth, and we aren't going to have exactly the same bodies.
Continue On To Part IV... A New Heaven and A New Earth HERE
 Moulton, Greek Test. Gram. Vol. I, p. 14. http://studybible.info/vines/Meet%20(Verb),%20Meet%20with,%20Met