The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of GOD. And the “dead” in Christ shall rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Who are the “dead in Christ” that rise first? As we study this verse, understand that this Koine Greek word translated to mean “dead” can mean either “physically dead” (deceased as a corpse), or it can mean “spiritually dead” as separated from GOD by sin (as “dead” in trespasses and sins). The following verse uses both connotations of this word for “dead”. "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:22). The “dead” (deceased) cannot bury their own “dead” (deceased), but those who are physically alive but “spiritually dead” in sins can bury the “dead” (deceased). This shows us that the word “dead”, as in “the dead in Christ shall rise first”, can refer to those who are physically alive on earth, but spiritually “dead”, out of fellowship with GOD because of sin in their life.
Those who receive the Spirit of Christ from either parent having Christ within them have the right to become a child of GOD by the Spirit of Christ being in them. Those not separated from GOD by their sins that repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins are sealed by the Spirit as a child of GOD and remain alive in Christ as they continue to walk with the Spirit. They grow to overcome the world and sin as they are made in the image of Jesus Christ to become a son of GOD and heir of GOD.
Those having the Spirit of Christ within them that become spiritually dead in trespasses and sins ("dead in Christ") by lusting after the ways of the world and sin (as a “prodigal”) before trusting in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, are born again and pass from death unto life by being made alive together with the Spirit of Christ when they are forgiven of all trespasses by trusting in the name of Jesus Christ and confessing their sins. They are purged of the sin (unrighteousness) in their life as they are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ to become a son of GOD and heir of GOD.
(1) The “dead in Christ” can be seen as believers “in Christ” during the time of the reformation that were “dead” in sins because of following Law-like doctrine by the Roman Catholic Church that entered for the purpose of containing the overspreading of abominations. They were not forgiven of sins by the grace of GOD because they were not living by faith. These believers were saved when they were forgiven by repenting and confessing their sins, and trusting in the name of Jesus Christ to be forgiven, rather than depend on the Roman Catholic Church for salvation. This aligns with Bible prophecy from the books of Daniel and Revelation.
(2) The rising of the “dead in Christ” can also be seen as those members “in Christ” that are “dead in sins”, (perhaps by following the sinful ways of the world) being born again to pass from death unto life by being made alive in Christ when forgiven of all trespasses by repenting and trusting in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This connotation applies to many believers today. Prophecy says the “dead in Christ” shall rise first before we are caught-up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (“rapture”). This is why we should all work together with Christ to bring the “dead in Christ” to rise first, so we might all be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (“rapture”).
(3) Considering our troubled world, this can be seen as born again believers in Christ that died and no longer live (“dead in Christ”) by being joined together with Christ into His death (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3), rising up together for righteousness in how we live and vote to fulfill prophecy by bringing the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15)