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16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

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16 For the Lord himself. He employs the term κελεύσματος, (shout,) and afterwards adds, the voice of the archangel, by way of exposition, intimating what is to be the nature of that arousing shout — that the archangel will discharge the office of a herald to summon the living and the dead to the tribunal of Christ. For though this will be common to all the angels, yet, as is customary among different ranks, he appoints one in the foremost place to take the lead of the others. As to the trumpet, however, I leave to others to dispute with greater subtlety, for I have nothing to say in addition to what I briefly noticed in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 583583     See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 2, pp. 59, 60. The Apostle unquestionably had nothing farther in view here than to give some taste of the magnificence and venerable appearance of the Judge, until we shall behold it fully. With this taste it becomes us in the mean time to rest satisfied.

The dead who are in Christ. He again says that the dead who are in Christ, that is, who are included in Christ’s body, will rise first, that we may know that the hope of life is laid up in heaven for them no less than for the living. He says nothing as to the reprobate, because this did not tend to the consolation of the pious, of which he is now treating.

He says that those that survive will be carried up together with them. As to these, he makes no mention of death: hence it appears as if he meant to say that they would be exempted from death. Here Augustine gives himself much distress, both in the twentieth book on the City of God and in his Answer to Dulcitius, because Paul seems to contradict himself, inasmuch as he says elsewhere, that seed cannot spring up again unless it die. (1 Corinthians 15:36) The solution, however, is easy, inasmuch as a sudden change will be like death. Ordinary death, it is true, is the separation of the soul from the body; but this does not hinder that the Lord may in a moment destroy this corruptible nature, so as to create it anew by his power, for thus is accomplished what Paul himself teaches must take place — that mortality shall be swallowed up of life. (2 Corinthians 5:4) What is stated in our Confession, 584584     “En la confession de nostre foy;” — “In the confession of our faith.” that “Christ will be the Judge of the dead and of the living,” 585585     Our author manifestly refers here to the Formula of Confession, commonly called the “Apostles’ Creed,” which the reader will find explained at considerable length by Calvin in the “Catechism of the Church of Geneva.” See Calvin’s Tracts, vol. 2. Augustine acknowledges to be true without a figure. 586586     “Sans aucune figure;” — “Without any figure.” Our author, in his French translation, appends the following marginal note: — “C’est a dire sans le prendre comme ceux qui entendent par ces mots les bons et les mauuais;” — “That is to say, without taking it as those do, who understand by the words the good and the bad.” He is only at a loss as to this — how those that have not died will rise again. But, as I have said, that is a kind of death, when this flesh is reduced to nothing, as it is now liable to corruption. The only difference is this — that those who sleep 587587     “Ceux qui dorment, c’est a dire qui seront morts auant le dernier iour;” — “Those who sleep, that is to say, who will have died before the last day.” put off the substance of the body for some space of time, but those that will be suddenly changed will put off nothing but the quality