"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Paul described life after death in different ways throughout his writings. Paul's teaching about the end of the world is expressed most clearly in his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. Heavily persecuted, it appears that they had written asking him first about those who had died already, and, secondly, when they should expect the end. Paul regarded the age as passing and, in such difficult times, he therefore encouraged marriage as a means of happiness. He assures them that the dead will rise first and be followed by those left alive (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Paul was clear on his teachings about heaven and hell. The New Testament contains numerous statements that confirm that the wicked will die-permanently. In Matthew 7:13-14, in exhorting His disciples to choose the way that leads to life, Jesus states that the end of those who do not choose life is destruction The apostle Paul also stated that the wicked will die. In Romans 6:20-21 he talks about those who were slaves of sin and says that for them "the end of those things is death." So those who are slaves of sin, who habitually commit sin, can perish completely. Paul makes a similar statement in Galatians 6:8: "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Ultimately what Paul taught is that the greatest pain was to be separated eternally from the presence of God and his love and protection. Without Christ as the redeeming savior, mankind is doomed, but the free gift of eternal life is salvation.
Paul knew he would receive his reward at Christ's coming: "For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The time from Paul's death until his resurrection will seem to him but a mere moment. He will be with Christ and will be a glorified son of God in the next moment of his consciousness. No wonder Paul, weary of his sufferings in this life, desired to depart and be with Christ.
Christ’s resurrection is in its essence the very foundation of hope for believers. The God of the Bible is not dead but is everlasting to everlasting and has no beginning or end. With Jesus’ resurrection it is the driving hope of all mankind that know Christ and through his death, burial and resurrection, we are made free and looking forward with a joy of being united with Christ in Heaven. The resurrection is the difference between Christ and all other religions in the world. We are set free and have an eternal hope through Christ!