For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Listen to the "Verse by Verse" episode covering this scripture.
The return of Jesus Christ during the sounding of the last trump will be a momentous time for many reasons. For followers of Christ who have died, it will mean their resurrection to immortal life. Those faithful Christians still alive at His return will be changed to spirit life as well, becoming like Him (1 John 3:1-2).
As the angels had promised, Christ will come back as He left (Acts 1:9-12). Though His followers will meet Him in the air, they will all then stand with Him on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) to help Him begin His rule on the earth.
Some have misunderstood this passage to be about a secret rapture, but the shout and the trumpet show this is anything but secret. For more about this, see our article showing that the rapture theory is not supported by the Bible.