Who’s Going to Hear the Trumpet?
by Kenny Gardner

In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote:
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 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 shall be changed.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:50-56 (ESV)

First of all, as we consider this passage, it is true that Paul’s emphasis is on the righteous, but much of what he says is true of both the saved and the lost. Notice in the preceding verses Paul contrasted the “natural body” with the “spiritual body” and the “first” man, a “man of dust” with the “second” man, “from heaven.” Consider also what Jesus said in John 5:28-28, that both those who have “done good” and those who have “done evil” will be resurrected.

Now, a few questions and answers about this passage:
1. Who has “flesh and blood”? Obviously, every human being—both the living and the dead.
2. Who is “perishable”? Obviously, every human being—both the living and the dead.
3. Who is going to be “changed”? Obviously, every human being—both the living and the dead.
4. When is every human being—both the living and the dead—going to be changed? Obviously, “at the last trumpet.”

Now another question, one with three possible answers: Who is going to hear the trumpet?
(A) Every human being—both the living and the dead.
(B) Only the living.
(C) Only the dead.

Of these three possible answers, which one is most reasonable in light of the context? Notice again what is said in the text. Everyone—both the living and the dead—will be changed at the sound of the trumpet. So, isn't it reasonable to conclude that both the living and dead will hear the trumpet?

Now it is true that there is a passage that speaks of the dead hearing the voice of God (John 5:25, 28-29), but there is no passage that states that only the dead will hear the voice of God or the last trumpet. Certainly 1 Corinthians 15 does not state that only the dead will hear the last trumpet. What justification is there in 1 Corinthians 15 for saying that the living will not hear the last trumpet? Is there anything—anything at all—in the text that even hints that only the dead will hear the trumpet? The text certainly does not state that only the dead will hear the trumpet, so the contention that only the dead will hear the trumpet is a conclusion that some have drawn. But is it the right conclusion? Is there any evidence—or even suggestion—in the text that only the dead will hear the trumpet? No, there is absolutely nothing in the text that even suggests that only the dead will hear the trumpet. So why would anyone argue that only the dead will hear the trumpet? The only reason anyone would argue that only the dead will hear the trumpet is because they approach the passage with preconceived ideas. They are trying to force an interpretation on the passage that agrees with their preconceived ideas.

Again, everyone, both the living and the dead, will be changed at the last trumpet. That much is stated. That everyone will hear the last trumpet is a reasonable conclusion. That only the dead will hear the last trumpet has no basis in fact whatsoever. It is merely an assertion.

Another thing—does the text say “last trumpet”? Yes, it does.

By the way, when Jesus comes “with the clouds,” won’t “every eye” see him, even “those who pierced him”? You may disagree with John the apostle, but that’s what he says.

The point is, we need to be ready when Jesus comes again, because there won’t be any second chances. Our Lord is not going to come and secretly take the righteous home to heaven and leave the wicked here on earth to face tribulation and to be given a second chance to become children of God.

We all need to be ready now.