Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, that when the Lord descends from heaven, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). Apparently, Paul had reason to be concerned that some of the Christians in Thessalonica, were uninformed regarding the status of fellow-believers who had died. So, he wrote to them so that they would not grieve. “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have fallen asleep” (v. 15).
The text does not teach a partial resurrection , i.e., that some of the dead, those who are in Christ will be raised at the Lord’s coming, but the wicked dead will remain in the graves for several more years. Paul’s primary focus is on “we who are alive” in Christ and “the dead in Christ.” He is not denying a general resurrection of all the dead, he simply discusses one class of dead persons who will rise.
According to numerous New Testament texts when Jesus comes to judge the world, all the dead will be raised. “Do not be astonished at this: for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Peter and John caused much annoyance to the priest, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees “because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:1-2).
Paul affirmed that he was “on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). Paul made his defense to Felix the governor, proclaiming “that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous,” and he declared that he was on trial “about the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 24:15, 21). The apostle said to the people of Athens that God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed . . . they heard of the resurrection of the dead…” (Acts 17:31-32). “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised…” (1 Cor. 15:52).
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 1:7-9, Paul states that when the Lord is “revealed from heaven” vengeance will be inflicted on the wicked, but he will be glorified in the saints.
Therefore in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul is not teaching a partial resurrection of some of the dead, neither is he indicating that there will be multiple resurrections of all the dead. There will be only one literal resurrection of all the dead. Bottom line is this, there is but one life and one death of which all are appointed, (Heb 9:27) and one judgment. All earth, “Prepare to meet your God”! (Amos 4:12)