Innocent Bible quotes like this one by Mike Licona when examined more closely can lead to a crisis of faith and cause some to leave conservative Christianity altogether. That’s precisely what happened to me. Here is Licona’s verse (verse 14) in context.
The first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of Paul’s letters, probably written in AD 52.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 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 died. 16 For 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. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Notice that Paul in verse 15 does not say ‘those who are alive’ (which could refer to some far future and as yet unknown group), but ‘we who are alive’, showing his expectation that the Lord will come before Paul’s death. Paul even thinks that this is the Lord’s own word (1 Thessalonians 4:15).
The fact is that the end of the world simply did not come before Paul’s hearers had all died. So Paul was in error. Therefore the The New Testament contains a significant error; therefore it is not inspired by God; therefore Paul’s ‘word of the Lord’ was false, a sham.
What else had Paul thought was from God but in fact was not? These are very disturbing questions for a thoughtful Christian.