Excellent question and perfectly harmonious passages:
Firstly Ephesians 2 is not metaphorical or figurative. It is spiritual, and that does not mean it requires interpretation. For example how does Jesus ascend into Heaven by going up into a cloud? When does he arrive? Past Pluto? It does not need interpretation, simply recognition that the Spiritual realm is not understood with natural explanations but supernatural.
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened (συνεζωοποιησεν) us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised (συνηγειρεν) us up (together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Eph 2:5-6)
You rightly identified the Spiritual application, but to emphasise why it is spiritual:
- It is from our spiritual condition: "dead in sins"
- It is in a Spiritual place: heavenly places
- It is in the aorist tense which though a past event does not specify its completion: has quickened, has raised up. So it it true now for those in Christ to be quickened with Christ.
Most importantly is to whom it applies: those in Christ Jesus.
So what about those that are in Christ Jesus that dies (falls asleep in Paul's language)?
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again (ανεστη), even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise (αναστησονται) first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1Th 4:13-18)
Notice the same conditions do not apply for the exclusively spiritual application but rather a Physical and Spiritual encounter is here spoken of. These are not mutually exclusive: Jesus ascended into heaven (a Spiritual place) with a physical body. So here we notice...
- The raising is from a physical conditions: asleep (physically dead) in Christ. We know this because a comparison is made with Jesus who was Physically dead and rose again. And those that die with no hope.
- It is in the place between heaven and earth: The dead in Christ are meeting him in the air while he "descend from heaven".
- The tense for the verb is future tense and yet it applies to all in Christ: shall rise
It is also then interesting to notice different Greek prefixes to different root words:
Ephesians: συνεγείρω = σύν + ἐγείρω = with + to waken
Thessalonians: ἀνίστημι = ανα + ἵστημι = up + to stand
There is a clear spiritual sense in which we are "woken with Christ" and a definite physical sense in which we will "stand up" if we are in Christ.
There is no reason to assume any metaphorical or figurative application in either passage like you would with a parable or symbolic vision. Spiritual or supernatural, yes. In 1 Thessalonians 4, even though it is a physical experience, there are naturally inexplicable things like descending in the cloud, being caught up, angels etc., this is a spiritual manifestation on earth - it is SUPERnatural.