1 Thessalonians 4:16 (DRB):

For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ, shall rise first.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 (KJV):

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 first:

Is the article before "archangel" definite or indefinite (an or the)?, I mean, what is accurate translation DRB or KJV?

Does this verse mean that Jesus is not God, and He is an archangel or the archangel?

1 Answer 1


The Greek of the phrase in 1 Thess 4:16 is φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου = "voice/sound of archangel". There is no definite article in the Greek, but that is not to suggest that there should not be one in English. For example, note the correct translation of John 1:1 -

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος = in the beginning was the Word

Note that there is no definite article in the Greek but there is need of one in English for reasons that need not concern us here. This is because the use of the definite article and the grammar rules associated with the definite article are different in the two languages. Latin (from which DRB was produced) has no articles, not even a definite article. It is regular source of debate as to whether one needs to be supplied in English or not when translating from Latin (most times it can be worked out).

Back to 1 Thess 4:16. The need or otherwise of a definite article before "archangel" is debateable here. The word archangel only occurs twice in the NT: here and in Jude 9. In the Hebrew it also occurs in Dan 12:1 and simply means the leader of the angels. Such a being is listed in Josh 5:14. Ellicott observes on this text that:

That the Lord's host must mean the angels is clear from such passages as Genesis 32:2; 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:20, 21; Psalm 148:2; St. Luke 2:13 (aft 2 Kings 6:17). Hengstenberg, in his 'Christology,' illustrates by Matthew 26:53. Two opinions have been held by the early Church concerning this manifestation. The first regards it as the appearance of the Son of God in a visible form; the second supposes it to have been a created being - an angel - through whom Jehovah was pleased to manifest Himself. The former opinion was general in the earliest ages of the Church.

If that conclusion is correct, then "the Archangel" is appropriate. However, if there are numerous archangels (we do not know this), then "an archangel" is appropriate in 1 Thess 4:16.


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