If the great crowd is to have everlasting life on paradise EARTH, why does IThess 4:17 say, "...we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR; and thus we shall always be with the Lord"?____________________________________________
In the preceding verse Paul stated that those dead in union with Christ will rise first. Being in union with Christ means that they have been anointed and are part of the so-called body of Christ. But, sober readers ought to take note of the fact that Paul stated that the chosen ones will rise "first." This is in harmony with Revelation 20:6, which refers to the holy ones who experience the blessed "first resurrection." Now, if there is a first resurrection, that means that there is a secondary resurrection, otherwise it is meaningless to designate it as the first. The second resurrection is the earthly resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous, as Jesus indicated when he said that all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out and those who practiced vile things will have a probationary resurrection of judgment.
In contrast with those holy ones who are dead during the presence of Christ, Paul's reference to "we the living" is also in reference to those in union with Christ. But just as there are those dead who are not in union with Christ who will experience the second resurrection of the dead, there will also be living persons on earth during the presence of Christ who are not in union with Christ, but who are obedient to the faith. Revelation refers to these as a great crowd of people who will survive the great tribulation and remain on the earth as the nucleus of a new world.