“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:40-42 KJV)
There are many people who interpret this passage of Scripture as referring to the Rapture. However, Matthew 24 is not addressing the Bride of Christ. The disciples asked Jesus when would be the time of his Second Coming and what would be the signs it is near?
Verse 29 shows us that from that verse onward Matthew is talking about the time period just after the Tribulation period and what will happen to believers and non believers.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” (Matthew 24:29 KJV)
So that is the context and the context is AFTER THE TRIBULATION PERIOD. Because of this Matthew 24:37-42 cannot be referring to the Rapture.
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:37-42 KJV)
Because verse 29 is obviously discussing events after the Tribulation Period then the reference to the “days of Noah”, in verse 36 shown above, is also not about the Rapture as many are teaching today. The reference to the Days of Noah is being addressed to the Nation Israel just before the Second Coming.
Who Are The Taken And The Left Behind? Doesn’t That Sound Like The Rapture?
Many refer to the Rapture by the believers being taken and the unbelievers being left behind on Earth. However, in 1 Thessalonians 4 the word ‘taken’ is not the word used. The word is instead ‘caught up‘.
“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 KJV)
Believers who accepted Christ’s atonement during our present church age will be caught up and off the planet swiftly at the Rapture. The Original Greek for ‘caught up ‘ in 1 Thessalonians 4: 17 is ‘harpázō’ which means ‘properly, seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force (i.e. not covertly or secretly).’
The word for the English word ‘taken’ in the above passages of Matthew 24 is the Greek word ‘paralambanō’. In John 14:3, John is referring to the Rapture and he uses the same word ‘paralambanō from Greek. Because of this, this has some believing that this passage in Matthew 24 is referring to the rapture.
But Wait A Minute. A closer look at this Greek word ‘ paralambanō ‘shows that it can also have a negative meaning and that the context of the passage determines whether it is positive or negative. Let’s look at a few other Scriptures in the Greek that use this same word:
“Then the devil taketh (paralambanō) him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,” (Matthew 4:5-8 KJV)
“Then the soldiers of the governor took (paralambanō) Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.” (Matthew 27:27 KJV)
“Then goeth he, and taketh (paralambanō) with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:45 KJV)
Some Scriptures use this word in a positive manner while other Scriptures in a negative manner. So the Greek word ‘ paralambanō ‘ being the same as in John does not in any way prove Matthew 24:40 is using the word ‘taken’ to describe when the believers are snatched away at the Rapture.
Let’s see who the ‘other left’ will be. The word ‘left’ in the original Greek is the Greek word ‘aphiēmi‘ and has the meaning of ‘to send away, to bid going away or depart of a husband divorcing his wife’.
This is an interesting word! Jesus referred to believers in the church age as ‘The Bride of Christ’ and as being married to Christ from the very moment of a person’s Salvation. Here the ‘left’ are just the opposite and are sent away. Also, note that in the Rapture believers are snatched away off the Earth, but those left behind are just left on Earth to live in the Tribulation Period. There will be people coming to faith in Christ during the Tribulation Period. The left behind are not all sent away in death to judgment. Many from the 7 year Tribulation Period will die in the faith of Christ as we see them arriving in Heaven in Revelation 7:13-14. But here in Matthew 24, those left are sent away in judgement.
Matthew 24:40-41 is a perfect picture of what will happen to people who survive the Great Tribulation. Those that came to faith in Christ during the Tribulation that were not martyred by beheading from the Antichrist system will be taken (paralambanō) into the 1000 year millennial reign of Christ to repopulate the Earth. While the unbeliever survivors will be killed and left/sent away (aphiēmi) in judgement to one day be resurrected at the Great White Throne judgment of non believers at the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ.
The context is clear that Matthew 24 is speaking about a time period just after the Great Tribulation Period. That is, the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation Period. It is a warning of judgement for those who have not accepted Christ in faith at the Second Coming.
“But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:49-51 KJV)
What About Daniel ?
The Second Coming is known to be at a certain day from the time the signing of the covenant with many in Daniel 9:27. Doesn’t that mean the people in the Tribulation will know the day Christ will return at the Second Coming? And if so, how can Matthew 24 be talking about anything but the Rapture?
It is true what Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11-12 says,
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27 KJV)
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” (Daniel 12:11-12 KJV)
Remember though that in the Tribulation Period the Antichrist had deceived even Jews into thinking he was the Messiah already come. A great deception will happen after the Rapture to explain what happened when millions of people disappeared from the Earth.
Those who come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation Period because of the 144,00 Jews Evangelizing and because of the Two Witnesses God sends will know when Christ will return. They will look toward it with anticipation. However, Matthew 24:40-41 is a WARNING to the unbelievers. To them they think the Antichrist is the Messiah already come and they will not be looking for the Second Coming of Christ and it will take them by total surprise.
Matthew 24:40-41 is not referring to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. Again, this is not to say that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is not Biblical. It is VERY Biblical and not in debate in this article. Matthew 24: 40-41 is not referring to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, yet many others Scriptures do.
Matthew 24:1-9, is addressed to those just before the Tribulation Period starts. It is not directly about the Rapture but we know believers are Raptured prior to the Tribulation Period so it contains signs for us today. It describes our current world time period very well in fact! And verses 10-28 are talking about what will happen once the Tribulation Period starts and has specific warnings for Israel.
But from beyond verse 29, too many believers are using Matthew 24 in reference to the Rapture when this particular book of Scripture is mainly addressing Tribulation believers and unbelievers and is a WARNING to the unbelievers of coming judgment unless they repent and accept Christ.