"Then there shall be two men in
the field; one will be taken,
and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be
taken, and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day
your Lord is coming."
- Matthew 24:40- 42
the early 1970s, probably the most popular song within the " Jesus movement,"
was one entitled: " I Wish We' d All Been Ready," by Larry Norman. I was involved in this movement and we
rarely met when we did not sing Norman' s song. This song about the rapture includes the following lines:
A man and wife asleep in bed.
She hears a noise and turns her head, he's gone.
I wish we'd all been ready.
Two men walking up a hill.
One disappears and one's left standing still.
I wish we'd all been ready.
While I tend to like songs about the rapture, (I generally like this
song), I do not think Matthew 24:40- 42 (compare Luke 17:34- 37) is a reference
to the rapture, instead, Christ has in mind His second coming.
One Will Be Taken
illustration used in this parable is straight foreword in both examples. There will be a separation where
one individual will be taken and the other left behind. Also, in context, it is clear that one
is a believer and the other is not.
This describes a clear separation process. The question related to this passage is who is taken and who
is left behind. Those who hold to
pretribulationism have argued both ways on this issue. Does this refer to the believer being
taken and the unbeliever left behind, or just the reverse, where the unbeliever
is taken away in the believer is left to enter the kingdom? I believe the latter view is the
correct. It is the unbeliever who
is taken away in judgment.
As I have been
arguing throughout Matthew 24, the focus is upon the second coming while the
rapture is nowhere to be found in this passage. In Matthew 24, our Lord is teaching about the events leading
up to His return (tribulation events in verses 4- 26), followed by a revelation
of His second coming, which is then followed by parables that drive home
lessons related to His previous teachings (32- 51). I think it would be inconsistent to introduce parables about
the rapture when He has not taught about that event in this passage.
It is true that
when the rapture occurs there will be a separation of believers from
unbelievers when we are snatched away from planet earth. It is true that somewhere there will
two people together and one is taken while the other is left, however, that is
not what is spoken of in Matthew 24 because of the context. These parables are making points about
what Christ taught in 24:4- 31.
Taken In Judgment or
Greek word used in verses 40 and 41 is paralambano, made up of the root word lambano, which means " to take" or " receive" and the
preposition para, which means
" along side of." Thus, the meaning
of this verb is " to take into close association, take (to oneself), take
with/along."  The only place that I could find where
this word is clearly used of the rapture is of Christ' s initial disclosure of
this mystery in John 14:3: " I will come again, and receive you to Myself." Since paralambano is not a technical term that has the same meaning in every instance
it is used in the New Testament, like any word in any language, usage must be
determined by how it is used in a given context.
have tried to argue that " taken" here refers to the pre-trib rapture. There is a small minority of
pretribulationist that see these two verses as a reference to the rapture. For example, David L. Cooper said, " The
dominant idea is that the one who is a child of God will be taken, whereas the
one who has never made his peace with the Lord will be left to pass into the
Great Tribulation."  As Louis Barbieri has noted: " The Lord
was not describing the Rapture, for the removal of the church will not be a
judgment on the church. If this
were the Rapture, as some commentators affirm, the Rapture would have to be
posttribulational, for this event occurs immediately before the Lord' s return
in glory." 
have said that paralambano is
only used of positive relations.
However, such is not the case.
It is used of the Roman soldiers taking Jesus away from the Garden of
Gethsemane to the Praetorium and eventual crucifixion (Matt. 27:27; John
19:16). It is used of the devil
taking Jesus with him to show Him all the kingdoms of this world (Matt. 4:5,
8). This verb is also used of the
exercised demon returning to the newly swept house and taking with it seven
other spirits (Matt. 12:45; Luke 11:26).
Stan Toussaint discusses this matter as follows:
this a description of the rapture of the church or of the taking of the wicked
to judgment? Those who take the
former position argue that " to take" (paralambano), the verb used her, is to be differentiated
from " to take" (airw), the
verb used in verse thirty-nine. It
is asserted that paralambano
signifies the act whereby Christ receives His own to Himself. However, paralambano is also used in a bad sense (cf. Matthew 4:5, 8;
John 19:16). Since it is parallel
in thought with those who were taken in the judgment of the flood, it is best
to refer the verb to those who were taken for judgment preceding the establishment
of the kingdom. The difference in
verbs can be accounted for on the basis of accuracy of description. " The flood came and swept them all
away" is a good translation.
me, the strongest reason to take the separation depicted in this passage as a
reference to ones taken away in judgment is the context. It appears that verses 40- 41 are
illustrating that which preceded it in verses 36- 39, namely that those who were
not prepared in the days of Noah were taken away, in judgment, by the
flood. Verse 39 ends by saying,
" so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." Clearly the emphasis in this verse is on unbelievers being
taken away in the judgment of the flood.
Therefore, verses 40- 41 drive that point home by giving a couple
examples of the coming separation that will occur at this time of
judgment. Arno Gaebelein notes the
classes were living in Noah' s day.
The one who were unbelieving and these were swept away by the divine
judgment. The other class was Noah
and his house, and he and his own were left and not destroyed by the
judgment. It will be so again in
the coming of the Son of Man. The
unbelievers will be taken
away in the day of judgment and wrath; the others will be left on the earth to receive and enjoy the blessings
of the coming age and enter into the kingdom, which will then be established.
Another reason to
see verses 40- 41 as illustrating ones who are taken in judgment is the parallel
passage found in Luke 17:24- 37. In
a previous section (17:26- 30), Christ speaks of the coming of the Son of Man
being just like the days of Noah and Lot.
In both illustrations it was the wicked one who was taken in
judgment. Luke 17:27 says, " the
flood came and destroyed them
all." Verses 28 and 29 say: " It
was the same as happened in the days of Lot . . . and destroyed them all." (emphasis added) Verses 34- 36 gives three illustrations
of the separation of believers and unbelievers. Then the following question is
asked by the disciples: " Where Lord?" This question means where are the unbelievers taken? Jesus answers: " Wheresoever the
body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." Eagles in this context imply vultures
who hover over and scavenger a dead corpse. Thus, anyone would be able to see where a dead body is
because of the vultures hovering above (Rev. 19:17-21). Such language clearly supports the
notion that the ones taken are removed to judgment. Maranatha!
Be Continued . . .)