|A172 : by Andy Woods |
I actually have been doing a lot of thinking about this lately issue since my paper at the Pre-Trib Study Group this December ("Jesus and the Rapture") will deal with this subject as well as John 14:1-4. Eventually, that paper will be posted at pre-trib.orga as well as on the SpiritAndTruth.orgb website. So, you will have to wait for that paper to get a more detailed answer.
I also recommend chapter 9 of Renald Showers' book Maranatha: Our Lord Comec for a more thorough treatment of the issue.
Having said that, here is my cursory answer:
Many see the rapture in Matthew 24:40-41. They use three arguments to support their position.
It seems better to understand those taken in verses 40-41 as those taken into judgment after the Second Advent. Those left behind will enter the kingdom.
- They note the difference between verse 39 and verses 40-41 regarding the verb “to take.” While airō is used in verse 39, it is paralambanō in verses 40-41. Rapture proponents argue that this change is made in verses 40-41 in order to harmonize the verb with the use of the same verb in the rapture passage in John 14:3. However, the change could be simply stylistic in order to give greater expression to the ideas presented. Furthermore, paralambanō is also used in the negative sense in Matthew’s Gospel (Mat. 4:5, 8) and elsewhere (John 19:16).
- They note that because what is described in verses 40-41 represents normal life activity these verses cannot be referring to the Second Advent at the end of the Tribulation. Because normal life would not be taking place at the end of the Tribulation, it must be speaking of the rapture before the Tribulation. However, it is possible that verses 40-41 are a figure of speech depicting being caught up in the system of the Antichrist during the Tribulation and are therefore not speaking of ordinary life.
- They argue that the phrase “no one knows the day or the hour” (24:36) cannot be speaking of an event at the end of the Tribulation since people would know the time of that event. It will take place exactly seven years after the antichrist enters into the peace treaty with Israel (Dan 9:27). However, the phrase in verse 36 could be given from the perspective of an unbeliever. Elsewhere, unbelievers are said to be similarly unaware of the exact timing of Christ’s return even after most of the events of the Tribulation have transpired (Rev 16:15).
For these and other reasons I really do not look at Matt 24:32-42 as rapture truth.
- The immediate context involves being taken into judgment (Mat. 24:39).
- The parallel passage in Luke 17:37 indicates that those taken are not taken to heaven but rather are taken to where the vultures are gathered. Elsewhere this phrase is used of judgment at Christ’s Second Advent (Rev 19:17-18).
- Separation between unbelievers unto judgment and believers unto bliss by Christ at His Second Advent is taught in other places in Matthew (Mat. 13:40-41; 25:31-46).
- The rapture is truth for the church age and the immediate context here involves Israel (Mat. 24:15,20,22).
I Hope this helps.