The idea of the “Rapture” comes from interpretations of Scripture that see believers being taken out of this world into heaven. According to this view, the clearest rapture-reference in the Gospels appears in the Olivet discourse, in which Jesus says that some will be “taken” and others “left” (cf. Matt 24:40-42; Lk 17:34-35). When read in isolation, this statement may sound like a record of the Rapture; however, the broader context clarifies that those who are “taken” are not whisked to heaven, but rather taken away in judgment, while those who are “left” will remain with the Son of Man in the kingdom of God.

During the Olivet discourse, Jesus declares, “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken (παραλαμβάνω; paralambáno) and one will be left (ἀφίημι; aphíemi). Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on which day your Lord is coming” (Matt 24:40-42). The popular Left Behind book series takes its title from these verses, and understands them to mean that some will be “taken” to heaven in the Rapture, while others will be “left behind” for the tribulation on earth. However, the Messiah’s actual message offers the opposite picture: those who are “taken” will experience a tribulation, and those who are “left” will be saved from it.

Just before Yeshua mentions those “taken” and “left,” he states, “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and took them all away (ἦρεν ἅπαντας; aeren hapantas), so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:37-39). In this context, Jesus asserts that just as people in Noah’s day were “taken” by the floodwaters, people will be taken in judgment at the second coming. Conversely, just as the righteous Noah and his family were “left behind” on the earth when everyone else was “taken,” the righteous will be left behind when the Son of Man returns. Whereas the Left Behind series understands being “taken” as a good scenario — namely, being raptured to safety in heaven — in the biblical context being “taken” is a very bad thing. On the other hand, to be “left behind” is to be spared from eschatological judgment and to join the Son of Man in his Father’s eternal kingdom.    

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245 COMMENTS

  1. Woah. This is definitely a head spinner Dr Nicholas. But you make an excellent point and have definitely caused me to re-read this passage and others with new eyes! Thank you for sharing.
    • Dr Schaser,whether the believers will be taken or left behind should not trouble a believer. The Lord will do the separation, where one ends up, is by the course of thejourney we each took. So the interpretation should not frighten a believer because we will be in the care of our Lord. As Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, explained in 1Thess 4:14-18.

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  2. Thanks! You provide an excellent example of the necessity to read Scripture in context to prevent us from getting the wrong end of the stick!
    Your short devotions are an inspiration!
  3. Jesus and the 12 preached to Jew only so the interpretation is correct. But to apply that message to the church is an unscriptural mixing of law and grace.
  4. Wow! What an eye opener...another perspective of Scripture and according to what you’ve written, directly from Hus Word, it makes more sense than what we’ve been taught! This is a perfect example why we must read the Word and pray that the Holy Spirit be our Teacher in all things!
    • Thanks for your question, John. Heaven is where God lives, not where believers go when they die. Rather, "heaven" (the New Jerusalem) comes down to us at the eschaton (see Revelation 21-22). Also, you may find this previous IBC article helpful: https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/

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    • Exactly. This is false teaching and does not align with what the Bible clearly states. The Harpazo will be the snatching away of the church.
    • Sorry David but I think you have twisted. One of the strongest beliefs in Christianity is going to heaven Yet ignore That only one has gone to heaven. Jesus. He said I will come again when no rapture but at His second coming For the dead an alive in Christ
  5. Thank you for this making this a clearer understanding of this verse, now when I teach, I can make it more meaningful.
  6. I read it slightly different. Just as in Noah’s day those left behind suffered death and those taken up in the Ark lived. New Testament says that those dead in Christ will rise first and we who are alive in Christ will join them. Then the white throne judging occurs.
    • Michael, when Paul says that the dead in Christ will rise first, he's speaking about bodily resurrection from the grave, not "rapture" to heaven. On 1 Thess 4, see this previous article: https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/paul-really-report-rapture/

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