Nov 19, 2010

Who Is "Taken" at the Second Coming?

Tony GarlandBy Dr. Tony Garland

Q. Blessings to you and Shalom,

As I study I have found verses that state there were two in a bed and one was taken, there were two in the field and one was taken. Most people state that this is a picture of the rapture of the good one being taken. I don’t believe this. In many places in the Bible it states that the good will inherent the earth. That would make one think that the bad one is being taken away.

A. I share your understanding of the passages you mention (Mat. 24:37-42; Luke 17:26-37).

When it comes to determining the meaning of a passage, context is king! In other words, the immediate setting of the passage must be examined first for clues as to the meaning intended by the author. Only afterwards do we look to what we believe may be other related passages.

In Matthew’s gospel, notice the analogy Jesus makes between the global Flood which “took them all away” (to destruction, Mat. 24:39) and those who are “taken” in the subsequent verses. As during the Flood, they are taken in judgment.

It is also evident that the taken ones are taken in judgment in Luke’s account where His listeners ask about the destination of the taken ones, “Where, Lord?” (Luke 17:37). His answer:

“Wherever the body is, the eagles [or vultures, NASB] will be gathered together.”
Jesus is making reference to the common theme of judgment where God says He has a sacrifice for the birds of the air who will eat of the carcasses of the dead (e.g., Deu. 28:26; Rev. 19:17-18). His statement is rooted in an understanding of a similar passage in Job:
Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, stretching his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high? On the cliff he dwells and lodges, upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place. From there he spies out food; His eyes see [it] from afar. His young ones also suck up blood; And where the slain are, there is he. (Job 39:26-30)
Most careful teachers of the rapture know that these verses have nothing to do with the coming of the Lord for the Church, but speak about the Second Coming where Jesus comes in judgment and all the wicked are purged from the earth (Mat. 13:30,41-42,48) in preparation for the Millennial Kingdom to follow (Mat. 25:31).

Applying these passages to the rapture is eisegesis: reading into the passage something that is not there. The fact that people are ‘taken’ is incorrectly assumed to be their departure at the rapture, but the passage is not teaching this.

Related Links
What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming? -
Matthew 24, Luke 17 and the Rapture - (Tony Garland)
An Interpretation of Matthew 24-25 (Part 34) - Pre-Trib Research Center (Thomas Ice)
A Testimony of Jesus Christ: A Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Vol. 1 - Anthony C. Garland (Book)