Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Those who hold the rapture teaching will try to get around this by arguing that Matt. 24:40-42 mentions the pre-tribulational rapture. Let’s analyze this, “Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” On the surface, they seem to have a point. They say that the Christian is taken secretly by Christ so that he will not endure the immense suffering and evil of the tribulation. One is in the field “left behind,” whereas the other has been raptured. However, let’s take a look at the context. The context of the passage is about Noah and the flood. Jesus says,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 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 did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect"(Mt. 24:36-44).
Notice how the passage is continuing the thought from the rest of Matthew 24, where first Jesus speaks of the tribulation, then of His coming at the end of time on the clouds with angels. Jesus is just continuing His description of the end of time, where no person knows when He will return, “But of that day and hour no one knows” (Mt. 24:36). His coming will be “as were the days of Noah,” where nobody knew that the flood was coming until it was too late for them. The wicked were taken and “swept” from this earth by surprise in the flood, and so will it be when Christ returns: one person will suddenly be taken from the field, the other one left. Just as Noah and his family were left behind and safe, so the righteous will be left behind on earth. The judgment of the waters wiped away evil then, and Christ’s coming judgment will wipe away evil now.
As we can see, the words about one person being taken from the field and the other one left is a reference to Christ coming suddenly and unexpectedly to judge the earth at the end of time, “Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt. 24:44). We also see that it is not the Christian man being taken, but the unprepared wicked man, as was the case with Noah. Jesus is not speaking of a pre-tribulational rapture, but simply continuing His discussion of His coming after the tribulation “on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” where “his angels…will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mt. 24:30-31).