Luke 21:36 does not teach the Rapture

Updated: Jun 5

By Luke Lancaster

Luke 21:36 is a passage many believers in the rapture will quote, which says, “But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” They believe that this passage is saying that we could escape all of the tribulations spoken of earlier on in Luke 21, which would mean that Luke 21:36 is a reference to a pre-trib rapture.

However, escaping the tribulations could be a reference to a few other things. First off, Jesus is not only speaking here of the end of the world. He is also speaking of the events leading up to the destruction of the Temple, for the disciples asked Him what the signs would be when the Temple was destroyed (Lk. 21:7). The Temple was seen as a microcosm of the world (Ps. 78:69), as if it was a mini “replica” of the real thing. So, the descriptions of the earthly catastrophes, persecutions, and the armies surrounding Jerusalem to destroy it, refer particularly to the destruction of the Temple, which represents the destruction of the world.

Now, the emphasis in Luke 21:21 on fleeing Jerusalem when it is about to be “trodden down by the Gentiles” (Lk. 21:24), is probably so specific as to only be referring to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. So, Jesus’s words in Luke 21:36 about “escaping all these things,” could really be a strong reference to this.

However, Jesus mentions escaping all of the tribulations, not simply a singular destruction of the Temple. “Escape all these things,” then, could be a reference to God’s guiding and protecting hand for His people. Instead of being in the middle of an earthquake, maybe he finds shelter quickly or is in the next town over. Maybe the Christian resists the temptation to follow the false Messiah’s and escapes them, allowing him to “stand before the Son of man” (Lk. 21:36). Whatever Christ meant, the text does not have to mean a pre-tribulational rapture.