Many church denominations cite this scripture as the source of their belief in the “rapture.” They believe that, prior to the time of the Great Tribulation, God will supernaturally “whisk away” all Christians into Heaven. The following scriptures show the error of this belief.
In reviewing the sequence of events in Matthew 24, we find the flight to the place of protection during the Great Tribulation is covered in verses 21-22 with the following verses discussing the false prophets that will abound during that time. Then, in verse 29, it is stated that immediately after the tribulation there will appear signs in the heavens and in verse 30 we see that all “shall see the Son coming in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory.”
Matthew 24:31 provides the central event of this explanation: “And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Some who are alive at that time will instantly be changed to spirit beings (I Cor. 15:52) and will rise to meet Christ in the air (I Thes. 4:17).
After Matt. 24:31, describing the First Resurrection, the following verses discuss the parable of the fig tree and that no man knows the exact time of Christ’s Return. Then, in verses 37-39, it discusses how life continued on as normal in the time of Noah, until the time of the Flood, when people were caught by surprise.
The context of Matthew 24:40-41 is distinctly applied to the account of the resurrection just discussed, along with the intervening verses about the parable of the fig tree and the general attitude of society during Noah’s time. The context makes it clear that those suddenly taken away in verses 40-41 can be none other than the very ones changed who are to be those to arise in the First Resurrection.
These verses do not fall within the context of the time just preceding the Tribulation and certainly have nothing to do with the imaginary invention of the rapture.
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