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Is the Lord Jesus referring to the event of the Rapture in Matthew 24.40-41?

I assume the questioner has particularly in mind the phrase, "The one shall be taken, and the other left". Not a few cite these words of the Lord Jesus as referring to the Rapture. Certainly they seem to fit in well with what will happen then. It is true that at the Rapture the unsaved will be left when the Lord comes to the air for the Church, but we submit that the meaning of the Lord’s words and the surrounding context are against such an interpretation.

In order to understand what is in view here we should observe the time note "Then" at the beginning of v.40. This takes us back to v.36 and to the end of v.39 and points to the coming of the Son of man at the Second Advent. Those who have worshipped the beast during the Tribulation will be taken from the earth. It is evident from the context that those who are left will be left for the blessing of the millennial Kingdom. Verses 40 & 41 of Matthew 24 should be compared with vv.37-39 where it will be seen that the godless outside the ark were taken away with the flood. They were not taken in blessing but cut off by God.

Some have felt that the Lord’s teaching in these verses refers to the Rapture because the word for "taken" is also used in John 14.3 and there translated "receive". The word, however, is used with more than one meaning in the New Testament as is the case with the taking of Christ for scourging and crucifixion in Matthew 27.27. The word must be given its meaning in the light of the context. Moreover, the whole discourse of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24 from vv.4 to 31 refers to the Tribulation period and His coming to earth as the Son of man. Everything in the passage points to the Jewish nation: "the abomination of desolation" (v.15); "the holy place" (v.15); "Judæa" (v.16); "the elect" (v.22). The Church, we believe, is not in view in this great prophetic chapter. The Church dispensation will have run its course and the Rapture will have already occurred by the time of the happenings mentioned by the Lord in vv.36-41.

John J Stubbs

Are the sufferings of the Lord Jesus all-atoning, or is it only those of the three hours of darkness which redeem?

Although we may speak of the atoning work of Christ and join in the singing of Elisha Hoffmann’s hymn, "Christ has for sin atonement made: What a wonderful Saviour!", we should bear in mind that atonement is not a New Testament concept. The Greek word katallage, rendered "atonement" (Rom 5.11, AV), should, more correctly, have been translated "reconciliation"; in the previous verse, the corresponding verbal form katallasso is rendered "reconciled".

It is of interest that, in Romans 3.24-25, Paul alludes to the law courts when he speaks of justification, the market place when he refers to redemption, and the Holiest of All when he introduces the subject of propitiation.

It is well known that Peter in his First Epistle makes seven references to the sufferings of Christ. Thus Peter says, e.g., "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins" (1 Pet 3.18), speaking of His vicarious sufferings in which we could never share. However, he goes on to say, "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings" (1 Pet 4.13), sufferings in which believers, in their little measure, can have a part.

It is of significance that "it was the third hour, and they crucified him" (Mk 15.25), but that "when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land (or earth) until the ninth hour" (Mk 15.33). The second period of three hours is marked out as being distinct from the first three hours. The present writer believes that it was during the three hours of darkness, when accomplishing the work of propitiation, that Christ "was wounded for our transgressions" (Is 53.5) – these wounds were not flesh wounds, but wounds that went deep into His holy soul, the meeting place for our transgressions. Christ was pierced by the sword of divine justice (Zech 13.7). He "was bruised for our iniquities", this was a bruising that came from the hand of God, "it pleased the Lord to bruise him" (Is 53.10). Then, "with his stripes we are healed" - the reference is not to the Roman scourging, but rather to the stroke of divine judgment that was inflicted on Him. The physical sufferings of Christ at the hands of men had no part in the work of propitiation.

It should be acknowledged that J R Baker (Believer’s Magazine, January, 1993, p.26) took a different view from this.

David E West


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