Who is Taken?

Many Christians think the following verses refer to the rapture:

Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. (Mat 24:40-41)

The idea is that the Christians are taken up into heaven so they can escape the great tribulation while are the non-believers are left on earth to endure 7 years of fire, hail, brimstone, rivers turning to blood, etc.

However, there are problems with this interpretation. First, Matthew does not support it. Here is Matthew 24:37-39:

For 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 were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 

Who are the ones taken away or swept away in these verses? Not the Christians. It is the non-Christians. Those who were not prepared for the flood were the ones taken away.  Noah was the one  left behind.

Second, Luke also does not view this as the rapture, but rather as a taking away to judgment or to die just like Matthew. Here is the parallel passage in Luke to Matthew 24:36-44:

I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:34-37)

Notice in Luke the disciples (see verse 22) follow up Jesus’ description about people being taken with a question about where they will be taken. Jesus’ answer does not indicate a rapture. Where will they be taken? Look for the vultures. They will be eating their flesh. Whatever you think about the rapture, vultures eating the flesh of those taken does not usually figure into it.

So being taken in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 is not about the rapture. It is about Roman soldiers coming and dragging men off to die and to be slaves and to be imprisoned.