Wednesday 24 September 2014

Two in the Field


Benjamin Corey on the Formerly Fundie blog has an interesting take on Matthew 24:40. Here is that verse (NRSV throughout).
Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
Believers in the "secret rapture" use this as a proof text. They want to be among those taken, swept up to some kind of interim glory while those poor sods "left behind" must pass through the Great Tribulation.

Then there's Luke 17:34-35 which says something similar.
I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
 Corey then points to verse 37:
Then they (the disciples) asked him, "Where, Lord?" [i.e. where will they be taken?] He said to them, "Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather."
Corey comments: "That's right. The ones who were 'taken' were killed. Not exactly the blessed rapture."

His point is that Jesus is talking about the Roman invasion, hence the need to "flee quickly - to not even go back into their house to gather their belongings..."

And so, if you take the text literally, being "left behind" is definitely the preferred option.

I don't remember hearing this reading of the text before. It certainly seems to fit the context, and makes a lot more sense than the silly idea promoted in the Churches of God of fleeing to Petra on chartered commercial jets (a variant of the rapture) in order to avoid the Trib.

What do you think?


  1. I think you can interpret the text and get just about anything you want out of the Bible. I also think that if you're going to flee you really need to get away from it all. Forget Petra: it's too close to all the end-time action. You need someplace really remote. New Zealand sounds nice (I know, I know: the last thing you'd want would be fleeing cult members down there), but there are other places that are far more isolated. If you really want to get away from it all perhaps the best place would be Tristan da Cunha, which is the most remote inhabited place on the planet. It is 1,700 miles from Africa and 2,000 miles from South America (that's 2,735 and 3,218 kilometers, respectively, for all of those who are still using metric and haven't caught up with the United States when it comes to measurement).

  2. Yes, the Rapture is silly. And, by the way, there is no airport really close to Petra.

  3. I recall Garner Ted Armstrong saying that those taken were worse off than those left behind. Another point: I recently read a dispensationalist, pretrib book edited by John MacArthur, and it said that the passage in Matthew 24:40 (or one of the parallels) is unrelated to the rapture. Maybe pretribbers are moving away from that position, because it doesn't make much sense.

  4. I think it is talking about the first Jewish-Roman war which had already happened when the gospels were written. The writers of the gospels are claiming Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple and it was thought that the destruction was the sign of the end of the world - which would happen in that 40 year generation - by 110 AD. There was no rapture intended in that context, it was a warning to flee from Judea because the final judgment on Israel was fast approaching and would happen in "this generation". They weren't too far wrong about that either, as the second Jewish-Roman war really was fast approaching at that time.

    Those writers of the synoptic gospels were wrong in their timing though and this was recognized by the writer of the gospel of John and why there is no repeat of the apocalypse of Mark 13, Matt 24 and Luke 21 in his gospel. By the time John's gospel was written there was an established orthodoxy and it's pretty obvious that by that time Jesus was thought to have pre-existed his human birth, "was God", and the Trinity doctrine was developing.

    1. I agree with Corky. He "nailed it".

      In particular, I like his perspective. It's silly to talk about what "Jesus meant". These verses were written many years after Jesus allegedly lived. It's much more meaningful to consider what the gospel writers were trying to convey and why.

  5. Since the newer, latest and greatest version of the rapture can frighten people into the arms of the Christian gods, then why should any Christian salesman abandon it?
    (No matter that the more popular and modern views of the rapture came from the likes of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye - and far less from anything resembling actual biblical scholarship.)
    We must remember that Jesus Himself blessed and annointed those authors with "SUCCESS", with book sales of over 100 million!
    Whose side would you rather be on? Jumbotron Jesus who put a Starbucks coffee in your hand while your megachurch pastor preached about the latest popular version of the rapture, or those naughty biblical scholars who want to sow doubt about your latest emotionally-based Christian 'facts' that you know are 99 44/100% pure because the Holy Spirit tells you so?

  6. Benjamin Corey self identifies as an Anabaptist. So, to glean some better persective for his statements, one would probably want to do a bit of research on the Anabaptists.

    Having said that, I have seen or heard this interpretation of Matt. 24:40 before, although I do not recall whether it was something I had read, something I had encountered on Christian radio or television, or something I had heard in church. I don't know whether or not to actually believe in the rapture. One of the ideas presented to us at a church I've attended is that there is presently unknowable mystery surrounding the specific details as to how we as a human race got here, and regarding how it all will end, and what future afterlife might hold in store for us. This was speculated as being true possibly so that we would be motivated more towards concentrating on the present things that we can and do know. And, from the brief read I have just done on the Anabaptists, that seems to encapsulate the major thrust of their existence as Christians.

    From the standpoint of purely personal conjecture, I will say that based on our past coerced lifestyle, the one attractive aspect of the rapture was that it placed God firmly in position as our gatekeeper, and not some Armstrongite despot. If one believes in God, that would seem to be the way things ought to be. We can see the horrible, bad fruits of the Armstrongist "place of safety" doctrine unfolding before us in living color on all of our favorite webpages and blogs. They take their extrabiblical doctrine of Petra, combine it with their extrabiblical doctrines of compliance with authority from the top down and identifiable church eras, and they create an environment of spiritual, moral, and intellectual slavery. Even courts of law recognize that things done under coercion are not valid.


    1. Any time there is a threat of 'wrath', 'destruction' or 'burning in fire' if you don't believe and comply attached to a 'church' - that's "coercion" and I don't know of any that don't use it either.