Q. I am confused about some of the teachings you’ve been sharing with us regarding the men in the field and the women at the mill in Mt. 24:40-41. Is this regarding the rapture or the 2nd coming? Can you explain it again?
A. Matt. 24:40-41 reads, Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Understanding the intent of these verses requires that we understand the context in which they appear. Knowing the timing helps us see the context. There’s no indication from Scripture that the flow of the Lord’s teaching in Matt. 24-25 is anything other than chronological, so that’s the way we should read it.
Matt. 24:29 gives us the timing by saying, “Immediately after the distress (tribulation) of those days …” Matt. 24:30 follows with “at that time … they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky”. This is obviously the 2nd Coming, which will happen after the end of the Great Tribulation. Then Matt. 24:36-39 says, “No one knows about that day or hour” (of the 2nd Coming) and gives references to Noah and the flood ending with, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man”. From this we can safely conclude that verses 40-41 contain a description of events related to the 2nd Coming.
Now let’s consider the words “taken” and “left” in Matt. 24:40-41 a little more closely. The Greek word translated taken literally means to receive unto oneself, and the one translated left means to send away. In the rapture believers are received unto the Lord but unbelievers are not sent away. The timing and wording of these verses tell us they refer to the disposition of those remaining alive on Earth at the 2nd Coming, the Tribulation survivors. Those who’ve become believers will be received into the Kingdom on Earth, and those who haven’t will be sent away.
I think of these verses as a preview of the Sheep and Goat judgment (Matt. 25:31-46) where the sheep are received into the Kingdom and the goats are sent away into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Put into its proper context, Matt. 24:40-41 describes the time just after the 2nd Coming, not the rapture of the Church.