Q. For most of my life I thought that Matt. 24:40-41 described the Rapture: “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.” In more recent years I realized Matt. 24 and 25 are not about the Church. So in rereading verse 40 and 41, I realized they are about the sheep and goat judgment. The goats are the ones taken and thrown into the eternal fire. The sheep are left to enter the millennium with Christ. Because of this, I believe the Church is gone before this judgment occurs.
A. I agree with your outcome, but see the words “taken” and “left” differently. Here’s a excerpt from my study on the pre-trib rapture that deals with Matt. 24:40-41.
“Those who believe they see the rapture in Matt. 24:40-41 first have to ignore the fact that Jesus was explaining events on Earth on the actual day of His return (Matt. 24:39), which would place the Rapture after the 2nd Coming, something no one believes. They also have to ignore the fact that in Matt. 24:40-41 both believers and non-believers are sent somewhere, believers being received unto Him, while non-believers are sent away. You have to research the Greek words translated “taken” (paralambano) and “left” (alphiemi) to realize this, but when you do you’ll see that the English is misleading. Paralambano actually means “to take, or join to one’s self”. Alpheimi means “to leave” or “send away” and is often used in reference to a divorce. ”
I agree with you that Matt. 24:40-41 is a summary of the Sheep and Goat judgment which takes place after the 2nd Coming (Matt. 24:31) and therefore does not involve the Church. The sheep are joined to the Lord in the Millennial kingdom on Earth (Matt. 25:34) and the goats are sent away into the eternal fire (Matt. 25:41).