Q. How does Luke 21:34-36 stack up against OSAS? “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
A. Luke 21:34-36 is a confusing passage because there are two different translations of the Greek text. The version in the King James reads like this.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
And Young’s Literal Translation has it this way.
And take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts may be weighed down with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day may come on you,
for as a snare it shall come on all those dwelling on the face of all the land, watch ye, then, in every season, praying that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
For all practical purposes the only difference is the appearance of the word “about” in the Young’s rendering of verse 36. (The New American Standard, the NIV and others follow the Young’s, while the American Standard Version, Holman’s Christian Standard and others are like the King James.)
The Greek word the King James translates shall come to pass means “to be about, or on the point of doing”. It implies immediacy. It’s just one word but it makes a lot of difference, since in Luke 21 Jesus spoke about both the 1st Century destruction of Jerusalem and the Great Tribulation at the end of the age. Rather than try to figure out which version is correct, let’s look at it both ways.
If the version you read includes the word “about” in verse 36 then you have a summary statement with final instructions for the early church. Jesus said these things in 32 AD. The Great Tribulation wasn’t about to happen, but the destruction of Jerusalem, of which He had just spoken, was (Luke 21:12-24). That’s what He would have been warning them about. There was no promise that the Church would be removed from harm’s way before the Roman armies came. They were going to have to stay alert and live by faith to escape with their lives.
If your version does not include the word about, then you would see verses 34-36 as applying to the end of the age and that’s where the problem comes in. Many read it this way and think it has to do with the rapture. But that’s an incorrect interpretation.
First of all, Luke 21:34-36 is all about behavior so you have to ask yourself, “What makes a Church age believer worthy to stand before the Son of Man?” Clearly it’s belief (John 3:16, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:13, etc.) not behavior.
Second, since our salvation is guaranteed from the moment of belief (Ephes. 1:13-14) and there’s nothing we can do to change that (John 6:38-40, John 10:27-30) then the Lord couldn’t have been talking about the Church in this passage. We’re already worthy because we have a righteousness imputed to us by faith (Romans 3:21-22).
But salvation will not be guaranteed to tribulation believers. They’ll be responsible for remaining faithful (Rev. 14:12). Since the context of the preceding verses (Luke 21:25-33) is obviously the time of the 2nd Coming the rapture will have already taken place, so absent the word “about” the Lord would have had Tribulation believers in mind here and not the Church.
The bottom line is, whether you prefer the “about” version or the “shall” version, neither of them can refer to the rapture of the church.