A Major Problem With Rapture Theology


"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." - Matthew 24:40-41

In plain English, there doesn't seem to be any problem whatsoever. It seems like of the two people in the field, and of the two women grinding at the hand mill, one will be taken away, and the other will be left there probably wondering what happened and maybe a bit confused.

In sticking with simplicity as our interpretive tool, if we layer an obvious spiritual meaning over top of the text we get rapture theology, which says that the plain meaning of this verse is that the person taken will be taken (they will vanish) to be with God someplace else - heaven. The person who is left will be left behind in the world to deal with years of untold atrocities before judgement day. In other words, the person who is taken will experience freedom, and the person who is left will experience hardship. The major problem with this interpretation is that in examining the Greek words for "taken" and "left", but more importantly the ideas that they represent, it's revealed that the exact opposite of what we thought is true. That is, the person who is "taken" is the one facing atrocity, and the person who is "left behind" experiences release and freedom. Incidentally, these ideas mesh well with the Hebraic idea of Olam Habba - which is the age to come where heaven and earth will be one.

Let's look more closely ... 
First we will note that Matthew 24:40 and 41 use the same Greek words for "taken" and then for "left"

From Matthew 24:41

"One will be taken .."

Source: http://biblelexicon.org/matthew/24-40.htm
The Greek word here is "paralambanó", which means "to receive from"
Short Definition: I take, receive
Definition: I take from, receive from, or: I take to, receive (apparently not used of money), admit, acknowledge; I take with me.
Paralambánō is derived from 3844 /pará, "close-alongside" and 2983 /lambánō, "aggressively take") – so we get the idea: "to take (receive) by showing strong personal initiative."

"... and one will be left."
The greek word here is aphiémi, which means "to send away, leave alone, permit"

Short Definition: I send away, release, remit, forgive, permit
Aphiémi is a combination from 575 /apó, "away from" and hiēmi, "send") – properly, send away; release (discharge).

Some questions
Is being discharged ever a bad thing? (answer: I can't think of a scenario where being discharged is bad, especially in the context of Ancient times)
What is the opposite of being let go? (answer: to be received into the hand of or by someone ...)

So there are opposites being set-up; the problem is they are the opposite of what we imagined them to be. And that puts a serious dent into the modern conception of the Rapture, because it would seem that the taking is an aggressive sort of taking where one is received into the hands of someone against their will, or one is being taken by the strong will of someone else. Only in the past few hundred years have Christians begun to think about the "taking" in a positive light, so let's just call a spade a spade: The taking being referred to in this part of the scriptures is what we now call kidnapping. So this scripture, properly translated into modern English (to account for the idea behind the words) could write: one will be kidnapped, and the other will be released. The point is that the one who is "left behind" is the one who will be doing all of the celebrating with God.

So when the rapture happens, I want to be left behind!

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