What does Matthew 24:40 mean?
ESV: Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.
NIV: Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
NASB: At that time there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
CSB: Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.
NLT: Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left.
KJV: Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
NKJV: Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
Verse Commentary:
Interpreters of different traditions have come to drastically different conclusions about what Jesus means in this passage. Some of those possibilities are more reasonable than others. It is most helpful to pay attention to the context of this and the following verses.

Jesus has been describing how sudden and unexpected Noah's flood was for those living during that time (Matthew 24:37–39). They were going about their daily lives with no awareness of God's coming judgment until the flood waters came and wiped them from the face of the earth. Christ's return to earth as the judge and king (Revelation 19:11–15) will be similar. Everyone will be going about their business with no clue of when His arrival will happen or what it will mean for them.

In that context, it seems most likely that Jesus is saying some will be taken away in judgment—through death in the catastrophes of the end times (Matthew 24:21–22, 29)—while others survive to continue to live on earth under His protection and blessing (Revelation 20:1–6). The other possibility reaches back to Jesus sending out His angels to gather His elect from earth (Matthew 24:31). Some teachers believe the one taken is part of the elect: a true believer in Christ chosen by God, who is "taken" in the sense that he is gathered off the earth and to Christ.

For that reason, some believe Jesus is describing what is commonly called the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). In looking at this passage, some suggest this rapture will happen after the tribulation period. Those who believe in a pre- or mid-tribulation rapture would understand those taken in this passage to be taken in judgment by Christ.
Verse Context:
Matthew 24:36–51 contains an explicit warning which has frequently been ignored by false teachers. Nobody will know the precise time of His return to earth. Only God the Father knows when it will happen. Everyone will be caught by surprise at the sudden appearance of those signs, just as the people swept away in Noah's flood. Jesus' followers must live in constant readiness for His return. He uses a parable to illustrate this, describing the choices of two servants while their master was away. One was faithful and wise, the other wicked. When the master returned, the faithful one was rewarded, and the wicked one was cut into pieces.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus makes a dire prediction about the destruction of the temple. Immediately after this, while seated on the Mount of Olives, Jesus responds to a question from the disciples. They ask when judgment will come and what signs will signal His return. Christ describes a season of unimaginable world turmoil and persecution. He points to a specific moment of defilement of the temple, at which point people should run for their lives. Jesus speaks of world-threatening tribulation which will be cut short right before He returns as King and Judge. Since nobody can possibly know when He will return, His followers must live in readiness.
Chapter Context:
Jesus has just left the temple area, after delivering a blistering criticism of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23). After predicting that the temple would be destroyed, He answers their questions about the end times. He speaks of a period when He will be gone from earth and they will be persecuted and killed. The world will be in turmoil, but the gospel will be preached everywhere. Nobody knows exactly when Jesus' return will be completed, so his followers should constantly be prepared. Jesus continues to teach on these themes in the next chapter.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/21/2024 12:45:49 PM
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