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LEFT BEHIND: A Study in Matthew Chapter 24


We continue our study of Matthew 24 and we look further into imminence. Pre-tribbers insist on an "imminent" or "any moment" pre-trib rapture of the church because Jesus said:

"But of that days and hour no one knows, not even the angels, nor the Son of Man, but the Father alone."  Matthew 24:36 NASB

In scripture, Jesus said His coming is after the tribulation. But since Jesus doesn't know the hour or day of His coming, but the Father alone, pre-tribbers insist  this is His "Pre-trib" coming. In the main article,  Jesus never said His coming "for His own" was before or during the tribulation. He warned His disciples to flee when the Abomination of Desolation takes place (when the Great Tribulation starts). And He told them after the tribulation, a sign will appear in the sky of His coming.

In previous articles on this website, various scriptures are used to examine and refute the pre-trib position. Pre-tribbers persistently ignore key scripture and come up with the same spin to support their view. One of their key arguments is imminence, an any-moment rapture for the church. Even though there is nowhere in scripture that says Jesus will come before the tribulation. 

Most of what Jesus said to His disciples about His coming was on  the Mount of Olives just a few days before He died on the cross. The focus of this article is what Jesus said to His disciples earlier in in the Gospel of Luke.

"Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight. And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks." 

Luke 12:35-36 NASB

Jesus instructed His disciples to be "dressed in readiness" and be "like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast so that they immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks." In Revelation, John describes the wedding which occurs after the tribulation at Jesus' coming: 

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready...'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb'...And I saw an angel standing in  the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, 'come and assemble for the great supper of God."

Revelation 19:7,9,17 NASB

This parable is in direct contradiction to the pre-trib view that:

  • His coming will be before the tribulation;

  • and the church must be raptured into heaven in order to be prepared for the wedding that occurs after the tribulation.

But before we close this article, we must look at the remaining verses in order to come to an overall conclusion.

"Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed be the slaves."

Luke 12:35-36 NASB

In this parable, Jesus calls the slaves who are on the alert when the master comes blessed because they will be able to receive their master. But since they are ready to receive their master, the master will then serve his slaves. 

"And be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed the house to be broken into. You too be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Luke 12:39-40 NASB

Another part of the imminence view is "the thief in the night." Pre-tribbers insist that this relates to His alleged pre-trib coming. Again in the context of this parable, Jesus describes the masters coming after the wedding feast. Jesus instructed His disciples that if the head of the house would have known when the thief was coming, then he wouldn't have allowed the thief to break into his house. He instructed them to be ready because Jesus will come at an hour they do not expect. This is not in an indication of an any moment "pre-trib" rapture. 

For more thief references, look at the articles, "Day of the Lord" and "Like a Thief."

"And Peter said, 'Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?' "

Luke 12:41 NASB

Another part of the pre-trib maze is they insist that some parts of scripture are for the "tribulation saints" or the "unsaved Jews" when Jesus is clearly speaking directly to His disciples, especially in verses 39-40.  In the above verse, Peter asks the precise question: "Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?" Peter did not ask the Lord if He was addressing this parable to the "tribulation saints." (And Jesus repeats this parable in Luke further in Matthew 24 verses 42 through 51 while speaking to his disciples privately!)

Jesus answered Peter:

"And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if the slave says in his heart, ' "My master will be a long time in coming," ' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him into pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the ones who know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive a few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.' "

Luke 12:41-48 NASB

Jesus referred these verses  to the faithful and sensible stewards whom the master puts in charge of his servants. At the time when the Lord comes, if the steward is properly in charge and care for the servants, the steward will be blessed and the Lord will put the steward in charge in all his possessions. But if the slaves says in his heart the master won't come for a long time and beats the other slaves, and eats and gets drunk, then the master will come on the day the slave doesn't expect him. THEN the slave will be cut into pieces and be assigned a place with the unbelievers!  This happens after the tribulation! As we've seen, the master will come unexpectedly to kill the unfaithful slave.  He will not come to rapture the faithful servants into heaven as pre-tribbers like us to believe. 

To continue further, Jesus gave this discription of a thief.

"The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy..."

John 10;10a NASB

Jesus gave a job description of thief. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. So the thief's discription is narrowed down by Jesus' own words. You won't find anything in scripture that says a thief comes to "take Christians out of the earth before the tribulation." And you won't find this in Jesus' job description of a thief either. And Jesus said in His parable in Luke that the master will come on a day when the slave does not expect him and will "cut him into pieces"...(i.e. kill and destroy him)! This is the same thing that will happen when Jesus comes:


"And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall also be in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating they were drinking, they were marrying, they were given in marriage, until that day the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were planting, they were building; but on that day Lot went out from Sodom and it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on that day the Son of Man is Revealed."    

Luke 17:26-30 NASB

As we examined the above scriptures to test imminence, Jesus doesn't come "at any moment" to rapture the church into heaven as pre-tribbers allege. Jesus said these things must happens before He comes:

  • wars and rumors of wars, but the end is still to come (Matthew 24:6);

  • believers will be persecuted and put to death (24:9);

  • the arrival of false prophets and teachers (24:11, 23-25);

  • the Gospel must be preached to the whole world (24:14);

  • a falling away from the faith (rebellion, not rapture!) (24:10, See also 2 Thessalonians 2:3);

  • The abomination of desolation must occur (Matthew 24:15, See also 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Since it is fact the church will see the abomination that causes desolation, Jesus will not come "at any moment" to rapture His church into heaven. To believe otherwise, as pre-tribbers insists, contradicts what Jesus said in Matthew 24:15.

As Jesus' coming is put into context, He specifically said His coming is "after the tribulation of those days." And even though He doesn't know the day or hour and only the father knows, one thing we do know, the church is going through the tribulation. And Jesus gives us the signs that lead up to His coming. We must be on the alert and sober to see these signs, or else we will be like unbelievers who will be unaware and that day of His coming will overtake us "like a thief." As Jesus says:

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is the man who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and shamefully exposed."

Revelation 16:15 NASB

Given these facts, imminence, as defined by pre-tribbers, fails the test of scripture and must be entirely rejected along with the pre-trib rapture.

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      Articles in this study

Left Behind-A Study in Matthew 24


The Elect

Take to One's Self 


My Father's House