I recently saw a question you answered in August of 2013 regarding the Left Behind movie remake. In it you remarked that there was not so much as a hint to support the idea that Left Behind teaches about the Rapture, that non-believers will be left behind on the earth. How can you say this in remark of this verse? Matthew 24:31 “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Also, Jesus says that “one will be taken and the other left”. Proof? If it is not, I’m not sure what it is.
I believe you have a good point and I will have to say that I overstated myself in the original Q&A. It is not that I was not aware of the passage in question, but that I consider that passage to not be strong evidence for the whole rapture/left behind doctrine which is so popular in evangelical circles. By the way, I still believe that this passage is not strong evidence for the rapture doctrine, but I will have to say that you are correct to point out that I was too cavalier to not even mention Matthew 24:31 which can clearly be seen as supporting at least some sort of being “left behind.”
Let me explain. We need to look at Matthew 24:31, look at the context, and then ask what is the most likely interpretation, given the other things which Scripture says about the second coming of Jesus. Clearly, Matthew 24:21-51 is a description of what is commonly known as the second coming of Jesus. Jesus tells us that no one knows the day and the hour at which he will come (v.36). He tells us that his coming will be sudden and unexpected and that “two men will be in a field; one will be taken and the other left.” What does this mean? What does “taken” mean, and what does “left” mean? We are not told. In Matthew 24:50 it says that at the last time, those who are not ready will be cut to pieces, and will be assigned a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Likely, then, to be “left” means to not go to heaven, but rather to go to hell. There is not the slightest indication of people being “left behind” on the earth, wondering where the Christians went. This is the imaginative picture created by many evangelical believers in the “rapture.”
When I said that there is not a hint of the Left Behind/rapture theory in the Scripture, what I should have done is I should have mentioned Matthew 24:31, 40, 41, but then explained why I believe that there is no indication in this passage of people literally being “left behind” wondering what happened to all the believers who were carried off into the sky. This is the picture created by the Left Behind series, but it is not supported by Matthew 24:40 or any other passage.
As a parallel passage on the second coming of Jesus we have 2 Peter 3:12. This passage says about “the day of God” that “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” There does not seem to be any room for a few years during which those who are “left behind” do all the things imagined in the Left Behind series or in the common postmillennial teachings so common in evangelical churches.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 also describes the second coming of Christ. It says that “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” Again, whatever it means in Matthew 24:31, 40, 41 when Jesus says that some will be left, there seems to be no room here for them to be “left behind”, wondering what happened to the saved people when they were carried off into the air, as is so commonly represented by supporters of the premillennial doctrine. What we have here is the end, followed by judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
So, I will stick with my earlier statement that the Bible does not have any scriptures which support the common premillennnial doctrine, with its supposed “rapture” of the saved, followed by a period of time in which those who are left behind do various things, including setting up a kingdom in Israel and so forth. The Left Behind scenario is not a biblical one, at least as far as I can see from the Bible. Matthew 24:31, 40, 41 do not imply people being left behind on the earth, wondering what happened to the disciples of Jesus. This teaching is the product of the imagination of certain popular teachers.
Nevertheless, I will make a change to the original Q&A to reflect your legitimate criticism that I overstated myself in claiming that there is absolutely zero scriptural evidence which could conceivably support people being left behind.
I hope this satisfies your concern.