Robert Dean, Jr. ThM, MA, DMin
For any student of eschatology or dispensationalism, a study of the Olivet Discourse is foundational. However, a quick perusal of those holding to a futurist, dispensational, pre-tribulational theology will discover an array of contradictory interpretive options. The freshman or sophomore interpreter may easily become confused. Walvoord notes:
It would seem at first glance that illustration and application would not present too many problems of interpretation, and yet in this passage, rather strangely, commentators who are quite similar in their points of view in prophecy, have differed considerably in their exposition of this last portion of Matthew 24. Some special problems of interpretation must be taken into consideration in the study of this chapter.
The purpose of this paper is to sort out the options and provide a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each view as critiqued by others from within the dispensational, futurist community. The goal is to provide a tool to enable both novice and seasoned student to think through the hermeneutical, exegetical, and theological issues.
I am personally grateful for the ministry of each of the men whose positions are evaluated in this paper for their contributions to my understanding of Scripture, eschatology, and dispensationalism in numerous areas. Some were professors, others mentors, and still others long time colleagues and friends. Each of us through our developing years and teaching ministries have favorite scholars to whom we look for insight and direction, often relying heavily on them because we have found them to be faithful and true to the Scripture. Most often we find these men to be in close agreement. But in the study of the Olivet Discourse we find that many of our “lifeline” colleagues, who normally agree, hold to disparate and irreconcilable positions. Therefore, we must thoroughly investigate each option and compare and contrast their views. In some cases, our favorites may have failed us. Chafer’s statements echoes my own feelings:
At great hesitation, I rise up in opposition to interpretations of men that I’ve known and loved all my life. The great A.C. Gabelein was my very dear bosom friend. I spent many, many hours with him in fellowship and prayer. And so with dear Dr. Ironside also. But both of these men have taught all through their ministry that this is the midnight cry of the church.
We all believe that God has only one intended meaning in the Scripture. Among any group of hermeneutical options hopefully one is correct, but the others then must be wrong. Perhaps in some cases all have missed the target, in others we have perhaps hit the paper, but missed the bull’s-eye. Our goal should be to seek the option that is most consistent with the argument of the book, the external and internal connections of the passage, and the lexical and syntactic data. In some cases, we must choose the option with the fewest difficulties that best explains all of the data. From this the interpretation should become obvious. In many cases the theological conclusions developed in the disparate views may not be in themselves wrong, but we must determine if those conclusions express the meaning of our Lord in this discourse. It is our hope that this paper will provide light to move us to a closer unity in the understanding of the passage.
The presuppositions of this paper are first, that of a consistent, futurist, dispensational, pre-millennial, pre-tribulationism. Post-tribulational, preterist, or historicist views will not be examined. Second, that God’s plan for mankind since the call of Abraham includes one plan for Israel and Old Testament saints and a distinct plan for the Church Age and Church Age believers. Third, that Matthew is a Jewish focused gospel, with a Jewish background Christian audience, answering specifically Jewish background questions. The purpose of the gospel of Matthew is to describe the offer of the promised and prophesied Messianic Kingdom to Israel and then when that was rejected, to explain the impact of its postponement and the circumstances surrounding the return of the King to establish His kingdom in the future. The Olivet Discourse is our Lord’s message which then explains the impact of that rejection on God’s plan for Israel in the future.
In categorizing the futurist dispensational views of Matt 24:31-25:46 we see two broad views: those who believe the Rapture of the Church is introduced in Matt 24:36, and who believe the entire context relates only to events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ.
Among those who hold to the Rapture view, there are two broad positions on the three subsequent parables. First, those who hold that the judgments described in the subsequent parables describe the judgment of Church Age believers at the Bema seat. Second, those who see the judgments coming at the end of the Tribulation. Among those who hold the second view, that of judgments at the Second Coming, there are three views: first, they refer to judgments of all who survive the Tribulation, second, they describe judgments for individual surviving Gentiles, and third, they describe judgments for individual surviving Jews.
The approach of the paper is to first examine the hermeneutical framework. In this section both far and near contextual issues will be examined. The strengths and weakness of each view will be evaluated. The next section will examine two structural issues raised by the different views. The third section will then summarize specific exegetical issues in the Matt 24:36-42 section. Though a myriad of details are discussed in the literature, it is believed that those analyzed here are foundational to each position. Finally, the fourth section will look at how the previous two views (Rapture or No Rapture) impact the interpretation of the three subsequent parables.
Two broad hermeneutical positions have developed concerning the passage in question. Within each of these positions are several secondary views. The first view is that beginning with the shift to Noah (Matt 24:36ff) the focus shifts from the return of Jesus to establish His kingdom on the earth to the pre-tribulational rapture of the church. The second view is that the entire context continues to describe what will take place at the Second Advent.
In the interpretation of any passage of Scripture, context reigns supreme. We are reminded that “A text apart from its context is a pretext.”  As such, each passage has both a far and a near context. The far context examines the argument of the book, the central theme and focus of the book, and how this is reflected in each section, subsection, and paragraph of the book. In the broadest sense, the context of the gospels, then the New Testament, then the entire Bible are included. The near context examines the surrounding paragraphs and incidents. In the futurist hermeneutic of the second half of the Olivet Discourse, two strong distinctions become apparent. One view consistently takes great pains to discuss the far context, while the other (to the knowledge of this writer) does not. Second, within the near context, there are strong distinctions in how each interprets the significance of the disciples’ questions in Matt 14:4.
The Rapture view’s discussion of the far context of Matthew is conspicuous by its absence. There is no discussion of the relation of this passage to Matthew’s argument: the nature of the kingdom, the presentation of the kingdom, the rejection of the kingdom, the framework for understanding the kingdom parables, the distinctions between Israel and the Church, and the role of the kingdom on the interpretation of Matthew 24—25 are not mentioned in relation to the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse.
Advocates of the No Rapture view emphasize the argument and context of the gospel of Matthew.
The key to understanding the Olivet Discourse is to interpret it consistently, noting the context and the Jewish understanding of the phrase the end of the age. Importing the church into this distinctly Jewish discourse confuses the interpretation. [emphasis added]
At least seven different aspects of the far context are mentioned.
The issue, however, is, What is Jesus talking about? Or more specifically, About whom is Jesus teaching? And the answer to this question found in the context of the passage is believing Israel.
“The context does not merely help us understand meaning—it virtually makes meaning”
Thus, words must derive their meaning from context, the far context and then the near context. Thus words and phrases might be used differently by one author than another. Much of the debate over the interpretation of this section focuses on words. It will be important to evaluate the roll context plays in the word studies.
The five discourses all teach something about Israel and the Messianic kingdom in some way, not to the Church. The first discourse is Matthew 5-7, the Discourse on Kingdom Righteousness. Jesus explains the kind of righteousness one generation of Israel will need for the kingdom to come. The second discourse is Matthew 10, the Discourse on Kingdom Missions. Here Jesus explains the missionary enterprise to Israel when the kingdom is at hand. The third discourse is Matthew 13, the Discourse on Kingdom Postponement. Jesus explains that the kingdom will be postponed and reveals new truths about the characteristics of the age leading up to the kingdom’s establishment. He does not teach that the kingdom of the heavens has a mystery form. The meaning of the kingdom of the heavens continues to have the same meaning as it did before Matthew 13, that is, the covenanted, prophesied Messianic Kingdom envisioned and hoped for by all the prophets. New truths are being revealed about that kingdom. Therefore, none of the parables in Matthew 13 reveal the Church. The Church will not be revealed until Matt 16:18. The fourth discourse is Matthew 18, the Discourse on Kingdom Greatness. Here Jesus explains how a believer during the postponement can be great in the kingdom to come. The fifth discourse is Matthew 24-25, the Discourse on Kingdom Coming. In this discourse Jesus explains the events that will immediately precede the kingdom’s arrival in history. It is important to note that none of these discourses is about the Church, but they are all about the kingdom. This fits within Matthew’s argument that Jesus is the King, but his kingdom did not come because that generation of Israel failed to recognize Him as their King, and as such the kingdom has been postponed until a later time when one generation of Israel will repent. The discourse in Matt 24-25 then, describes the conditions in the world that will bring Israel to repentance.
In the first (Matt 16:18), our Lord makes the simple statement that, “I will build My church.” With no other information, the disciples most likely understood him to say, “I will build My assembly.” Matt 18:17 is a verse that would most likely be understood to refer to the assembly or synagogue, “tell it to the church” could just as easily be understood as, “go tell it to the assembly.” In neither case is any content communicated about a future entity distinct from Israel. That new, previously unrevealed information does not begin to be revealed with significant information until 2 days after the Olivet Discourse (John 13-16).
Thus the introduction of the Rapture of Church Age believers and subsequent introduction of parables related to the Judgment Seat of Christ has no contextual foundation.
The Olivet Discourse does not refer to the church age, so it does not discuss the timing of the rapture.
Let us note concerning this great eschatological discourse that Jesus was here revealing the prophetic program for Jerusalem, the nation Israel, and the people of Israel. He made no reference to the church or the prophetic program for the church. Jesus did not speak here of events that will precede the consummation of the program for the church at the Rapture (John 14:1-4; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). Rather, He dealt with the future Tribulation, or seven-year period that will complete the prophetic program for Israel as revealed in Daniel 9:27. Because of its Jewish context this portion of Scripture must be interpreted with reference to Israel and not the church.
The consideration of the argument of Matthew is possibly the greatest weakness for the Rapture view and the greatest strength of the No Rapture view. This weakness impacts their word studies as well as some syntactical interpretation. All Rapture view advocates need to explain the relation of the Olivet Discourse to the overall context of Matthew. Those that do mention the argument of the book, need to show how their understanding of the far context affects their interpretation in the second half of Matthew 24. This means they must demonstrate that Jesus brings the Church into the discussion when there is no foundation or justification in either the near or far context to do so and why he does so. Relating the introduction of the Church and Church Age doctrine to Matthew’s argument and context is the central hermeneutical problem, for as we shall see, all subsequent exegetical decisions are shaped by the presupposition of the context. Exegetical decisions related to structure and lexicography might support either view, but what will shape those decisions on word meaning and syntax is an understanding of context. Failure to address these contextual issues on the part of those advocating a Rapture is a fatal flaw in their arguments and in some cases it might call into question their consistent understanding of Ryrie’s sine qua non for dispensationalism, especially the distinction between Israel and the Church. Chafer’s observation is noteworthy:
I heard a man give an address on the second coming of Christ: he was talking about the Church and the Rapture—a man who lives in this city—and he just gathered up all these passages as arguments for the Church to be watching. Now let’s settle it and have it definitely settled: we’ve not a thing here addressed to a Christian—not one thing addressed to a Christian. It’s all to Israel.
We’ve missed very much indeed when we go through the gospel of Matthew if we do not discover what is true about the Kingdom and what is true about Israel in relation to the Kingdom. Matthew is not life truth for the Christian at all; it’s not addressed to the Christian. And whenever it’s appropriated that way it’s just full of confusion and contradiction.
The basic argument involves two points. First, that the disciples are asking only two questions. Second, that the first question is about when all of the events of the Tribulation (Daniel’s Seventieth Week, the Day of the Lord) will take place. According to some Rapture advocates, their understanding of the first question is a sine qua non, for their position.
If we do not understand the “when” concerning which our Lord speaks, we will not see the rapture in Matthew 24.
How many questions do the disciples ask?
Basically, two questions are asked: 1) when will “these things” take place? and 2) “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” [emphasis added]
There they asked Him two questions that could only be answered by a prophet (v 3). [emphasis added]
On three questions:
Matthew worded the three questions this way: Tell us, when shall these things be? And what <shall be> the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world? (Mt. 24:3b)…. In an attempt to systematize the questions, we can note the following:
Question 1: What is the sign of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple?
Question 2: What is the sign of your coming, or what is the sign that the second coming is about to occur?
Question 3: What is the sign of the end of the age? The Jews spoke of two ages: this age, meaning the present age, and the age to come, which is the messianic age. So, what is the sign that this age is about to end and the age to come, the messianic kingdom, is about to be established? 
But the point of the when question [the first question] is not to ask when does the tribulation end, but when does the tribulation begin. The disciples did not ask when will this thing be (singular) but when will these things be (plural). And our Lord’s answer to the disciples’ when question is not about when He will appear in the clouds at the end of the tribulation. Rather, our Lord’s answer to the when question concerns when will all these things (that is, all the events of the tribulation) happen.
A1 Question: “When will these things happen?” (v 3a)
B1 Question: “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (v 3b)
B2 Answer: “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (vv 4–35)
A2 Answer: “When will these things happen?” (vv 36–44)
In this interpretation, the first question, is rephrased as referring to the timing of the Lord’s return.
In contrast to this view, others who advocate a Rapture in the Olivet Discourse, but see three questions instead of two, do not base their argument on either the number of questions or on an identification of the beginning of the Day of the Lord with the Rapture. These agree with the No Rapture view in both their understanding of the meaning of the first question, and in their understanding that the first question is answered by Luke.
It should also be noted that Yeshua did not answer the questions in the order in which they were asked. He answered the third question first, the first question second, and the second question last. Furthermore, not all three Gospel writers recorded all of His answers to all three of the questions. Mark and Matthew both ignored Yeshua’s answer to the first question, while Luke chose to record it.
This understanding of the disciples’ questions enables the advocates of the Rapture position to argue that verse 36 shifts the focus of the discourse from the Second Coming to the Pre-Trib Rapture.
Matthew 24:3 records the threefold question: (1) “When shall these things be?” referring to the prediction of the destruction of the temple; (2) “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”; (3) “What shall be the sign of the end of the age?”
Toussaint lays out three meanings:
1) the common definition refers to the coming of a king or dignitary to some locality; or the “arrival as the first stage in presence.”
2) Another “neglected” meaning refers to a ritual or cultic sense in which a deity makes his presence felt in some way (BDAG).
In both of these first two nuances, this emphasizes the “presence” of the Lord with the implication of his staying.
3) In the intertestamental period, “parousia also was used in a religious sense, where it referred to the coming and aid of the Lord and also to the appearance of the Messiah.” Citing evidence from NIDNTT and Josephus, Antiquities (18:284). He concludes, “this religious sense may be in view in Matthew.
4) Next, Toussaint observes that, although parousia is used 24x in the New Testament, it is only used four times in the Gospels and all four of those uses are in Matthew 24 (vv. 3, 27, 37, 39). (his emphasis).
“This means that the first time the term is used in the NT it probably included a Jewish religious sense of the appearance of the Messiah to deliver.”
“If this is so, it gives the whole discourse in Matthew 24 an especially Jewish slant. In a word, the questions of the disciples are completely Jewish and have nothing to do with the church! The disciples did not grasp the significance of the church at this point; they only gradually began to understand how God was building His church, as the book of Acts attests. The questions of the disciples are not only related to Israel, they form the basis for the entire discourse.”
After evaluating the treatment of both far and near contexts, it is evident that those who argue for a Rapture view need to work on relating their interpretation to both the far and near context. While some may recognize the Jewish nature of Matthew and agree with those contextual clues, they have not related their specific exegetical conclusions to those arguments. And for those who suggest a revision of the first question, perhaps a bit more attention to context is also in order.
The importance of context will play an enormous role in lexical and syntactical decisions. For it is context more than anything that determines meaning.
It is true that sound interpretation must begin with the grammatical sense of the text, and this does indeed hold first place in the rules for interpretation, nevertheless it is possible to trot all day in a grammatical half-bushel and fail to get the great sweep of the meaning of the broad context. Hence there are other rules, presented in a later section, which safeguard against an overemphasis of grammatical considerations. 
One interpretive move related to the structure of the passage distinguishes the Rapture view from the No Rapture view. This view stresses the significance of the transitional nature of peri de at the beginning of verse 36 which is claimed to be the “the solution to this dilemma.” Other than the Rapture advocates, this writer found very few exegetes who discuss, much less, emphasize the peri de construction. Under this section we will also see another structural indicator in this section which demonstrates a shift which is consistent with a No Rapture view.
The significance of peri de for the structure of the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:36)
Matt. 24:36 ¶ “But [peri de] of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Those who hold to a Rapture view put a lot of emphasis on the use of the Greek transitional phrase at the beginning of 24:36, which is usually translated “but of that day” (NKJV, NASB), “but concerning that day…” (ESV), “but as for that day…” (NET).
The argument is summarized.
Few on the No Rapture side seem to address this issue at all. Either they ignore it, which does not fit the stature of so many scholars, or they do not consider it exegetically significant. That it is not discussed in almost all of the major commentaries consulted in the paper suggests that the latter is the case.
Verse 36 is introduced by peri de. This Greek phrase is widely recognized as beginning a shift in subject or perspective [emphasis added]
It would have been helpful for him to define what is meant by the terms “subject” and “perspective.” Are these used synonymously or antithetically? From his following discussion, it would seem that he means a shift from one topic to another, in this case a shift from answering the first question to answering the second (see below for questions about his understanding of the first question). However, when that writer summarized his view at the beginning of his third part of the series, he defined it a slight shift in perspective.
That peri de is used in Pauline writings to indicate a change in subject is clearly affirmed by almost all commentators, including those who do not see a Rapture in Matt 24. Regarding Paul’s use of peri de in 1 Thess 5:1, Ryrie states:
Pretribulationists point out that the contrast between the subjects of the two chapters is sharpened by the fact that Paul did not simply use a de to begin 5:1 but a phrase, peri de. This is very significant, because elsewhere in his writings Paul uses peri de to denote a new and contrasting subject. Notice 1 Corinthians 7:1; 7:25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1; 16:12; and 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and 5:1.
Note that Ryrie cites the same scripture for support that the Rapture advocates cite to prove this same usage in Matt 24:36.
On the other hand, peri de, is also used to indicate a shift in perspective within the same topic. This is why Hart’s use of the phrase “shift in subject or perspective” is ambiguous. To his credit, he dropped that explanation in his most recent paper.
Matt. 20:6 And about (Peri de) the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?’
Matt. 22:31 But concerning (Peri de) the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,
Matt. 27:46 And about (Peri de) the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
The first two examples are from the mouth of Jesus as is Matt 24:36. It is apparent, that his use of peri de, is not the same as Paul’s.
The error that arises, when the ‘meaning’ of a word (understood as the total series of relations in which it is used in the literature) is read into a particular case as its sense and implication there, may be called ‘illegitimate totality transfer’.
Though the argument from peri de at first glance appears substantive, closer examination reveals some fundamental flaws in both the logic, and the evidence. Arguments that peri de, indicates a shift in topic in Matthew are less than convincing.
The function of the fig tree parable. (Matt 24:32-35)
Matt 24:1-31 describes the events leading up to the Second Coming of Christ to the earth. Matt 12:31 concludes with the King sending forth His angels to “gather the elect from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other.” This is followed by the parable of the fig tree. What is the purpose of the parable of the fig tree?
The two views differ on the role of the fig tree parable. The Rapture view sees it as a conclusion to the first part of the discourse. Some advocates of the No Rapture view understand it as transitional, moving from the chronology of the events leading up to the sign of His coming, then shifting to lessons that should be applied in terms of watching and being prepared. This sets up the difference. For the Rapture view, the topic will change from the Second Coming to the Rapture, and for the No Rapture view, the Jews of that generation who witness these signs, are exhorted to watch and be prepared for the Second Coming entails judgment.
In the No Rapture view there is little said about the structure, except in a few commentaries. However, of those that do, several of them divide the discourse at Matthew 24:32, and have titles for the following section, such as: “Seven Illustrations of His Coming 24:32-25:30”; “Parenthetical Exhortations, Matt 24:32-51;” “The responsibilities of the disciples, 24:32-25:30;”  “The Confirmation By Parables (24:32-51),”  and “The Parabolic Admonition, 24:32-30.”
1. Since the arguments for peri de seem insufficient, several authors see a more consistent structure beginning in Matt 24:32.
2. Pentecost sees Matt 24:32-51 to be a series of certain parenthetical exhortations concerning watchfulness and preparedness.
For Pentecost the “these things”
In the context “these things” refers to the signs of verses 4-28. Those who will see the signs will know that He, the Messiah, or it, Messiah's judgment, is at the door. Since these signs will all occur in the seven years of Daniel's seventieth week, the generation that sees the beginning of these signs will "not pass away until all these things have happened" (Matt. 24:34), for they all will fall within a brief span of time. These will not be signs given to a generation preceding the Rapture. Instead, these signs will be given to a generation that cannot begin until after the church has been translated. To remove any doubt as to the certainty of these events, Christ said, "My words will never pass away" (v. 35). God’s predetermined program to pour out judgment before believers experience the blessings of the millennial age must come to pass.
The shift to the use of parables and illustrations in 24:32-25: the parable of the fig tree, the illustration from Noah, the brief parable or illustration of the homeowner (Matt 24:43), the parable of the wise servant (Matt 24:45-51), the parable of the ten virgins (Matt 25:1-13), the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30), and the final episode of the coming of the Son of Man in His glory.
The use of the command to “learn from the fig tree” indicates a transition from chronology to application of what should be learned from the previous section of the discourse.
The fig tree parable teaches that the person alive at the time should be watching, “when you see all these things” (Matt 24:33). The purpose for the comparison with Noah is stated in Matt 24:32, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” The short illustration in v. 43 focuses us on the homeowner who “would have watched.” The good servant is watching for his master so he is prepared for his coming (Matt 24:46). The lesson of the parable of the ten virgins is to “watch therefore you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming, and the parable of the talents focuses on one who was not watching and not prepared for the “coming” of the master.
It is structurally vital to see the echo in Matt 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” of Matt. 24:42; “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” This intentionally connects the illustration of Noah with all that follows through the end of at least the parable of the ten virgins. Thus showing that however, these verses are intended (Rapture or Second Coming), they must all be taken together.
Rev. 6:15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,
Rev. 6:16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
It’s customary with many teachers today to draw on this to try to prove that the days of Christ are the evil days like the days of Noah, but there’s nothing here that’s said to be evil. The citing of the days of Noah is merely to show that they were taken unawares. They were not prepared and that’s the whole appeal here: “Watch; don’t be unprepared.”
Before resuming the chronology of prophetic events (Matt. 25:1), the Lord paused to give certain parenthetical exhortations concerning watchfulness and preparedness (24:32-51).
1. One expression of this argument is heavily depended on work by Michael H. Burer. Some significant questions should be raised about that analysis.
a. The NET note reads as follows:
*sn There is debate among commentators and scholars over the phrase one will be taken and one left about whether one is taken for judgment or for salvation. If the imagery of Noah and Lot is followed, the ones taken are the saved. Those left behind are judged. The imagery pictures the separation of the righteous and the judged (i.e., condemned) at the return of the Son of Man, and nothing more.
Later he states:
The imagery itself lends the most credence to the interpretation that those taken away are taken for salvation. In the original narrative about Noah, God was gracious to save Noah from judgment by taking him off the earth and placing him in the ark. He was “taken away” from the place where God’s judgment was poured out to a place of safety in the ark. Thus the reference to Noah lends more credence to the interpretation that those taken are taken for salvation.
1. According to Burer’s understanding those taken (airo vs 39) are the saved (Noah, Lot). But a careful reading of the text in Matt 24:39 indicates that those taken away are those “who did not know” and are taken when the flood came, not those in the Ark. Such an egregious exegetical error and misrepresentation of the text should give us pause in accepting any other conclusions.
2. Burer admits the first glance reading in the English seems to imply a judgment nuance to paralambano, and even though he explains that away, he still admits that the context involves judgment. His analysis of paralambano, is important. He states that of Matthew’ sixteen uses of the term, seven are neutral, and only one has a negative context. [emphasis added] This interpretation is challenged:
In contrast to Burer, the claim from the No Rapture advocates is that, “Contextually, airō and paralambanō are equivalent within the Olivet Discourse.”
3. Burer needs to be fact-checked on his data. Of his seven neutral uses, he concedes only one as negative, Matt 27:27 where Jesus is taken by the soldiers into the Praetorium. However, it could be argued that the devil taking Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple or to a high mountain, (Matt 4:5, 8) is neither positive nor in safety, but is primarily negative.
4. Outside of Matthew, other examples exist of paralambano, used with negative circumstances (John 19:16).
Words usually have ranges of nuance, some words have a broader range than others. Context determines meaning, not the lexica. In the case of paralambano, the claim is made that this must indicate a positive sense and that this is the predominate meaning. It has been shown that the evidence used for this conclusion is less than solid.
When a word can take one of two contrasting nuances, then context plays a much larger role. To strengthen their argument the Rapture position needs to relate this meaning to the context, both near and far. Further, to substantiate their meaning, it would be beneficial to recognize that the shift from airo to paralambano does not provide the evidence desired. Based on the evidence, the claims of the No Rapture view seem stronger based on immediate, near, and far context. Other evidence must be considered.
Aphiemi: “Left Behind” or “Abandoned”
N.B. The inferences in both 2 and 3 are predicated on the assumption that aphiemi should undoubtedly be translated abandoned in the context.
Those who advocate a No Rapture view usually do not specifically address this word. They adopt BDAG’s third meaning “to move away, with the implication of causing a separation, leave, depart from.”
While it might appear from prima facie evidence that the Rapture view has a substantial argument, it is only because of surface similarities to the Rapture related to the statement “no one knows the day or the hour.” However, in light of usage, these words clearly have a range of meaning which does not necessarily support one view or the other. Words gain their meaning from context and usage. Since the context so clearly excludes the Church, and no evidence is provided for introducing the church, the conclusions must default to the No Rapture view.
In closing we should remember Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer’s comments:
And so in connection with the glorious appearing of Christ, those that are taken are taken in judgment and those that are left are left for the kingdom blessing. But it does not mean that this is the Church or the Rapture at all; be careful about such foolish mistakes as that.
As noted by many, it appears that this term would be more consistent with an imminent Rapture, than the Second Coming which is preceded by various signs, and which is indicated by coming 1,260 days after the abomination. It appears that of all things, the Second Coming would not be a surprise.
Because believers in the future tribulation will know the day and the hour (they can calculate it: it will be exactly 1,260 days from the abomination of desolation and 2,520 days from the signing of the covenant between Israel and the Antichrist, Dan 9:27), the coming of the Lord described in this parable certainly cannot refer to His second coming to earth. Rather it is the sudden, unexpected, coming that occurs seven years earlier, the beginning of the Parousia, at the rapture of the church.
Second, no one will ever know the timing of the rapture. Yeshua noted the the angels of heaven do not know when it will occur (Mt. 24:36). Not even the Son in His humanity knew the timing. Only God the Father knows when the believers will be taken up to meet their Messiah in the air. This will always be true of the rapture. The second coming, on the other hand, will occur exactly seven years after the signing of the seven-year covenant and 42 months, or 1,260 days, after the abomination of desolation. Once the tribulation begins, the second coming can be accurately calculated, so the passage above must be dealing with the rapture and not the second coming. 
Rev. 16:15 ¶ “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
Due to similarities with the letters to the church of Smyrna and church of Thyatira, some suggest this is directed to John’s first century audience. The weakness with this view is that there is no other example between Rev 4:1 and Rev 22 where the author turns to his contemporary audience and addresses them. Further, there is nothing contextual to indicate such an “an ejaculatory parenthesis.” 
For many, this verse is the weakest part of the No Rapture view argument. Several attempts are made to resolve the apparent imminence of this “day and hour” with the obvious indications in Scripture that the Second Coming of the Lord should be known by counting down the days from the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and the anti-Christ, or counting down the days from the abomination of desolation. In fact, some argue that the very point of Matt 24:4-29 is to show the events that will enable Tribulation saints to approximate the coming of the Son of Man and be prepared.
These are some options.
It was factual when these words were spoken by Christ, that no man, no angel not even the Lord Himself knew the time of His second advent to earth. Jesus was living in humiliation, or the time of His Kenosis (“emptying”; Philippians 2:7). He voluntarily restricted the independent exercise of divine attributes to fulfill the will of His Father. … It should be obvious that after His resurrection, He no longer limited Himself, so that now He does know….
His second argument is that at the time Jesus spoke this the day and hour were unknown, but in the future, the day and hour will not be unknown. During the seven year Tribulation the countdown of the days will be apparent and the various signs related to the fig tree parable will be evident. These warning, thus give the believer clues so that he can watch and be prepared for the Lord’s return at the Second coming.
There are two broad views: for some of those who hold to the Rapture in Matt 24 these judgments take place following the Rapture of the Church, and are judgments of Church Age believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ (the Bema). For others, these judgments are at the end of the Tribulation following the Second Coming. Of those who take the second view, there are three views, the judgments described in the three parables are to determine the eternal destiny of all who survive the Tribulation; the judgments in the three parables are to determine the eternal destiny of Gentiles who survive the Tribulation; the judgments in the three parables are to determine the eternal destiny of Jews who survive the Tribulation. Following the parable of the talents is the final section in Matt 25:31-44 describing the judgment of the Gentile survivors of the Tribulation, the sheep and the goat judgment.
Within each of these views a myriad of differing and contrasting interpretations develop. For the purposes of this paper, only the overview interpretive issues related to whether the Rapture is, or is not present in Matthew 24 will be summarized.
A-1 Parable of the Faithful or Unfaithful Servant Church Age believers
B-1 Parable of the Ten Virgins Tribulation saints with the midnight cry representing the abomination at the midpoint of the Trib.
A-2 Parable of the Talents Church Age believers (compare Luke 19:11-26)
B-2 (Quasi) Parable of the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats Gentile Tribulation believers (sheep) and unbelievers (goats).
The first three refer to only believers, the fourth separates believers and unbelievers.
Arguments in Favor
The position needs to develop an argument showing that “land” in Zech 13:8-9 is indeed discussing the whole world.
The position also needs to strengthen the argument that every surviving Jew at the end of the Tribulation is a Tribulation saint.
Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (San Antonio: Ariel Press, 1982), 446–47;
Joseph C. Dillow, Final Destiny (Monument, CO: Paniym Group, Inc, 2nd edition, Nov 2012)
Zane Hodges, Jesus, God’s Prophet, 24–32;
Zane Hodges with Bob Wilkin, “The Parable of the Talents, Matt 25:14-30,” Grace in Focus (Denton, TX: GES, June 1, 2017); https://faithalone.org/grace-in-focus-articles/the-parable-of-the-talents/
Dave Hunt, How Close Are We? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1993), 105–6, 210–11, 238, 314–15;
Wes Spradley, “Jesus is a Pre-Tribber,” unpublished paper presented at GES, Jan. 2017.
J. F. Strombeck, First the Rapture (Moline, IL: Strombeck Agency, 1950), 68–71;
Ray C. Stedman, What on Earth’s Going to Happen? (Glendale, CA: Regal Books, G/L Publications, 1970), 130–43.
Robert Thomas, ??????
Beechick understands the Discourse as a double reference, applying to both tribulation saints and the church. Allen Beechick, The Pretribulation Rapture (Denver: Accent Books, 1980), 231–68.
Leon Wood states that the Discourse implies the rapture in 24:42–44 and that Jesus’ language has an unusual similarity to other passages on the pretribulational rapture. Leon J. Wood, The Bible and Future Events: An Introductory Survey of Last-Day Events (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 91.
Mark Bailey et al., Nelson’s New Testament Survey: Discover the Background, Theology and Meaning of Every Book in the New Testament (Nashville: Word, 1999), 51.
Louis A. Barbieri Jr., “Matthew,” Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983), 76–79;
Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 209;
Ron J. Bigalke Jr., “The Olivet Discourse: A Resolution of Time,” Conservative Theological Seminary Journal 9 (spring 2003): 106–40;
Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Mt 24:31.
Thomas R. Edgar, “An Exegesis of Rapture Passages,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis, John R. Master, and Charles C. Ryrie (Chicago: Moody, 1994), 217, 221;
Paul D. Feinberg, “Dispensational Theology and the Rapture,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis, John R. Master, and Charles C. Ryrie (Chicago: Moody, 1994), 242–43;
Paul D. Feinberg, “The Case for the Pretribulation Rapture,” Three Views, 80, 225, 229–31;
Thomas O. Figart, The King of the Kingdom of Heaven (Duluth, MN: Grace Gospel Press, 2016).
E. Schuyler English, Rethinking the Rapture (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1954), 41–55;
Ed Glasscock, Matthew, Moody Gospel Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1997), 476;
William K. Harrison, “The Time of the Rapture as Indicated by Certain Passages: Part III: The Time of the Rapture in the Light of Matthew 24,” Bibliotheca Sacra 115 (April-June 1958): 109–19;
John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 24–28 (Chicago: Moody, 1989), 70–72;
Russell L. Penney, “Why the Church Is Not Referenced in the Olivet Discourse,” Conservative Theological Journal 1 (April 1997): 47–60;
J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study of Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964), 162, 275–85;
James F. Rand, “The Eschatology of the Olivet Discourse” (Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1954), 126, 162;
Charles C. Ryrie, Come Quickly, Lord Jesus: What You Need to Know about the Rapture (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996), 94–97;
Ryrie, What You Should Know about the Rapture (Chicago: Moody, 1981), 82–84;
Renald Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord Comes! (Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995), 178–84;
Renald Showers, The Sign of His Coming: Understanding the Olivet Discourse (Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 2016), 77-124.
John A. Sproule, “An Exegetical Defense of Pretribulationism” (Th.D. dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1981), 56, 60;
Gerald B. Stanton, Kept from the Hour (Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle, 1991), 57–65;
David L. Turner, “The Structure and Sequence of Matt 24:1–41: Interaction with Evangelical Treatments,” Grace Theological Journal 10 (spring 1989): 21–22;
Stanley D. Toussaint, “Are the Church and the Rapture in Matthew 24?” in When the Trumpet Sounds, ed. Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1995), 235–50;
Stanley Toussaint, Behold the King (Portland: Multnomah, 1980), 280–82;
John F. Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 85–90;
John F. Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End: Part I,” Bibliotheca Sacra 128 (April 1971): 116.
 Future updates and revisions of this paper will be located at: http://www.deanbibleministries.org/file-downloads/download-file?path=Resources%252FPre-Trib%2BRapture%2BConferences%252F2017%252FMapping_2nd_Half_of_OD.pdf
 Thomas Ice, “The Olivet Discourse,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, gen. eds., The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 151.
 John F. Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End,” Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (1972): 20.
 “Consistent futurists view the Tribulation, Second Coming, and millennium as entirely future events for national Israel.” Ron J. Bigalke Jr., 2003. “The Olivet Discourse: A Resolution of Time,” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal Volume 9, no. 1 (2003): 106. Consistent pretribulationism understands “one taken, one left” and “the fig tree” to refer to events pertaining to the second coming, not the Rapture of the Church.
 Bigalke 105.
 Thomas Ice, “An Interpretation of Matthew 24—25” Part 1, Pre-Trib Perspectives, Vol 7, No 1, March, 2002, 6-7
 Moises Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,1984), 139.
 A classic example of this is that Paul’s phrase, “in Christ,” refers to positional truth for every believer, but Christ’s “in Me,” and John’s “in Him” describe relational fellowship in Johanine literature. Robert Dean, Jr, “Abiding in Christ” Chafer Theological Journal, Vol 7.1, 39.
 Bigalke, 110.
 Bigalke, 107.
 Ibid., 175.
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, online lectures on the Olivet Discourse. Lecture 2; http://www.dts.edu/media/play/olivet-discourse-part-one/?audio=true
 Spradley, Wes, “Jesus is a Pre-Tribber,” Unpublished paper presented to the Grace Evangelical Society, Fort Worth, Jan 2017, 1.
 Spradley, 1., John F. Hart, “Should Pretribulationists Reconsider the Rapture in Matthew 24:36–44?,” Part 1 of 3, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 20, no. 39 (2007): 50; Zane Hodges, The Atonement, Corinth, TX, 2014, 72. However, the NR position has advocates who also hold to two questions, instead of three. Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King, A Study of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1980), 268. Dwight Pentecost, The Words and Work of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1981), 397-398. Dr P does not specifically enumerate the questions, but punctuates them as two. Renald Showers, The Sign of His Coming: Understanding the Olivet Discourse, 12. It will be noted later that the two positions differ remarkably on how they understand the first question. Others hold to two questions as well who do not hold to a chiastic structure.
 John F. Hart, Part 1 of 3; 50.
 Hodges, 73.
 Robert L. Thomas, “1 Thessalonians,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 2:281
 Spradley, 4.
 Hart, Part 1 of 3, 53–54. Hodges does not mention a chiasm, but his approach is basically the same, arguing for the first question being answered beginning in verse 36, “Jesus does not get to the first question until the discourse reaches Matt 24:36”, Hodges, 74.
 Fruchtenbaum, 3.28.
 Those who do not hold to a Pre-Trib Rapture and believe three questions are addressed include: John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Chicago: Moody, 1974), 182; Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1999), 280; Glasscock, Matthew, 461, 463; W. K. Price, Jesus’ Prophetic Sermon: The Olivet Key to Israel, the Church, and the Nations (Chicago: Moody, 1972), 280.
 Pentecost, 398.
 John F. Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End: Prophecies Fulfilled in the Present Age,” Bibliotheca Sacra 128 (1971): 206–207.
 Stanley D. Toussaint, “Are the Church and the Rapture in Matt 24?” When the Trumpet Sounds (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1995), 241.
 Ibid, 242.
 John F. Hart, “Should Pretribulationists Reconsider the Rapture in Matthew 24:36–44? Part 2 of 3,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Volume 21 21, no. 40 (2008): 46.
 John Hart, Part 3 of 3; Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Volume 21, no. 41 (2008): 43.
 Hart cites the preterist R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew, NICNT, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 936-37, to support his view.
 Hart, Ibid.
 One notable exception is Craig Blaising, Three Views on the Rapture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 48. However, Blaising does not see this as a shift to the Rapture.
 John F. Hart, “Should Pretribulationists Reconsider the Rapture in Matthew 24:36–44? Part 2 of 3,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Volume 21 21, no. 40 (2008): 46.
 Such a shift in meanings for the same term is classified as the logical fallacy of equivocation: “shifting from one meaning of a word to another within an argument.” Hart, Part 3 of 3, 43. Definition taken from the glossary in Jason Lisle, Discerning Truth (Green Forest, AK: Master Books, 2010), 133.
 Hart, Evidence for the Rapture, 54-55.
 An important study would be to see how Matthew uses simply de to indicate a change of subject as he does in Matt 26:59 and 69.
 Hart cites progressive dispensationalist David Turner, in support of this view. John F. Hart, “Should Pretribulationists Reconsider the Rapture in Matthew 24:36–44? Part 2 of 3,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Volume 21 21, no. 40 (2008): 46.
 Spradley, 3.
 David Turner, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew (Grand Rapids, Baker, 208), 570. Hart has a pattern of citing evidence in support of his position from writers who do not support his Rapture view. For example, he also uses Robert Thomas, “Immanence in the New Testament” to support his view that the “day and hour” in Matt 24:36 is a reference to the Day of the Lord.
 Thomas O. Figart, The King of the Kingdom of Heaven (Duluth: Grace Gospel Press, 2016), 464.
 Pentecost, WWJC, 405.
 Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Mt 24:31. Mark Bailey et al., Nelson’s New Testament Survey: Discover the Background, Theology and Meaning of Every Book in the New Testament (Nashville: Word, 1999), 51. Showers, The Sign of His Coming, 111ff.
 Louis Barbeiri, BKC, 2:78
 Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King, A Study of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1980), 458.
 Pentecost, 405.
 Barbieri’s outline suggests that he views the Noah comparison as an illustration of the fig tree parable. (Louis A Barbieri, Jr. “Matthew.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985) 2:78.
 Fruchtenbaum, 3:366.
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, online lectures on the Olivet Discourse. http://www.dts.edu/media/play/olivet-discourse-part-one/?audio=true
 Pentecost, 405.
 Gerald B. Stanton, Kept From the Hour (Miami Springs, FL: Shoettle Publishing, 1991), 63.
 Hart, Part 3 of 3, 44.
 Hart, Part 3 of 3, 45.
 Burer, a member of the DTS New Testament faculty worked for many years as an editor and assistant project director for the NET Bible. He published an extended defense of the NET notes on Matt 24:40-41 on the bible.org website. https://bible.org/article/matthew-2440-41-net-bible-notes-taken-salvation-or-judgment. Michael H. Burer, “Matthew 24:40-41 in the NET Bible Notes: Taken for Salvation or Judgment?” www.bible.org. Hart leans heavily on his analysis, to the degree that Burer’s errors significantly weaken Hart’s argument.
 This differs slightly from a note in an earlier version of the NET which is as follows: “sn There is debate among commentators and scholars over the phrase one will be taken and one left about whether one is taken for judgment or for salvation. If the imagery is patterned after the rescue of Noah from the flood, as some suggest, the ones taken are the saved (as Noah was) and those left behind are judged. The imagery, however, is not directly tied to the identification of the two groups. Its primary purpose in context is to picture the sudden, surprising separation of the righteous and the judged (i.e., condemned) at the return of the Son of Man.”
 Burer, op cit.
 Bigalke, 129.
 In fact aphiēmi (“to leave,” vv 40, 41) takes on the meaning of “abandon” in its recurrent use with personal objects in Matthew (Matt 4:11, 22; 8:15; 13:36; 19:29; 22:22, 25; 26:56, etc.). Hart, “Should Pretribulationists Reconsider” Part 3 of 3,” 46. Hart cites John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 994; and W. D Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Vol. 3. International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 383, as corroborating commentaries.
 Hart, Part 3 of 3, 46.
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 156.
 H. Vorländer, “Forgiveness,” ed. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 698.
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, online lectures on the Olivet Discourse. Lecture 2. http://www.dts.edu/media/play/olivet-discourse-part-one/?audio=true
 Joseph C. Dillow, Final Destiny (Monument, CO: Paniym Group, Inc, 2nd edition, Nov 2012), 800
 Fruchtenbaum, 3:365.
 Figart, 467.
 Dillow, 809. There is a lot of discussion about whether the sheep and the goats is a parable or not. This is another area which calls for more clarity.
 Zane Hodges with Bob Wilkin, “The Parable of the Talents, Matt 25:14-30,” Grace in Focus (Denton, TX: GES, June 1, 2017); https://faithalone.org/grace-in-focus-articles/the-parable-of-the-talents/. This is Chapter 9 from the new book Tough Texts: Did Jesus Teach Salvation by Works? Prof Hodges position was clarified for me in a personal email from Bob Wilkin.
 This view was articulated to me in a conversation with Arnold Fruchtenbaum, April, 2017.
 In Fruchtenbaum’s Footprints and the very recent Yeshua, he does not distinguish whether these are Jewish or Gentile.
 Bigalke 131.
 Alva J. McClain The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1987), 355.