The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Olivet Discourse: Rapture Reference


Can the Rapture be found in the Olivet Discourse? Or, does Jesus speak exclusively about His Second Coming?

Many very fine Premillennial Bible prophecy experts have taken the position that the Rapture is nowhere to be found in the Olivet Discourse. To the contrary, Amillennialists and Postmillennialists argue that the Rapture can be found in Matthew 24:31.

Let’s consider the latter position first. Matthew 24:31 reads as follows: “And He [the Son of Man] will send forth His angels with a great trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

The most detailed description of the Rapture (Jesus coming for His Church) is contained in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Comparing it to Matthew 24:31, we find two similarities — the blowing of a trumpet and the gathering of the elect.

But there are also several differences:

  • In 1 Thessalonians 4, believers are gathered in the air when Jesus appears in the sky and are taken to Heaven. In Matthew 24 they are gathered after the arrival of Jesus on earth, and there is no mention of them being taken to Heaven.
  • In 1 Thessalonians 4, the Lord Himself gathers the elect, whereas in Matthew 24, they are gathered by angels.
  • The gathering in 1 Thessalonians 4 includes the resurrection of the bodies of the dead in Christ. There is no mention of anyone being resurrected in Matthew 24:31.
  • In 1 Thessalonians 4, the spirits of the dead in Christ return in the clouds with Jesus. In Matthew 24 Jesus returns alone.

Those who insist that the Rapture is mentioned in Matthew 24:31 are actually contending that the Rapture and the Second Coming are all one event, producing what I call, “the yo-yo Rapture.” I call it this because they are proposing that Jesus will appear for His Church, the living and dead in Christ will be raised up to meet Him in the sky, and then He will immediately return to earth with them. This is not a biblical scenario because Jesus said in John 14:1-4 that when the Rapture occurs, the living and dead in Christ will be taken back to Heaven.

All “gatherings” mentioned in the Bible do not refer to the Rapture. At the Rapture the bodies of the dead in Christ will be resurrected and taken up to meet the Lord in the sky where their spirits will be reunited with their bodies. The living in Christ will follow, and the bodies of both groups will be glorified. They will then be taken to Heaven.

At the Second Coming, two additional gatherings are going to occur. According to Luke 17:22-37, all unbelievers who are alive at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus returns will be gathered and consigned to death, their bodies being given over to the vultures.

But at the Second Coming there will also be a gathering of “the elect” (Matthew 24:31). This could be talking about all believers who are alive at the end of the Tribulation, but it is most likely referring only to Jewish believers because it is quoting Deuteronomy 30:1-5, and that passage is a prophecy that when the Jewish people finally accept their Messiah (which, according to Zechariah 12:10 will happen at the end of the Tribulation), God will gather them back to their homeland and establish them as the prime nation of the world during His Son’s millennial reign.

If the Rapture is not referred to in Matthew 24:31, can it be found anywhere else in the Olivet Discourse?

Many, if not most Premillennialists contend that Jesus simply did not mention the Rapture, but I respectfully disagree with that position. I believe Jesus mentions the Rapture in verses 36-44 of Matthew 24. The first reason I see the Rapture in these verses is because Jesus says, “of that day and hour no one knows…” How could He possibly be referring to His Second Coming? Keep in mind that He has just told His disciples exactly when He was going to return — “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29).

From both the prophecies of Daniel and the book of Revelation we know the Tribulation will last exactly 7 prophetic years (years of 360 days each). Anyone living at the beginning of the Tribulation (when the Antichrist signs a treaty with Israel) could calculate the exact day of the Lord’s return because we are told that the Tribulation will last precisely 2,520 days (Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6). So, again, when Jesus says no one can know the day of His return, He must be speaking of the Rapture, and not the Second Coming.

Next, Jesus says that when He returns, society will be like it was in the days of Noah, when right up to the last moment people were “eating and drinking” and “marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38). In other words, life will be continuing as normal when He returns.

But this could not be talking about the Second Coming because life will be anything but normal at the end of the Tribulation. At that time more than half the population of the world will have been killed, including two-thirds of the Jews, and the whole world, according to what we are told in Revelation 13-19, will be in absolute chaos.

Additionally, if you will take a look at the Olivet Discourse as it is recorded in Luke 21, you will find that Luke adds an observation that Matthew’s account does not contain. In the section where Jesus starts talking about how His return could occur any moment, Luke quotes Him as saying: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36, NKJV).

Those words sure sound to me like a reference to the Rapture of the Church.

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

13 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • i heard posties say: 1)jesus simply said noone knew the day or the hr at the time he was saying that 2) the 1,260 days are not literal 3) when jesus said "eating, drinking and marrying" he was simply saying life would be normal when the TRIBULATION JUDGEMENTS begin. "in those days" is a very general term 4) pray that you may be counted worthy to escape is referring to the destruction og jerusalem. posties will twist all lodgic to defend their pre-understanding.

  • Hartdawg

    Apparently the phrase ‘the day or the hour’ is idiomatic and literally means TIME however it is measured. So the TIME is not known (except by The Father.)

    This un-known time refers to the event of the Rapture, which is imminent (an overhanging event) therefore sign less. As Dr. Reagan say’s, it is for the Rapture we are to ‘watch’ which literally means to ‘be ready’. Why? Because Jesus SAID ‘be ready’. (It is a sinful generation that looks for signs.Matt16:4 and The Church is a Blood bought sinless ‘generation’ not requiring signs.)

    When Israel was to leave Egypt, they were to be ready and dressed to travel. That night their departure was imminent and certain, but they were un-certain when they would leave Egypt. An imminent event is one that certainly WILL occur; yet it is un-certain WHEN it will occur. Other event’s MAY happen, but nothing MUST happen.

    A clear example is the re-birth of Israel. It was plain that prophesied events demanded Israel be back in the land, and this was accomplished in 1948. So this event has happened before the imminent Rapture. Equally, the Rapture COULD have happened BEFORE Israel’s re-birth.

    Imo, the prophecy of Isaiah 31:5; was fulfilled during WW1. The Turks abandoned Jerusalem when early British ‘spotter planes’ flew over dropping leaflets (as birds flying) and Jerusalem was delivered from the Ottoman Empire without a shot being fired. Again, this didn’t HAVE to happen before the Rapture. As an imminent event it wasn’t named as a sign for The Church.

    The RETURN of Jesus to earth IS timed very clearly, both mathematically, and with many visible signs throughout the seven years.

    I agree yep too.

  • Hartdawg
    Over the weekend, before The Lord, I have realised that the Rapture IS in Matt24 just as Dr.Reagan has said. (But not as the Posties describe it) Do you remember me going on about paralambano (Taken).

    The other Greek word translated 'took', is airo and it is always used in connection with judgment, so is the greek word for 'left'?, whereas paralambano is used 'to take to oneself'. It is used in John 14 when Jesus said that he would come and receive us to Himself – paralambano.

    I have had quite a time with The Lord over this, now I am satisfied for myself at least. 🙂

  • Hartdawg

    That's fine, I don't want to convince or confuse you, its not worth bickering over. We agree on the fact of an imminent Pretrib Rapture, and that will happen whatever anyone thinks.

    It has been a very interesting time for me, and I shared it with you as I thought you may find it interesting. 🙂

  • i aint confused (or bickering) i heard very strong cases on both sides…and on both issues (one taken…and fig tree) regardless, i think we can conclude we`re living in the end times.

  • Hartdawg
    Forgive me if it seemed as though I was accusing you or being confused and 'bickering'. I meant it in a general sense, not you personally.

    Certainly we are in the end times – not MUCH longer to go surely. As you so rightly stated, if the 2nd Coming signs are evident, then how much closer the Rapture. 🙂

  • I agree about the generation of the fig tree, but the word "rapture" is not in the Bible, and therefore can not be proven as fact. I believe the subject Jesus spoke of to His disciples was about His second coming, and he explicitly said, "take heed that you be not deceived". He also said that day will not come until that man of sin be revealed which is the anti-Christ. Why would He rapture people away if the Anti-Christ comes first? There's a good website that explains this at and he teaches from the Hebrew and greek which gives much more understanding.

  • @Anonymous, the Bible teaches about the Rapture of the Church, and you can find the reference in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which speaks of an event called "the Rapture", Latin "rapio," Greek "harpazo," which means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18).

    Other references on the Rapture are Isa. 26:19-21; Mal. 3:17; Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.

    There will be a Rapture because the Church isn't destined to endure God's judgment on the world, as promised in 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; and Rev. 3:10.


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