STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #49 (Vol 3 No 16)
By Ed Tarkowski

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MATTHEW 24:39-41: TOOK (AIRO) AND TAKEN (PARALAMBANO)

I was reading a new book titled "Of The Last Days: Listen, I tell You A Mystery" by Richard H. Perry and liked the distinction he made between the words "took" and "taken" in Matthew 24:39,40 describing the Lord coming in judgement. He wrote,

"There is another message in this passage for which we need to look to the Greek. English translations alone do not provide a clear interpretation. Two very different Greek words are translated into a form of the English verb 'to take.' In verse 39, airo is translated as 'took.' Then in verses 40 and 41, paralambano is translated as 'taken.'

"'As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took [airo] them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken [paralambano] and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken [paralambano] and the other left (Matthew 24:37-41).'

"The difference between these Greek words is important.

"• Airo means 'to take away, put away, loose, and remove.' [Strong's G142]

• Paralambano means "to receive near, i.e., associate with oneself (in any familiar or intimate act or relation); receive, take unto, take with." [Strong's G3880]

"These two Greek words actually have opposite meanings! . . .

"Therefore, when the Lord returns, one man in the field will be received unto the Lord and the other will be put away from Him. One woman will be gathered unto the Lord in the air and the other will be left to the judgment and wrath of God" (Perry, pp. 72-74).

Robert Gundry in "The Church and The Tribulation" makes the same point:

"'Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left (Matt. 24:40, 41, paralleled in Luke 17:34, 35 with omission of the two in the field and addition of two in one bed).' . . .

"The argument is put forward that the context requires us to regard 'one will be taken' as judgmental. The preceding verses do, indeed, draw upon the Deluge: 'the flood came and took them all away' (v. 39). Notably, however, two different words appear for the action of taking, airo (v. 39) and paralambano (vv. 40, 41). The same word could easily have been employed had an exact parallel between the two takings been intended. Instead, we have the employment of another word which only two days later describes the rapture (John 14:3). The example of the Deluge illustrates not so much the judgmental character of the Parousia as its unexpectedness so far as the wicked are concerned. But granting that the context indicates judgment, we are not forced to conclude that 'one will be taken' in judgment and 'one will be left' in safety. The reverse may just as easily be understood: 'one will be taken' in rapture and 'one will be left' for judgment.

"As mentioned, two days later the same word for taking appears in description of the rapture: 'I will come again, and receive (paralambano) you to Myself' (John 14:3). The apostles would naturally have associated the two expressions. Jesus probably so intended, else He would have drawn a distinction. The thought underlying paralambano militates against our treating the word as descriptive of judgment. The prefix para (alongside) denotes accompaniment and association (though not always of a friendly or joyous sort—cf. John 19:17) following the action of taking: "take (to oneself), take with or along" (BAG). Subsequent association and accompaniment with the one who takes or receives admirably suits the rapture but clashes with the sudden stroke of judgment at Armageddon, where a terrible, eternal separation follows. In this light, the change from airo to paralambano indicates a change in topic and connotation: the former term [airo] refers to judgment similar in unexpectedness to the Flood, the latter [paralambano] to reception of the saints at the rapture to be forever with their Lord (cf. 1 Thess. 4:17; John 14:3) (Gundry, p. 138)."

The phrase "one will be left" would support this. According to Strong's, word "left" means:

G863 From G575 and hiemi (to send; an intensive form of eimi (to go)); to send forth, in various applications: - cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.

Thayer's definition of "left" makes the case even stronger that those left are left because of Christ's rejecting them:

"1) to send away
1a) to bid going away or depart
1a1) of a husband divorcing his wife
1b) to send forth, yield up, to expire
1c) to let go, let alone, let be
1c1) to disregard
1c2) to leave, not to discuss now, (a topic)
1c2a) of teachers, writers and speakers
1c3) to omit, neglect
1d) to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit
1e) to give up, keep no longer
2) to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person
3) to leave, go way from one
3a) in order to go to another place
3b) to depart from any one
3c) to depart from one and leave him to himself so that all mutual claims are abandoned
3d) to desert wrongfully
3e) to go away leaving something behind
3f) to leave one by not taking him as a companion
3g) to leave on dying, leave behind one
3h) to leave so that what is left may remain, leave remaining
3i) abandon, leave destitute"

All of these definitions show a separation of the believer from the unbeliever at the time of the Lord's one return, not a separation of the believer from the unbeliever separated by a seven year period. The context of this parable was based on what happened to the righteous and unrighteous of Noah's time. When the flood came, it took the unbeliever away in judgement, while the righteous were lifted above the flood. There was no time period in between this event that brought separation and distinction.

Gundry's point in the first paragraph I quoted from him is important to understanding these verses in their right context. Some believe that those taken are the unbeliever and they are taken in judgement because the unrighteous in Noah's time were taken away, but the meaning of the words "took" and "taken" shows that cannot be true. As Gundry says,

"The preceding verses do, indeed, draw upon the Deluge: 'the flood came and took them all away' (v. 39). Notably, however, two different words appear for the action of taking, airo (v. 39) and paralambano (vv. 40, 41). The same word could easily have been employed had an exact parallel between the two takings been intended. Instead, we have the employment of another word which only two days later describes the rapture (John 14:3)."

ANOTHER BOOK WORTH THE READ

TITLE: "A Time of Departing: How a universal spirituality is changing the face of Christianity" by Ray Yunger. See Lighthouse Trails Publishing).

Excerpt from the ad for this book:

Contemplative Prayer ... Mantra Meditation ... Centering Prayer ... Reiki ... Labyrinths

Are these practices Scriptural? If not, then why are they being promoted in Christian organizations, colleges and churches throughout the world?

Read A Time of Departing and find out how and through whom these mystical practices are entering the church.

"As a movement, those who practice contemplative prayer, on the whole, tend to develop spiritual kinship to other religions, especially Buddhism." Ray Yungen

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