"And He 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."
- Matthew 24:31
non-pretribulationists contend that Matthew 24:31 teaches a posttribulational
rapture. All agree that this
passage teaches a return of Christ.
This means that the question revolves around whether Matthew 24:31 and
Mark 13:27 are references to the rapture.
I contend that the rapture is not in view in this passage.
radio personality, Irwin Baxter, believes that the rapture and the second
coming " are the same event" in Matthew 24:31. " Matthew 24:29 teaches that the coming
of the Son of man and the rapture are the same event," contends Baxter. He arrives at this conclusion by
comparing Matthew 24:29-31 to Christ' s return in Revelation 19. In the discussion cited, Baxter does
not refer to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the undisputed rapture passage, as a
baseline for defining the rapture.
rapture scholar, Dr. Robert Gundry, also equates the rapture with the second
coming in Matthew 24:31.
" Posttribulationists," contends Gundry, " equate the rapture with the
gathering of the elect by angels at the sound of the trumpet (Matt. 24:31)."  Unlike Baxter, Dr. Gundry does interact
with the rapture passage (1 Thess. 4:13-18). He says, " If we define the rapture strictly as a catching
up, only one passage in the entire New Testament describes it. That passage is 1 Thessalonians
of the Rapture
Baxter does not
even attempt to define the rapture.
Apparently this allows Baxter flexibility to find the rapture in Matthew
24:31. Dr. Gundry includes in his
definition of the rapture " a catching up" from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Dr. Gundry wants to " broaden the
definition to include a gathering or reception" from Matthew 24:31, etc. Since the present debate is whether or
not Matthew 24:31 is a rapture passage, it would beg the question to include
Matthew 24:31 in an a priori
definition of the rapture.
4:17 is the only undisputed passage describing the rapture event. Only in this passage is the Greek word harpaz™ (" caught up" ) used, from which the English word
rapture descends. Whatever else
the rapture may include in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, it clearly consists of a
translation of living believers.
In an attempt to
equate Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as referring to the same event,
Dr. Gundry notes " parallel terminology in Paul' s Thessalonian discussion of the
Church' s rapture, where we read of a trumpet, clouds, and a gathering of
believers just as in the Olivet Discourse."  Indeed, there are some similarities
between the rapture and the second coming. There are also some similarities between Christ' s first
advent 2,000 years ago and His second advent. But they are not the same events. We know they are not the same because of the differences. It is the differences that are important
when comparing Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Enough differences exist between the
two passages to clearly conclude that they must be separate events.
Dr. Steven McAvoy
notes that " the differences between Paul' s Thessalonian statements and Matthew
24:30-31 far outweigh any alleged similarities."  He says:
Where does Paul mention the darkening of the sun
(Matt. 24:29), the moon not giving its light (Matt. 24:29), the stars falling
from the sky (Matt. 24:29), the powers of the heavens being shaken (Matt.
24:29), all the tribes of the earth mourning (Matt. 24:30), all the world
seeing the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:30), or God sending forth angels
Feinberg also notes
the dissimilarities between the two accounts:
Notice what happens when you examine both
passages carefully. In Matthew the
Son of Man comes on the clouds, while in 1 Thessalonians 4 the ascending
believers are in them. In Matthew
the angels gather the elect; in 1 Thessalonians the Lord Himself (note the
emphasis) gathers the believers.
Thessalonians only speaks of the voice of the archangel. In the Olivet Discourse nothing is said about a
resurrection, while in the latter text it is the central point. In the two passages the differences in
what will take place prior to the appearance of Christ is striking. Moreover, the order of ascent is absent
from Matthew in spite of the fact that it is the central part of the epistle.
In addition to
the above differences, the order of events are different between the two
passages. In 1 Thessalonians 4
believers are gathered in the air and taken to heaven, while in Matthew 24 they
are gathered after Christ' s arrival to earth. " In order for Gundry to establish his view that Matthew
24:31 refers to the rapture, he must reconcile the dissimilarities; not simple
point to a few similarities."  Thus, the differences in the two
passages support the contention that they speak of two distinct events.
Who are the
I believe the
elect in Matthew 24 is a reference to the Jewish remnant who will come to faith
in the Messiahship of Jesus during the tribulation period. Commentators generally recognize that
" elect" " may refer to Israel, to the Church, or to both."  The context is the determinative factor
in any attempt to discover which nuance the author intended. The contextual usage of Matthew
supports the elect as a reference to Israel because of the Jewish orientation
of the passage. " Such terms as the
gospel of the kingdom (24:14), the holy place (24:15), the Sabbath (24:20), and
the Messiah (24:23-24) indicate that Israel as a nation is in view," 
observes Dr. Stanley Toussaint.
Dr. Renald Showers provides a more focused explanation:
The elect are the faithful, believing Israelite
remnant in contrast with the unbelieving sinners within the nation. In Isaiah 65:7-16 God drew a contrast
between these two groups and their destinies. In verse 9 He called the believing remnant " mine Elect," and
in verses 17-25 He indicated that in the future Millennium His elect remnant of
the nation will be blessed greatly on the earth.
Since the term
" elect" is used three times in Matthew 24 (verses 22, 24, 31; see also Mark
13:20, 22, 27), it is most likely that the author uses it to refer to the same
entity all three times. Dr. McAvoy
says, " The rule of context precludes understanding ' elect' in 24:22, 24 as
referring to Israel and then nine verses later as referring to the church. Without some indication of transition
from one intended meaning to another ' elect' in 24:21 must mean the same as it
does in 24:22, 24." 
To me, the most
convincing reason why Matthew 24:31 is not a rapture statement is found in the
fact that this verse includes citations from Old Testament passages,
specifically Deuteronomy 30:4.
These references clearly support the notion that this angelic gathering,
which was predicted in the Older Testament, references a regathering of saved
Jews who need to be returned to the land of Israel in which they will live for
a thousand years during Christ' s Kingdom.
Instead, of using El Al airlines, the Lord will use angelic carriers to
transport His people back to their land.
What is the support for this view?
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum tells us the following about the use of Old
Testament citations in Matthew 24:31:
The Matthew passage is a rather simple summary of
all that the prophets had to say about the second facet of Israel' s final restoration. Its purpose was to make clear that the
world-wide regathering predicted by the prophets will be fulfilled only after
the second coming.
Showers has done an excellent job collecting evidence and arguing for this
view. After noting that " from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other"
means that " the elect will be gathered from all over the world at Christ' s
Dr. Showers provides three lines of proof for his view as follows:
First, because of Israel' s persistent rebellion
against God, He declared that He would scatter the Jews " into all the winds"
(Ezek. 5:10, 12) or " toward all winds" (Ezek. 17:21). In Zechariah 2:6 God stated that He did scatter them abroad
" as four winds of the heavens." . . . God did scatter the Jews all over the
God also declared that in the future Israel would be gathered from the east,
west, north, and south, " from the ends of the earth" (Isa. 43:5-7). We should note that in the context of
this promise, God called Israel His " chosen" (vv. 10, 20).
. . . Just as Jesus indicated that the gathering
of His elect from the four directions of the world will take place in
conjunction with " a great trumpet" (literal translation of the Greek text of
Mt. 24:21), so Isaiah 27:13 teaches that the scattered children of Israel will
be gathered to their homeland in conjunction with the blowing of " a great
trumpet" (literal translation of the Hebrew). . . .
Friedrich wrote that in that future eschatological day " a great horn shall be
blown (Is. 27:13)" and the exiled will be brought back by that signal. Again he asserted that in conjunction
with the blowing of the great trumpet of Isaiah 27:13, " There follows the
gathering of Israel and the return of the dispersed to Zion."
is significant to note that Isaiah 27:13, which foretells this future
regathering of Israel, is the only specific reference in the Old Testament to a
" great" trumpet.
Isaiah 11:11-12 does not refer to a great trumpet, it is parallel to Isaiah
27:13 because it refers to the same regathering of Israel. In its context, this passage indicates
that when the Messiah (a root of Jesse, vv. 1, 10) comes to rule and transform
the world as an " ensign" (a banner), He will gather together the scattered
remnant of His people Israel " from the four corners of the earth." 
describes in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 is the Jewish ingathering that will fulfill
the prophetic aspects of the Feast of Trumpets for the nation of Israel. In fact, a prayer for this regathering
of the children of Israel appears to this day in the Jewish Daily Prayer Book.
It is quite clear
that since the church is not mentioned in Matthew 24, then verse 31 cannot be a
reference to the rapture of the church.
Instead, as one studies the context and Old Testament references that
our Lord alludes to, it becomes quite clear that He speaks of an end time
regathering of elect Israel in order to return them to the land for the
Millennium. At Christ' s first
coming he wept over Jerusalem and expressed His desire to gather Israel to
Himself " the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were
unwilling" (Matt. 23:37). At His
second coming, elect Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced (Zech.
12:10) and say, " Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Ps. 118:26; Matt. 23:39). Maranatha!
Continued . . .)
 This information is take from the web site of
Irwin Baxter at www.endtime.com, under
the Question and Answer section dealing with the rapture. All subsequent quotes from Baxter are
from the same source.
 Robert H. Gundry, The Church and the
Tribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), p. 135.
 Robert H. Gundry, First the Antichrist: Why Christ Won' t Come Before the
Antichrist Does (Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1997), p. 71.
 Gundry, First the Antichrist, p. 71.
 Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, p. 135.
 Steven L. McAvoy, " A Critique of Robert Gundry' s
Posttribulationalism," Th. D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1986,
 John A. Sproule, " An Exegetical Defense of
Pretribulationism," Th. D. dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1981, p.
 Paul D. Feinberg, " Response: Paul D. Feinberg," in The Rapture:
Pre-, Mid-, or Posttribulational? by
Richard R. Reiter, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), p. 225.
 McAvoy, " Critique of Gundry," p. 137.
 McAvoy, " Critique of Gundry," p. 138.
 Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, p. 135.
 Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold The King: A Study of Matthew (Portland:
Multnomah, 1980), p. 277.
 Renald Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel, 1995), p. 182.
 McAvoy, " Critique of Gundry," pp. 140-41.
 Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the
Messiah (San Antonio: Ariel Press, 1982), p. 299.
 For more information supporting this view see
Showers, Maranatha, pp. 181-84.
 Showers, Maranatha, p.
 Showers, Maranatha, pp.
 For this prayer see Showers, Maranatha, p.