One will be Taken and the Other Left
by Richard H. Perry
What did Jesus mean when He said, “one will be taken and the other left”?
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 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 [aphiemi]. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken [paralambano] and the other left [aphiemi]. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come (Matthew 24:37-42).
For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken [paralambano] and the other left [aphiemi]. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken [paralambano] and the other left [aphiemi]“ (Luke 17:24-35).
The word taken in these two passages is translated from the Greek word paralambano. Paralambano means to receive near, i.e. associate with oneself (in any familiar or intimate act or relation), to receive.
The word left is translated from the Greek word aphiemi. Aphiemi, means to forsake, lay aside, leave, let alone, let be, let go, omit, put away, send away.
The word paralambano is also used in another reference to the return of Christ, below. Jesus tells his disciples that when He comes back from heaven He will receive them unto Himself.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take [paralambano] you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).
Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, it’s clear what Jesus means when He says, “one will be taken and the other left.” When He returns from heaven, Jesus will receive the believers unto Himself and the unbelievers will be put away.
Richard H Perry