Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Who are 'the least of these' in Matthew?

Matt 25:31-46: IN THIS TEXT: Who are the "least of these my brothers"?

How  would you go about discerning/deciding who are "the least of these, my brothers" I\in Matthew 25?  Take ten minutes studying the passage froma  Three Worlds model, and come up with a working answer, or at least the right questions (literary, historical) that would lead you to the answer.



 the 'real' Colbert preaches to Congress on Matthew 25

See links:

Other possible resources:

--Note: How does Jesus?Matthew use the term "brother" or "My brothers."
Find out here

--Does he mean "brothers" or "brothers and sisters"?  Click

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jesus as a dusty rabbi


Having focused so far on two possible answers to "Who is Jesus in Matthew?"  ("The New Moses" and "The 'With You' God" see previous post) drawn from the LITERARY WORLD.  today we consider  answer from  the HISTORICAL WORLD:

 A Jewish rabbi.

Three sources:

a)Here below is  the Rob Bell vide,
"Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi":

Video Intro:
"Rob Bell, Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, takes us deep into the first century world of Jesus and helps us reflect on what it means for us as we follow Jesus.
Jews in Jesus' day knew that the Hebrew Scriptures was the ultimate expression of a loving God who loves His children so much that He teaches them how to live. Therefore, central to the life of the Jewish community was educating children in the text of the Scriptures. It was essential to place the words of God into the minds of children so that faith would continue throughout generations. Young Jews, beginning at the age of six, began their education and were taught in a very tactile taste sense that the words of God are linked with the most pleasurable, sweet thing they could possibly imagine. With this mind-set, they were passionate in their learning, which involved memorizing and understanding the Scriptures.
The ultimate and highest honor and achievement in their educational system was to become a rabbi. The role of a rabbi was the most respected, prestigious role in the community. Jesus went through this educational system as a young Jew and became a rabbi. His way of understanding the text and calling disciples ('talmidim') was radical in His day. He called young disciples who were broken, abused, hurting, and rejected by others and used them to change the world. Jesus calls us, who are also broken, to follow Him today. He has given us the opportunity to change
the world." -link
Extensive notes on this video here


b)See  the Vander Laan slideshow here, clicking the tabs on the top..interesting information about synagogue, rabbi, and talmidim..For example,  "These disciples were usually in their teens when they began to follow a rabbi, and most of Jesus' disciples were probably fifteen years old or younger."


c)Article:"Rabbi and Talmidim," by Ray Vander Laan:

The people of Galilee were the most religious Jews in the world in the time of Jesus. This is quite contrary to the common view that the Galileans were simple, uneducated peasants from an isolated area. This perspective is probably due to the comments made in the Bible, which appear to belittle people from this area. At the Shavuoth feast in the book of Acts for example, the people seem amazed that the Galileans were capable of speaking in other languages. But this is certainly a bias against Galileans by the people of Judea and other countries due to the very strong and passionate religious commitments of the people of Galilee. Besides, the Galileans had more interaction with the world living on the "way of the sea" (the trade route, see Matt. 4:15) than the Jews of Jerusalem who were more isolated in the mountains. The Galilean people were actually more educated in the Bible and its application than most Jews. More famous Jewish teachers come from Galilee than anywhere else in the world. They were known for their great reverence for Scripture and the passionate desire to be faithful to it. This translated into vibrant religious communities, devoted to strong families, their country, whose synagogues echoed the debate and discussions about keeping the Torah. They resisted the pagan influences of Hellenism far more than did their Judean counterparts. When the great revolt against the pagan Romans and their collaborators (66-74 AD) finally occurred, it began among the Galileans.

Jesus was born, grew up, and spent his ministry among people who knew Scripture by memory, who debated its application with enthusiasm, and who loved God with all their hearts, all their souls and all their might (Deut. 6:5). God prepared this environment carefully so that Jesus would have exactly the context he needed to present his message of Malchut Shemayim="the kingdom of heaven" and his followers would understand and join his new movement. He fit his world perfectly. Understanding this helps to understand the great faith and courage of his followers who left Galilee and went to the whole world to bring the good news. Their courage, their message, the methods they used, and their complete devotion to God and his Word were born in the religious communities in the Galilee.

                      Education in Galilee
The Mishnah(1) describes the educational process for a young Jewish boy in Jesus? time.
At five years old [one is fit] for the Scripture, at ten years the Mishnah (oral Torah, interpretations) at thirteen for the fulfilling of the commandments, at fifteen the Talmud (making Rabbinic interpretations), at eighteen the bride-chamber, at twenty pursuing a vocation, at thirty for authority (able to teach others)
This clearly describes the exceptional student, for very few would become teachers but indicates the centrality of Scripture in the education in Galilee. It is interesting to compare Jesus' life to this description. Though little is stated about his childhood we know that he ?grew in wisdom? as a boy (Luke 2:52) and that he reached the ?fulfilling of the commandments? indicated by ones first Passover at age twelve (Luke 2:41). He then learned a trade (Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3) and spent time with John the Baptist (Luke 3:21; John 3:22?26) and began his ministry at ?about thirty? (Luke 3:23). This parallels the Mishnah description quite closely. It certainly demands a closer look at the education process in Galilee.

Schools were associated with the local synagogue in first century Galilee. Apparently each community would hire a teacher (respectfully called ?rabbi?) for the school. While this teacher was responsible for the education of the village he had no special authority in the synagogue itself. Children began their study at age 4-5 in Beth Sefer (elementary school). Most scholars believe both boys and girls attended the class in the synagogue. The teaching focused primarily on the Torah, emphasizing both reading and writing Scripture. Large portions were memorized and it is likely that many students knew the entire Torah by memory by the time this level of education was finished. At this point most students (and certainly the girls) stayed at home to help with the family and in the case of boys to learn the family trade. It is at this point that a boy would participate in his first Passover in Jerusalem (a ceremony that probably forms the background of today's bar mitzvah in orthodox Jewish families today.) Jesus'  excellent questions for the teachers in the temple at his first Passover indicate the study he had done.

The best students continued their study (while learning a trade) in Beth Midrash (secondary school) also taught by a rabbi of the community. Here they (along with the adults in the town) studied the prophets and the writings (3) in addition to Torah and began to learn the interpretations of the Oral Torah (4) to learn how to make their own applications and interpretations much like a catechism class might in some Churches today. Memorization continued to be important because most people did not have their own copy of the Scripture so they either had to know it by heart or go to the synagogue to consult the village scroll. Memory was enhanced by reciting aloud, a practice still widely used in Middle Eastern education both Jewish and Muslim. Constant repetition was considered to be an essential element of learning (5).

A few (very few) of the most outstanding Beth Midrash students sought permission to study with a famous rabbi often leaving home to travel with him for a lengthy period of time. These students were called talmidim (talmid, s.) in Hebrew, which is translated disciple. There is much more to a talmid than what we call student. A student wants to know what the teacher knows for the grade, to complete the class or the degree or even out of respect for the teacher. A talmid wants to like the teacher, that is to become what the teacher is. That meant that students were passionately devoted to their rabbi and noted everything he did or said. This meant the rabbi-talmid relationship was a very intense and personal system of education. As the rabbi lived and taught his understanding of the Scripture his students (talmidim) listened and watched and imitated so as to become like him. Eventually they would become teachers passing on a lifestyle to their talmidim.
As a result, Galilee was a place of intense study of Scripture. People were knowledgeable about its content and the various applications made by their tradition. They were determined to live by it and to pass their faith and knowledge and lifestyle on to their children. It was into this world that Jesus came as a child and eventually a rabbi.

                            Jesus the Rabbi
The term rabbi in the time of Jesus did not necessarily refer to a specific office or occupation. That would be true only after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (70 AD). Rather, it was a word meaning ?great one? or "my master" which was applied to many kinds of people in everyday speech. It clearly was used as a term of respect for one?s teacher as well even though the formal position of rabbi would come later. In one sense then, calling Jesus "Rabbi" is an anachronism. In another sense the use of this term for him by the people his day is a measure of their great respect for him as a person and as a teacher and not just a reference to the activity of teaching he was engaged in.

Many people referred to Jesus as Rabbi. His disciples (Luke 7:40), lawyers (Matt. 22:35?36), ordinary people (Luke 12:13), the rich (Matt. 19:16), Pharisees (Luke 19:39), and Sadducees (Luke 20:27?28). Jesus fit the description of a first century rabbi especially one at the most advanced level,the one sought by talmidim.
He traveled from place to place with his disciples depending on the hospitality of others (Luke 8:1?3) and often meeting in private homes (Luke 10:38-42)
In travel, rabbis would visit local synagogues because of the discussion of Scripture that occurred regularly in these community centers (Matt. 4:23)
Rabbis used similar methods of interpreting Scripture. For example the great teachers used a technique today called remez or hint, in which they used part of a Scripture passage in discussion assuming their audience?s knowledge of the Bible would allow them to deduce for themselves fuller meaning. Apparently Jesus used this method often. When the children sang Hosanna to him in the Temple and the Sadducees demanded Jesus quiet them he responded with a quote from Psalm 8:2 "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." Their anger at Jesus is better understood when you realize that the next phrase in the Psalm adds the reason why children and infants would praise?because of the enemies of God who would be silenced (Ps. 8:2). In other words the chief priests realized Jesus was implying they were God?s enemies.
Another example is Jesus' comments to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1?10). Jesus said "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10) The background to this statement is probably Ezekiel 34. God, angry with the leaders of Israel for scattering and harming his flock (the people of Israel) states the he himself will become the shepherd and will seek the lost ones and deliver (save) them. Based on this the people of Jesus? day understood that the Messiah to come would "seek and save" the lost. By using this phrase, knowing the people knew the Scripture, Jesus said several things. To the people he said "I am the Messiah and God no less."To the leaders (whose influence kept Zacchaeus out of the crowd) he said "you have scattered and harmed God?s flock." To Zacchaeus he said "you are one of God's lost sheep, he still loves you."
This technique indicated a brilliant understanding of Scripture and incredible teaching skills on Jesus part. It also demonstrates the background knowledge of Scripture the common people had.
Rabbis used similar teaching techniques like the use of parables. More than 3,500 parables from first century rabbis still exist and Jesus's are among the very best. He uses similar themes (landowner, king, and farmer) as well. (Matt. 13:3,34)
Jesus seems to be a type of rabbi believed to have smikhah or authority to make new interpretations. Most of the teachers were Torah teachers (teachers of the law) who could only teach accepted interpretations. Those with authority (today "ordination") could make new interpretations and pass legal judgments. Crowds were amazed because Jesus taught with /authority (Hebrew smikhah, Greek exousia) not as their Torah teachers (Matt. 7:28/29). Jesus was questioned about his authority (Matt. 21:23?27). While this makes Jesus one of a small group of teachers he was not the only one with authority.
Rabbis invited people to learn to keep the Torah. This was called taking
"the yoke of Torah" or "the yoke of the kingdom of heaven". Rabbis with smikhah would have a new interpretation or yoke. Torah teachers would teach the accepted interpretations or yoke of their community. Jesus invitation to those who listened to many teachers and interpretations helps establish him as a Rabbi would present an interpretation that was easy and light (to understand not necessarily to do) (Matt. 13:11-30). As such, he was probably not speaking to unsaved people burdened with sin but people unsure of the many interpretations they heard in the dynamic religious debate in Galilee.
Fulfilling the Torah was the task of a first century rabbi. The technical term for interpreting the Scripture so it would be obeyed correctly was "fulfill."To interpret Scripture incorrectly so it would not be obeyed as God intended was to "destroy" the Torah. Jesus uses these terms to describe his task as well (Matt. 5:17?19). Contrary to what some think Jesus did not come to do away with God?s Torah or Old Testament. He came to complete it and to show how to correctly keep it. One of the ways Jesus interpreted the Torah was to stress the importance of the right attitude of heart as well as the right action (Matt. 5:27?28).

                    The Disciples as Talmidim
The decision to follow a rabbi as a talmid meant total commitment in the first century as it does today. Since a talmid was totally devoted to becoming like the rabbi he would have spent his entire time listening and observing the teacher to know how to understand the Scripture and how to put it into practice. Jesus describes his relationship to his disciples in exactly this way (Matt. 10:24/25; Luke 6:40) He chose them to be with him (Mark 3:13?19) so they could be like him (John 13:15).

Most students sought out the rabbis they wished to follow. This happened to Jesus on occasion (Mark 5:19; Luke 9:57). There were a few exceptional rabbis who were famous for seeking out their own students. If a student wanted to study with a rabbi he would ask if he might "follow" the rabbi. The rabbi would consider the students potential to become like him and whether he would make the commitment necessary. It is likely most students were turned away. Some of course were invited to "follow me". This indicated the rabbi believed the potential talmid had the ability and commitment to become like him. It would be a remarkable affirmation of the confidence the teacher had in the student. In that light, consider whether the disciples of Jesus were talmidim as understood by the people of his time. They were to be "with" him Mark 3:13?19; to follow him Mark 1:16=20; to live by his teaching John 8:31; were to imitate his actions John 13:13?15; were to make everything else secondary to their learning from the rabbi Luke 14:26.

This may explain Peter's walking on water (Matt. 14:22-33). When Jesus (the rabbi) walked on water, Peter (the talmid) wanted to be like him. Certainly Peter had not walked on water before nor could he have imagined being able to do it. However, if the teacher, who chose me because he believed I could be like him, can do it so must I. And he did! It was a miracle but he was just like the rabbi! And then...he doubted. Doubted what? Traditionally we have seen he doubted Jesus? power. Maybe, but Jesus was still standing on the water. I believe Peter doubted himself, or maybe better his capacity to be empowered by Jesus. Jesus response "why did you doubt?" (14:31) then means "why did you doubt I could empower you to be like me"
That is a crucial message for the talmid of today. We must believe that Jesus calls us to be disciples because he knows he can so instruct, empower, and fill us with his Spirit that we can be like him (at least in our actions). We must believe in ourselves! Otherwise we will doubt that he can use us and as a result we will not be like him.

Being like the rabbi is the major focus of the life of talmidim. They listen and question, they respond when questioned, they follow without knowing where the rabbi is taking them knowing that the rabbi has good reason for bringing them to the right place for his teaching to make the most sense. In the story recorded in Matthew 16, Jesus walked nearly thirty miles one way to be in Caesarea Philippi for a lesson that fit the location perfectly. Surely he talked with them along the way but the whole trip seems to have been geared for one lesson that takes less than ten minutes to give (Matt. 16:13?28).

This means that the present day talmid (disciple) must be no less focused on the rabbi. We must be with him in his Word, we must follow him even if we are not sure of the final destination, we must live by his teaching (which means we must know those teachings well), and we must imitate him whenever we can. In other words everything becomes secondary in life to being like him. When they had observed and learned for a time they were sent out to begin to practice being like the teacher (Luke 9:1?6; 10:1?24). The amazement of the talmidim in discovering they could be like their teacher is delightful (10:17). It is very understandable to anyone who has seen the deep attachment of talmidim to his or her rabbi even today. It is most affirming when a student discovers that being like the teacher is possible. The teachers joy is no less as he discovers his students have learned well and are gifted and empowered by God to act as the rabbi does (Luke 10:21; see also John 17:16, 18).

When the teacher believed that his talmidim were prepared to be like him he would commission them to become disciple makers. He was saying "As far as is possible you are like me. Now go and seek others who will imitate you. Because you are like me, when they imitate you they will be like me." This practice certainly lies behind Jesus great commission (Matt. 28:18-20). While in one sense no one can be like Jesus in his divine nature, or in his perfect human nature, when taught by the Rabbi, empowered and blessed by the Spirit of God, imitating Jesus becomes a possibility. The mission of the disciples was to seek others who would imitate them and therefore become like Jesus. That strategy, blessed by God?s Spirit would bear amazing fruit especially in the Gentile world.

It also helps to understand the teaching of Paul who sought to make disciples. He invited Herod Agrippa and the Roman governor to become like him (Acts 26:28=29). He taught the young churches to imitate him and others who were like Jesus (1 Cor. 4:15-16, 11:1; 1 Thess. 1:6-7, 2:14; 2 Thess. 3:7?9; 1 Tim. 4:12. The writer to the Hebrews had the same mission (Heb. 6:12, 13:7).

This is one of the most significant concepts of the New Testament. Jesus, the divine Messiah, chose the rabbi-talmid system. He taught like a rabbi in real life situations, using the most brilliant methods ever devised. He interpreted God's word and completed it. He demonstrated obedience to it. He chose disciples whom he would empower to become like him and led them around until they began to imitate him. Then (after the gift of the Holy Spirit) he sent them our to make disciples...to lead people to imitate them by obeying Jesus. And that strategy, by God's blessing would change the most pagan of cultures.

That is our call too! Jesus calls us to be his talmidim. We must know God's Word and Jesus' interpretation of it. We must be passionate in our devotion to that word and Jesus example. As we are filled with his Spirit, we must be obsessed with being like him as far as is humanly possible. We must strive for relationships with others so they will observe us and seek to imitate our love and devotion to God and our Jesus-like lifestyle (1 Cor. 2:16, 11:1; Gal. 3:27). By God?s grace, that strategy CAN change the most pagan of cultures.... our own!
-Ray Vander Laan, link and footnotes


-We also looked at he three terms for "rabbi," and a wonderful "historical world" and "litererary world" lesson about which term Mary used for Jesus:   See THIS.

literary structure of Matthew


Historical world: Wine mixed with rubber, Persian onions, Ashes of ostrich egg

a provocative threefold question before we start CHAPTERS 11-13.

Which would you choose:

  • 1)Drink wine mixed with rubber, alum, and garden crocuses?
  • '2) Eat Persian onions and yell out'Kum, Kum, Kum !'?
  • 3) Carry around the ashes of an ostrich egg in a cloth?

You can read more about the intriguing reasons WHY at this link..

..but you'll remember an amazing "historical world" lesson:

These were the main options/remedies that would be given in that culture the bleeding woman we meet in Matthew  9..

And if you look at how the story is obviously INTERCALATED in three gospel accounts with another story (the young girl, daughter of Jairus, a synagogue ruler..

you'll be able to do some quick comparing/contrasting the two stories,
and note that we are to get the "Literary world" message that 

Jesus is indiscriminate and inclusive in who he heals:

Older (a woman suffering for 12 years  and younger  ( a 12 year old girl),

poorer  and richer...

what other comparisons/contrasts do you find?

Titles in Matthew

You'll remember how radically Kraybill reads Jesus being on titles...at least for human leaders.

Kraybill, The Upside Down Kingdom:
  • "In one stroke, Jesus erases titles (Matt. 23:8-10). Tagging each other with titles has no place in the upside-down kingdom where everyone stands on equal ground" (226).
  • "Titles are foreign to the body of Christ. Terms like Doctor and Reverend perpetuate status differences unbefitting the spirit of Christ."  Titles pay tribute to position, degree and status rather than to personhood.  Members of flat kingdoms call each other, as the sign of highest personal respect, by our first names" (239, emphasis mine)
  • "We call each other by our first name, for we have one Master and one Lord, Jesus Christ" (256).

BUT consider titles of  Jesus, which clue us in to the "Who is Jesus?" question. Check out this chart and note re: each title:
  • where in the gospel  (and why?)
  • how often?
  • and on whose lips
  • where  (what section of gospel) each title clusters
  • inclusios etc.
click chart(and then click again once on a new page) to enlarge

-Son of God                         (7x..or 8, if you count 3:17)
-Son of the Living God         (once, hmm)
-Son of Man                         (29x.....and all by one person!)
-Son of David                      (9x)

>>Click to read the context of each time each title occurs:

To get more info on the titles, and a sense of how they are used in other biblical books, see this.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

signs quiz

Leadership Prayers: Weariness

From "Leadership Prayers" book by FPU President, Rich Kriegbaum

"13 Commandments"--that is, the most common mechanical errors in signature papers over the years

Here are the "13 Commandments"--that is, the most common mechanical errors in signature papers over the years

1)contractions/"you" (not allowed)  

2)clauses and fragments that are not full sentences
3)commas where they don't belong (or no commas where they do)
4) CAPS: a)words like king, president, pastor, apostle are NOT capitalized unless used as a title.  "Barrack Obama is the President" is  not correct.   "President Obama says.." is.
b)often students capitalize words because they are important: faith, prayer,altar.. Incorrect
c)"Bible" is capitalized; "biblical" is not  Some formats allow Bible to not be capitalized; if you choose that, be consistent throughout paper
5)Careful with plurals, possessives, apostrophes etc.  Google if you need help.
This sign is all over the country, but dead wrong!
6)For historical figures whose name ends in 's, you write  "Jesus' disciples," not "Jesus's."  Note you have a lot of these who may appear in your paper: Jesus' , Moses, et al
7)Traditions and translations vary as to whether or not "He" "Him" "His" are capitalized when referring to God or Jesus.  Either way you choose, be consistent thought the paper.
8)"Their"  vs "they're" type errors
9)It's vs its.  Read this for help.  Think in your mind about our textbook title:
 "How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth"

or is it

"How to Read the Bible For All It's Worth"
Answer and then look.  Most students guess incorrectly, This is even explained in the preface.

10)singular and plural disagreement across sentences,  Google for help
11)Departments vary in this. For biblical studies, spell out numbers under 100.
12)HUGE: "who" for people; "that" for things.  "A person that likes cookies" is wrong
13)miselanyaous speling errrors

This sign in a church is incorrect:


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Of course, you want to be left behind, it's a good thing (:

This class emphasizes reading the text of the Bible in context.  Sometimes the meaning of a text is not what we have always assumed or been taught.  Have you ever heard that a certain group of people will be "left behind"?  You may have heard this from a sermon or popular books or movies.  The text that the phrase "left behind" comes from is in Matthew.  Before you go any further, post your quick answer on Moodle as to  what category of people you have heard will be left behind.
Now read this below:

Read this text from Matthew.

Read it from scratch, with no preconceived ideas, looking for what it actually says and means.

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[h] but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left behind. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left behind. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day[i] your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.


Who was taken (swept away) in Noah's day?
 People  who were caught off guard, unrighteous and unprepared. Clearly the "good" or "righteous" people; believers if you will. 

 Who was left?  Clearly Noah and family,  the "good" or "righteous" people; believers if you will.  The only righteous family God found on earth,

The text says it will be the same way when Jesus (the Son of Man) comes again.
So...who will be taken then, if it's the same pattern? 
 Clearly  the same: the unprepared and unrighteous.
Who will be left then, if it's the same pattern?
 The righteous believers, just as Noah and his family who were saved.

Hmmm, then why have most of you heard that the unprepared and unbelivers will be left behind??
 It astounds people when you tell them that

no one 

reading the famous "one will be taken; the other left behind" 'rapture' passage..

(in context; and without everything you've ever heard that it said influencing what you hear)

will read it as Christians being taken/raptured.

It is the most obvious interpretation in the world that in this Scripture:

the Christians are left behind. And that it's a good thing, not a bad thing.

Try it out! Follow the flow and logic; read text and context prayerfully and carefully.


Only by combining this passage together with First Thessalonians can a dispensationalist begin to piece together their notion of 'left behind'...But here's the problem with their use of this passage in Matthew: Dispensationalists make the leap of assuming that the person 'taken' in this passage is a born-again Christian who is taken up to heaven, while the person 'left' is an unbeliever who is left behind for judgement. This is a huge leap, since Jesus himself never specifies whether Christians should desire to be taken or left! In the overall context of Matthew's Gospel, the verbs 'taken' and 'left' (Greek paralambano and apheimi) can be either positive or negative.

In the verses immediately preceding this passage, Jesus says that his coming will be like the flood at the time of Noah, when people were 'swept away' in judgement. If being 'taken' is analogous to being 'swept away' in a flood, then it is not a positive fate. That is the argument of New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright:

'It should be noted that being in this context means being taken in judgement.
There is no hint here of a , a sudden event that would remove individuals from terra firma...It is, rather, a matter of secret police coming in the night, or of enemies sweeping through a village or city and seizing all they can.'
(NT Wright, Jesus and The Victory of God, p. 366

,, this means that 'left behind,' is actually the desired fate of Christians, whereas being 'taken' would mean being carried off by forces of judgement like a death squad. For people living under Roman occupation, being taken away in such a way by secret police would probably be a constant fear....McGuire suggests that the 'Left Behind' books have it 'entirely backward.'. McGuire, like Wright, points out that when analyzed in the overall context of the gospel, the word 'taken' means being taken away in judgement, as in the story of Jesus' being 'taken' prisoner by soldiers in Matt 27:27. 'Taken' is not an image for salvation"

(Rossing, pp 178-179)

HMMM... If you got the point, you can go back to Moodle know. If you want to read more on this, keep reading.
Let me say clearly, this exercise is NOT asking you to change your mind, or argue with what your church may teach, about the end times or rapture.   We are not saying you should tell all the "Left Behind" book and movie supporters that they are wrong, or that there is no "rapture." All we are doing is showing that in this passage, it's clear what Jesus meant.  It's an example of reading in context. 
So, here's more if you like, and want to consider.

Here's Benjamin Corey, who builds the case from Luke:

Jesus Says Those “Left Behind” Are The Lucky Ones (the most ironic thing the movie won’t tell you) 

In the lead up to the release of the remake of Left Behind hitting theaters in a few weeks, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the most ironic thing the Left Behind movie (or rapture believers) won’t tell you about getting “left behind.”

The basic premise of the theology is this: the world is going to get progressively worse as “the end” draws near. Before the worst period of time in world history (a seven year period called the “tribulation,” though there’s no verse in the Bible that discusses a seven year tribulation) believers in Jesus are suddenly snatched away during the second coming of Christ (which rapture believers argue is done in secret and without explanation, instead of the public second coming described in scripture).
The entire premise of the theology and the Left Behind movie is based on a passage from Matthew that you’ll see in the official Left Behind image included to your left. The passage states:

“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left”.

And this is where we get the term “left behind”… Jesus said “one shall be taken and the other left.”
Pretty simple, no? It appears from this passage that Jesus is describing an event where some people actually do “get taken” and the others are “left behind.” It must be a rapture then.

Or maybe not.

As I have explained before, the chapter of Matthew 24 is a chapter where Jesus describes the events that will lead up to the destruction of the temple which occurred in AD 70. That’s not so much my scholarly opinion as it is what Jesus plainly states in the first few verses of Matthew 24; it is a context pretty difficult to explain away since Jesus says “this temple will be destroyed” and his disciples ask, “please, tell us when this will happen.” The rest of the discourse is Jesus prophesying the events that will lead up to the temple’s destruction, which we know historically unfolded as Jesus had predicted. (As I have alluded to in What Jesus Talked About When He Talked About Hell andDon’t Worry The Tribulation Is In The Past, if one does not understand the significance of the destruction of the temple to ancient Judaism, one will have a very hard time understanding what Jesus talks about when he talks about “the end.”)

Anyhow, during the end of this discourse in Matthew we hit the “rapture” verse: “one will be taken and one will be left.” Surely, this part must be about the future, and Jesus MUST be describing a rapture. Since that’s what my childhood pastor taught me, it’s probably a good idea to stick with that.
Just one problem: Matthew 24 isn’t the only place where Jesus talks about “some being taken and some being left behind.” Jesus also discusses this in Luke 17 when he says:
 “I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
Building a compelling case for the rapture yet? Not quite. Check this out: Jesus’ disciples in the Luke version of the discourse must have been interested in this left behind stuff, because they ask a critical followup question. However, they actually seem more concerned with those who were “taken” than those who were “left behind” and ask Jesus for a little more information on this whole getting taken away stuff.

“Where, Lord?” is the question of the disciples. Where did all of these people go??

If this were a passage about the “rapture” as depicted in the Left Behind movie, one would expect Jesus to answer something to the point of “they were taken to be with me to wait out the tribulation.” But, that’s not what Jesus says. Instead, Jesus gives them a blunt answer about those who were “taken”: “just look for the vultures, and you’ll find their bodies.” (v37)

That’s right. The ones who were “taken” were killed. Not exactly the blessed rapture.

The Roman occupation was brutal, and when they finally sacked the city and destroyed the temple in AD70, things got impressively bloody. To be “taken” as Jesus prophesied, was to be killed by the invading army. This is precisely why, in this passage and the Matthew version, Jesus gives all sorts of other advice that makes no sense if this is a verse about the rapture. Jesus warns that when this moment comes one should flee quickly– to not even go back into their house to gather their belongings– and laments that it will be an especially difficult event for pregnant and nursing mothers. He even goes on to warn them that if they respond to the army with resistance (the very thing thatcauses the mess in the lead-up to AD70), they’ll just get killed (“whoever seeks to save his life will lose it”). Jesus, it seems, wants his disciples to get it: when the Roman army comes, flee quickly or else you might not be left behind!

Surely, Jesus is not talking about a rapture. He’s not warning people to avoid missing the rapture because they went home to get their possessions… he’s talking about fleeing an advancing army and not doing anything stupid that will get them killed (v 30-34).

Very practical advice for his original audience and would have come in handy for those who wanted to avoid being “raptured” (slaughtered) by the Roman army.

And so my friends, this is the most ironic thing the Left Behind movie won’t tell you: in the original “left behind” story Jesus tells in the Gospels, the ones who are “left behind” are actually the lucky ones.
So the next time folks tell you that they don’t want to be “left behind,” you might want to tell them to be careful what they wish for.  -Benjamin Corey, link

of course Christians will be left behind

Preface (sigh); Don't hear what I'm not saying. I am not
- See more at: http://davewainscott.blogspot.com/2009/05/of-course-christians-will-be-left.html#sthash.5DxrH5Co.dpuf

Adam Maarschalk adds some evidence from sources in 1700s and 1800s:

In our study of Matthew 24:36-51, I also proposed that Jesus said it would be better to be “left behind” than to be “taken,” and noted that 2-3 centuries ago this was taught by John Gill (1746-1763) and Albert Barnes (1834). Benjamin Corey does an excellent job showing the revealing connection between what Jesus says in Luke 17 and what He says in the more frequently quoted Matthew 24:40. His article also comes at a good time, less than two weeks before the remake of the Left Behind movie hits the theaters on October 3rd. Hopefully the theology in this film will soon be left behind by many followers of Christ.  link


"Why you WANT to be left behind"

Steve Bremmer is an awesome missionary in Peru.

Here on his podcast he interviews James-Michael Smith..an missionary
 to and from the US (:

Topic: "Why you WANT to be left behind." Listen here
Pretty surprising and cool this article excerpted appeared in Christianity Today.  It says what I said several years ago here...and folk far more famous like N.T. Wright have been saying all along ,

Maybe the Camping thing will help bring this to the table...(But you should've seen the rabbi's face when I brought it up on his radio show   (:    ...it's worth it to hear his voice in the podast here. (Click May 28).

Jesus' best-known teaching about end times is recorded in Matthew 24-25, with perhaps the most famous section found in 24:40-41. Here Jesus describes the impact of his Second Coming: "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left." These two verses, along with the parallel passage in Luke 17, have inspired one of the most famous Christian songs of all times, Larry Norman's 1972 classic "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" (from an album tellingly titled Only Visiting This Planet). More recently, the hugely successful Left Behind book and film series has inspired the imaginations of countless Christians.

These verses are worth close consideration. According to Jesus, at least one key to understanding this teaching is the story of Noah, as Jesus explains in the preceding passage, Matthew 24:37-39:
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.
Notice what Jesus says twice in this passage. The coming of the Son of Man will be "as it was in the days of Noah" (v. 37). In case we missed it, we are told again: "That is how it will be" when the Son of Man comes (v. 39). Anytime Jesus says something twice, it is doubly worth paying attention to. Jesus seems to be emphasizing two aspects of the Noah story. One is simply the surprise factor of the Flood. Nobody was expecting it. Until the day it happened, people were going about their business, living their daily lives. They were taken by surprise. So too will the Second Coming of Jesus come unawares. We should always be ready.

We ought also to notice the presence of two groups of persons. One is Noah and, implicitly, his family. Noah is righteous and follows God. He and his family are saved; they are not caught by surprise. The second group is the unnamed "people" (v. 38): those who were eating, drinking, and marrying. This second group—described in Genesis 6:5 as full of wickedness, their hearts and thoughts continually evil—gets caught by surprise. Its wickedness prompted the judgment of the Flood. But as the story makes clear, the people who "knew nothing about what would happen" got taken away.

We have to pause for a moment and observe how thoroughly this inverts some popular understandings of the end times. Those who do not follow God are, in the language of this passage, "taken away." By contrast, Noah and his family are "left behind." While the flood washes away the wicked, God rescues Noah and his kin, leaving them to enjoy the goodness of the renewed and restored creation.
And then, we are told—not once, but twice—that the Second Coming of Jesus will happen just like this. Consider once more verses 40 and 41. They describe two pairs of persons. In each case, one person is taken away and one is left behind. And verses 37 and 39 tell us that this outcome mirrors the days of Noah. The entire passage strongly suggests that the ones "left behind," in Jesus' description of the Second Coming, will not be the wicked ones but the followers of God. They are rewarded by being left behind to enjoy, as embodied creatures, God's new kingdom. The wicked are "taken away," losing the chance to experience the new creation.

Christ or Plato?

Of course, I may be wrong. Jesus often tells stories whose main ideas are not immediately obvious. Indeed, other passages seem at first glance to shine a different light on the concept of being "left behind." In Luke 17:26-36, for example, we have a different version of this teaching, where Jesus twice speaks of two persons, only one of whom will be taken. Here, Jesus refers not only to the Flood, but also to the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom. In the Lot story, the righteous are taken away from Sodom, while the ones left behind get destroyed. Does this reverse the lesson we derived from the Noah story? Perhaps it has nothing to do with being taken or left, but simply with the imperative of being ready.
There is, however....continued: Who Gets Left Behind? How end times theories shape the ways we view our earthly abode" byMatthew Dickerson