Could Luke 21:36 be used as biblical proof of the rapture?
The context of the verse makes it possible to show that the rapture is coming. Looking at the verses around Luke 21:36, Jesus is teaching about the end times. He begins in Chapter 21 when someone mentions how beautiful the Temple is (Luke 21:5-9).
An extremely important timeline Jesus gives comes in Luke 21:9 where he says that the end will not be at once. The rumor of wars and the wars that happen are a sign of the end times but they are not the end. Jesus goes on to teach about these wars and other end time signs (Luke 21:10- 18). But before anything like this happens, Christians will be persecuted.
He then gives a sign that Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Gentiles (Luke 21:19-24). We cannot tell exactly when this will happen in human history. But we know it is toward the end because the next sign is the coming of the Son of Man, Jesus himself (Luke 21:25-28). Jesus is not clear on the timing of the events, but the sequence of events goes like this:
- Persecution of the saints
- Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences
- Destruction of Jerusalem
- Signs in the heavens (sun, moon, and stars) and on the earth (tumult in the sea and waves)
- Coming of the Son of Man
There is a foreshadowing of the redemption of the saints during these and times events (Luke 21:28). When Jesus tells us as believers to straighten up and raise our heads for our coming redemption, he’s telling us to get ready.
As the world sees the Son of Man, Jesus, coming on the clouds in great power, people in the world know that they have made the wrong choice. Jesus then gives the parable of the fig tree to show that Christians need to be watching the seasons and signs of the times so that they are ready and prepared.
There is an interest in verse in this section that says that “this generation” will not pass away before until everything listed here takes place (Luke 21:32). There are many interpretations of this verse. I understand it to mean that “this generation” refers to the generation that these and times events are occurring, not the generation Jesus was speaking to at this time in human history.
And then we come to the paragraph that your verse occurs. The distress and trials of this time will make many Christians wonder if Jesus will return. It will be a time that many will fall away. These who are not prepared will be more worried about what is happening then trusting that Jesus will return as he has promised (Luke 21:34).
The day that Jesus is referring to is probably the day that the Son of Man comes in the clouds (Luke 21:35). Everyone will see the Son of Man coming but not everyone will go with him and meet him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
There are other passages of Scripture that clearly outline the rapture, or the catching up, of the saints. But as Jesus outlines events, the Son of Man is not just coming to show the world’s great power. He is also coming to bring the redemption of the saints through the event of the rapture.
Those days will be so dangerous for the saints that Jesus says we must be prepared, pray for strength to handle the events, and be awake (ready and watching for the Lord). The escape probably refers to this rapture moment.
It is in the moment of escape that the saints will stand before the Son of Man, who is in the clouds. This agrees with many of the other passages that detail the rapture event.