Bible Question:

In Luke 17:34 Jesus says, I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. What does the verse mean?

Bible Answer:

Luke 17:34 and Matthew 24:40 both describe events that will occur at the Goat and Sheep Judgment. For more information on the “Goat and Sheep Judgment,” please read, “When and where does the Goat and Sheep judgment occur?” This is also called the Judgment of the Nations.

Sheep and Goat Judgment — Two Women Grinding at the Mill

Two In One Bed

The verse in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the New King James Version Bible (NKJV) reads as follows,

I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. Luke 17:34 (NASB)

I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Luke 17:34 (NKJV)

The NKJV translates the Greek word duo as “two men” in Luke 17:34, but the NASB does not. The NASB simply translates the word as two. The New International Version (NIV) has avoided the word “men” and so translates the passage with “people.” Here is the verse,

I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Luke 17:34 (NIV)

Why have different Bibles translated the Greek word duo differently? The answer begins by understanding that duo simply means “two.” The word can refer to two men, two women, two children, a mother and a child, or two of anything. The Greek word duo simply means two – two of anything. Therefore, we do not know if Jesus was referring to two men, two women or just two people, such as a married couple.

Two Women Grinding

Jesus’ second illustration in verse 35 is about two people who will be grinding at a mill.  The verb “grinding” is feminine. Therefore, it is implied that the “two” are women. Next, Jesus said once again one will be taken and one left.

There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. Luke 17:35 (NASB)

Matthew 24:40-41 communicates the same facts.

Then there will 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. Matthew 24:40-41 (NASB)

Judgment of the Nations

Event After Second Coming of Christ

Now, do Luke 17:34-37 and Matthew 24:40-41 refer to the rapture? The answer is no! These are events that will take place after the Second Coming of Christ. For example, it is important to notice that in Luke 17:22 we are told that Jesus referred to the “days of the Son of Man,” and He did it again in Luke 17:30. There He simply said “day that the Son of Man.” The term “Son of Man” is a reference to Himself. When Jesus referred to the days of the Son of Man, He was speaking about His second coming, that is, the second coming of Christ. Here is Luke 17:30-33,

It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Luke 17:30-33 (NASB)

In the gospel of Matthew, we find that Jesus was also discussing His second coming just before Matthew 24:40. Here is Matthew 24:37-39.

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:37-39 (NASB)

In this passage it is even clearer that Jesus was referring to His second coming because He said “the coming of the Son of Man.” This means the illustration of the two men in the field or the two women grinding is not about the rapture.

This means that both Luke 17:30-35 and Matthew 24:37-41 are events that will occur after the second coming of Christ. Therefore, they are not describing the rapture. For more information about this event, we must read Matthew 25:31-46. There we discover Luke 17:30-35 and Matthew 24:37-41 are illustrations of the Judgment of the Nations, which is also called the Sheep and Goat Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).

For a more complete explanation, please see Judgment of the Nations, also called the Sheep and Goat Judgment. A very important study that also explains this illustration is, “Seven Signs of Christ’s Second Coming.”

Conclusion:

Jesus’ Second Coming is for those who have believed in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. After He has defeated the nations of the world who attempted to annihilate Israel, He will judge everyone who survived Armageddon. That judgment is the Goat and Sheep Judgment. It is described in Matthew 25:31-46. Luke 17:34 describes what will happen after the judgment. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Suggested Links:

Does two men in the field, one taken and one left refer to the rapture?
When and where does the Goat and Sheep judgment occur?
Judgment of the Nations
Is the Goat and Sheep judgment also the White Throne judgment?
Does two men in the field, one taken and one left refer to the rapture?
Is Matthew 24:30-31 about the rapture or second coming?
Seven Signs of Christ’s Second Coming