Let's look at the verses (v. 28-31):
"Immediately after the tribulation [this gives us a time frame for the Rapture] of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see [this is the visible appearing of the Lord] the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Many scholars in an attempt to prove the pre-tribulation Rapture have made the 'elect' of Matthew 24 refer to the nation of Israel. However, Isaiah tells us how Israel will be gathered back into the land, and it is NOT with angels!
" ...the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far,..." (Isaiah 60:9)
"And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem..." (Isaiah 66:20)
Israel returns to their homeland by more conventional methods, NOT by angelic ones.
It is absolutely arbitrary and entirely subjective to read 'the Jewish nation' into the word 'elect' in Matthew 24. The Lord is speaking to his apostles throughout the entire discourse.
Note the pronouns “you” and “ye” of verses 4, 6, 9, 15, 20, 23, 25, 26, 32, 33, 34, 42, etc., which provide a continual reference back to the antecedent of “the disciples” (v. 3). And to make it even clearer, Jesus says in verse 25, "Behold, I have told YOU before."
Who is this 'you'? It is the ones who would preach the gospel in "in all the world for a witness unto all nations." Does this sound like a nation of unbelieving Jews?
No, both the audience and the subject of the Olivet Discourse are believers in Jesus Christ.
The word ‘elect’ simply means ‘chosen’ as in:
- “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (Jn. 15:16)
- “but I have chosen you out of the world” (Jn. 15:19)
- “for he is a chosen vessel unto me” (Acts 9:15)
- “God hath chosen the foolish things to confound the wise” (I Cor. 1:27)
- “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4)
- “But ye are a chosen generation” (I Pet. 2:4)
- “they that are with him are called, and chosen and faithful" (Rev. 17:4)
Every reference above is to Christians! We are God's elect!
Paul refers to believers as "God's elect" in Romans 8:33a, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" And he also calls the Colossian saints the "elect of God" in Colossians 3:12.
Peter writes his first epistle to those scattered believers whom he refers to as "Elect according to ... the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:2).
John writes his second epistle to "the elect lady" also referring to a believer.
Those who hold to the pre-tribulation Rapture also attempt to avoid the CLEAR teachings of Christ in Matthew 24:31 by saying that 'the book of Matthew was written to the Jews.'
But what about Mark's Gospel which says the same thing and was written to the Romans (i.e. Gentiles)? And what about Luke's Gospel which says the same thing and was written to the Greeks (i.e. Gentiles)?
Don't they realize that Matthew is the only gospel that mentions the word "church" (Matthew 16)? Or, that Matthew contains the marching orders of the Church (28:18-20)? Or, that Matthew himself was a believer?
Therefore, the literal meaning of Matthew 24:30-31, is that at his post-tribulation return, Jesus will send forth his angels with a great trump to gather together those who are Christians from the four corners of the earth and heaven.