The King, the sheep & the Goats - Mathhew 24:40

My Bible study today had me read Matthew 25:31-40. The final verse 40 is a statement of prophecy by Jesus. I felt led to further investigate it in context of the entire passage because I was reading in the NIV [New International Version] and was surprised to see the words brothers and sisters where I am accustomed to reading "brethren". In the MSG [The Message] version, I was more surprised to see that Peterson translated "brothers" or "brethren" as someone overlooked or ignored.

Matthew 25:40 [NASB - New American Standard Bible] Jesus speaking:
"The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ "

Image [ILA - Interlinear Scripture Analyzer] This how it appears in the ILA
showing the AV [Authorized Version] followed by the Greek, followed by the transliteration into English.

Greek [ILA]
kai apokritheis ho basileus erei autois amEn legO humin eph hoson epoiEsate heni toutOn adelphOn mou tOn elachisON r,oi epoiEsate.

English [Interlinear Scripture Analyzer]
I do not know the contemporary no the ancient Greek language. It appears to me that the transliteral infers the letters and words in upper case based on understanding of the language usage when the gospel was written and translated TO Greek from Aramaic or Hebrew. Matthew chose the Jews as his audience and wrote to them in an effort to show that Jesus was Messiah foretold by the Israelite propjets.

AND answerING THE KING SHALL-BE-declarING to-them AMEN (verily) I-AM- sayING to-YOU to-ONE OF-these THE brothers OF-ME THE INFERIOR-most (least) to-ME YE-DO

Here is the context for His prophetic statement:

Matthew 25:31-33 Jesus speaking:
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left."

The text does not indicate if this will occur on earth where all the nations are, or in heaven where His throne is presumed to be. It may come after Armageddon near world's end. It does not really matter what the location is. The results of His judgment are what matter.

He goes on to tell the sheep how they fed Him, clothed Him, visited Him in prison and so on, and tells them to enter. They ask when did we do these things. He says the words in verse 40. Then He turns to the goats and tells them to depart and enter the eternal fire prepared for them. In verse 46 He says:

Matthew 25:46 Jesus speaking:
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.?

WHO are the sheep and WHO are the goats ?
Jesus often used the shepherd metaphor to describe Himself and His relationship with His own. "My sheep know my voice and they follow Me."

The sheep belong to Him by virtue of believing God and believing Him.

The goats are the unsaved; those who rejected Him.

The entire passage from verse 31 through verse 46 sounds like He is dividing according to the works done by the sheep, the righteous, and the failure to do works by the goats, the accursed. This is a pivotal point. In his letter to believers James said, "Faith without works is useless (or dead)."

Too many people, including many who profess Christianity, are persuaded that the works part of the judgment scene are the difference between entering the kingdom versus the fire. This clearly not the case. In John 3:16-18 and again in John 5:24, Jesus tells us those who believe will not be judged.

What is going on here is quite simple. Believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, are taught, guided, and led to perform such works as they can in service to God's kingdom. One of the more important and often overlooked parts of the verse 40 statement is, "these my brethren / brothers and sisters." If you are a believer you know what I mean. Those who do not believe do not understand us; what makes us tick; why we are inclined to give of ourselves. They do not recognize that our God fills us with His love, peace, and joy and gives freely to us in the Spirit that we may be the shining city on a hill as a witness to the world.

The brothers and sisters of Christ are the ones who have taken the leap of faith and crossed over from spiritual death into eternal life. Only they are His brethren and joint heirs to the kingdom. No amount of good works done by those who do not believe will matter at the judgment because the judgment is between the sheep and goats, the saved and unsaved, not their works.

Do not be deceived by men
No one can 'work' their way into the kingdom.
You must believe to be saved.
When the Spirit of God indwells you, the works (fruit) will follow.

Complete text from NKJV for reference:

Matthew 25:31-46
31"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'

37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'

44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Written by Wayne Hepburn, August 2012. I herewith place this document in the Public Domain

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