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What is the meaning of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats?


Matthew 25:31 - 46

ESV - 31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats is part of the Olivet Discourse. It is found in Matthew 25:31-46. A parable is a short, simple story of comparison. Jesus used parables to teach spiritual truths ...

July 01 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

20200222 172923 L.S. James Artist
Matthew 24-25 is essentially eschatological that pertains to the end times. There are four approaches to eschatology viz. The Preterist, Historicist, Premillennial (historical and dispensational) and Idealist (postmillennialism & amillennialism). 

To the preterist, this parable met its fate in 70 AD when Rome sacked Jerusalem. To the historist, its all symbolic which allows history to repeat itself to this day. To the dispensationalist, its a potent case for Jews and Gentiles while the Church is raptured. To the postmillennialist (and the amillennialist that tend to spiritualize scripture), Christian triumphalism that ushers the Second Advent shall witness the Lord sift the sheep from the goats. Loosely said then, which approach is best is anyone's guess. 

Personally, an approach that is less liberal in interpreting Scripture yet literal is that of dispensationalism. Scripture also states clearly that God has promised to restore Israel to her land for a period of judgment and redemption. When the Tribulation begins (and Daniel cites several reasons why Israel must suffer seven years of Tribulation) God’s wrath shall sieve a world while He chastises Israel for sins committed under the Mosaic Covenant. Jeremiah declared that although the time of Jacob's troubles shall see the judgment of God, Israel will ultimately be saved. 

Further study: New Testament Scripture on Eschatology: Matthew 24:4-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 17:23-37; 21:5-36; 1 Corinthians 15:55-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 2 Peter 3:3-13; Revelation 1:7-8; 4; 20:4-15. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983); John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1989); Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007);.

June 19 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

05a00e36 4298 4314 84c7 d5f047bb0a9a Rotimi EWEDEMI Very keen Bible Researcher
In several bible translations, the section that contains Matthew 25: 31-46 where this "parable" is recorded is titled "the final judgement". Yes it is indeed the judgement of people who are still alive on the earth during or perhaps after the great tribulation. 

In the "parable", Jesus actually gave the criterion by which he would judge those still alive. The judgement is of the "nations, or Gentiles" and not of spiritual Israel. A careful study of the material in Matthew 25: 31-46 will reveal the criterion as: THE ATTITUDE OF THE PEOPLE TOWARDS THOSE THAT JESUS VIEWS OR REFERS TO AS "HIS BROTHERS" OR BRETHREN". Those that Jesus referred to as "sheep" are those, in his opinion, have "helped" HIS brothers. Those that Jesus referred to as ""goats" are those who, in his opinion, had not helped HIS brothers. See verses 40 and 45. 

It is important to note that Jesus was commending, and therefore allowing, the sheep to enter the kingdom- that is, to inherit everlasting life, for HELPING HIS BROTHERS and not just for helping themselves or anybody else.

Similarly, we should note that Jesus was condemning the goats and therefore sending them into the "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" - that is, everlasting death or destruction, (according to Revelation 20:14 and Revelation 21:8) for not helping HIS brothers, and not just because they did not do it to themselves or just anybody.

Clearly, then, attitude of the gentiles, or how people relate, to Christ's brothers will be the basis of judgement. It is important to also note that the sheep helped those that Christ regards as his brothers for the sake of Christ or because they knew the relationship of these group to Jesus. So, Jesus was not speaking of simple humanitarian kindness or charity that many people render. 

Therefore, the challenges we have are : 
1. What does the expression: " Christ' s brothers" mean? 
2. Who are Christ's brothers?. 
3. How can we identify them?
 4. How can we help them? 
Anyone or any of the people of the nations who desires salvation must, through the help of the Holy Spirit, find the right answers to the above questions. 

When Jesus was on earth, he had fleshly brothers - fleshly Israelites. All other people on earth were referred to as " Gentiles" or "people of the nations". The Israelites were also known as God's people. Any person of the nations who desired to worship God must join himself to the "Jews", learn from them, and associate with them, having realized that the God of Israel was the true God. God was dealing with fleshly Israel per-Christ. 

The record in Zechariah 8:20-23 says: 
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men 
shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Let us pay particular attention to verse 23. It says "ten" men will take hold of the skirt of him who is A JEW. They, having humbly recognized that the Jew is a people of God, will attach themselves, and associate with, the Jew and worship the God of the Jew with him. Of course, with the coming of Jesus and up to today, SPIRITUAL ISRAEL has replaced FLESHLY ISRAEL. Formerly, the brothers of Christ were fleshly Israel. After Jesus' coming to the world, Spiritual Israel, referred to in Galatians 6:16, becomes Christ' s brothers. Christ and his brothers have the same Father-God, and tha same mother, referered to in Galatians 4:26. They also constitue the Seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 and Abraham's seed of Genesis 22:18. Compare Galatians 3:16, 26-29

Just as in those days, anyone not a part of spiritual Israel is akin to " a gentile", and if he desires to worship the true God through Jesus Christ, 
he must act like the "ten men" of Zechariah 8:23, and take hold of, or associate with, or worship God with, the spiritual Israel- Christ's brothers. Can we see the relationship of the " parable" of the sheep and goats with Zechariah 8:20-23?

Spiritual Israel can also be referred to as anointed Christians. They take the lead in the pure worship of God. They are held out as a light to the world, Matthew 5:14; just as Jesus is a light of the world, John 8:12. People of the nations who recognize the Spiritual Israel, having realized that they represent Jesus, associate with them, worship God with them, learn from them, and support them in all ways possible in the work of God. Jesus Christ is watching, and when he returns, he will put such people on his right hand as sheep, and reward them with everlasting life in God's Kingdom.

On the other hand, those who failed to recognize the Israel of God, maybe through ignorance or deception (See Revelation 12:9), and therefore not worshipping God in spirit and truth, John 4:24, will be classified as goats and will be sent to the lake of fire and sulphur. 

It is of prime importance, and a matter of life and death, for us to correctly identify Christ's true brothers. This is because many are claiming that title. This understanding is based on what the bible says in Matthew 7:15, 21,22; 2 Corinthians 12-15; Revelation 2:2,9. We can see that Christ's brothers constitute the Spiritual Israel; the Jew of Zechariah 8:23, and the " apostle of Revelation 2:2, as well as the Jew in Revelation 2:9.

 The issues of how to correctly identify Christ's true brothers that we should " help" and how to help them is outside the scope of the current question.

October 03 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini Vlady Blyznyuk
When the bible says that Jesus will separate the goats and the sheep, it is parable. It is referring to judgement day, he will separate the Christians from the people who have rejected him

December 17 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Emilio 1992 Emo Tenorio Shomer
In my humble opinion let us look to the scriptures for a deeper "sod" (secret things that profit) meaning of what is being transmitted here by the Lord Jesus.

Matthew 25:32 all nations and their people are present before the Lord and the people are separated, location the threshing floor of Arunah a place of separation, now known as the temple mount in Jerusalem.

Matthew 25:33 the Sheep to the RIGHT and the Goats to the LEFT

Matthew 25:34 the Sheep are blessed by the Father and enter into the kingdom, why you ask friend reference first part for the answer Genesis 12:3

Matthew 25:40 His brethren or brothers and sisters are the Jewish people, as there is not a Protestant or Catholic among the hearers of His Words, reference Matthew 10:6 

Consider that today in Israel there is a monument to commemorate the Righteous Gentiles of the nations, reference the first words Matthew 25:37 and then John 10:16 

Matthew 25:41 the Goat nations and their people on the LEFT are cursed and enter into their just reward, but why reference second part of Genesis 12:3

Matthew 25:46 the LEFT to their eternal punishment and the RIGHT to their eternal life, Nehemiah 5:19 and then John 10:27

Now consider this parable in our current season of time for a moment, shall we, one sign for the end of the age was that many people would be offended.
And nothing causes more offense quicker than any truth of the kingdom message to our friends on the secular by nature ideological left and their active political agents.

Now friend my statement is made not to offend, but to enlighten and cause thoughtful debate and logical reasoning reconsidering our ways, as the times are drawing near, John 17:12

In the Lord's freedom and very soon return................warrior on

April 17 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Data Danny Hickman Supporter Believer in The Gospel Of Jesus Christ
Matthew 25, The whole chapter, is problematic for believers who maintain that God offers salvation by His grace toward us, and only by grace. There are no special circumstances where grace is not enough, where the bible is trying to tell us that grace isn't always applicable. The chapter seems to support salvation by works. It doesn't. I don't think the theme is really about salvation in the way that we might think. The bible doesn't retweet the terms of salvation over and over the way we seem to think. 

Matt 25 has three parables that compliment each other. The first parable is about ten virgins invited to be in a wedding. The groom will come and they need to be ready. Five are not prepared, and are told by the groom in the finale after going to get oil and returning to find they've been locked out, 'I do not know you.' (see Mt 25:1-12)

The next parable He tells is about three servants who've been given assignments to carry out while their master is away. They were given 5, 3, and 1 talent respectively, to invest while their boss is gone. Two of the servants turn a profit, but the servant given one talent doesn't do anything with that which he was entrusted. He was called 'worthless' by his master and thrown into outer darkness. (see Mt 25: 14-30)

The third parable, known as The Final Judgment parable is very different, although at first glance it seems to promote the same theme: that if you don't work the works that lead to salvation you'll be lost in outer darkness. The first two clearly seem to show that to be "the terms of salvation." That's not what Jesus is trying to tell us. This third parable is about salvation, but the message is a familiar one, that salvation is by grace alone. 

The first parable begins "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins..."
The second begins "For it (the kingdom of heaven) will be like a man going on a journey..."
The third begins with "But" (in most translations) which denotes a difference from the other two. It says 'But when the Son of Man comes...' 
The other two parables tell what was expected of the people who had an assignment to carry out while the authority was away. It was also about chosen people, people who were familiar with the master. In this one the whole world, "all the nations" are assembled before the master. We aren't told that they were given anything to do while He was away. He doesn't return and question them as to what they did while He was away. He knows. 

He recognizes who is who. The sheep are known by Him as well as the goats. They had no assignments, but apparently they are being judged. He separates them without cross examining them, His mind is already made up. Some have done well, they've been charitable and without being told to be, the way the virgins knew to keep their lamps burning, and the talent investers knew to try to turn a profit. These, who are called by the Son of Man upon His return, "blessed by My Father" have done well. It's evident that they fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and imprisoned because they saw a need. They served from a sense of compassion, not because they knew they would be judged by what they'd done while He was gone. He told them they'd done all these things for Him and they said to Him, in essence, 'we never saw you in need and helped you.'

The first two parables told us how we fail when we know we've been told that if we don't serve the master we will be eternally punished. This parable shows where some of us do what we do without trying to earn our way into the banquet. These righteous didn't know they were being graded. They weren't trying to earn salvation, they were trying to help the needy. You can't earn salvation by helping the needy. 

The parable is saying salvation can't be earned. They already had it. They were just doing what the righteous do, not what they are EXPECTED to do. They were serving the master and didn't even know it.

July 22 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Michael Davis Former Baptist Pastor now Catholic, lover of the poor
While we can create theories and do “run arounds” of passages like this one, we often fail to just simply take the Scriptures for what they say. True believers evidence their faith by feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, clothing the naked, and so on. 

However, Scripture doesn’t just stop there. If we look into the Old Testament we see the prophets saying time and again that God expects His people to defend the poor and the needy, watch after widows and orphans, welcome the stranger, welcome the immigrant, to act justly toward all. God often speaks through the prophets about the corruption in Israel that caused them to oppress the poor and the immigrant. Stealing from widows and crushing the needy, they brought judgment upon themselves. 

In Jeremiah’s day the king was taking away from the poor in order to build an elaborate palace for himself. Through Jeremiah God asks the king in Jeremiah chapter 22 if that is what makes him a great king, to have elaborate palaces. Then God reminds him that his father, Josiah, was in the habit of taking care of the poor and defending their cause, and that was what made him a good king. Then God makes a clear statement through Jeremiah that the way to know God is through the poor. In Jeremiah 22:16 God, speaking of King Josiah, says, “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know Me?” declares the LORD. 

If we look at this passage and others and compare them to Matthew 25, we see that it is not just feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, etc. That pleases God, but it is how we actually come to know Who God is. The people at the sheep and goats judgement aren’t just serving the poor, but coming to know God intimately in the poor. Keep in mind that in the process of salvation God is uniting our nature with His Divine Nature as Peter reminds us. And God’s heart is always with the rejected of this world. 

The early church fathers said repeatedly that Jesus could be seen in the face of the poor, and more recently Mother Teresa reminds us that Jesus can be found in the face of the poor. This goes way beyond giving money to the poor, and involves being friends and companions with them, in order to discover God more deeply. 

In Galatians 2 Paul is speaking about what happened at the church council in Jerusalem. Some issues that came up needed to get ironed out among the apostles. As the other apostles were sending Paul and Barnabus to the gentiles, they asked that they remember the poor. Paul’s response was that it was the very thing he was eager to do. 

The early Christians understood from the Old Testament and from the teachings of Jesus that the true disciples of Jesus are a people who live out their faith by giving to the poor, defending their cause, i.e. being a voice for the poor, who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, welcome the stranger, visit those in prison. In other words, they see their faith in Christ not as a vague hope in an afterlife in heaven, but rather as a reality to be lived out now in very concrete ways. So, in Matthew 25 Jesus clearly shows us that those who will enter Heaven will be those who put very concrete actions to their faith, and those actions all through the Scriptures has to do with how we treat the poor, the orphans, the widows, the needy, the hungry, the immigrant, those who are the rejected of society.

November 24 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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