Lord's Prophecy on Olivet in Matthew 24-25: 5. The Gentile Portion

Matthew 25:31‑46  •  23 min. read  •  grade level: 9
This is the third and concluding section of the Lord's prophetic word. No part of it has been less understood; yet it is clearly defined as distinct from the other two by internal marks which ought to have carried conviction to every believer. But such has been the fate of scripture; not that God's word fails in plainness of speech and certainty of meaning, but because it crosses man's will, who therefore seeks to interpret it according to his own thoughts. Every scripture is for us, and, being of God, is also profitable for man; but is not all about us, and we can only learn surely from itself concerning whom it speaks.
1. We have had a Jewish remnant believing, but without the full privileges of Christians, as the Lord addressed those who then represented it down to the end of the age. Then He appears as the Son of man, and in that day delivers not only such, but the elect of the nation, the “all Israel that shall be saved,” immediately after unparalleled tribulation.
2. Then (without a vestige of allusion to Judaea, the city, the temple, or any association local or temporal) the discourse takes up what applies directly and exclusively to the Christian profession, sound and unsound, in the three intermediate parables which were therefore couched in terms of altogether general import. Here “the Son of man” disappears according to the overwhelming testimony of the best MSS, Vv., and early citations for 15:13.
There remained accordingly only to tell and hear of the Gentiles. For every reader or enquirer is aware that the mass of mankind, devoted to idols and impostures, has to this day resisted the Christian testimony. But the Lord had given in the first part (24:14) the remarkable intimation that “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the habitable world1 for a witness to all the nations, and then shall the end come.” Here He lets us know the fruit of this preaching, of course (if we are caught up) by the believing Jews of that day, as its place intimates, just before the end comes.
Hence the last section has its suited peculiarity which differentiates it from both the preceding ones, that pertaining to it alone and characteristically. For the specific ground for the King's decision turns on a preaching of the glad news of the kingdom which only came through His brethren (evidently converted Jews) before “the end,” and is here shown to result among all the nations in some heeding the message and in others despising it. It is therefore unique in its circumstances as a whole; though no principle is involved which cannot be justified from other scriptures.
“But when the Son of man shall have come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats (or, kids); and he will set the sheep on his right but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say to those on his right, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world's foundation. For I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? and when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? and when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King answering shall say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did [it] to me. Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, accursed, into the everlasting fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and ye gave me not to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and ministered not to thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of these least, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life everlasting” (25:31-46).
The Son of man will have already come. His war-judgments are over, as it seems, not only what He executed by the appearing of His presence (2 Thess. 1:88In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thessalonians 1:8)), but when He put Himself at the head of His people, as in Isa. 63, Ezek. 38; 39, Mic. 6 and Zech. 14. Now the “King” (found here only) enters on the sessional judgment of His throne, before which all the nations must appear; for then all the peoples, nations, and languages must serve Him. It is part of that judgment of the quick and the habitable earth by the risen Man whom God appointed, as the apostle proclaimed to the Athenians. The judgment of living man on the earth, in the midst of his busy and selfish (not to say, sordid and sinful) life was much pressed by the Lord and the apostles, as it is largely in O. and N. T. prophecy; but it has been lost to the living faith even of saints in Christendom, alike nationalists and nonconformists. Yet even the, creeds confess it, however little it was realized when they were written, and even increasingly less since. As the Jews let slip the judgment of the dead, save to hurl it at the head of the Gentiles; so Christendom practically forgets the judgment of the quick. Here we have it applied by the Son of man judicially when He enters on the exercise of His world-kingdom. Hence it is a question of men at large, not Jews, and of course not Christians (both whom we have already had), but of “all the nations,” when the Lord is come and sits down on the throne of His glory, as here.
It is the fullest and plainest contrast with “the judgment before the great white throne “; for then the earth and the heaven fled from His gaze, and no place was found for them. And “the dead,” the great and the small, stand before the throne. There “the dead” (none else are spoken of) are judged according to their works out of the record of all done in the body, the book of life sealing it by its silence. This is not the coming of the Son of man to reign over the earth (as in our scene); for the nations are destroyed, and the earth fled, and even the heavens. Our scene on the contrary shows the Son of man come to the earth, and all the nations gathered before Him. Here they are all living, to whom alone “nations” could apply; there not dead only, but the wicked dead alone, for the righteous dead had been raised long before for the first resurrection.
With all the nations then alive agrees the character of the test applied, There is no such scrutiny as Rom. 2 speaks of for the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by our Lord Jesus, as before the great white throne. Then it will be that as many as sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as sinned under law shall be judged by law; and still more terrible will be the doom of those that rejected the gospel or even neglected so great salvation, as other scriptures declare. But here it is a simple and sole issue, which applies only to that living generation of all the nations: how did you treat the King's messengers when they preached this gospel of the kingdom before the end came? The end was now evidently come. The test was an open undeniable fact; but it proved whether they had, or had not, faith in the coming King. Those who honored the heralds of the kingdom showed their faith by their works, and so did those who despised them manifest their unbelief. The test was not only just but gracious. And “the King” pronounced accordingly. The form was new, as the circumstances were, but the foundation is the same for all the objects of God's mercy on the one hand, and for the objects of wrath on the other. So it was before the deluge, so it will be when the Son of man on His throne of glory on earth shall deal with all the nations. Apart from faith it is impossible to be acceptable; for he that approaches God must believe that He is, and becomes a rewarder of those that seek Him out.
So it will be with the blessed of these nations. Their conduct to those who preached the coming kingdom evinced their faith, and the King's grace accepted to their astonishment what they did to His brethren, even the least, as done to Himself. The trials and sufferings of these “brethren” gave the Gentiles occasion to faith working by love, or to the total absence of it. It was so that Rahab the harlot was justified by works when she received the messengers; but her faith is as carefully stated by the apostle Paul: without faith indeed her works would have been evil. But she rightly judged that Jehovah and His people were above king and country; and this was a turning point for her not then only but to eternity. So it was with the sheep; and the sad reverse was no less true for the goats.
There is another element overlooked by those who confound Matt. 13:31-4631Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 33Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 34All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. 36Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. 44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:31‑46) with Rev. 20:11-1511And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11‑15). In the judgment of the dead but one class is stated, the dead who were not in the resurrection of the just. So only the unjust appear; and they are judged according to their works in all their life. Here appear not only the sheep and the goats, but the King's brethren, a third and highly honored class; none of them dead or risen, but all alive. Can there be conceived a more striking contrast? The traditional view is nothing but ignorant though unwitting contempt of this scripture, which many Christians do not really believe in simplicity, and therefore cannot understand. The resurrection state must exclude what we find herein. With the judgment of the quick, and in particular of “all the nations,” all here is harmonious. At the end “of the age” He comes; at the end “of the world” He does not. There is then no world to come to. It is all gone, to appear afterward quite new for eternity.
The decision is final, which led many to gloss over the marked distinctions, and mix it up with the close of Rev. 20 which is final too. But the one was at the beginning of the thousand years' reign, and the other at its end, when there could be no coming of the Lord to surprise the careless world, as He Himself teaches, but earth and heaven had fled away. To interpret the two (yea, and the three!) as the same is in effect to lose each, if not all, of these grand and solemn revelations.
Let it be observed that the righteous, though they had faith in the kingdom and therefore treated its preachers as became the truth, were evidently little instructed. For we see how little their intelligence rose above that of their unbelieving countrymen. But their heart was right by grace, as the King knew perfectly, who from the first separated these to the right and the others to the left. He allowed this ignorance to come out that He might give to all a profound lesson never to be forgotten. This is quite compatible with the righteous as they were alive in their natural bodies. But is such lack of intelligence consistent with the risen condition? When that which is perfect is come (and it surely comes at the resurrection of the just), that which is in part shall be done away. This was not at all the state as yet of these sheep, the righteous Gentiles; and the King only communicates to them before His throne what every Christian may be assumed now to know, with a vast deal more quite beyond them. Yet was the kingdom prepared for these, as for the righteous generally, from the world's foundation.
Notice also that the everlasting fire to which the unbelieving Gentiles of that epoch are consigned is said to have been “prepared for the devil and His angels,” not for the goats, save that they fitted themselves for it by their evil ways. Compare also Rom. 9:2222What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (Romans 9:22). The devil and his angels were not yet cast into the lake of fire. This will only be after. Satan's last effort at the end of the millennium, as Rev. 20:1010And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10) tells us. But here the goats have now their portion, as the Beast and the False Prophet had a little before them, as we read in Rev. 19:2020And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20), and that while alive too, Premillennialists like Alford, Birks, and almost all, are nearly as confused as the postmillennialists.
The cause is evident: the ancient and general error which connects the scrutiny of “all the nations” in our chapter with the judgment of “the dead” in Rev. 20:1111And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11), &c. Resurrection is not nor could be predicated of “the nations” in the one; whereas it is the positive and essential statement in the other. When they are jumbled, dimness reigns, and alas! irreparably for distinctness of truth.
It must be borne in mind that stupendous facts had just taken place before all the nations are gathered here, facts ignored by most, yet all-important for understanding the position. The vast hosts of the west will have been destroyed from above at a stroke when the Beast and the False Prophet meet their doom. Soon after the eastern hordes led by the Assyrian of the prophets (Daniel's king of the north) will have been dissipated like the chaff. Edom will have met its final judgment (Isa. 63); and so will Gog with his numerous allies (Ezek. 38,39.). The Jews, and Christendom, will have been already judged, as we see in this discourse. Hence “all the nations” here summoned are composed of what remains after these executions of judgment; and, from the nature of the case, they must needs be exclusively living men who were quite lately placed under the responsibility of having heard “this gospel of the kingdom” preached by God-fearing Jews, whom the Lord will have sent for the express purpose before the end come.
This alone explains the peculiar criterion by which “the righteous” were marked off from their unbelieving fellows. It was His grace that blessed those who received these glad tidings; and now they hear of their blessed portion from the lips of the King They were as amazed to learn His estimate of their faith working by love, as the hardened in their incredulity were to meet their awful end. We have no ground to believe that either the sheep or the goats ever heard the full gospel of God such as was preached by the Christian witnesses, any more than that the converted Jews themselves knew it as we do. We must leave room for the sovereign ways of God, dealing variously in His wisdom with the future quite as much as with the past. But for every sinful soul there must be faith for life eternal; and faith is from a report, and the report through God's word. Thus only can any fallen man be brought into living relation with Him. The measure has differed greatly at different times, as it will; but the principle is the same. This of course applies only to those who hear.
We may further and particularly note that there is not the least allusion to the resurrection here for either “the righteous” or “the accursed.” On both sides they were Gentiles living in their natural bodies; for they are expressly said to be “all the nations” when they were gathered before the glorious throne of the Son of man. It is not, as in Rev. 20:11-1511And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11‑15), impenitent sinners of every age and nation, and of mankind before there was a nation as in the antediluvian world. These had all died, and were now raised at the resurrection of the unjust, to be judged each according to his works. In Matt. 15:3131Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:31), &c., all the Gentiles there find their doom decided by the way they treated the King's brethren, the messengers of “this gospel of the kingdom.”
He had said that it should go forth “in all the habitable world for a witness to all the nations.” And now comes out the solemn issue. Some had shown, not merely benevolence, or self-denial, or moral excellence in any formal degree, but love in varied ways to the servants who preached in the King's name the same truth which He had preached at the beginning of His public ministry. But it was faith which wrought in their love. If the King and His coming kingdom had been but a myth in their eyes, they would have at least ignored His messengers as impostors. They believed the message, contrary to all appearances, to be of God, and therefore treated its preachers with kindness; and are to enjoy the gracious result. Ancients and moderns lower, deprave, and destroy the true force of Christ's words by taking it as kindness to “the poor.” Thus Chrysostom, for instance, one of the best of the Fathers, makes this lack of giving to the poor to be the fatal evil, even in the parables which set forth Christendom, of course with more appearance there, but everywhere wrong. It was not good done even to the sheep, but specifically to “My brethren,” even the least of them.
So the King puts the difference of the two classes on the only right ground that could apply to “all the nations” then before His throne, after such a preaching as had by grace reached them before the end. Now it had come: the new age was begun. The King had done what none else could; for He separated them all, and, as it is evident, individually with unfailing discernment.
Instead of their giving account to Him, He recounts to them why He set some on His right and some on the left. The ground for it He lays down with a majesty and a touching yet righteous character, appropriate and peculiar to Himself, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet it turned on faith that it might be according to grace, or alas I on unbelief where no grace was, but only self. Hence He said to the wondering righteous, “Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren [whatever the living work to His despised and suffering messengers], ye did it to me.” How awful on the other hand for the unjust to hear, in answer to their more hurried summary, “Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of these least, neither did ye [it] to me.” Yet was it altogether righteous.
Thus all at bottom rests on Christ, though His grace makes the most of what to others might seem little. But the point is lost when the special circumstances of these Gentiles is ignored, and men generalize, oblivious of the principle. Take Alford's note on “my brethren” as a sample (and he is far from the least intelligent): “Not necessarily the saints with Him in glory—though primarily those—but also any of the great family of man (!). Many of them here judged may never have had the opportunity of doing these things to the saints of Christ properly so called (!!).” But here God took care that the preaching did reach them; and that the circumstances of its messengers should give opportunity to all the Gentiles here gathered for this manifestation of faith and love, but also of total indifference, to say the least. The faith working by love in the one class, and the utter unconcern of the other, laid bare respectively their fitness or unfitness for inheriting the kingdom. In all cases of saints, works are the evidence, faith of the word the instrument, Christ s work the ground, and God's grace the source.
It is well also to observe that the King does not call them adopted sons, as is the portion of Christians (Gal. 3:2626For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)), nor do they exhibit the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is characteristic of such, any more than either can be predicated of the O. T. saints. He calls them “blessed” of His Father, but does not add of “yours “; for this was not their privilege to know as it is ours. Nor does He speak of the blessings according to God's counsels for us in the heavenlies, to which He chose us in Christ before the, world's foundation. Even Bengel like others before and since made this strange confusion. The King bade them inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the world's foundation. They are elect and born of God, as all saints must be; but they do not reign with Christ in that day, any more than even “His brethren” among the Jews who survived this last crisis before the kingdom; whereas such as had been at that “time of the end” slain for His name will be raised to reign with Him as shown in Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4). But those saved of Gentiles like the saved of Israel will have a distinctive place of honor over those born during the millennial reign, as we may gather from Rev. 7 and 14. As elect Jews will have known “flesh saved” from the tribulation which is to befall the rebellious people, so elect Gentiles emerge out of “the great tribulation” in their own quarters: contra-distinguished from the church, whom the Lord declares He will keep out of the hour of trial that is about to come on the whole habitable world to try those that dwell on the earth.
If there were the slightest value in “universal consent,” it would be hard to find a clearer sample than in the traditional interpretation of the sheep and the goats gathered before the King. Is there a single commentator of note who does not educe from it what they call “the greatest judgment of all mankind” at the end of the world? The postmillennialists are at least more consistent than most premillenialists; because the former are entirely in error, whereas the latter know enough truth to make their system incoherent and themselves without excuse. Let us seek to realize what the hypothesis means. If the terms admitted of all the dead being then raised from the grave, how do the criteria apply to the ante-diluvians? Had they the opportunity of receiving the King's brethren in their varied trials, or of neglecting them to His dishonor?
No such mission of old can be sustained for a moment. Noah alone preached to warn in his day of coming ruin through the deluge; but it was only to that generation, and not at all “this gospel of the Kingdom.” Again, how or where were His brethren? And how can it be shown in “the world that now is” since the deluge? In due time Jehovah gave Israel His law; but this was as far as possible from “the gospel of the kingdom.” Where comes in at that time the preaching of “this gospel?” Now the law and the prophets were till John, who first preached that the kingdom had drawn nigh, because Messiah the King was there. And so the Lord preached, and the Twelve. But His rejection interrupted this, and the cross postponed it, giving meanwhile a new and mysterious form to it during His absence on high (Matt. 13) till Israel's heart turn to the Lord, saying, Blessed be He that cometh in Jehovah's name. A righteous remnant takes up the word before the end comes, whom the Lord will convert and send forth, and preaches it as a testimony to all the nations, before the Son of man appears to establish it in power.
During the many years that precede this extraordinary mission to all the habitable world, the ground of statement as stated in Rom. 2:1212For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (Romans 2:12) is for mankind generally wholly different. For there is no respect of persons with God, who will then judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, which can scarce apply to this scene. Hence, while there is a resurrection of life for such as (hearing the word of Jesus and believing God that sent him) have life, eternal life, there will be at length also a resurrection of judgment for those who, believing not, produced only evil works. This is the judgment in Rev. 20:1111And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)., &c., where all had been dead but raised and judged according to their works, and are therefore lost. But it is an evident and total contrast with the King's decision about the living Gentiles, to whom His brethren, the converted of the Jews, are to preach before the end, and proved righteous or reprobate as they behaved to the bearers of “this gospel of the kingdom.” Clearly the test here employed by the King suits only the living Gentiles who had treated well or ill His brethren with whom they are confronted, because of their faith or unbelief in the King who pronounces on both. The character is peculiar and necessarily determined by the brief mission of “this gospel of the kingdom” before the end. It was in no sense the end of the world (κόσμου), but of the age (αἰῶνος), when the King had not yet come to reign over the earth. This appraisal of all the Gentiles is when He shall have come in His glory, and Shall sit on His throne. It will thus be plain that Rev. 20 in the two resurrections exactly agrees with the Lord's discourse in John 5:21-2921For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:21‑29); whilst Matt. 25:31-4631When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31‑46), though equally true, wholly differs from both.
We may see an interesting link between Matt. 24:1414And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14) and Matt. 25:40, 4540And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25:45)
. “His brethren” were those who at the time of the end carried “this gospel of the kingdom” to all the nations, which are blessed or cursed by the King's decree according to their behavior toward those who thus and then brought the word of God. It was not brethren of the intervening Christian character, but of the converted Jews to the Gentiles. And as these brethren are thus honored by the King, so are the Gentiles blessed who received and entreated them well, the Son of man being come and reigning over both. It is the age to come, not the judgment of the dead; and the ground on which the solemn decision depended fits into no time or circumstances of the Gentiles, save the eventful mission by a future remnant of godly Jews who preach the gospel of the kingdom just before the Son of man comes to enforce it.
(Concluded.)