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Introduction

One of the most well-known passages in the New Testament describes the “sheep and goats” judgment. That is one of the judgments that Jesus will carry out, after he returns to the earth. Here is the passage in question:

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. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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 welcomed me, 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 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal 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 welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, 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, ‘Truly, I say to you, 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 eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Many Christian churches believe that the above passage concerns the salvation of individuals. In other words, the “mainstream” doctrine is that the above passage describes whether specific people will be granted everlasting life or not – based upon each individual’s behavior.

So, in the mainstream doctrine, the individual people in the “sheep” category will be granted everlasting life, while the individual people in the “goats” category will be condemned to everlasting punishment. As a result, the mainstream doctrine identifies the people in the “sheep” category as Christians; and the people in the “goats” category as non-Christians.

From what I can see, there are (at least) three significant “issues”, with the mainstream doctrine about the sheep and goats judgment. The sections below describe those issues.

 

Issue 1 – Salvation Requirements

The first issue concerns salvation – in particular, the “requirements” for an individual to be saved. Scripture is clear that the only way for individuals to be saved is through faith in Jesus. In other words, good works – alone – can never allow anyone to be saved.

Interestingly, the sheep and goats passage does not contain any information about faith in Jesus – it only speaks about good works (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.). From the passage, the sheep group has performed those good works, and the goats group has not performed them.

Of course, every person has the ability to perform those good works – whether a person has faith in Jesus or not. In other words, a person who has consistently rejected Jesus could certainly perform all of the good works listed in the passage. As a result, if that passage is about individual salvation, then that would imply that good works, alone, does allow for salvation – because it would mean that a non-Christian could “earn” salvation, so to speak! That idea is contradicted by Scripture, of course; so that is a major issue with the mainstream doctrine.

 

Issue 2 – Individual vs. National Judgment

Another significant issue with the mainstream doctrine deals with who, exactly, is being judged. In order to describe that issue, it is necessary to discuss a “translation problem” with the passage. Basically, many English translations of that passage include the word “people” in it. For example, in the ESV translation above, the passage contains the following phrase: “and he [Jesus] will separate people one from another…”.

Of course, with that translation, the implication is that each individual person is being judged – i.e., every specific person is placed into the appropriate group, based on his own, individual merits.

The trouble with that translation is that the Greek text does not contain the word “people” in it at all! Here is an interlinear comparison of the above phrase, of the Greek text with the English:

καὶ           ἀφορίσει              αὐτοὺς       ἀπ’        ἀλλήλων
and    he will separate     them      from   one another

As shown, the third Greek word in that phrase – autous – does not mean “people”; it is a pronoun meaning “them”. That pronoun refers back to the noun nations earlier in the verse. So, the nations are gathered before Jesus – and then Jesus separates the nations from one another. The NASB translation accurately conveys the meaning of that verse:

Matthew 25:32 (NASB):

32 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;

Of course, nations are comprised of people; so people will certainly be “affected” by that judgment. However, given that nations are being separated, that indicates that the judgment is based on the overall actions of nations – rather than being based on the actions of individuals.

As noted, the mainstream doctrine states that the “sheep and goats” passage concerns individuals – i.e., about whether each individual will be saved, based upon that individual’s behavior. That passage actually refers to nations being judged, though – so the “individual judgment” tenet does not look correct.

 

Issue 3 – The Number of “Groups”

There is one final issue to note about the mainstream doctrine. As mentioned, that doctrine only identifies two groups in the passage: the “sheep” group – which it identifies as Christians; and the “goats” group – which it identifies as non-Christians. Of course, those two groups, together, comprise all of humanity – because every single person is either a Christian or a non-Christian.

The issue is that there are actually three groups listed in that passage – the sheep, the goats, and the group referred to as “these my brothers”. For example, Jesus states “as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”. So, if the “sheep” group represents people who are Christians – and if the “goats” group represents people who are non-Christians – then who, exactly, is in the “my brothers” group?

In other words, if the sheep group contains all Christians, and if the goats group contains all non-Christians, then that does not leave anyone to be in the “my brothers” group. So, the mainstream doctrine does not take into account the fact that there are actually three groups in the passage.

 

Searching for a Solution

So far, the following items have been discussed, about the mainstream doctrine’s beliefs about the sheep and goats judgment:

– The mainstream doctrine asserts that the sheep and goats judgment is about the salvation of individuals; but that judgment does not make any mention about faith in Jesus – which is required for an individual to be saved.

– The mainstream doctrine states that that judgment is based upon the actions of individuals; but that judgment is evidently based on the overall actions of nations, instead.

– The mainstream doctrine identifies two groups in that judgment – the sheep (Christians) and the goats (non-Christians); but there are actually three groups in that judgment – including the “my brothers” group.

As a result, it appears unlikely that the mainstream doctrine about the sheep and goats judgment is correct.

Of course, the obvious follow-up question then becomes: what is the sheep and goats judgment about? That is, if the mainstream doctrine is not correct, then what, exactly, is Scripture describing in Matthew 25:31-46? In order to answer that question, it is necessary to investigate further into Scripture.

 

Links between the Old and New Testaments

As it turns out, the vast majority of the information in the New Testament is “related” – either directly or indirectly – to information in the Old Testament. As a result, if an event is listed the New Testament, then it is extremely likely that there is a reference to that event in the Old Testament – either through direct prophecy, or through “foreshadowing” of the event.

Here are some examples of events listed in the New Testament, which have references in the Old Testament:

– In Philippians 2:9-11, the New Testament tells us that God has exalted Jesus to a position of authority over the earth; so that all people will confess Jesus as Lord. The Old Testament prophesies this in Daniel 7:13-14 – in which God gives Jesus dominion over the earth, so that all peoples, nations and languages will serve him.

– In Revelation 21:1-8, the New Testament tells us that in the next age, there will be a new heaven and a new earth – and that in the new earth there will be no mourning, no crying, and no pain. The Old Testament prophesies this in Isaiah 65:17-25, in which God creates new heavens and a new earth – and that in the new earth there will never be the sound of weeping or the cry of distress.

– In Romans 5:6-11, the New Testament tells us that we have been forgiven of our sins – and saved from everlasting death – through the blood of Jesus. The Old Testament foreshadows this in Exodus 12:1-13, in which the blood of the Passover lambs saved the Israelites from the tenth plague – the death of the firstborn.

– In John 3:16, the New Testament tells us God was willing to sacrifice his beloved son – Jesus – so that the world could be saved. The Old Testament foreshadows this in Genesis chapter 22, in which Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son – Isaac.

 

Another Old Testament Reference

Since most of the events in the New Testament have references in the Old Testament, it stands to reason that the “sheep and goats” judgment would also have a reference in the Old Testament. In order for an Old Testament judgment reference to “match” the sheep and goats judgment, the judgment in question would have to contain the following characteristics:

– The judgment in question must be a “single event” – as opposed to an “ongoing process”. In other words, it must be “judgment” in the sense of “executing a sentence” – as opposed to “ruling over a kingdom for 1000 years”.

– The judgment in question must be executed on nations – rather than on individuals. In other words, the judgment will be based on the collective actions of nations – rather than on the separate actions of individuals.

– The judgment in question must be executed on behalf of a third party. In other words, the basis of the judgment is: the manner in which nations treated this third party. (The sheep and goats judgment refers to this third party as “these my brothers”.)

With all of the above criteria in mind, consider the following Old Testament passage:

Joel 3:1-3,9-12,16-17 (ESV):

1 “For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations
And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
Then I will enter into judgment with them there
On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
And they have divided up My land.
“They have also cast lots for My people,
Traded a boy for a harlot
And sold a girl for wine that they may drink.

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men!
Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up!
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.”
11 Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations,
And gather yourselves there.
Bring down, O Lord, Your mighty ones.
12 Let the nations be aroused
And come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat,
For there I will sit to judge
All the surrounding nations.

16 The Lord roars from Zion
And utters His voice from Jerusalem,
And the heavens and the earth tremble.
But the Lord is a refuge for His people
And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.
17 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God,
Dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain.
So Jerusalem will be holy,
And strangers will pass through it no more.

Here is a summary of the judgment in the above Joel 3 passage:

– The judgment in the passage is a “one time event” – i.e., it is “executing a sentence”;

– The judgment in the passage is executed on nations, rather than on individuals;

– The judgment in the passage is executed on behalf of a third party.

In other words, the Joel 3 passage contains all of the characteristics mentioned above – i.e., that passage contains the same characteristics as the “sheep and goats” passage. So, could the judgment listed in Joel 3 be a reference to the sheep and goats judgment in Matthew 25?

 

Other Factors to Consider

The Joel 3 passage describes events that will occur in the end times – i.e., after Jesus returns. The passage states that that judgment will be passed on all the nations – and the basis of that judgment will be the manner in which the nations treated Israel. That is, the judgment is being made on behalf of Israel.

So, if the sheep and goats judgment refers to the judgment in Joel 3, then that means that Jesus will judge the nations, based upon the nations’ behavior towards national Israel – i.e., the Jewish people. As it turns out, there are many passages in Scripture which explicitly state that nations will be judged, based upon their treatment of national Israel. For example:

Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV):

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Zechariah 2:6-9 (ESV):

Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord. Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me.

Psalm 83:1-4,13-18 (ESV):

1 O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your treasured ones.
They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”

13 O my God, make them like whirling dust,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest,
as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so may you pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your hurricane!
16 Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O Lord.
17 Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
18 that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the Lord,
are the Most High over all the earth.

So, there is abundant evidence that nations will be judged based upon their behavior towards Israel.

Interestingly, some groups claim that national Israel is no longer favored by God – i.e., some groups believe that God has rejected national Israel, and “replaced” them with the Church. Scripture contradicts that belief, however:

Romans 11:1-2 (ESV):

1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

Another item to note is that the Hebrew word for “nations” is goyim. In the Hebrew culture, that word is generally used to mean nations other than Israel. In other words, in the Hebraic mindset, “nations” refers to gentiles – that is, people other than Jews. Of course, it is “nations” that are being judged in the sheep and goats judgment – as well as in Joel 3.

Not only that, but in the “sheep and goats” judgment, Jesus executes his judgment on behalf of a group he calls “these my brothers”. Of course, Scripture tells us that Jesus is genetically Jewish – i.e., he is a biological descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As a result, in the context of that judgment, it would make sense for Jesus to refer to the Jewish people as “these my brothers” – because he is biologically related to the Jewish people.

The final item to note is that the sheep and goats judgment contains two “classes” of nations – the sheep group, which will be rewarded, and the goats group, which will be punished. In other words, that judgment indicates that some nations will have blessed Israel, while other nations will have cursed Israel.  The Joel 3 passage, itself, does not show us this “differentiation” between the nations – but many other Old Testament passages do. For example, one of the “related” passages listed above is Zechariah 2:6-9. That passage also describes a judgment of the nations, based upon their treatment of Israel – and it continues on as follows:

Zechariah 2:10-12 (ESV):

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”

As shown, that passage states that in the end times, many gentile nations will become joined to Israel – and will therefore become the people of God as well. There are many other Old Testament passages which state that fact as well. So, the concept of “two classes” of nations is well established in the Old Testament – even though it is not explicitly mentioned in Joel 3.

For all of the above reasons, it certainly appears that the “sheep and goats” judgment is a reference to the judgment listed in Joel 3. That is, the sheep and goats judgment evidently refers to the judgment that Jesus will execute on the nations – based upon their treatment of Israelwhen he returns.

 

Conclusion

As mentioned above, it appears that the “sheep and goats” judgment is a judgment on nations – not on individuals. The nations will be judged based upon their treatment of national Israel – the Jewish people.

Some groups would undoubtedly dispute the concept that the sheep and goats judgment has anything to do with national Israel. There are two primary reasons for this. First, as mentioned above, some groups believe that God has rejected the Jewish people – and replaced them with the Church. Second, some groups assert that national Israel does not have any importance any longer – i.e., that there is no “prophetic significance” to Israel any longer.

It turns out that both of the above doctrines are contradicted by Scripture. Here are links to two articles, which discuss those two doctrines in detail:

Are the Jews still the chosen people?
The Olive Tree Symbolism in Romans 11

Does Israel have any significance any longer?
The Land of Israel in the Kingdom Age

I hope this article was useful to you!

23 Responses to “What is the “Sheep and Goats” Judgment About?”

  1. on 11 Oct 2015 at 11:09 amRonald Sevenster

    Are the nations in this judgment not simply what Jews call the goyim, i.e. the non-Jews or Noachides? “Goyim” means “nations”, and thus “goy” means “nation”. An individual goy is thus a “nation” in the sense of one of the non-Jews.

    It doesn’t seem to make sense that nations collectively — for example the German nation or the English nation — are given eternal life or are consigned to eternal doom. The final judgment about eternity can only applies to individuals.

    You say that this cannot be about individual salvation because individual salvation is only on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ and not on the basis of works. I think that one should consider, however, that judgment is always is spoken of in the Bible in terms of works.

    When St. Paul greatly emphasizes that we are saved by grace, not by works, he seems to say that the main cause of our salvation is the grace of God appearing in Jesus Christ. This means that the provision of grace was opened by God in Jesus Christ, not because of our works. When the dilemma is: Are we saved by our own efforts, idependent from God’s saving action in Christ, it is clear that it is by Christ’s grace that we are saved.

    But to the Apostle is far from preaching a “cheap grace” salvation. While the provision of grace is God’s unconditional gift in Jesus Christ, accepting and maintaining it requires or activity both in faith and works. In this sense salvation is dependent on the condition “…if ye continue” (Col. 1:23). In dealing withs serious sins, Paul always warns that those who commit them will not enter the Kingdom of God, unless they repent. And he sternly rebukes the believers about fooling themselves that they’ll still be saved. He says: “Be not deceived: Neither fornicators, nor idolators …&c, shall inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9). God is no respector of persons (Col. 3:25).

    This same teaching is held by Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he says he is the true Vine. If a person doesn’t abide in him, he is cut off, as a branch from the vine, and cast into the fire (John 15:6).

  2. on 11 Oct 2015 at 12:08 pmJas

    “The final judgment about eternity can only applies to individuals.”

    Ronald
    This is not the final judgement where life in the New Heaven and Earth is granted which since death and the grave are nolonger is the only time eternal life is a reality.
    This passage is only relevant to the Age of the restored kingdom of Israel by which Abraham and his righteous offspring receive the promises made by God providing a prolonged life during God’s Rest.
    The goats are the people living at the time of the beginning of Age and the sheep are probably the resurrected of righteous Israel.
    There is no judgement in this passage just separation and punishment in this verse should carry the basic meaning of the word translated meaning correction or penalty .
    According to prophecies many of these people will learn from Israel during this Age.

  3. on 11 Oct 2015 at 2:09 pmRonald Sevenster

    Jas,

    If I understand you correctly, the Judgment of Mt. ch. XXV is a temporal judgement about nations and peoples. The “sheep” are those who will enter the Kingdom in their mortal bodies, and the “goats” are those who will not enter it but will be set aside to be punished. I concede that this accords with what is said for example in zechariah 14:16-17.

    But if this is true, why is it said that goats are condemned to the everlasting (or: aionian) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels? It seems that the exclusion of this group from the Kingdom is fairly definitive and final, for all eternity, like the exclusion of the devil and his angels.

    It seems to me that the language used here is difficult to reconcile with the thought that this judgment is only a temporal correction or penalty, a kind of purgatory.

  4. on 11 Oct 2015 at 3:08 pmJas

    “But if this is true, why is it said that goats are condemned to the everlasting (or: aionian) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels?

    Ronald
    Very good question.

    Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;

    This verse is speaking to those among the goats which aligns with the weeds being burnt. These are those who knowingly did the will of satan in my opinion. During the millennium satan will be locked up along with those that would do his will.
    Btw aionian never means everlasting or eternal. it means age ,ages or ageless. You can not have plural eternities and everlastings or multiples as in ages of ages. God can be the God of age,ages or ages of ages without defining his lack of age

  5. on 11 Oct 2015 at 5:12 pmJas

    Ronald
    Another reason for my opinion is there is no way God would condemn anyone who was allowed by him to be deceived by satan through his false prophets or those not old enough or those who never had the chance to hear. I think those condemned had the resources to know the truth but chose the doctrine against it.

  6. on 11 Oct 2015 at 6:28 pmRonald Sevenster

    In your reply (no. 4) you make a distinction between two groups of goats. Such a distinction is not found in the text. All the goats are condemned. This condemnation doesn’t seem to be temporal, but definitive. For all the goats are cast into the fire, and, so I guess, are burnt up. This is no purgatorial or corrective punishment, but a destructive.

    As to the sheep, they are said to receive eternal ( aionian life. There are two modes of eternal life. The first one is the eternal life which we can have while still being in our mortal condition, which is the life of the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity. The other is the eternal life of the resurrection state, the life of immortality. The first is an imperfect participation of the second. The first belongs to this world, the second to the World to Come.

    If the sheep at the judgment of Mt. ch. XXV are not to receive eternal life in its fulness, i.e. the immortal life of the resurrection, but are to enter into the Kingdom in their mortal bodies, then the only thing that seems to happen at the judgment is that they receive saving faith and on the basis of that faith can enter the Kingdom in their mortal bodies. This would mean that they have still to live a life of faithfulness during the Kingdom Age, before they can receive immortality.

    But is this consistent with the word used here by the King, when he says: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25:34)? Do these worlds really indicate that they only become believers. not partakers of the glory?

    If one holds that the sheep enter the Kingdom in their mortal bodies, then there is an obvious asymmetry between the judgment of the goats and the sheep. The judgment on the goats seems to be final. But the sheep do not receive their final state. Their “eternal life” (:46) is only eternal life in potency, since they are to continue in their mortal bodies and thus still can sin and even fall away from the faith.

    I don’t say that this asymmetry is impossible, only that it seems implausible at first sight. It demands an explanation. I would say that the text seems to say something different, namely that both groups receive their final destination: eternal life or eternal punishment.

  7. on 11 Oct 2015 at 6:47 pmJas

    Ronald
    It is all final ,the sheep do receive life IN THE AGE and the contrast of the sheep wait the lake of fire. Since there are many prophecies that show whole nations apart from the restored Kingdom of Israel then there is a division somewhere either in the goats or less likely sheep. Eternal life of created beings Only comes after death and the grave are nolonger.
    You can not just dismiss the prophecies about other nations during this single eternity or dismiss the fact people living in the kingdom Die during this AGE .

  8. on 11 Oct 2015 at 8:41 pmRonald Sevenster

    Jas,

    I’m sorry but I find it very difficult to follow what you’re saying. Besides, I don’t know who you are and whether you represent the viewpoint of the author of this article, Mr. Brian Keating, to whom my initial questions were addressed.

  9. on 11 Oct 2015 at 8:55 pmJas

    I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred. And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed….The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain. (Is. 65:19-20

    Ronald
    This is a discussion blog and no I do not represent the author.
    But since you knowingly ask me questions and made claims can you not reconcile them to the fact there will be other nations during the millennium other than Israel and even those of the sheep who will populate the kingdom die.
    I do realize I am hard to follow especially when it is something your doctrine does not permit.
    Brian will probably answer the questions you directed at him in first post.

  10. on 11 Oct 2015 at 10:12 pmRonald Sevenster

    It has nothing to do with the permission of my doctrine. I have no doctrine on this. I’m studying. The point is that I can’t discover a coherent perspective in your answers. Nevertheless, thanks for your efforts.

  11. on 11 Oct 2015 at 10:26 pmRonald Sevenster

    Because I saw several confusing typos in my first comment, I repost it here with corrections.

    Are the nations in this judgment not simply what Jews call the goyim, i.e. the non-Jews or Noachides? “Goyim” means “nations”, and thus “goy” means “nation”. An individual goy is thus a “nation” in the sense of one of the non-Jews.

    It doesn’t seem to make sense that nations collectively — for example the German nation or the English nation — are given eternal life or are consigned to eternal doom. The final judgment about eternity and the World to Come can only apply to individuals.

    You say that this cannot be about individual salvation because individual salvation is only on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ and not on the basis of works. I think that one should consider, however, that judgment always is spoken of in the Bible in terms of works.

    When St. Paul greatly emphasizes that we are saved by grace, not by works, he seems to say that the main cause of our salvation is the grace of God appearing in Jesus Christ. This means that the provision of grace was opened by God in Jesus Christ, not because of our works. When the dilemma is: Are we saved by our own efforts, independent from God’s saving action in Christ, or by his grace in Christ, it is clear that it is by God’s grace in Christ’s grace that we are saved, not by our own efforts.

    But the Apostle is far from preaching a “cheap grace” salvation. While the provision of grace is God’s unconditional gift in Jesus Christ, accepting and maintaining it requires our activity both in faith and works. In this sense salvation is dependent on the condition: “…if ye continue” (Col. 1:23). In dealing with serious sins, Paul always warns that those who commit them will not enter the Kingdom of God, unless they repent. And he sternly rebukes the believers about fooling themselves that they’ll still be saved. He says: “Be not deceived: Neither fornicators, nor idolators …&c, shall inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9). God is no respecter of persons (Col. 3:25).

    This same teaching is held by our Lord Jesus Christ, when he says he is the true Vine. If a person doesn’t abide in him, he is cut off, as a branch from the vine, and cast into the fire (John 15:6).

  12. on 11 Oct 2015 at 10:31 pmJas

    Ronald
    You are extremely doctrinal in the word Aion meaning eternal which the reason for confusion about this passage. Satan is said to be the God of Aion ,do you believe it is for an eternity .
    Do not blame me for your inability to follow or what you choose to ignore.

  13. on 12 Oct 2015 at 8:58 amRonald Sevenster

    I’m not saying at all that the word ‘Aion’ means eternity. This discussion is not about the meaning of the word ‘Aion’, but about the definiteness or final character of the judgment in Matthew ch, XXV. Neither do I blame you. I never said that I blame you, only that I was unable to discover a coherent vision in what you said.

    Scripture basically divides reality into two Aions, or, in the Hebrew, Olamim. There is the Olam Hazeh (‘this world’ or ‘this age’) and the Olam Habah (‘the World to Come’ or ‘the Age to Come’). This Age is the temporal world we now live in. The Age to Come is the eternal world of the New Creation.

    From this it is clear that the word Aion or Olam doesn’t of itself imply time or eternity, but a certain state of being.

    The basic feature of this world (Olam Hazeh) is that the things in it are changeable. It is a world of generation and corruption, of coming into existence and going out of existence. The Kingdom Age of the 1000 years still belongs to this world. The World to Come (Olam Habah) is the unchangeable world of eternity. On a personal level, the faithful will share in the World to Come from the moment of their resurrection.

    Now, my questions about the judgment of the nations in Mt. 25:31-46 are essentially: What do those who receive “aionian life” at that judgment (i.e. the sheep) really receive: The incorruptible life of the resurrection order, or the temporal life in the Kingdom in a mortal body? My reasoning on this question was as follows.

    If they receive the temporal life of the Kingdom in a mortal body, then one would expect that the condemned (the goats) also receive a temporal punishment, not their definitive and final destruction. But there are strong indications in the text that the punishment of the goats is final and definitive, for they are apparently destroyed in the fire prepared for the devil and his angels. This doesn’t seem to be a temporal death, followed by a resurrection.

    If this should be correct, then, I would ask, what is the reason for this asymmetry between the fate of the sheep and the fate of the goats? If the sheep receive temporal life in a mortal body while the goats receive their definite and final death, then the outcome of the judgment is that the final fate of the goats is already fixed and decided, while the final fate of the sheep is still open and undecided. If the sheep choose to live a faithful life they’ll finally receive resurrection life at some later stage, perhaps at the judgment after the Millennium. If they choose to not live a faithful life, they too will be condemned. For as long as they are in their mortal bodies they are still able to sin an rebel against King Jesus.

    Or is this asymmetry perhaps an indication that the assumption that the sheep receive temporal Kingdom life is incorrect, and should we assume that they are glorified at this judgment and receive resurrection life? Support for this opinion could be drawn from the saying of the King that they are to “inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25:34). Would this be said to persons who still have a walk of faith before them and remain subject to the possibility of sin and rebellion?

    However, on the other hand, there’s nothing in the text to suggest a resurrection or change from mortality to immortality.

  14. on 12 Oct 2015 at 10:14 amJas

    “If they receive the temporal life of the Kingdom in a mortal body, then one would expect that the condemned (the goats) also receive a temporal punishment, not their definitive and final destruction. But there are strong indications in the text that the punishment of the goats is final and definitive, for they are apparently destroyed in the fire prepared for the devil and his angels”

    Ronald
    The Kingdom Age is temporal because there is the Age of the New Heaven and Earth which comes after. The Fire prepared for satan and his comes between these two ages during the Great White Throne Judgment . Is it possible these goats will stay in the grave while the rest of the dead are raised for judgment with some being tossed back to be burned up with the old earth? Yes because there a few sins that provide immediate judgment like blasphemy against the HS, turning back after receiving the truth,teaching others to disobey God’s Commandments and changing God’s Word.
    The fact is there will be people living in Jerusalem not visiting that will die and any conclusion that ignores this can not be correct.
    Just because an Age is temporal it does not prevent another Age from coming. It is the things that pertain to that Age that are temporal.

  15. on 12 Oct 2015 at 11:45 amRonald Sevenster

    Whether the goats will in the grave or burned up is completely irrelevant to my question. My question is whether their punishment is temporal or final. And whether the life of the sheep is temporal or final.

  16. on 12 Oct 2015 at 11:49 amRonald Sevenster

    Whether the goats will in the grave or burned up is completely irrelevant to my question. My question is whether their punishment is temporal or final. And whether the life of the sheep is temporal or final. I mean, are the goats punished with the death penalty in such a way that they can still repent and, while being put to death in this world, can still inherit the World to Come, or are they definitely and eternally lost?

  17. on 12 Oct 2015 at 12:21 pmJas

    Ronald
    Both the Sheep and Goat destiny is finalized. The Sheep have been accounted citizenship in the restored Kingdom of Israel and the Goat have reserved their spot in the Lake of Fire just as the Beast, False Prophet and the Devil has.
    Life in the Age to Come for the Sheep is finalized and even if they only live one day during this Age the promise was fulfilled.No where was the people of God promised eternal life, they were promised a prolonged life during God’s Sabbath Rest which also provides fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and his righteous offspring. The most important thing to understand is the second death of God’s People is not final or will not prevent them from entering the next Age. It shall not have power to hold them.

  18. on 12 Oct 2015 at 1:36 pmRonald Sevenster

    But how can the fate of the sheep be finalized when they enter the Kingdom in their mortal bodies. Being in your mortal body means that you are still in the life of faith and in the possibility of sin, even the possibility of apostasy. It is only in the glorious life of the resurrection that these possibilities cease.

  19. on 12 Oct 2015 at 2:00 pmJas

    “But how can the fate of the sheep be finalized when they enter the Kingdom in their mortal bodies.”

    Ronald
    Because that was the nature of the promises and we are only dealing with things pertaining to this ONE AGE not the one after where death and the grave nolonger exist.
    Sin is transgressing against God’s Commandments . How does an eternal body keep you from sinning. The love of the truth and God are what keeps people from sinning . Do you hold a sin nature doctrine?

  20. on 12 Oct 2015 at 2:13 pmJas

    Ronald
    Angels do not have mortal bodies yet one third of them sinned against God and will receive death in the lake of fire.

  21. on 13 Oct 2015 at 10:08 amJas

    NASB ©
    “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit(MAKE) lawlessness,

    Ronald
    It is very possible the Goats are just those who cast stumbling blocks by promoting satan’s lies and lawlessness and the Sheep are those deceived. There are billions out of every belief system who love there fellow brother enough to do the things said of the Sheep without an agenda to deceive. The resurrection of true Israel probably comes after to populate the restored Kingdom of Israel. These Sheep are who Israel will be Priest and Kings over and will live outside Israel.
    The Rapture is not about removing Good People ,it is about removing those who knowingly teach the lies of satan.
    The passage where Paul says the dead will be gathered first then those still living comes at end of millennium for the purpose of Great White Throne Judgment during which the earth will be restored by fire consuming all that was held for this fiery punishment.

  22. on 15 Oct 2015 at 11:02 pmRay

    The sheep are the ones who hear the Lord’s voice and obey him. The goats are those who do neither. When he comes, will we be ready?
    Which will we be on that day? Will it depend on what he says?

    What about today? How do we act or react when we hear what he says through others, or read it ourselves? Do we hear it or just repeat it to others?

    What if it were today? Do the sheep argue with him or not? If we commit sin we become a servant of sin, and the only way out of a goat pen is the cross.

  23. on 16 Oct 2015 at 9:30 amJas

    Ray
    This is not about hearing because both groups hear him and neither are given commands to obey. This is just a division to separate those who practice and teach false doctrine. When Jesus speaks of his sheep will know his voice it leaves other sheep not hearing.
    This is simply the removal of the systems of the false prophet and beast who doing the will of the devil deceive the people of the world ,basically satan being bound just before the resurrection of the Saints who throughout generations followed the Will of God as Jesus did.
    Good news is if you live till the start of millennium since you are blameless in the deception you will probably get to be a part of a nation outside the Godly,Heavenly Kingdom.

  

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