Matthew 25:31-46

 

Bob Utley:

  • “It is Jesus Himself who speaks so often of the eternal and horrible consequences of human sin. It is Jesus and Jesus alone who emphasizes not only a final judgment but an eternal hell.” – pg. 276.
  • “This passage seems to be an amplification of 16:27. A good parallel passage on a day of judgment is Rev. 20:11-15.” – pg. 276.
  • “This passage may not be a parable, but a dramatic presentation unique to Matthew. All questions about the end time are not dealt with. One wonders if all nations include those humans who are alive and dead, or just those who are alive.” – pg. 277.
  • “It is difficult to identify with certainty who “the goats” are: (1) those who have rejected the gospel or (2) those who have an outward profession only? Both groups call Jesus “Lord” (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). This judgment seems to be limited to those who have, at least outwardly, responded to the gospel.” – pg. 277.
  • “25:33 “on His right” This is a biblical anthropomorphic phrase to describe the place of preeminence, honor, power, and authority.” – pg. 277.
  • “Hell’s worst aspect is the separation from fellowship with God (cf. Matt. 7:23; Luke 13:27). God does not send humans to hell; they send themselves by their lifestyle choices.”[1] – pg. 278.
  • ““accursed ones” This is a PERFECT PASSIVE PARTICIPLE. This grammatical construction was used several times in this context. It speaks of that which happened in the past and the results of which have continued into the present. The action is done by an outside agent. These people’s rejection of God and His Christ in the past has been consummated into permanent blindness and rejection! This rejection revealed itself in lack of love for other human beings (vv. 42-43).” – pg. 278.
  • “Matthew 25 mixes the metaphors of its darkness in v. 30, and fire in v. 41. The horrors and torments of hell are so far beyond human vocabulary and finite conceptions that the Bible used the most vivid imagery possible. Most of the metaphors come from the garbage dump outside Jerusalem in the valley of the sons of Hinnom called “Gehenna.”” – pg. 278.
  • “The same term [aionos] that describes heaven as everlasting is applied to hell as everlasting (cf. 18:8; 19:16; Mark 3:29; 9:48; 10:17; Luke 18:18; Jude v. 7; Rev. 20:10; also with “eternal judgment in II Thess. 1:9 and Heb. 6:2).” – pg. 278.
  • “Josephus states that the Pharisees believed in the immortality of all “souls” (cf. Antiq. 18.1,3), but only the resurrection of the righteous into a new body, while the wicked have eternal punishment (cf. Jewish Wars 2.8,14). The eternality and finality is the impetus of the urgency of gospel preaching, teaching, and witnessing!” – pg. 279.
  • “An eternal hell is not only a tragedy for rebellious mankind, but also for God! God created humans as the apex of His creative event. We were made in His image and likeness for fellowship with Him (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). God’s choice to allow mankind a choice resulted in a significant percentage of God’s creation being separated from Himself! Hell is an open, bleeding sore in the heart of God that will never be healed.”[2] – pg. 279.

Thomas Constable:

  • “As we have seen, Matthew stressed judgment in his Gospel (3:12; 6:2, 5, 16; 7:24-27; 13:30, 48-49; 18:23-34; 20:1-16; 21:33-41; 22:1-14; 24:45-51; 25:1-12, 14-30). This is not unusual since the Old Testament predicted that judgment would precede the messianic kingdom, and Matthew emphasized the kingdom. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus concluded this discourse that reveals events leading up to the inauguration of the kingdom by explaining the judgment that will precede it.” – pg. 348.
  • “The New Testament teaches that there will be two distinct judgments relative to the kingdom. Many scholars believe there will only be one general judgment at the end. Most of these are amillenarians, but some premillenarians believe this as well. One of these judgments will occur just before the messianic kingdom begins and another will follow at its end. The one at the end is the great white throne judgment when God will send all unbelievers to hell (Rev. 20:11-15).”[3] – pg. 348.
  • “The word “nations” (i.e., Gentiles, Gr. ethne) never refers to the dead elsewhere in Scripture.” – pp. 348-9.
  • “Usually “the nations” (Gr. ta ethne) refers to Gentiles distinguished from
    Jews (e.g., Luke 21:24; Acts 14:16). Because of this some interpreters
    believe the judgment of verses 31-46 is a judgment of Gentiles only. However the phrase “all the nations” is often more inclusive, referring to all people, including the Jews (cf. Rom. 16:26; Rev. 15:4). Here it probably refers to all people living on earth when Jesus establishes His kingdom (cf. 28:19; Mark 13:10).”[4] – pg. 349.
  • “The right often signified the place of favor, and the left the place of comparative disfavor in biblical and Jewish literature.” – pg. 349.
  • “Jesus clarified the basis for judgment then. It would be reception or rejection of the King as seen in people’s reception or rejection of the King’s brothers. The King’s brothers are probably His faithful disciples who fulfill His will by preaching the gospel of the kingdom during the Tribulation (cf. 12:48-49; 28:10; Isa. 58:7)….Other interpreters have identified these brethren as all the needy of the world, all Jews, or Christian apostles and missionaries.”[5] – pg. 350.
  • “Jesus will banish the goats and send them into eternal fire (cf. 13:24-30,
    31-43, 47-50; Rev. 14:11; 19:15). Jesus’ descriptions of hell were familiar
    to the Jews of His day (cf. 3:10, 12; 5:22; 7:19; 13:40, 42, 50; 18:8-9; Jude
    7; Rev. 20:10-15). Only the righteous will enter the kingdom (v. 34). The
    fact that the goats will address Jesus as “Lord” (v. 44) does not show they
    are believers since everyone will acknowledge Him as Lord then (cf. Phil.
    2:11).” – pg. 351.
  • “The sheep and the goats will not express surprise because they anticipated
    a different fate. They will express surprise because of the evidence by
    which Jesus will judge their condition, namely, their treatment of His
    brethren.” – pg. 351.
  • “This is the only place in Scripture where the term “eternal punishment” appears.
    Some interpreters believe that “eternal” here does not mean “everlasting”
    but pertaining to the age to come, which is eternal. They favor
    understanding Jesus to mean that the lost will suffer annihilation. This
    view is sometimes called “conditional immortality.”[6] – pg. 351.

Resources:

  • Constable, Thomas L. Notes on Matthew: 2010 Edition.
  1. [1]I would suggest that we are damned not only due to our lifestyle choices but also to our inherent character. As God has motivational characteristics, so do we. If our motivational characteristics are set towards evil, they will result in evil lifestyle choices. That said, whence our motivational characteristics are set is determined by the renewing power of Christ, not through our own works or endeavors. The only want to change our motivational characteristics is to receive a supernatural impartment of change – as offered by Christ.
  2. [2]This statement is significantly at odds with a more deterministic theology as espoused by John Piper, etc. That said, I think the affirmation of the passionate eternal love of God is an essential tenet of Scripture, and thus, Utley’s interpretation of the long-term implications for God’s “heart” seem right, though we must again recognize that we are dealing with the infinite and incomprehensible and our words are but analogies for a higher reality. We may approach but not fully define.
  3. [3]Constable includes footnotes in the original text with examples of those holding each position.
  4. [4]Again, Constable provides instances of these positions in footnotes.
  5. [5]See footnotes in original for examples of supporters of each position.
  6. [6]See footnotes in original.

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