Matthew 25:31 When 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:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then 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:
35 For 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:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
It is important to note that verse 31 is not a verse floating around in the air and we just pull it out of the air and then have to surmise as to its timing. Verse 31 is a verse that Jesus had in the midst of His answer to the disciples’ questions in Matthew 24:3.
It is true that the chapter and verse divisions were added later to the Word of God. The scrolls had the Scriptures in portions. In the Gospels the scrolls were also referred to as books. Jesus was given the book of the prophet “Esaias” (Isaiah) and He read from Isaiah 53 in that book. At the time that Jesus was given that book to read from, it was not divided into chapters and verses. Depending on who you read, there are differing dates given as to when the Bible was divided into chapters and verses. It did not happen overnight. The division into chapters and verses is simply there to help the readers to navigate through the Bible easier.
The verse numbers in the text we have today help the readers to be able to find where I am at and to follow along with the text. In Bible times the average person did not have access to the handling of the Word of God personally. God’s Word was copied by hand and they did not make copies for the common person. The people needed to trust the person who had a copy of the Scriptures to read it accurately.
God always had some people in every generation who had the fear of God in their hearts and thus both copied God’s Word carefully and accurately and also read it carefully and accurately. Man has never had a reason not to know and believe the truth. Many have been careless and do not believe that there is an accurate Word from God available to man. The devil put the lie into the mind of Eve in Genesis 3 and most people who claim to be religious today do not believe there is an accurate text available to man. It is sad that people have been willfully deceived into believing such a lie. God promised that He would preserve His Word.
Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
This is just one passage of many that promise us that we can have complete confidence in God’s Word. The important factor we must consider is that we must have God’s Word in our hand. We cannot trust the perversions. The devil has been successful in putting out over 100 perversions of God’s Word. That will not give anyone an excuse before God. The truth is available and all can access it. The problem is that people want to argue from human intelligence against God’s Word and that is a vain and useless argument.
I say all this to remind us that the verses we are looking at are true and they fit within the context of Jesus’ answer to the disciples. Thus we can understand that Jesus is speaking of His second coming at the end of the Tribulation. He will fight and win against the antichrist at that time. He will destroy all wickedness and He will usher in the Millennium. He will set up His throne and He will rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years.
Verse 32 tells us that as Jesus sets up the Millennium, there will be a judgment as to who will enter the Millennium, and who will not be allowed in. His throne will be there. He will present Himself as THE King. He will be the legitimate King. The world of that time will see that He is vastly different from the antichrist. The antichrist will not be there at that time. He will already be cast into the lake of fire along with the false prophet. The devil will already be bound and cast into the bottomless pit.
Jesus will separate humanity into two camps. There will be those who are lost (goats) and those who are saved (sheep).
Verse 33 tells us that the sheep will be on His right hand. In Scripture, the right hand is symbolic of authority and power. It is also a symbol of accuracy. People are asked to raise their right hand when promising to tell the truth in a trial. The sheep will be on that hand, where they will be protected and brought into the Millennium. The goats will be on the left hand and they will be cast out. They will not be allowed into the kingdom of heaven. They will not be part of the Millennium.
In verse 34 the King (Jesus Christ) will invite those on His right hand to inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world. Again we are reminded of the omniscience of God. Nothing is a surprise to Him. God has never had to go back to the “drawing board” to make adjustments to His plan. Within that fact, He has given man the opportunity to make choices. We see that in Genesis 2. Adam was created with the ability to choose to obey God or to reject God’s will. In chapter 3 we see that Adam chose to reject God’s will. The result was disastrous for mankind, but not a surprise to God. God’s omniscience in no way allows for the passive attitude that some have which suggests that God is going to do what He is going to do and so I am just a pawn in His hands. God holds us accountable for our choices as we see further in this text.
In verse 34 Jesus stated the fact that those on His right hand had earned a place in His kingdom. In verse 35 we see the answer to His statement in verse 34. We must remember that Jesus is not teaching works salvation here. Too many people believe that the Old Testament taught works salvation and then the New Testament “church age” teaches salvation by grace through faith and then in the Millennium we will again see works salvation. That is faulty theology.
In our text those on Jesus’ right hand will have demonstrated the fact they were saved by being obedient to God’s design for the saved. They will be those who have treated other saints properly as we have already noted in the previous verses. The parable of the talents precedes the verses we are now looking at. It all fits together and we must take God’s Word in the context wherein He gave it.
Jesus taught that in the midst of the persecution of the Tribulation, the saints will still be looking out for each other. They will be willing to give of the little that they have to help other saints to survive.
In today’s world, we tend to give of our abundance. If we do not have much left, we tend to keep it for ourselves. We have been trained that this is good common sense. However, God teaches a different philosophy entirely. Jesus taught the disciples to pray asking God for their “daily bread”. Few today understand that way of living.
During the Tribulation the saints will face that type of living standard. Jesus also taught that during that time, there will be saints in prison. The antichrist will seek to kill many who reject him and his mark. We know that those who take the mark will not be saved. They have chosen a path from which there is no return. Those Jesus is talking about are those who are saved and who demonstrate true “brotherly love”.
We can make application in our time from this passage. We can do that because what Jesus is teaching here is not a new teaching for His people. While Jesus was on earth, He and His disciples lived very much by trusting in God for their daily bread. The disciples were accused of walking through a grain field and taking some grain on the Sabbath. They obviously did not bring a lunch along. They trusted that as they travelled, they would find food to eat as needed. We see the same thing with the multitudes that followed Jesus. He taught the 5,000 all day and before He sent them home He fed them with the food that one lad had brought. The rest did not bring food and lived by the day.
The Christians in the opening chapters of the book of Acts sold their possessions and laid the money at the apostles’ feet, and they lived very much as a community who looked to God to supply their daily needs. God does not command His children to cancel their bank accounts and to live off of each other’s supplies. He does command His children to care for one another as the need arises. God is not encouraging the false philosophy of our welfare system. Lazy people should not eat.
II Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Christians in our time would have a much different testimony if we took God at His Word and lived within that realm. There are unsaved groups who have tried to follow this principle and have had some success on the physical level. They have failed miserably on the spiritual level because they do not know the Lord.
Jesus reminded the disciples and every generation the importance of brotherly love from the Biblical perspective. The loving God provides for the needs of His people.