I think I see what you are getting at although I just can’t see it being understood that way. I’ll use the American Standard translation as it is my understanding that it is the most literal translation and it is easier to understand than the one you are using.
quote:31But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:32and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the 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 hungry, and ye gave me to eat; 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 hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink?38And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?39And 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 did it unto one of these my brethren, [even] these least, ye did it unto me.
First off we see that he is talking about all nations in a world where only a small group of people had ever heard of Him. He isn’t dividing them into groups of those who followed Him and those who didn’t. The sheep in this are the ones who cared for those in need, regardless of their societal position, and without thought of personal reward. It has nothing to do with what they believed; it was all to do with how they loved and cared for others, and again, without thought of reward.
quote:41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels:42for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; 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, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, 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 unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.46And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.
The goats then are those who neglected those in need, or in other words those that went through life looking out for number one. I would agree with you that also included in this group there would be followers of Yahweh and/or Jesus who felt that by performing charitable acts they would receive a reward for what they did. That idea would be consistent with Matthew 7:21 where it is clear that to be a follower of Jesus requires more than intellectual assent while looking for personal gain.
In the end it is all about humble kindness, mercy and justice; do we love selfishly or unselfishly.
This is an eschatological mesasage. He has gathered all the nations before Him. There is no longer doubt about who He is. They just didn't recognize the concept that all acts of unselfish love are actually done for Him whether we recognize it or not.
You used to have a Narnia quote as a signature, so I assume that you are familiar with "The Last Battle". Here is a quote from it. Tash of course represents the evil one while the lion, Aslan is of course a Christ figure.
quote:Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.
There are many Christians that view Christianity and Christians as Jesus chosen people just as there are many Jews (and were many Jews in Jesus day) that viewed the Hebrews as a Chosen People.
A popular marketing tactic when selling Christianity is that it is only those who profess Jesus, are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, are Born Again, have been Saved, been Called to the Altar, touched by the Hand of God, and a whole bunch of other bumper sticker trivialities, only those member of the "in Crowd" get to go to Heaven.
I think that the mistake is made in thinking that being chosen makes anyone special or that they are going to enjoy salvation while others don't. It isn't that the Jews or the church are chosen for salvation but IMHO they are chosen for vocation. Their vocation is about taking God's truth, love, mercy, justice, peace, forgiveness etc to the world. Before someone else says it; I agree that we aren't making much of a job of it. It seems so much of the focus is on me and my salvation which is just putting the focus back on ourselves which is just the opposite of what Jesus taught.
And as in that fable, I believe heaven will be filled, if heaven exists, with far more Taoists, Satanist, Jews, Wicaans, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheist, Agnostics, Animists, Diest, Pagans, followers of the Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Germanic Gods and of Confucius, Mencius and even Coyote than there will be Christians there. But the Goats will still be almost totally made up of Christians.
On what grounds do you believe that? If you accept that Matthew 25 actual represents some form of truth then to me it is clear that it is about having unselfish hearts, and I can't see where you have basis on which to make a judgement about which group is likely or not likely to fit that profile.
Personally I dislike talking about salvation. I resisted getting involved in this discussion as I don't feel I have much to say, but I just had questions about how you were interpreting Matthew 25. As for who winds up where when time comes to an end I think is best left up to God, and in the meantime I'll just kinda muddle along trying to serve His kingdom as I understand it. If I have my theology all wrong then so be it.
That has to be the ubsurdist statement in all recorded history. No human is more un-proven than Jesus and the Gospel figures. No names has cost more innocent lives than that of Jesus. Not a shred of proof, evidence, parchment, relic, cross-nation reference or indicator exists - in a time when such proof would be and should be blatant with no excuses legitimate. Hello!?
You may be right. My statement was based on accepting the essential truth of the statement in Matthew 25. I'll try to avoid making such ubsurbist statements in the future.
Let's walk through it one small step at a time. Do you think there have been more Taoists, Satanist, Jews, Wicaans, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheist, Agnostics, Animists, Diest, Pagans, followers of the Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Germanic Gods and of Confucius, Mencius and even Coyote than there have been Christians
Fine, but don't forget you also said:
quote:But the Goats will still be almost totally made up of Christians.
Notice their reply. When did we see YOU in need and did not help YOU?
No one but a close associate, a follower, would say such things.
I see no reason at all to make that assumption. If I'm just meeting someone for the first time I would address them as you. What do you suggest they would call Him then if they were just meeting Him for the first time?
I think the whole point is moot anyway. I agree that there are a lot more non-Christians than Christians in the world so numerically speaking there are lilkely to be more non-Christians than Christians who have hearts that love unselfishly. Frankly I'm not going to worry much about it. I'm quiet happy to leave that up to God.
OK I can see that but it is also the same for the sheep.
The sheep reply :
quote: 37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink ?38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
The goats reply:
quote: 44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
I see what you and CS are getting at but I just can’t agree. The sheep are just as incredulous as the goats. They had no idea that it was Jesus that they were serving. They thought that it was just fellow human travellers. The goats also had no idea that it was Jesus they were ignoring when they neglected to help the needy.
It seems to me in both cases it could apply to those who had never met or heard of Jesus previously or to those who had always followed Him.
Look at the parallels between this passage and the story of “The Good Samaritan”. It was the Samaritan that helped out whereas the supposed holy ones passed by. In neither case did they see themselves doing or not doing this for Jesus or God.
Again I see the point of the sheep is that they acted without understanding that their actions had eternal consequences. The contrast is in doing so-called good works with the idea that you will be rewarded for doing them which would mitigate against the value of the act.
It is that the sheep fed the hungry etc with no idea that they were doing it for anyone other than the person they were serving. They just did it because for them it was the right thing to do. They loved unselfishly.
The "goats" (corrected by edit) didn’t feed the hungry etc without any understanding that they actually represented Jesus, whether or not they had any idea of who Jesus was. They just didn’t serve the needy because they were too wrapped up in themselves. In other words they loved selfishly.
As I said before, look at the parallels between this and “The Good Samaritan”.
It has nothing to do with religious belief or doctrine. The point of being Christian isn’t found in this eschatological parable.
Edited by GDR, : I had typed sheep when I meant goats.
Right, they were ministering unto the least of his people, without realizing they were doing it to Him too. So when Jesus said that they did it to Him, their reply was: "Huh? When did we do it to you?" Had they been his followers, they wouldn't have had to ask that, because they would have been around him doing those things and been all: "Yup, I remember that."
Right, and when Jesus said 'thanks a lot for not helping me', their reply was: "Huh, when didn't we help you?" His followers would have asked something like that because they would have been around him and it didn't make sense that he was claiming they didn't (because they didn't realize he was referring to the least of his people). A person who did not follow Jesus would not have asked something like that, because they would have been all: "Well, since we've just met there's no way we could have helped you yet".
This is a parable of things at the end of time. In either case they would either have helped others or ignored them but in neither case would they have understood the connection between Christ and the person they did or didn't help.
Let's try this. A fellow comes up and says thanks for the help. As he is a stranger I say to him that this is the first time I've met him and ask when did I help him. He then goes on to tell me that I helped his wife change a tire yesterday and so he didn't have to leave the hockey game he was watching on TV.
I didn't make the connection between him and his wife just as neither the sheep nor the goats made the connection between those they did or didn't help and Jesus.
Here is jar's statement.
quote:I imagine that all of the Goats will be Christians.
IMHO there is no justification for that claim. The text tells us nothing about the beliefs of the sheep or goats as far as doctrine is concerned.
But when you go back to the beginning in Matthew 25 it says:
quote: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 ;33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Everyone is there including all Christians and all non-Christians. They are divided into the two groups based on how they responded to those in need. Jar is suggesting he knows who is going to be in each group based on whether or not they are Christian. It just isn't in this passage as far as I'm concerned.
I agree that we can know Jesus but it isn't the same as knowing my wife for example. I suggest that for at least the majority of Christians they would be surprised to have Jesus tell them that when they helped the homeless that it was Him they were helping. A Christian might understand the concept but I don't think we think of it that directly.