But as a complement to that, we need to note that the judgement doesn’t just take place on the grounds of whether people like us and help us, or not. Having looked at the various interpretations, for me, the narrower reading is not compelling; but it is “easier” for richer Western Christian to live with the narrower reading as it lets us off the hook rather more. Augustine’s towering influence is well-known. 14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He gave them five, two, and one talent-bags of … I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where there is negative comment about ‘same sex relationships’, or about gay people, or about ‘homosexuality’. If we were to distribute the world’s wealth equally, what we would do is just add the middle-class westerners back to the land of suffering. (Acts) And all through Matthew’s Gospel we have seen the gospel bursting out beyond the in-group. I think he is equating nation states with sheep and goats. I think there is also a proper debate about how we read “who are the poor?” in the Bible as there is a shift in post-exilic times to claim that the believers are the poor of God, but we might want to question whether this is a suitable lens to read other texts through. Moreover, Jesus is clear that to follow him means to be homeless; in reply to a teacher of the law who would follow him, Jesus replies: Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head (Matt 8.20 = Luke 9.58). So, male goats are not just passive fellow grazers but actively disruptive, vying for position with the ram, producing stillborn young. Perhaps that does reflect a certain mindset, but I doubt if God will judge the whole nation based on the behaviour of those in power. And will any Christian reply, “How could this astonish them? What do you think was the reason for this ‘novel’ interpretation taking root? 19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. I came to you also, but ye knew Me not: ye had neither warm affections nor kind deeds to bestow upon Me: I was as one despised in your eyes.” “In our eyes, Lord? Answer: Matthew, in chapters 24-25, records the Lord’s heart of compassion and love mingled with unwavering holiness. I actually noted a monograph-length exploration of the question of interpretation in a post a couple of years ago: US evangelical Denny Burk helpfully looks at the evidence here, as gathered by Sherman Gray is his monograph on the subject. That when Jesus talks about His brethren thinking that He means His brethren and not some group that we’d be more comfortable about him talking about – its a bit uncomfortable to prioritise Christians, a bit racist, a bit xenophobic, a bit colonial, aren’t we buying false converts – is the very opposite of theological gymnastics? Rather I would argue that the brothers of Jesus are now seen to include the poor and needy from across the world – we are challenged to open our eyes wider. Why then does Jesus appear to have a negative view of the goats in Matt 25? I also think that the reading you offer is weaker rhetorically, as it ends the teaching on a fairly minimal note, and also on a focus which is not primarily that of what the Christian should do / how they should live, whereas the reading / structure I suggest is much stronger rhetorically. What do you think Jesus means when he says ‘If anyone gives you a cup of cold water because you are my disciples, he shall not lose his reward’? When the NIV translates ‘he will separate the people one from another’, that is interpretation. Like my page on Facebook. A modern equivalent which could have been used a few years ago might be: ‘The king will separate the nations as easily as a housewife separates apples from pears’. The parable of talents in Matthew 25 is one of my favorite parables. Read Matthew 10.19 and you will see that the persecution and arrest of Christian witnesses and missionaries is clearly envisaged. “Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The attendance of ‘his angels with him’ is an allusion to Zech 14.5, there the ‘holy ones’ accompany Yahweh, ‘my God’. The Greek has ‘them’ which refers to ‘all nations’ (or ‘all peoples’). Although it is often passed over, in favour of focussing either on the two groups or on their reported activities, the central feature of the whole narrative is Jesus himself, described in the most exalted terms. Thus, “Augustine comes down clearly on the side of those who hold a restrictive viewpoint” (p. 71). So it is not merely about doing good; it is about responding with kindness to the ambassadors of Jesus. What I am pointing out is that he is not saying that here. And, not surprisingly they are some the enemy uses in his accusations that we may not be “doing enough” for God. Notice that the key qualifier in Matthew 10.42 is “monon eis onoma mathetou”. I checked wikipedia; a male kid ἐρίφων, is unwelcome in a flock of sheep because it is a different genera that produces stillborn young, it is a pretender for top position, for there can only be one male in a flock. 11. I’ll send a link if you are interested. 1. “The master was full of praise. Jesus knew that only the father had all the details, but he wanted his friends to have just a glimpse and so he started to tell many parables to try and give them some ideas. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “The absolute authority afforded Jesus here fits most precisely the standard Jewish picture of God judging the nations in the day of judgement. Jesus is both the Scapegoat Kid and the Lamb Ram amongst his sheep. 2. I think this passage is one of those that is claimed by both parties as it is seen as a key passage in how we interpret the wider implications of the gospel, whether the social engagement is core to our faith or an ethical addition (how I think some put it). 25:14-30). The emphasis is not on generic comparison (as important as that is elsewhere) but on who has shown compassion to the followers of Jesus who are hungry, thirsty, unclothed, sick, or in prison”, Just as Ian pointed out Perhaps the first thing to comment is that ‘nation’ in the context of Matt 25 is very different from ‘nation (state)’ in the 21st century. Criminals being punished – or the unjust victims of persecution? Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. Yes, there is a constant danger from all sides of forcing scripture out of shape! The parable of the sheep and the goats may present one of the most outworn passages in the Bible. This seems perfectly logical and consistent to me. When we look at Matt 25, we see that the word translated ‘goat’ is actually the word eriphos, the male term for a baby goat—also used ironically by the elder brother in Luke 15.29 (‘you never even gave me a kid’). I can only assume that he was not alone in this among his contemporaries. So Jesus’ reference to the separation appears to be drawing on a well-known and regular occurrence in herding—the separation out and culling of the young male goats the herdsmen would do as a natural part of their work. "After a long time" (Matthew 25:19) the master comes to demand an accounting from his servants. Come out and meet him!’, 7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. And yet, point 3 below might practically show us a link, though not the link you make. 203-206, 208). Egyptians) who suffer from the plagues of judgement. That answer began with a parallel with the time of Noah in Matt 24.36 (when Jesus teaches that we should want to be left behind), and the theme of his coming being unexpected; it continues with three parables (Matthew likes to organise things in threes) about the wicked servant, the wise and foolish girls, and the talents/bags of gold. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. Matthew could have made this much clearer. To me it is of significance how uncomfortable some of us seem to find this reading.
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