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Source: (consider it) Thread: Saved by Faith and Goats and Sheep
Kwesi
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Moo:
quote:
leo: Maybe Matthew 25 is talking about non-believers - oi ethnoi.

Moo: AIUI oi ethboi referred to gentiles rather than non-believers.

I find it difficult to make sense of the passage if "ethnoi" in this instance does not include the Jews...But perhaps it does.
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W Hyatt
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Speaking of finding it difficult ...

quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
I don't think this passage has much to do with love of neighbour, however much such sentiment is a central part of the gospel; nor do I think it's got much to do with the righteous actions of gentiles meriting salvation. Remember the context: the deadly crisis of Christ's ministry following his entry into Jerusalem and the rejection of his Messianic claims by the Jewish leaders which was accelerating the culmination of the murderous conspiracies against him. Here Jesus is indicating that the manner of his death was likely to be visited in similar manner on his disciples. The virtues of the gentiles are used as a foil to contrast with the failures of the righteous, those who should have recognised God's anointed. In other words the focus is less on who shall be saved than on the judgement against the Jewish goats. (I hasten to add this has nothing to do with anti-semitism).

I am one who sees the passage as being all about how essential it is for us to treat everyone around us with charity, so I find it difficult to see how the "least of these my brothers" can be Jesus referring specifically to his disciples, particularly when he includes the word "least." In Luke 8:21, Jesus explicitly identifies his brothers:

quote:
"My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."
Why would the disciples be "least?"

And I find it even more difficult to square the interpretation you present with the fact that there is no reference to persecution in any part of the passage, only deprivation that would have been normal experience for the poor. True, it does refer to being in prison, but I see nothing to indicate that it was imprisonment as a form of persecution. What do you see in the text that indicates to you it's about persecution?

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Kwesi
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W Hyatt
quote:
And I find it even more difficult to square the interpretation you present with the fact that there is no reference to persecution in any part of the passage.

The Sheep and Goats passage is the conclusion of a ‘private’ (v 3) discourse which begins at the start of Matthew 24, following Jesus’ prediction of the total destruction of the Temple. I took place on the Mount of Olives, and it seems not unreasonable to suggest the disciples are sat round him as he taught. There are some fierce predictions (v 4-35), in which Inter alia, Jesus warns “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me (v 9);” and only “ for the sake of the elect those [latter] days will be shortened (v 22)”. The timing of these events is not precisely known but they will take place within the course of the current generation, ‘then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory (v 30).’ It is very strong stuff, so the disciples were urged to be on permanent alert with their lamps trimmed…….The warnings conclude with the judgement of the nations: the separation of the sheep and goats in which the treatment of ‘the least of these my brethren,’ says Jesus to his assembled brothers, is the deciding factor.

W Hyatt
quote:
I am one who sees the passage as being all about how essential it is for us to treat everyone around us with charity, so I find it difficult to see how the "least of these my brothers" can be Jesus referring specifically to his disciples, particularly when he includes the word “least."

If ‘the brothers’ is a reference to suffering humanity in general then do we not have a serious problem, for while it is commended for its charitable sentiments it is not only a denial of salvation by grace, but establishes a mark of works that is unrealisable by just about everybody? Who shall save me, wretched man that I am? For teaching on good works and salvation I, personally, am more reliant on Christ’s teaching in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the traditionally-named Prodigal Son. The Sheep and the Goats is a passage which causes great difficulty for both conservatives and liberals who are not of a very strong Calvinist persuasion.
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Kwesi
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W Hyatt
quote:
I am one who sees the passage as being all about how essential it is for us to treat everyone around us with charity, so I find it difficult to see how the "least of these my brothers" can be Jesus referring specifically to his disciples, particularly when he includes the word "least." In Luke 8:21, Jesus explicitly identifies his brothers"My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."

I think there is a danger in using a definition and use of a word or term in one context and applying it to another, especially when the authors are different.

I would also suggest that Luke’s definition does not in any way help your argument re The Sheep and the Goats. In Luke ‘the brothers’ are those ‘who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’ In your interpretation of the Sheep and Goats passage ‘the brothers’ are the object of charity not the doers.

It furthermore occurs to me that if the reference to brothers in Sheep and Goats is a reference to humanity in general, then ‘the brothers’, whether the greatest or the least, as the recipients or otherwise of charitable acts by others are of no concern for Christ at the last judgement, because it is the doing rather than receiving that is critical. If the ‘least brother’ has failed in charity then he/she will be subject to the torments of hell. The more one looks into the passage the more problematical it becomes.

W Hyatt
quote:
Why would the disciples be "least?"
Because Jesus is referring the 'the least' of the disciples.
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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
It furthermore occurs to me that if the reference to brothers in Sheep and Goats is a reference to humanity in general, then ‘the brothers’, whether the greatest or the least, as the recipients or otherwise of charitable acts by others are of no concern for Christ at the last judgement, because it is the doing rather than receiving that is critical.

Yes. We will be judged based on what we have done. All of us. And we’ll almost certainly all fail, which is where Grace and forgiveness come in. But I fail to see what’s so controversial about the idea that it’s what we give rather than what we receive that is important to God.

quote:
If the ‘least brother’ has failed in charity then he/she will be subject to the torments of hell.
Yes. There’s no get out clause in Christianity that allows you to be a selfish, hateful bastard so long as you’re poor enough.

(Though I do also note that “from him to whom little has been given, little will be demanded”)

quote:
The more one looks into the passage the more problematical it becomes.
I find it much more problematical when people start interpreting the passage to mean we only have to be charitable towards other Christians.

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Martin60
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As you say Kwesi, this was private, to an audience of twelve men, with no conscious thought to posterity apart from through them. I'm sure that God the Holy Spirit, in His utterly ineffable way, ensured the remembrance and recording of these memorable words decades later, by, from men who were there, in the Church.

We nearly all feel that the Holy Spirit, that the nature of God in Christ, was layering Jesus' words to us, for all time, despite the glaring context of the twelve, of Jesus Himself, an inspired, driven, ignorant man such as you and I, uniquely transcending His culture with sufficient nature of perfect love, despite the glaring historical fulfilment to his listeners, within a couple of decades more of all that He figuratively said.

We still yearn for His words to be to us. Despite the objective fact that they were not, that they are not universal and that where we make them, where we generalize from the twelve disciples, they are not literal either.

But let us say that they were timeless and universal, the warnings that were given to the twelve were apostolically passed on to us. So? They are not literal.

Because none of us has failed the test surely? And all of us have.

[ 26. October 2017, 10:45: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I find it much more problematical when people start interpreting the passage to mean we only have to be charitable towards other Christians.

If Sheep and Goats was all there was, I think it's justifiable to argue that from that particular text. But it can't be used to limit charity, basically because there is a whole lot of other stuff which also has to be taken into account which is much less exclusive about "the way of love".

We don't have to make every passage in the NT non-exclusive about love. Romans 12 (whose written authorship precedes Matthew by most scholars' reckoning) is broad enough in scope and non-exclusive enough about the way of love to provide a very effective counter-balance to any arguments based on any other passage of scripture. Throw 1 Corinthians 13 into the argument (a passage which also pre-dates Matthew and is absolutely unlimited in its interpretation of the way of love) and there really is no contest. Agape love, charity, by its very nature, is non-exclusive.

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Kwesi
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Martin the Martian
quote:
Yes. We will be judged based on what we have done. All of us. And we’ll almost certainly all fail, which is where Grace and forgiveness come in. But I fail to see what’s so controversial about the idea that it’s what we give rather than what we receive that is important to God.

Will we not be judged on what Christ has done for us? I agree that God is concerned that we should show our love for him through repeated acts of faith and love. Our salvation, however, is not dependent on such actions, rather on our willingness to accept God's unconditional grace, IMO.

Martin the Martian

quote:
I find it much more problematical when people start interpreting the passage to mean we only have to be charitable towards other Christians.

I agree entirely, and I'm not arguing that here.

Barnabus62
quote:
If Sheep and Goats was all there was, I think it's justifiable to argue that from that particular text. But it can't be used to limit charity, basically because there is a whole lot of other stuff which also has to be taken into account which is much less exclusive about "the way of love".

We don't have to make every passage in the NT non-exclusive about love.......................

Could't agree more.

Martin60
quote:
We nearly all feel that the Holy Spirit, that the nature of God in Christ, was layering Jesus' words to us, for all time, despite the glaring context of the twelve, of Jesus Himself, an inspired, driven, ignorant man such as you and I, uniquely transcending His culture with sufficient nature of perfect love, despite the glaring historical fulfilment to his listeners, within a couple of decades more of all that He figuratively said.

We still yearn for His words to be to us. Despite the objective fact that they were not, that they are not universal and that where we make them, where we generalize from the twelve disciples, they are not literal either.

But let us say that they were timeless and universal, the warnings that were given to the twelve were apostolically passed on to us. So? They are not literal.

Because none of us has failed the test surely? And all of us have.

In your more lucid moments, Martin, you have a habit of getting to the point! You say it, here, for me.
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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Moo:
quote:
leo: Maybe Matthew 25 is talking about non-believers - oi ethnoi.

Moo: AIUI oi ethboi referred to gentiles rather than non-believers.

I find it difficult to make sense of the passage if "ethnoi" in this instance does not include the Jews...But perhaps it does.
In koine generally, ethnoi means 'nations'. Jewish and Christian writers frequently used it to mean 'Gentile'. After looking at the Matthew passage, I agree that in this context it does not mean 'Gentile'. However, AFAIK, it was never used to refer to unbelievers.

Moo

[ 26. October 2017, 11:40: Message edited by: Moo ]

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Martin the Martian
quote:
Yes. We will be judged based on what we have done. All of us. And we’ll almost certainly all fail, which is where Grace and forgiveness come in. But I fail to see what’s so controversial about the idea that it’s what we give rather than what we receive that is important to God.

Will we not be judged on what Christ has done for us? I agree that God is concerned that we should show our love for him through repeated acts of faith and love. Our salvation, however, is not dependent on such actions, rather on our willingness to accept God's unconditional grace, IMO.

We won't be judged based on what Christ has done for us, no. We will be judged based on what we have done for others. But we will be forgiven based on what Christ has done for us, and that is truly Good News.

Grace doesn't mean our sins are erased, it means they are forgiven. It doesn't mean we are judged to be innocent, it means our sentence is commuted.

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Kwesi
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Martin the Martian
quote:
We won't be judged based on what Christ has done for us, no. We will be judged based on what we have done for others. But we will be forgiven based on what Christ has done for us, and that is truly Good News.

Grace doesn't mean our sins are erased, it means they are forgiven. It doesn't mean we are judged to be innocent, it means our sentence is commuted.

Not sure I agree with all this, bit I recognise it as a position held by many Christians. I'm not certain if it's appropriate to carry the matter further in the context of this thread, though there may be the case for a thread on the nature of judgement. Perhaps you'd like to start one.
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W Hyatt
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
W Hyatt
quote:
I am one who sees the passage as being all about how essential it is for us to treat everyone around us with charity, so I find it difficult to see how the "least of these my brothers" can be Jesus referring specifically to his disciples, particularly when he includes the word “least."

If ‘the brothers’ is a reference to suffering humanity in general then do we not have a serious problem, for while it is commended for its charitable sentiments it is not only a denial of salvation by grace, but establishes a mark of works that is unrealisable by just about everybody? Who shall save me, wretched man that I am? For teaching on good works and salvation I, personally, am more reliant on Christ’s teaching in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the traditionally-named Prodigal Son. The Sheep and the Goats is a passage which causes great difficulty for both conservatives and liberals who are not of a very strong Calvinist persuasion.
Only if you assume that there are just two possibilities: salvation by faith alone or salvation by merit from good works. Instead, I believe that faith in Christ must be lived through self-compelled obedience before Christ can make it alive and capable of receiving his saving grace. Not because it has anything to do with merit, but because that is precisely how we exercise our spiritual freedom to accept being transformed into something we're not capable of becoming on our own.

We can't achieve perfect obedience and Christ doesn't require it, but that is not at all the same as saying that our salvation has nothing to do with how we live our life. Submitting our thoughts to him in our head does nothing to overcome our natural resistance to being changed. It's only when we also start to submit our words and deeds, our time and our effort that we start to really embrace our faith as something real. To me, Christian faith is believing that Christ's words and actions are true and worthwhile enough that we ought to live by them.

In any case, I still don't see how the text of the parable of the sheep and goats has anything to do with persecution.

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Martin60
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Uh huh.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Moo:
quote:
leo: Maybe Matthew 25 is talking about non-believers - oi ethnoi.

Moo: AIUI oi ethboi referred to gentiles rather than non-believers.

I find it difficult to make sense of the passage if "ethnoi" in this instance does not include the Jews...But perhaps it does.
In koine generally, ethnoi means 'nations'. Jewish and Christian writers frequently used it to mean 'Gentile'. After looking at the Matthew passage, I agree that in this context it does not mean 'Gentile'. However, AFAIK, it was never used to refer to unbelievers.

Moo

That's confusing. Then what DOES it mean? Non-Jewish Christians? What are "the nations" here?

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What are "the nations" here?

In this context, my guess is that 'the nations' mean all nations, i.e. everyone.

Moo

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What are "the nations" here?

In this context, my guess is that 'the nations' mean all nations, i.e. everyone.
That's comforting, inasmuch as that's what I've always believed it meant here. I never believed the bifurcation into "this judgment for those people and this other judgment for these people."

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Moo:
quote:
leo: Maybe Matthew 25 is talking about non-believers - oi ethnoi.

Moo: AIUI oi ethboi referred to gentiles rather than non-believers.

I find it difficult to make sense of the passage if "ethnoi" in this instance does not include the Jews...But perhaps it does.
The Jews used the term as referring to Gentiles - like the Yiddish 'goyim'.

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Higgs Bosun
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:

The other argument I have heard is that the judgment passage in Matthew refers to the judgment of the nations, not the judgment of individual persons. This strikes me as eisengesis rather than exegesis.

To throw something into the mix relating to the OP...

The KJV is probably closest to a word-to-word translation of the Greek:
quote:

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:

Modern translations change the pronoun 'them', giving something like "he shall separate the people one from another", which conforms to the common view that this is about judging individuals: this person is a sheep, but that person is a goat. But we need to remember that we live in a culture which has become extraordinarily individualised.

However, the Greek has the pronoun, which raises the question as to its antecedent. The straightforward reading is that 'them' refers to 'all nations', and therefore that one 'nation' is a sheep, but another 'nation' is a goat.

That nations should be judged collectively is a concept which is common in the Hebrew Scriptures. For instance, the judgements at the start of Amos, or those in Jeremiah 46ff. Perhaps the clearest connection is in Joel 3:

quote:

In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

It is generally agreed, I think, that the apocalyptic passages such as this in the synoptic gospels are a mixture of prophecy about the fate of Jerusalem, which came about in AD70, and another, more distant (and disputed) eschatological horizon. This judgement is then linked to OT judgements in that although a nation was the means for judgement on Israel, that nation would itself in the future be judged.

If Matthew was written particularly for Jews, this understanding of the 'parable' has some traction.

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mr cheesy
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Judging nations is a truly repulsive idea.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Moo:
quote:
leo: Maybe Matthew 25 is talking about non-believers - oi ethnoi.

Moo: AIUI oi ethboi referred to gentiles rather than non-believers.

I find it difficult to make sense of the passage if "ethnoi" in this instance does not include the Jews...But perhaps it does.
The Jews used the term as referring to Gentiles - like the Yiddish 'goyim'.
(Jesuit) Donnahue suggests it is gentiles – and how they treat Christians

So Fitzmyer p.23

Strong has non-Jews:

Used elsewhere in Matthew to mean ‘Gentiles’:
4:15, 10:5 , 12:18, 21, 20:19, 25, 43

See also Acts 11:1, Romans 9:30, Galatians 2:8,

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Judging nations is a truly repulsive idea.

Indeed. I am not to blame for what our government is doing to the vulnerable.

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leo
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Maybe the NT writers had the same argument that we do about faith versus works.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Maybe the NT writers had the same argument that we do about faith versus works.

I've heard Protestants say that Paul was a Protestant. This comes pretty close to that.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I've heard Protestants say that Paul was a Protestant.

Of course. Are his letters plain and easy to understand? How did they get that way except by reading German theology?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I've heard Protestants say that Paul was a Protestant.

Of course. Are his letters plain and easy to understand? How did they get that way except by reading German theology?
And drinking beer.

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Jammy Dodger

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Should this be over in kerygmania?

I only ask for selfish reasons - I'd love to know what NigelM has to say on this but he only seems to post in Keryg...

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Look at my eye twitching - Donkey from Shrek

Posts: 436 | From: UK | Registered: Oct 2013  |  IP: Logged



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