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Old 06-14-2009, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Germany
1,815 posts, read 1,966,423 times
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Matthew 25:31-46

This section is often used to refute universalism, either in favor of everlasting torment or annihilationism, as it seems this section contrasts the everlasting fate of believers and unbelievers. Let's have a close look on this section:

But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to those on his right hand, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world's foundation: for I hungered, and ye gave me to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was ill, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and nourished thee; or thirsting, and gave thee to drink? and when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? and when saw we thee ill, or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering shall say to them, Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me. Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal (aiõnios) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me. Then shall they also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not ministered to thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me. And these shall go away into eternal (aiõnios) punishment, and the righteous into life eternal (aiõnios).

It's interesting to have a look upon the medieval Catholic poem DIES IRAE first, it's about the last judgment and the end of the world:

INTER OVES LOCUM PRÆSTA,
ET AB HÆDIS ME SEQUESTRA,
STATUENS IN PARTE DEXTRA.

With thy favored sheep O place me;
nor among the goats abase me;
but to thy right hand upraise me.

It's obvious that this poem refers to Matthew 25 here, it seems Catholic believers were afraid to be among the "goats" mentioned in this section, but is it scriptural to assume any believer will have to appear on this judgment?

John 5:24 says: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.

The bible says, those who believe don't come into judgment, so it's very unlikely that any believer is either among the goats or among the sheep mentioned in this section.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 says about the believers:

For this we say to you in the word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate those who have fallen asleep; for the Lord himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord.

It's very obvious now in my opinion, that no believer will be among the sheep or goats. The dead believers rise from the dead and meet Jesus together with the living believers when Jesus comes, nobody would have the idea that anyone of them will belong to the goats and send into "eternal fire".

My conclusion:

Both the sheep and goats must be unbelievers; this section doesn't show the contrast between believers and unbelievers but between righteous and unrighteous gentiles living at Jesus' coming. It's also no judgment about the dead, the bible says the judgment upon the dead occurs 1000 years after Jesus' coming (Rev. 20:5), this means 1000 years later than the judgment mentioned in this section.

The bible is speaking about nations (Gr. ethnos) that are gathered here, it isn't even said, that it is a judgment or punishment upon individuals.

If you insist that aiõnios means eternal, you must admit that some unbelievers will gain eternal life for doing good works (a view heavily opposed my some fundamentalists), it's obvious in my view that neither the sheep nor the goats can be believers in the context.

Even the opponents of universalism admit that aiõnios can mean a finite period of time:

Quote:
"To get around the problem of the English Bibles translating Greek words into "eternal," "forever," and forevermore" when describing fire (Matt. 18:8) or torment (Rev. 20:10), the universalists go to the Greek. The Greek word that is translated into eternal is "aiõnios." It comes from the Greek root "aiõn" meaning "age." This fact combined with the various uses of Greek words derived from the root "aiõn," are what the universalists use to attempt to show that "aiõnios" does not always mean "eternal" but can refer to a finite period of time. The truth is, they are right. […] But the reason it is translated that way is because of context, and that is extremely important."
A look at the word "aionion" | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry

Many say if the eonian punishment is not infinite, then the eonian life of the believer is not infinite as well; the bible says about the future life of the believers, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must needs put on incorruptibility (Gr. aphtharsia), and this mortal put on immortality (Gr. athanasia).

This fits perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 mentioned above.

The "eternal life" of the righteous gentiles (sheep) may under circumstances in fact be not everlasting as well as the "eternal punishment" of the unrighteous gentiles (goats).

This section in Matthew 25 is probably speaking about the life on this earth in the age to come, Isaiah when probably speaking of the messianic age, says in Isaiah 65:20-22:

There shall be no more thenceforth an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not completed his days; for the youth shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof: they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

It really seems possible for me, that people in the messianic age still die, the eonian life of the sheep might indeed possibly be not everlasting (as well as the punishment of the goats) - maybe it is as long as the life of a tree or only a hundred years, or maybe 500 years as in 1 Enoch 10:10: … for they hope to live an eternal (aiõnios) life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years... Though the life of the believers is everlasting in any case as the bible says they rise incorruptible and immortal.

A lost point to consider, the word translated punishment (kolasis), torment in some German bibles, might mean chastening, remedial punishment, correction, at least this was the meaning in the classics as far as I know (Plato, Aristotle), as aiõnios might be an equivocal word, a similar equivocal English word might be perpetual, it’s German meanings are given as: andauernd, fortwaehrend (lasting, continuing), immerwaehrend (everlasting), ewig (eternal).

As perpetual seems to can, but not necessarily mean everlasting, we could translate aiõnios with perpetual in all occurrences and no one could claim this to be a biased translation.

Reason says us that the perpetual God is eternal while the perpetual times in the same sentence have both beginning (Titus 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:9) and end (Romans 16:25.26). If it depends on the context how a word is translated, I will show why this would rather defend universalism than the doctrine of everlasting torment: And these shall go away into perpetual chastening, but the righteous into perpetual life. While we can suppose, though it is not selfevident a perpetual life as a gift from God to be everlasting, why should we suppose a perpetual chastening of a just and merciful God to be never-ending torment or even utter destruction. If perpetual times are not lasting as long God lasts, why should then perpetual chastening last as long as perpetual life?

What do you think about this interpretation?

Last edited by svenM; 06-14-2009 at 09:06 AM..
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Old 06-14-2009, 09:05 AM
 
Location: NC
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Thank you for sharing, svenM. I think that Birdy has some information on the sheep and goats with a different understanding, but I agree that the punishment for the goats in not everlasting hell. God bless.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:57 PM
 
13,969 posts, read 12,931,017 times
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I think this is a fascinating post, sven. I may not agree with the theology, but you've introduced some novel ideas here. It did not deserve to disappear that quickly so I'll raise the thread again. The idea that the goats AND the sheep are unbelievers is one I've not heard. It also addresses those individuals who lived a life similar in quality to what believers should be living (and more often than not don't) but never make a commitment to Jesus (such as Mother Teresa, possibly?) who Jimmy Swaggert (one who I think will get real familiar with goats and hell-fire some day) once said would go to hell, despite all her good work, if she had not accepted Jesus. But your premise that all believers are not judged and therefore not even a part of this tribunal is well...fascinating.
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Old 06-15-2009, 09:45 PM
 
7,374 posts, read 7,769,562 times
Reputation: 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by svenM View Post
Matthew 25:31-46

This section is often used to refute universalism, either in favor of everlasting torment or annihilationism, as it seems this section contrasts the everlasting fate of believers and unbelievers. Let's have a close look on this section:

But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to those on his right hand, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world's foundation: for I hungered, and ye gave me to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was ill, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and nourished thee; or thirsting, and gave thee to drink? and when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? and when saw we thee ill, or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering shall say to them, Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me. Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal (aiõnios) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me. Then shall they also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not ministered to thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me. And these shall go away into eternal (aiõnios) punishment, and the righteous into life eternal (aiõnios).

It's interesting to have a look upon the medieval Catholic poem DIES IRAE first, it's about the last judgment and the end of the world:

INTER OVES LOCUM PRÆSTA,
ET AB HÆDIS ME SEQUESTRA,
STATUENS IN PARTE DEXTRA.

With thy favored sheep O place me;
nor among the goats abase me;
but to thy right hand upraise me.

It's obvious that this poem refers to Matthew 25 here, it seems Catholic believers were afraid to be among the "goats" mentioned in this section, but is it scriptural to assume any believer will have to appear on this judgment?

John 5:24 says: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.

The bible says, those who believe don't come into judgment, so it's very unlikely that any believer is either among the goats or among the sheep mentioned in this section.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 says about the believers:

For this we say to you in the word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate those who have fallen asleep; for the Lord himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord.

It's very obvious now in my opinion, that no believer will be among the sheep or goats. The dead believers rise from the dead and meet Jesus together with the living believers when Jesus comes, nobody would have the idea that anyone of them will belong to the goats and send into "eternal fire".

My conclusion:

Both the sheep and goats must be unbelievers; this section doesn't show the contrast between believers and unbelievers but between righteous and unrighteous gentiles living at Jesus' coming. It's also no judgment about the dead, the bible says the judgment upon the dead occurs 1000 years after Jesus' coming (Rev. 20:5), this means 1000 years later than the judgment mentioned in this section.

The bible is speaking about nations (Gr. ethnos) that are gathered here, it isn't even said, that it is a judgment or punishment upon individuals.

If you insist that aiõnios means eternal, you must admit that some unbelievers will gain eternal life for doing good works (a view heavily opposed my some fundamentalists), it's obvious in my view that neither the sheep nor the goats can be believers in the context.

Even the opponents of universalism admit that aiõnios can mean a finite period of time:



A look at the word "aionion" | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry

Many say if the eonian punishment is not infinite, then the eonian life of the believer is not infinite as well; the bible says about the future life of the believers, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must needs put on incorruptibility (Gr. aphtharsia), and this mortal put on immortality (Gr. athanasia).

This fits perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 mentioned above.

The "eternal life" of the righteous gentiles (sheep) may under circumstances in fact be not everlasting as well as the "eternal punishment" of the unrighteous gentiles (goats).

This section in Matthew 25 is probably speaking about the life on this earth in the age to come, Isaiah when probably speaking of the messianic age, says in Isaiah 65:20-22:

There shall be no more thenceforth an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not completed his days; for the youth shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof: they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

It really seems possible for me, that people in the messianic age still die, the eonian life of the sheep might indeed possibly be not everlasting (as well as the punishment of the goats) - maybe it is as long as the life of a tree or only a hundred years, or maybe 500 years as in 1 Enoch 10:10: … for they hope to live an eternal (aiõnios) life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years... Though the life of the believers is everlasting in any case as the bible says they rise incorruptible and immortal.

A lost point to consider, the word translated punishment (kolasis), torment in some German bibles, might mean chastening, remedial punishment, correction, at least this was the meaning in the classics as far as I know (Plato, Aristotle), as aiõnios might be an equivocal word, a similar equivocal English word might be perpetual, it’s German meanings are given as: andauernd, fortwaehrend (lasting, continuing), immerwaehrend (everlasting), ewig (eternal).

As perpetual seems to can, but not necessarily mean everlasting, we could translate aiõnios with perpetual in all occurrences and no one could claim this to be a biased translation.

Reason says us that the perpetual God is eternal while the perpetual times in the same sentence have both beginning (Titus 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:9) and end (Romans 16:25.26). If it depends on the context how a word is translated, I will show why this would rather defend universalism than the doctrine of everlasting torment: And these shall go away into perpetual chastening, but the righteous into perpetual life. While we can suppose, though it is not selfevident a perpetual life as a gift from God to be everlasting, why should we suppose a perpetual chastening of a just and merciful God to be never-ending torment or even utter destruction. If perpetual times are not lasting as long God lasts, why should then perpetual chastening last as long as perpetual life?

What do you think about this interpretation?

I have believed this to be the truth for some time now. At this point in prophecy the believers are already with Christ, "10s of thousands of his saints" that come out of heaven. Obviously as the bride of Christ they have already consummated the wedding and appear in white ... So the nations that are judged are those left alive on the earth of all the nations after the great tribulation ... I'm glad you brought this up SvenM ... Thank you.
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:30 AM
 
Location: Germany
1,815 posts, read 1,966,423 times
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Quote:
The idea that the goats AND the sheep are unbelievers is one I've not heard.
when you read it carefully, it's all about works, there is not the slightest word about the wrong belief here, you might also get the impression, those declared righteous here, have even never heard of Jesus.

And it is not the judgment about the dead, according to the context.
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:02 AM
 
8,989 posts, read 13,190,690 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShanaBrown View Post
Thank you for sharing, svenM. I think that Birdy has some information on the sheep and goats with a different understanding, but I agree that the punishment for the goats in not everlasting hell. God bless.
and the reward for believers is not everlasting with God either, right?
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:08 AM
 
8,989 posts, read 13,190,690 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svenM View Post
Matthew 25:31-46

John 5:24 says: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.

The bible says, those who believe don't come into judgment, so it's very unlikely that any believer is either among the goats or among the sheep mentioned in this section.


1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 says about the believers:

For this we say to you in the word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate those who have fallen asleep; for the Lord himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord.

It's very obvious now in my opinion, that no believer will be among the sheep or goats. The dead believers rise from the dead and meet Jesus together with the living believers when Jesus comes, nobody would have the idea that anyone of them will belong to the goats and send into "eternal fire".

Who said, believers are not judged?
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:14 AM
 
Location: Germany
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Reputation: 1006
the believers gain immortality, aiónios life needn't be understood as everlasting life or an equivalent of immortality.

Quote:
It really seems possible for me, that people in the messianic age still die, the eonian life of the sheep might indeed possibly be not everlasting (as well as the punishment of the goats) - maybe it is as long as the life of a tree or only a hundred years, or maybe 500 years as in 1 Enoch 10:10: … for they hope to live an eternal (aiõnios) life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years... Though the life of the believers is everlasting in any case as the bible says they rise incorruptible and immortal.
aiónios life is 500 years only in the book of Enoch, sure this book has no authority, but an interesting example of the use of these words.

Quote:
Who said, believers are not judged?


it's written in John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Oak Point, TX
7,615 posts, read 12,552,285 times
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The dividing asunder of soul and spirit...
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:48 AM
 
8,989 posts, read 13,190,690 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svenM View Post


it's written in John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life.
Sven (love your name by the way- when I played soccer- I made friends during a German exchanged program) We believe that the sheep and the goats judgment takes place after the tribulation, right before the millenium

The believers works will be judged at the “judgment seat [bema] of Christ”

(2 Corinthians 5:10)

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
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