As my wife and I leave our church parking lot, turn right and stop at a traffic light; a panhandler comes by us with a sign wanting money for food. Our Bible lesson this day had been about Jesus’ teachings on the treatment of those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick or imprisoned. (Matthew 25:35-46) He said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (vs.40)
Some class members had expressed guilt for not giving to strangers who ask for money. Most who preach a Social Gospel (soup, soap and suave) use the words of Jesus in verse 40.
We must not take the text from the context. Matthew 25:31-46 is speaking about the Judgment of the Gentile Nations. The word nations in verse 32 means “Gentiles” and it is in the neuter gender in the Greek. The word “them” is in the masculine. This means that Christ will judge individuals; He will not judge groups (England, Japan, Canada, etc.) but individuals within these groups.
Do not confuse this judgment with The Great White Throne Judgment. (Rev. 20:11-15) The judgment of Matthew 25 takes place at the end of the tribulation period following the Battle of Armageddon, before the kingdom is established on earth. The saved are told to, “inherit the kingdom.” (vs. 34) This is called The Millennial Reign of Christ. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) The Great White Throne Judgment follows this 1,000 year reign with Christ here on earth.
Notice the three groups mentioned: sheep, goats and “My brethren.” Who are those that Jesus called “My brethren”? I believe they are the 144,000 Jews whose eyes are opened and accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah during the tribulation period. They refuse to accept the “mark of the beast” (Rev. 13:16-17). They can not buy or sell. How can they survive? They are helped by the Gentiles who are saved upon hearing these Jews preach the Gospel. These converted Gentiles are the “sheep” in Matthew 25. They lovingly provided shelter, food, drink, clothing and care for persecuted converted Jews. The “goats” are the Gentiles who take the “mark of the beast” and care nothing about helping His brethren.
It is good when Christians today help those in need. The Southern Baptist Convention is reported to be number three in organizations that provide disaster relief. The Gospel is reaching many via physical help and support. The aid should be a means to and end (winning them to Christ), and not an end in itself. It makes little difference if a man goes to hell with a full or empty stomach.
When a Christian gives money to someone who asks for help to buy food, fine. Is the Christian commanded to feed the non-Christian in Matthew 25? Absolutely not. Let’s be honest with the Word of God.
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