And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren.—The words are true, in different degrees of intensity, in proportion as the relationship is consciously recognised, of every member of the family of man. Of all it is true that He, the Lord, who took their flesh and blood, “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). We have here, in its highest and divinest form, that utterance of sympathy which we admire even in one of like passions with ourselves. We find that He too “counts nothing human alien from Himself.”
My brethren - Either those who are Christians, whom he condescends to call brethren, or those who are afflicted, poor, and persecuted, who are his brethren and companions in suffering, and who suffer as he did on earth. See Hebrews 2:11; Matthew 12:50. How great is the condescension and kindness of the Judge of the world, thus to reward our actions, and to consider what we have done to the poor as done to him!
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat. This doth not imply any desert, much less any worthiness of equality between the work and the reward; but that evangelical works, the products of unfeigned faith and love, qualify us by the covenant of grace to receive it. The causes of the reward are either, the original cause, the most free and rich mercy of God, or the meritorious, the most perfect righteousness and sacrifice of Christ; and the good works here recited are infallible signs that the performers of them are the objects of the Divine favour in predestination, and are truly united to Christ. Besides, in the gospel, which is the law of grace, God has established a necessary connection between faith, that works by love, and the blessed reward; and accordingly evangelical works are the condition of our title, that qualifies us to obtain the kingdom of glory, freely promised for Christ’s sake to obedient believers. And in this respect the dispensing the reward may be said to be an act of justice, namely, in the faithful performance of the promise; as in the forgiving sins, which is an act of pure mercy, God is said to be faithful and just, 1Jo 1:9. Our Lord here reckons but one species of good works, instead of many, as is usual in Scripture, and he rather chooseth to instance in works of charity than of piety.
1. He knows the hardness of men’s hearts; and;
2. That the poor they should have always with them, especially such as would live godly, and so be more than others out of favour with the world.
3. He knew how acceptable these were to his Father, and had a mind the world should know it, Isaiah 58:7 Ezekiel 18:7 Micah 6:8 Matthew 9:13 1Jo 3:17. And hereby declares, that acts of charity to the souls makes us fit subjects for the Divine mercy in the day of judgment, 2 Timothy 1:18.
The answer, Matthew 25:37, Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, &c., only teacheth us this, That at the great day the best of men shall blush and be ashamed to hear God speak of any good works they have done, and be swallowed up in the admiration of God’s free and infinite grace, in rewarding any thing which they have done at so liberal a rate.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, &c. This only confirmeth what we had, Matthew 10:42, that Christ looketh upon acts of kindness done to the meanest godly persons, and will reward them, as if they had been done unto himself; so that though our charity must not be limited only there, yet it must be chiefly shown to those of the household of faith: other charity may be showed in obedience to the command of God, and have its reward, but none can so properly be said to be done to Christ, as that which is done to those who are his true members.
verily I say unto you; a way of speaking often used by him, when here on earth, when he, in the strongest manner, would asseverate anything as truth, and remove all doubt and hesitation about it,
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me: which is to be understood, not in so limited a sense, as to regard only the apostles, and the least of them, for these were not the only brethren of Christ; nor in so large a sense, as to include all in human nature; but the saints only, the children of God, and household of faith: for though acts of charity and humanity are to be done to all men, yet especially to these; and indeed, these only can be considered as the brethren of Christ, who are born of God, and do the will of Christ; for such he accounts his mother, brethren, and sisters; and who are not only of the same human nature, but in the same covenant with him, and the sons of God, not by nature, as he is the Son of God, but by adoption, and so are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: now he that does any of the above acts of kindness to these "brethren" of Christ, and because they stand in such a relation to him, even the "least" of them: though he is not an apostle, or a martyr, or a preacher of the Gospel, or has any considerable gifts and abilities for usefulness, but is a weak believer in spiritual things, as well as poor in temporal things; and though it is but to "one" of these opportunity and circumstances not allowing it to be done to more; yet as such is the humility and condescension of this great king, as to account such mean persons his brethren; such also is his grace and goodness, as to reckon every instance of kindness and respect shown to them, as done to himself in person; and will take notice of it, accept and reward it, as if it had been so done.And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 25:40 ἐφʼ ὅσον, n so far as = καθʼ ὅσον (Hebrews 7:20), used of time in Matthew 9:15.—ἑνὶ … ἐλαχίστων, the Judge’s brethren spoken of as a body apart, not subjects, but rather instruments, of judgment. This makes for the non-Christian position of the judged. The brethren are the Christian poor and needy and suffering, in the first place, but ultimately and inferentially any suffering people anywhere. Christian sufferers represent Christ, and human sufferers represent Christians.—τῶν ἐλαχίστων seems to be in apposition with ἀδελφῶν, suggesting the idea that the brethren of the Son of Man are the insignificant of mankind, those likely to be overlooked, despised, neglected (cf. Matthew 10:42, Matthew 18:5).40. ye have done it unto me] This unconscious personal service of Christ may be contrasted with the conscious but unreal knowledge of Christ assumed by false prophets; see Luke 13:26.
Christ identifies Himself with His Church, as in His words to Saul, “Why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4).Matthew 25:40. Ἐφʼ ὅσον, inasmuch as, in as far as) An intensifying particle. Without doubt, even individual acts will be brought forward.—ἑνὶ, unto one) All things are accurately reckoned up; nothing is omitted. Even a solitary occasion is frequently of great importance in either direction; see Matthew 25:45.—τούτων, of these) used demonstratively.—τῶν ἀδελφῶν Μου, My brethren) It is better to do good to the good than to the wicked; yet these are not excluded from the operation of Christian love (see Matthew 5:44), provided that a due precedence be preserved in the character of the men and works. Men, the more that they are honoured, treat so much the more proudly those with whom they are connected (suos): not so Jesus: at the commencement of His ministry He frequently called His followers disciples; then, when speaking of His cross (John 13:33), He once called them little sons, and (John 15:15) friends; after His resurrection (John 21:5), παιδία, children, and brethren (cf. ch. Matthew 28:10; John 20:17; and cf. therewith Ib. Matthew 13:1); and this appellation He will repeat at the judgment-day. How great is the glory of the faithful! see Hebrews 2:10-12, etc. During the time of His humiliation (exinanitionis) the honour of Jesus was guarded, lest from such an appellation He might appear to be of merely common rank; but in His state of exaltation no such danger exists. Observe, however—(1) that Christ addresses no one as brother in the vocative; the case is different in ch. Matthew 12:48-49, and Hebrews 2:11-12; (2) that Scripture does not call Christ our brother; and (3) that it would not have been suitable in Peter, for example, to have said, Brother, instead of Lord, in John 21:15; John 21:20; John 21:7 (see Ibid. Matthew 13:13). Even James, called by others the Lord’s brother, calls himself the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, Jam 1:1. Jude also, in the first verse of his epistle, calls himself the servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James; see also Matthew 23:8; Luke 22:32. Amongst mortals, unequal fraternity is so maintained, that the superior friend honours the inferior by the title of brother; whilst the inferior addresses the superior by his title of honour. Thus also the heavenly court has its own etiquette, without any conflict between humility and confidence. Thus, also, the appellation of friend appears one-sided, so that the Lord calls His own, “friends,” but is not so called by them: see John 15:15. We must except the faith whose freedom of speech attains to that of the Canticles.—τῶν ἐλαχίστων, of the least) sc. outwardly, or even inwardly. A certain species is pointed out in the whole genus of saints: there are some who have received, others who have conferred favours.—Ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε, ye have done it unto Me) not merely to Me also, but TO ME absolutely; cf. οὐδὲ Ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε, neither have ye done it unto Me, Matthew 25:45.
 Filiolos. The word in the original is τέκνια, plural of τέκνιον, which is the diminutive of τέκνον—child or offspring—derived from τίκτω, to bring forth.—(I. B.)
 Puerulos—παιδία being the plural of παιδίον, which is the diminutive of παῖς.—(I. B.)Verse 40. - The King shall answer. The royal Judge condescends to explain the meaning of the seeming paradox. Inasmuch as; ἐφ ὅσον, rendered in the Vulgate quamdiu, rather, quatenus, in which sense the phrase is found also in Romans 11:13. Unto one of the least of these my brethren. That is, not the apostles, nor specially but all the afflicted who have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings and Any such he is not ashamed to call his brethren. Ye have done (ye did) it unto me. The Lord so perfectly identifies himself with the human family, whose nature he assumed, that he made their sorrows sufferings his own (Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 63:9; Matthew 8:17), he suffered with the sufferers; his perfect sympathy placed him in their position; in all their affliction he was afflicted From this identification it follows that he regards that which is done to others as done to himself. Thus he could expostulate the persecutor, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" And we have the amazing revelation that he receives with the same graciousness the pious workings of natural religion in the case of those who know no better.
The word in the Greek order is emphatic: One of these my brethren, the least. So Rev., even these least.
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