Matthew 25:33
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
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25:31-46 This is a description of the last judgment. It is as an explanation of the former parables. There is a judgment to come, in which every man shall be sentenced to a state of everlasting happiness, or misery. Christ shall come, not only in the glory of his Father, but in his own glory, as Mediator. The wicked and godly here dwell together, in the same cities, churches, families, and are not always to be known the one from the other; such are the weaknesses of saints, such the hypocrisies of sinners; and death takes both: but in that day they will be parted for ever. Jesus Christ is the great Shepherd; he will shortly distinguish between those that are his, and those that are not. All other distinctions will be done away; but the great one between saints and sinners, holy and unholy, will remain for ever. The happiness the saints shall possess is very great. It is a kingdom; the most valuable possession on earth; yet this is but a faint resemblance of the blessed state of the saints in heaven. It is a kingdom prepared. The Father provided it for them in the greatness of his wisdom and power; the Son purchased it for them; and the blessed Spirit, in preparing them for the kingdom, is preparing it for them. It is prepared for them: it is in all points adapted to the new nature of a sanctified soul. It is prepared from the foundation of the world. This happiness was for the saints, and they for it, from all eternity. They shall come and inherit it. What we inherit is not got by ourselves. It is God that makes heirs of heaven. We are not to suppose that acts of bounty will entitle to eternal happiness. Good works done for God's sake, through Jesus Christ, are here noticed as marking the character of believers made holy by the Spirit of Christ, and as the effects of grace bestowed on those who do them. The wicked in this world were often called to come to Christ for life and rest, but they turned from his calls; and justly are those bid to depart from Christ, that would not come to him. Condemned sinners will in vain offer excuses. The punishment of the wicked will be an everlasting punishment; their state cannot be altered. Thus life and death, good and evil, the blessing and the curse, are set before us, that we may choose our way, and as our way so shall our end be.Shall set the sheep ... - By "the sheep" are denoted, here, the righteous. The name is given to them because the sheep is an emblem of innocence and harmlessness. See John 10:7, John 10:14-16, John 10:27; Psalm 100:3; Psalm 74:1; Psalm 23:1-6.

On the right hand - The right hand is the place of honor, and denotes the situation of those who are honored, or those who are virtuous. See Ecclesiastes 10:2; Ephesians 1:20; Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:25, Acts 2:33.

The goats - The wicked. See Ezekiel 34:17.

The left - That is, the left hand. This was the place of dishonor, denoting condemnation. See Ecclesiastes 10:2.

33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand—the side of honor (1Ki 2:19; Ps 45:9; 110:1, &c.).

but the goats on the left—the side consequently of dishonor.

Ver. 31-33. Our Saviour having spoken much before of his spiritual kingdom, which he exerciseth in his church, cometh now more plainly to tell them what kind of a kingdom he should further set up and exercise in the end of the world; far different from that which the Jews dreamed of, and his own disciples seemed to have some expectations of.

When the Son of man, he who now appeareth to you in the form of a servant, and only as the Son of man, shall come in his glory, a glorious manifestation of himself; he now appeareth clothed with flesh, but he shall appear in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; he shall come with ten thousand of his saints, Judges 1:14, with his mighty angels. 2 Thessalonians 1:7. Then shall he sit (after the manner of great princes) upon the throne of his glory; he shall appear in great splendour: and before him shall be gathered all nations, that is, all persons that ever were or at that time shall be in the world; the quick and the dead, Acts 10:42 2 Timothy 4:1 1 Peter 4:5. He shall send forth his angels, and say to them, who are his reapers, Matthew 13:30, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn. He by his angels shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd, who feedeth both sheep and goats together, at night separateth them one from another. So the saints of God, who are like sheep for whiteness, gentleness, innocency, and feed in this world together with stinking and lascivious goats, the wicked of the world, compared to goats for the filthy qualities by which they resemble them; yet at the day of judgment Christ shall separate them.

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand. The right hand is the place of honour and dignity, and the place for favourites: then Christ shall exalt his saints to great honour and dignity, and show them his favour.

But the goats on the left; wicked men shall rise to shame and contempt. The right hand men of the world shall be at the left hand of Christ. It shall be then seen, that because they are people of no understanding, he that formed them will show them no favour.

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand,.... That is, the elect of God, and true believers, such as have the grace of God truly implanted in them; the sheep the Father gave unto Christ, and made his care and charge, whom he, as the good shepherd, laid down his life for; and who know his voice in effectual calling, and follow him in the way of his ordinances and appointments; and are comparable to sheep for their meekness and innocence, their simplicity and usefulness, and their harmless and inoffensive lives, and conversations: these Christ will set on his right hand, as a token of his affection for them, and a mark of respect and honour shown them, and as a pledge of that exaltation and glory he will be about to raise them to,

But the goats on the left; that is, the foolish virgins, wicked, and slothful servants, graceless professors, who, because of the impurity of their hearts, the filthiness of their lives, and their offensiveness to Christ, are compared to goats: these he will place at his left hand, in token of his disaffection for them, as a brand of disgrace upon them, and as an intimation of that dishonour, and miserable condition they will quickly be in. These different situations plainly pre-signify how things will go with each, that one will be acquitted, and made happy, the other will be condemned, and become miserable. Agreeable to which the Jews say (c), that there is a right hand and a left hand with the Lord: they that are on the right hand, are such as have done well, and are "for absolution"; and they that are on the left hand are criminals, and are "for condemnation". Some think the allusion is to the two Scribes in the sanhedrim, who stood before the judges, one on the right hand, and the other on the left, and wrote the sentences; the one of those that were acquitted, and the other of those that were condemned (d),

(c) Jarchi in Gen. i. 26. Kimchi in 1 Kings 22.19. Lex. Cabalist. p. 132. Zohar in Numb. fol. 93. 4. (d) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 3. Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 9. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora pr. affirm. 97.

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Matthew 25:33. καὶ στήσει, etc., the bare placing of the parties already judges, the good on the right, the evil on the left; sheep, emblems of the former; goats, of the latter. Why? No profit from goats, much from sheep; from their wool, milk, lambs, says Chrys., Hom. lxxix. Lust and evil odour secure for the goat its unenviable emblematic significance, say others: “id animal et libidinosum et olidum” (Grotius). Lange suggests stubbornness as the sinister quality. More important is the point made by Weiss that the very fact that a separation is necessary implies that all were one flock, i.e., that the judged in the view of Jesus are all professing Christians, disciples true or false.

Matthew 25:33. Ἐρίφια, kidlings) A diminutive. Although giants, they will be kidlings. They will not then be אלים, mighty, and עתורים, he-goats.[1099]

[1099] This play upon words, on such a solemn subject, appears rather extra-ordinary in a man of Bengel’s piety. The Hebrew עַתּוּד is used of the leader of a flock, and, metaphorically, of the leader of a people.—(I. B.)

Perhaps Bengel’s language will not appear so inappropriate when compared with that of Scripture, to which he evidently alludes. Isaiah 14:11, “Hell from beneath stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones [Hebr. leaders; lit. great goats] of the earth.” Comp. Ezekiel 34:17; Zechariah 10:3.—ED.

Verse 33. - The sheep on his right hand. The sheep are the type of the docile, the profitable, the innocent, the good (see Romans 2:7, 10). The right hand is the place of favour and honour (Genesis 48:17; Luke 1:11; Mark 16:5). The goats (ἐρίφια, kids) on the left. The diminutive is here used for the goats, to convey an impression of their worthlessness. Compare κυνάρια, "whelps," in the conversation of our Lord with the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew 15:26, 27). They are the type of the unruly, the proud (Isaiah 14:9, Hebrew), the unprofitable, the evil (see Romans 2:8, 9). This judicial distinction between the right and left hands is found in classical writers. Thus Plato, 'De Republica,' 10:13, tells of what a certain man, who revived after a cataleptic attack, saw when his soul left his body. he came to a mysterious place, where were two chasms in the earth, and two openings in the heavens opposite to them, and the judges of the dead sat between these. And when they gave judgment, they commanded the just to go on the right hand, and upwards through the heavens; but the unjust they sent to the left, and downwards; and both the just and unjust had upon them the marks of what they had done in the body. So Virgil makes the Elysian Fields to lie on the right of the palace of Dis, and the penal Tartarus on the left ('AEn.,' 6:540, etc.). Matthew 25:33Goats (ἐρίφια)

Diminutive. Lit., kidlings. The sheep and goats are represented as having previously pastured together. Compare the parables of the Tares and the Net.

On the right (ἐκ δεξιῶν)

Lit., form the right side or parts. The picture to the Greek reader is that of a row, beginning at the judge's right hand.

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