Who Are “the Least” of Jesus’ Brothers in Matthew 25:40? -- By: Eugene W. Pond

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 159:636 (Oct 2002)
Article: Who Are “the Least” of Jesus’ Brothers in Matthew 25:40?
Author: Eugene W. Pond


Who Are “the Least”
of Jesus’ Brothers
in Matthew 25:40?*

Eugene W. Pond

* This is article three in a three-part series, “A Study of the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25.”

Eugene W. Pond is Director of Institutional Research and Planning and Assistant Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

Two earlier articles on the judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31–46 discussed the timing and the subjects of this judgment. As discussed in the first article, the judgment of the sheep and goats will occur when Jesus Christ returns to earth to begin His millennial reign.1 The second article argued that the ones to be judged are all the Gentiles who will be on the earth at the time of the Lord’s return.2 The present article examines the nature and basis of the judgment enacted by the Son of Man. The Gentiles will be judged on how they relate to “these brothers of Mine, even the least of them” (v. 40; cf. “the least of these,” v. 45). The identity of these brothers is a classic crux interpretum of the passage.3

Bible scholars have proposed three views on the identity of the participants in this premillennial judgment: (a) a judgment of living Gentiles based on their treatment of Jews, (b) a judgment of all living persons based on their treatment of Jesus’ followers, and (c) a judgment of Gentiles based on their treatment of missionary disciples. A study of verses 40 and 45 helps clarify possible meanings of the identity of “the least” of Jesus’ brothers and their relationship to the judgment of the sheep and goats.

Premillennial Interpretations of
“The Least” of Jesus’ Brothers

The sheep and goats (the parabolic names applied to πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, Matt. 25:32) will be judged by how they treat “these brothers of Mine, even the least of them” (τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων, v. 40), referred to as “the least” elsewhere in this article.

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