Who Are the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25:31-46? -- By: Eugene W. Pond

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 159:635 (Jul 2002)
Article: Who Are the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25:31-46?
Author: Eugene W. Pond


Who Are the Sheep and Goats
in Matthew 25:31-46?

Eugene W. Pond

* This is article two 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.

As discussed in the first article in this series, the judgment of the sheep and goats, recorded in Matthew 25:31–46, will occur on the earth immediately after Christ returns to reign.1 This second article discusses the identity of those who will be judged, and the third will discuss the criterion of the judgment.

The Separation By The Shepherd

The Son of Man will judge πάντα τά ἔθνη, usually translated “all the nations,” which He will separate into two groups, the sheep and the goats. The sheep will inherit God’s kingdom, and the goats will be dismissed to eternal torment. In separating sheep from goats and placing the sheep in the place of favor and the goats in the place of cursing (Matt. 25:32b–33), the Son of Man will be like a shepherd, who proceeds with great care.2

The Discerning Separation

The verb ἀφορίζω, a compound of ἀπό and ὁρίζω, suggests careful consideration. Other than its two occurrences in Matthew 25:32, ἀφορίζω occurs eight times in the New Testament and means “to set

apart” for a particular use (Acts 13:2; Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:15) or “to separate” (Matt. 13:49; Luke 6:22; Acts 19:9; 2 Cor. 6:17; Gal. 2:12). God set Paul apart for His use even before he was born (Gal. 1:15), the Antioch church set apart Barnabas and Paul for God’s mission work (Acts 13:2...

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