Re: Re. Separating Sheep from Goats!

Philip L. Graber (
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 12:10:46 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 23 Jan 1997, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> The criterion of judgment is NOT "faith in Christ" at all, but
> compassionate behavior toward hENI TOUTWN TWN ADELFWN MOU TWN ELACISTWN.
> Now, IF one supposes (as I find very difficult) that it is ONLY Gentiles
> who are being separated from one another on this basis, then I guess we
> have to say that the referent of TOUTWN TWN ADELFWN is members of the
> believing community. In other words: those outside the "church" will be
> judged on how they treat members of the "church." Does anyone believe that
> is what this passage means? I don't, I must confess.

An increasing number of scholars take this position as the social world of
Matthew continues to be explored. About 10 years ago or so, a
dissertation was written by Sherman Gray (I think) on this parable, and
concluded exactly this. Read the parable together with Mt 10. It would
seem that the "least of these my brothers" are indeed the community, and
everyone else is going to be judged on the basis of how they treat these
disciples who are sent by Jesus. I think it is quite probable that, given
the polemic of the text against Jesus'/the Matthean community's opponents
(of course this is only given if you are willing to grant it), this
parable is just another part of that polemic and fits in rather nicely
with the general tone of Mt 21ff.

Philip Graber Graduate Division of Religion
Ph.D. Candidate in New Testament 214 Callaway Center
Emory University Atlanta, GA 30322 USA