Re: Re. Separating Sheep from Goats!

Carl W. Conrad (
Sat, 25 Jan 1997 17:28:33 -0600

At 2:47 PM -0600 1/25/97, Eric Weiss wrote:
>I sought an allusion to the Old Testament for this passage, and Matthew
>25:31ff, despite the problems this interpretation might raise, seems to
>be very closely related to Joel 3:1-3 - the gathering of the nations for
>judgment for how they have treated God's people. When Jesus calls the
>persecuted here his "brothers," he seems to be referring either to the
>Jewish people's treatment by the gentiles/nations, or his community of
>believers' treatment by the unbelievers (Jewish and Gentile?) - I don't
>see Jesus identifying himself here with all the poor and oppressed of
>the world. I know many rescue missions and jail ministries, etc., use
>Matthew 25:31ff as the basis for their ministry, but I think they are
>contextually in error to do so.

While this may indeed be the way Matthew intended this to be understood, I
think you ought to consider whether Matthew stands alone in the canon,
whether Gal 3:26-28 and the Lucan parable of the Good Samaritan have any
bearing on how you understand Mt 25. And are you prepared to take equally
seriously what Jesus says in Mt 5:17-20 about the permanence of the Mosaic
Law (in this world-age, at least)? I still think, moreover, that the
question is real and important whether this eschatological teaching about
Last Judgment represents the teaching of Jesus directly or through the
filtration of Matthew's redaction.

I'm not proposing any answers here; I'm only expressing a view that the
canon of the NT is larger than any one part of it and that there may well
be a number of factors involved in interpreting any one part.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR