Judging Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:31-46

Jerry A. Collins



Ø       What judgment does this refer too?

Ø       Ø Who are the sheep and what is their reward?

Ø       Ø Who are the goats and what is their judgment?


As victory neared in Afghanistan, there were reports that members of the Taliban were attempting to escape detection by simply changing their headgear and blending in with the Northern Alliance troops or the citizenry. It made it very difficult to discover who they were so they could be brought to justice. Jesus tells us that when He returns as King, He will have no trouble determining who is to be judged and who is to be rewarded. When He comes in His glory vs 31 He will come first to judge mankind at the end of the Tribulation and then establishe His reign on this earth.


The imagery here conveys Jesus as a King—in His glory showing a clear distinction between His two comings. We know at His first coming, He came as a servant not a King. He came to give his life a ransom for many not to rule. He came in humility not royalty. The coming of the angels with Him signals judgment—angels carry out God’s judgment (Sodom, Revelation). This judgment may be instantaneous when He appears with no chance for further opportunity to believe. So part of being in charge is to prepare everything for His inevitable rule. That includes cleaning house as He begins that reign. But here He will come as King of all the earth and He will sit upon His throne. It is not an ordinary one for it is called His glorious throne. His coming will also be in His glory. This is the very thing Jesus had left behind when He came the first time. There was no glory in the birth. There was no glory in His ministry. There was no glory in His death. He will be recognized then as the One in complete authority. He will be duly understood by all as the One in charge.


There will be no hiding out at this judgment. Noone will be able to switch sides unnoticed. This judgment should be distinguished from (1) the judgment of believers in heaven. That will have already taken place and we, the church, will then return with Christ at this time to serve and rule with Him. (2) From the judgment of the wicked at the end of the Millennium called the great white throne judgment. There every unbeliever will be judged and cast into everlasting judgment. (3) From the judgment of the people of Israel who were either prepared or unprepared for His coming as Jesus taught in Matthew 24 and the parables of 25. Here the judgment is of all the nations vs 32. This is a judgment of all gentiles at the end of the tribulation who are still alive to determine who will and will not enter into the earthy rule and kingdom of Christ about to commence.

A. Their Description 32   Jesus describes them as sheep and goats. Apparently they are all gathered before Him and are intermingled, undistinguishable. Sheep and goats representing two differing classes of people.

B. Their Separation 33   However, Jesus knows who the true believers are and He separates them the sheep on His right hand, the place of favor and acceptance and the goats on the left, the place of disfavor and rejection (Gen 48).

C. The Invitation 34   The sheep are invited to inherit the kingdom and are ushered alive into it prepared for them eternally.

Unique Features of this Kingdom

1. Peace. It will be the end of war.

2. Justice. Perfect justice for everyone.

3. Instruction. Knowledge will increase by instruction from the King.

4. No Curse. The earth will produce abundantly. Animals no venom or fear.

5. Sickness removed. King will be healer.

6. Freedom from oppression.

7. Longevity. Youth will die at 100 yrs.

8. Reproduction. Population will soar.

9. Light Increase of sun and moon.

10. Unified worship of God and Christ.

From the foundation of the world reveals their inheritance was determined then. This has been God’s plan all along.

D. The Basis 35-36  They had provided food, drink, clothing, shelter and care for the King . These routine kindnesses were evidence that they belonged to Christ. These good deeds are common, every day needs. No monumental or spectacular ones but day to day expressions of concern. The evidence that they belonged in Christ’s kingdom was their works and that was based on feeding, clothing, visiting, helping believers during the tribulation. 

E. The Question 37-39 This statement of the King prompted these sheep to admit that they could not recall ever having ministered to the King.

F. The Answer 40   They had served what Jesus calls these brothers of mine even the least of them vs 40. Who are these? These sheep had done these acts during the tribulation period. This specific group refers to the Jews who in this period of time experience worldwide anti-semitism with many of them being killed. The forces of the world dictator doing everything possible to exterminate them. Under these circumstances to befriend a Jew or xian will put one’s life in jeopardy. Believers during the 7-yr trib will be hungry, thirsty, without shelter, clothing, sick, imprisoned, alienated. This generosity toward one another will set them apart as God’s people. Kindness displayed in these ways by caring for them will be an unmistakable sign of belief in Christ. Similar to those who protected the Jews from extermination at the hands of the Nazi’s.

G. The Judgment 41  While the sheep are invited to enter into the kingdom prepared for them in eternity, the goats are removed from the earth and go to everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels, denied the privilege of being citizens of His kingdom on earth and eternally judged.

H. The Basis 42-43   Their failure to extend mercy to the Jewish remnant suffering in the tribulation and believers provided the evidence of their sympathy with the world dictator and support of his cause.

I. The Question 44 The goats are also amazed at the pronouncement of Jesus and are prompted to ask when they did not minister in these ways?

J. The Answer 45-46   To have failed to serve these with desperate and life-threatening needs was to have failed to serve Christ and this failure was proof they never belonged to Him. With all wickedness now removed and judged at this second coming, the kingdom, which is the context of this judgment, will begin on earth with only saved individuals in physical bodies as subjects of this new kingdom and reign of Christ and a glorious reign it will be.



1 . Whether it’s about death or the rapture, be alert and sensible, waiting for the coming of Christ (vs 24:36, 42, 44, 50; 25:13; 1 Jn 2:28). Be sensible in that you don’t burn out or give up before He returns.  A. Discipline is the key to longevity—life-long or long-term involvement in some project. B. Rest is the key to work. C. Desire is the secret to long-term service.

2. God observes our works and they are not unnoticed by a loving God who is concerned for His people. Serve an audience of one. Our compassion for human need is evidence of the compassion of Christ in our lives.

3. Jesus especially notices compassionate works done for the least of His. James calls them widows and orphans. People who can never give back to you what you give to them. Genuine giving!