The sheep and the goats (Mt 25:32-25:33

“All the nations

Will be gathered

Before him.

He will separate people,

One from another.

Just as a shepherd

Separates

The sheep

From the goats,

He will place

The sheep

At his right hand.

He will place

The goats

At his left side.”

 

καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων,

καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ, τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that all the gentile nations would be gathered before him (καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  Then he would separate them from each other (καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων).  Just like a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats (ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων), he would place the sheep at his right hand (καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ).  Then he would place the goats at his left hand (τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων).  The divine judgment of Yahweh was a common biblical theme.  Here it is the Son of Man who judges everyone.  On the right side are the just righteous sheep, while on the left side are the wild or bad goats, a common generic theme.  Good is to the right, just as right-handed people are good.  Left-handed people are looked at with suspicion, as are left leaning policies.

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Let the birds and animals bless God (Dan 3:58-3:59)

“Bless the Lord!

All birds of the air!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

All wild animals!

All cattle!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!” 

The 3 men wanted all the birds of the air and all the wild and domestic animals to bless God, sing praises to him, and exalt him forever. There was no specific mention of any particular birds or animals, other than cattle.

The sign of the serpents (Wis 16:5-16:7)

“When the terrible rage of wild beasts

Came upon your people,

They were being destroyed

By the bites of writhing serpents.

Your wrath did not continue to the end.

They were troubled for a little while

As a warning.

They received a symbol of deliverance

To remind them of your law’s command.

The ones who turned toward it

Were saved,

Not by the thing that he saw,

But by you,

The Savior of all.”

This is a reference to Moses and the bronze serpent in Numbers, chapter 21. The Israelites, after Yahweh had sent poisoned snakes to them, repented. These wild terrible snakes were biting and killing the Israelites. However, Yahweh put a stop to it. This was then seen as a symbol of God’s deliverance for his people. They were reminded to keep the laws. Those who turned to the law’s commandments (ἐντολῆς νόμου σου·) would be saved by the Savior of all (πάντων σωτῆρα), God.