Matthew 25 – Sheep and Goats

Sheep and Goats

The sheep and goats parable can be a confusing one, if not placed at the time that Jesus had in mind. We can call one group of people sheep and the other goats all day long, but if you start at Jesus, and wind it all the way up to today, those groups have changed many fold over the years.

We need to pin down “when” Jesus is talking about, to determine “who” he is talking about when he gave us the parable of the sheep and the goats. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the bottom of this using the Word of God as our map, and the Holy Ghost as our guide.

Alright, well let’s dig into Matthew 25 and reveal the supernatural truth in Christ, given by Christ Jesus himself, concerning the sheep and goats. Jesus brings it up starting in verse 31:

The Sheep and the Goats Parable

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The Survivors of God’s Wrath

Difference Between Sheep and Goats

Wrath of GodRight at the onset, let’s recognize that Jesus is talking about the day he comes back in power as King of Kings, sits on his throne (as he is on the Father’s throne at the moment), escorted by ALL the angels of Heaven after God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth. So that gives us the “when” this is taking place. In my opinion, these verses will be taking place right after the end of Revelation 19 and and just before 20. I could be wrong, but the similarities are there. Maybe a way to explain what I’m thinking would be the follow up with those remaining on the earth that did not attend the battle between Christ and the Beast.

The way we are often led to believe, is that the Lord will gather the nations to himself and separate the sheep (righteous) from the goats (unrighteous). That’s a fair enough statement, isn’t it? At least for me, that has been a popular outlook on the subject. However, after giving it some thought, that’s not exactly what the Lord is telling us at all. Keep that in the back of your mind as we continue.

There’s no mention of the dead or anything like that. So to me, I’d say he’s judging all that’s left from the wrath of God that comes down upon the earth. I’m sure there will be plenty of naked, hungered, thirsty, homeless, sick, and imprisoned. These are the people that have made it all the way through, both the wicked and the righteous.

In that context, let’s look at the Christians that will be around in those days, after the rapture (whenever you decide it will come, doesn’t matter here), there will be Christians that will be around afterward, probably drawn in because facing the reality of the rapture, the preaching and signs of the two witnesses (Rev. 11), the spreading of the Word by the 144,000 Jewish virgin men (Rev. 7, Rev. 14), and don’t forget about the angel that is declaring the everlasting gospel throughout all the earth (Rev. 14). People will still be turning to Christ that have not taken the mark of the beast. Sadly, I’d recon that many will receive the mark, but the Bible is clear what will happen to all who take it.

A Rough Time for Believers

Alright, now think of the condition of the Christians or anyone otherwise that refuses to take the mark in that day. Gods WrathWhat clothes will you buy for yourself and family without money? How about food? You won’t be able to rent or buy any place or maintain a household without being able to buy or sell. Not being able to eat, how’s your health going to be? And if you continue on living and escape execution, I’m sure inevitably you’d wind up in prison.

Even in a beast system that Revelation speaks about, I’d be willing to bet that there will be people that may attain certain things and are willing to help people in the manner that Jesus specified, without having the mark of the beast. I don’t know. Even if it’s one or two people, that qualifies for a couple of sheep, I’d like to think there will be many more. I am certain that the goat side will be huge.

Another reason I believe this will be taking place after the rapture is that what Jesus uses as criteria says nothing to the gift of his sacrifice, the washing away of our sins, all that we hold dear today being saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. In the text you get the sense that people were pleasing him without even having knowledge of it. But, there’s something else to think about…

There will be no need to be saved by grace through faith because (I think) there will be no need for faith at all. Think about it, he’ll be here as he is for all to see. From that time and for another thousand years plus. As Paul says, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Jesus will be seen, and those who Jesus considers sheep will be looking upon him in the flesh. Keep in mind that Jesus will be coming back not as the lamb that was slain, but the King of Kings!

So, Who are the Sheep and the Goats?

Who are the sheep and goats? When we cancel out those who the Lord isn’t talking about, that answer becomes more clear. as I stated at the beginning of this page, the “when” determines the “who.”

The pre-rapture believers are already taken care of. The believers of the day will be rewarded as believers of the day. So who’s left?

The goats are pretty easy to determine, but we need to remember that all of the extremely anti-God people are dealt with and gone at this point. Everyone with the mark will be condemned, and will know it (there won’t be any surprises for them by then).

There will be others out there who were active in persecuting the children of the Lord that didn’t get the mark at all, nor bothered to lift a finger to give them any aid or ease of suffering. These are the people who are going to become as the goats in this parable.

The sheep however has been up for debate, and I pray that this page settles it for anyone who still isn’t clear who they are. The sheep are not believers in any way, but are those who lent aid to those under the persecutions of that particular time.

Look at the reactions of the sheep! They were clueless that their actions were serving the Lord. They had no idea that they were going to be rewarded for different things they had done toward the children of the Lord. Those they visited when sick or in prison, gave food and drink, or otherwise comforted, didn’t do it in servitude to Christ, they did it out of pity and mercy.

And their reward will be to occupy. Don’t forget, since the foundation of the world, Christ’s rule upon the face of this earth has been anticipated. Even the stars are aligned to tell us the story. His Kingdom will be right here, and their reward will be to continue on in the blessings therein.

The goats will be dealing with a different situation. They will be cast into the flames of the Lake of Fire, along with those already condemned.

So to wrap it up, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that these verses are not talking about any rapture or final judgement. But rather a description of the mercy of the Lord upon his creation after the tribulation of those days, and after Christ’s return, howbeit shortly thereafter.

We are talking about Christ’s dealings with the survivors left upon the earth immediately after God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth and done. We could be getting insight into one of the first acts of his earthly reign.


Matthew 25 - The Sheep and GoatsThat concludes this topic and I pray that it has blessed you in some way, maybe helped you to understand what the Lord wants us to discern here in this chapter. If it has helped you or maybe blessed you, please help me out by sharing this page with your friends via the share buttons, and donations always are a huge help as well if you’re blessed. Your comments are both encouraged and welcome, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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Thank you for reading about Matthew 25 concerning the sheep and goats, and may you be blessed in Christ Jesus our Lord!

5 thoughts on “Matthew 25 – Sheep and Goats”

  1. Good reading material.
    Full of solid scriptural truth & good on the spot information.
    You know I really enjoy how you ‘talk’ to us like we are real people sitting right there listening to you … it really helps relate!
    Plus, you keep it clear & simple to the point that your article is not just another ‘composite theological litergy’ but very fresh for us to read & take away our gems of truth to move along with. Thank you!

    • Hi CL,
      Thank you CL for your kind words! I do try to avoid having the text turn out to be just a black and white lifeless info string. Speaking personally, when I’m reading an article that is so informative that it begins to start turning into a different language for me, because of a catalog of words that I’ve never been smart enough to use or retain, I lose interest quickly. So I do try to make it sound more conversational than like an encyclopedia. lol.

      I try to make things clear enough for me to understand it. Because if I can understand it, everyone will! Thank you again Sister and may the Lord bless you in Jesus precious name!

  2. It’s AMAZING to see what God will do when you step out by faith. He definitely has enough resources to empower us to do anything He asks of us. I think allot of times, however, we look at our own strength and think that we can’t do it. And we can’t, on our own. But with God, all things are possible! There is so much that I can’t do on my own, and yet taking a small step of faith can yield such amazing results. Living by faith is SO exciting!!!

    • Hi there Lyn,
      Thank you for the comment! I tried out your link but it didn’t work, so I removed it so there wouldn’t be a broken link dangling from the site. Sorry about that.
      And I agree with you concerning your comment. We walk by faith, not by sight. We can see what we can do and what we can’t. That’s within what we understand by nature, and are brought to at the very least observe where the boundaries are between what we are capable of doing, and what we are incapable of doing.
      That being said, as believers in the Lord and being saved, washed clean from sin and having become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we walk by faith, to trust in the Lord to demolish the boundaries between what is possible and what is impossible for us to do, manage, conquer, rise above, etc.. The miracles of God begin where the possible ceases. As you so correctly pointed out, with God, all things are possible. It’s on us to know what he’s willing to do via his Word, and in Him, we ask and receive.
      Thanks again for your comment and God bless you in Jesus name!


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