« ÎnapoiContinuați »
CH AP. XI.
Gal. io. 8.
fully noted. They are called tà čom. This term the Septuagint translators adopted as the rendering of the Hebrew word Goiim, under which appellation the Jews comprised all the peoples of the earth, other than themselves. In their mere etymological force both Goiim and Tà Ovn mean simply the nations, but as used by the Jews they had a religious significance. The Jews only had the knowledge of, and worshipped, the true God. The rest of the nations' knew not God, and were idolators. Hence, as used by the Jews, these terms specifically denoted the heathen, and they are so translated again and again in the English version. When, by the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles, the kingdom of heaven had been opened to all believers, and when the Church of God no longer consisted of Jews only, but of believers out of any nation, then the term tà Ovn became the designation of the heathens as distinguished from the Christians, Jewish or not.* If such, then, be the specific meaning of the term both in the Septuagint and in the Greek New Testament, why is it to be differently understood in this particular instance ? If in other passages it distinctively means the peoples outside of and not belonging to the Church, why should it here be interpreted as meaning the whole race of man, all the nations of the earth, both those within and those external to the Church ? When it is said on the coming of the Son of Man in his glory závra
* See Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, under čôvos. “In New Testament and Ecclesiastical writers, Tà čovn, the nations, Gentiles, i.e., all except Jews or Christians.”
CH AP. XI.
Tà čovn shall be gathered before Him, surely by this must be meant, and so must the hearers have understood, that then shall be brought under judgment all the non-christian nations, at that time dwelling upon the earth.
And this view consists, I would urge, not only with the common use of the term tà Ovn, but with the foregoing parables and with the general scope of this prophetic discourse. Remember that the great subject of the discourse contained in this and the preceding chapter is the advent of Christ, and that it was delivered in reply to the question of the disciples, When shall these things be, and Matt. xxiv. 3. what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?' And one thing which Christ tells them in answer to that question is, that on the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven He shall send forth his angels to gather together his elect from all parts of the earth, and that judgment shall begin with the house of God. As, then, in the two parables of the Virgins and Talents we have a representation of the inquisition to be held at the advent on the professing members of the Church, so in this is given the judgment on the non-christian nations. Thus, the whole chapter presents a complete and graphic sketch of the series of judgments which are to usher in that millennial period when Christ with his saints shall reign on the earth.
Observe, next, how the criterion by which the sheep and goats are judged exactly fits in with the view that by them are represented non-christian nations. They could with consistency and in reality
Rom. i. 6-16.
make the reply here put into the mouths of those
more outraged than by refusing food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, hospitality to the stranger. By no standard, therefore, could the heathen be more equitably judged than by that here laid down, or be pronounced righteous or wicked, blessed or cursed, according as they had or had not acted up to that standard. And, further, let it be observed, as falling in with and confirming this view, how the divine approval is declared of those who, though outside of the Church, had acted righteously. An angel of God is sent to tell Cornelius, while still Acts x. 3, 4. an unbaptized man, that his prayers and alms had come up for a memorial before God; and when St.
a Peter heard the history of his case, this was his remark: Of a truth I perceive that God is no Acts 2. 34, 35. respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.'
This, then, is the interpretation of the parable which after repeated study I have been led to adopt. I hold that it sets before us the judgment to be held on the non-christian nations living upon the earth at the time of Christ's advent, by which judgment shall be determined who of them shall become the subjects of the millenial kingdom. It may, indeed, at first sight seem strange that any but Christians should be spoken of as the righteous, should be addressed by Christ as the blessed ones of his Father, and should be bidden to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. But if St. Peter recognized that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is, though a heathen, ac
8H AP. XI.
1 Jonn iii. 7.
Rom. ii. 10.
cepted with Him; if St. John lays it down that he who doeth righteousness is righteous; if St. Paul declares that to every man, be he a Jew living under the law or be he a heathen acting only according to the dictates of conscience, that to every man who worketh that which is good, shall be rendered glory, honour, and peace; then, I submit, there is nothing to surprise us here in these, who had been so ready to succour the distressed, being made participators of the joy and blessedness of that kingdom which the Son of Man was now come, together with his saints, to establish in visible majesty upon the earth.
Bearing in mind what has been already ascertained from Holy Writ concerning the kingdom of Christ, there will be little difficulty, I conceive, in getting at a right understanding both of the reward bestowed on those represented by the sheep, and of the punishment inflicted on those represented by the goats. We have seen that by the kingdom of Christ is meant that power and authority which has been conferred upon Him as the Son of Man, the Last Adam, to undo the work of the First Adam and to bring to nought the works of the devil; that the design of this kingdom is, and that it is to eventuate in, the reconciliation and subjection of all things to God; that this purpose is the purpose of the ages, a purpose to be accomplished in the evolution of successive eras; that following upon the present era of spiritual influence and providential govemment will come one in which Christ will reign visibly and personally on the earth with his saints; that the