31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Matthew 25:31-46 deals with Christ’s Second Coming and judgment of the Gentile Nations. This is judgment on Gentiles as over against the Jews, which will be a separate judgment.
Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with events that lead up to the inauguration of the kingdom at the end of the Tribulation.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him,
The title “Son of Man” places emphasis on the humanity of Christ. Jesus will judge Gentile nations from His humanity sitting in royalty. The time of this judgment is when He “comes in His glory.” This is the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation (24:29), not the Rapture at the beginning of the Tribulation.
Jn 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,
then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
After Jesus’ judgment on the Gentiles at the end of the Tribulation, He will mount His throne of glory for His Millennial reign.
Is 9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
All the nations [Gentiles] will be gathered before Him,
The word “nations” is in the neuter but the word “them” in “separate them” is masculine. The point is that when Jesus gathers the nations, He will judge individuals within the nations.
This judgment is not the same as the Great White Throne judgment where He casts the lost into eternal judgment (Re 20:11-15). The judgment here takes place on earth before entrance into the Millennial kingdom. There will be two different judgments in relation to the Millennial kingdom: one before the kingdom (Jews and Gentiles alive at the end of the Tribulation), which involves both sheep and goats; and the one at the end of the Millennium, which involves strictly unbelievers (20:13-15).
and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
The “goats” by analogy are unbelievers and the “sheep” are believers. Jesus will separate the two groups judicially.
And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
There will be a remnant of Gentiles during the Tribulation who will believe on the Messiah. The believing remnant will have a different destiny than the goats. They will go directly into the Millennial kingdom of Christ. The remnant will be at Christ’s right hand because that is the place of acceptance. At this point the intermediate kingdom will cease.
Judgment is an act of love.
No one spoke of judgment more than Jesus, but this is not inconsistent with His unconditional love. Parental punishment of children is an act of love; lack of discipline by parents is an attitude of non-love towards their children. Nothing is more loving than warning of coming eternal judgment.