Saturday 7 March 2015

Andy Horvath on Matthew 25:31-46

Continuing with the gentle debunking tone of the previous post, Christianity Today carries a short piece from Andy Horvath on ‘What You Probably Don’t Know about “The Least of These”: A more biblically accurate understanding of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25’.

Following R.T France (and many other commentators on Matthew, as it happens), Horvath maintains that ‘the least of these’ in Matthew 25:31-46 are neither Jews nor poor people in general, but Jesus’ messengers. Here, as in Matthew 10:40-42, people’s willingness to receive the message and provide for the disciples is the equivalent of their response to Jesus himself.

Of course, this doesn’t let us off the hook when it comes to issues of social justice:

‘While Scripture doesn’t identify “the least of these” as the poor and needy, in no way does it diminish the biblical mandate to care for the marginalized and underprivileged. Our actions matter. Biblical teaching about justice is comprehensive and does not rest on any single text.’

In addition:

‘While “the least of these” does not refer to the poor and powerless, a proper understanding of the text nevertheless underscores the centrality of compassionate actions to the gospel.’

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