This is a study on Christ’s Separation of the Sheep from the Goats prophecy found in Matthew 25:31-46 with a look into what the future may have in store for these individuals. This portion of Scripture is well-known, but I’d like to examine this passage in order to lay a proper foundation.
Soon after Christ’s Second Coming, the nations of the world will be gathered before the Lord – most assuredly in Israel – and He will separate the people of those nations into two camps, all dependent upon their treatment of Christ’s brothers and, obviously, on their profession of faith in Him.
Who are these brothers of our Lord? Obviously, His people Israel. But people from the Gentile nations, who also come to Christ during the Tribulation, are His brothers as well:
“For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35).
These individuals He will set on His right hand and are referred to as “sheep.”
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
And, of course, those who reject Christ – or are false converts – will be set on His left hand and are referred to as “goats.” Those who mistreat Israel and Gentile believers have, by their actions, rejected Christ. Professing “Christians” today, who hate Israel and the Jews, are just as much false converts – deceiving themselves – as those who survive the Tribulation and are separated as the “goats.”
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy” (James 2:13a).
Those that survive the Tribulation and have not received The Mark of The Beast are the people from every nation that Christ will be separating at this judgment.
The intention of this article is to look a little deeper and see if we can offer some possibilities of where this prophecy might lead into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and beyond. I’ll let the reader know up front that some of this study could very well be considered conjecture, but I’ll attempt to use as much Scripture as possible to help substantiate these suppositions.
First, let’s read the passage in its entirety with the key verse to our study emphasized.
“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: 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: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
“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: 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: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“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.
“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: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 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.
“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?
“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.
“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46). (emphasis mine)
What the Separating of the Sheep and the Goats Is Not
Some believe that this judgment is on the nations themselves.
I do not believe this for the following reasons (emphasis mine):
- What exactly would a judgment on a nation look like other than to destroy the people of that nation? You can’t separate a nation without separating its people.
- Nations in the Greek is 1484 “éthnos” (from ethō, “forming a custom, culture”) – properly, people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture; nation(s), usually referring to unbelieving Gentiles (non-Jews). [All definitions from Biblehub.com]
- The statement, “And before Him shall be gathered all nations,” implies bringing all the people of all nations before Him. Consider Zechariah 14:2, which reads: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.” Does this mean that the nations themselves (whatever that would look like) will come to Jerusalem for battle, or the nations’ people that represent those nations will come to battle? And consider Revelation 20:7-8, “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” It’s not the nations (again, I don’t know what that would look like) that come against Christ; it is the people of those nations. There are less than 200 nations in the world today, and this number has been a relatively consistent number of nations for thousands of years. Even if the number of nations somehow increased during the Millennial Kingdom – which is highly unlikely – they would never be considered “as the sand of the sea.”
- Sheep always refers to people, as noted above in John 10:11. The reason “people” – or any variant – is not used in the text is because the people of the nations are represented by the “sheep” and the “goats,” as the context makes clear.
Still, there are others who believe this passage is speaking of the Great White Throne Judgment found in Revelation 20:11-14, and I understand why they might come to that conclusion. After all, when someone reads verse 46, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal,” at first glance, it sure gives that impression.
But this is not the case for the following reasons:
- The Great White Throne Judgment happens after the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, and the context of Matthew 25:31-46 declares that this judgment happens soon after Christ’s Second Coming to initiate His Kingdom. Matthew 25:31 shows this clearly: “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.”
- In the Great White Throne Judgment, there are no righteous to judge. That judgment is only for the unsaved dead. All the righteous have already been judged, and those coming out of the Millennial Kingdom are still alive, saved, and with their Lord; they did not take part in the rebellion of Satan after he was released following the 1,000-year reign of Christ ( 20:7-10).
- No one will be treating God’s people badly in the Millennial Reign of Christ – Jew or Gentile. Christ will rule with a rod of iron, along with the resurrected saints, as God’s people will always be protected in the presence of our Lord in His Kingdom. This protection will be present even while Satan is in the process of deceiving the people of the nations after the 1,000 years.
Verse 46 – An Interpretation
“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).
This is the verse that has baffled many, including myself. But I believe the answer is quite simple, really.
“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:” – Just as the Lord judges the unsaved at death and delivers them into “Hades/Hell” in Sheol (Luke 16:19-31) to await the Great White Throne Judgment, He will do the same here as He judges the goats.
The Great White Throne Judgment is the visual manifestation of a judgment that has already occurred by the rejection of God’s free gift of salvation through His Son. Those at the Great White Throne Judgment, who have already been condemned at death, will be judged by their works instead of Christ’s redemptive work:
“He that believeth on him [the Son] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). (emphasis mine)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” – (Matthew 13:47-50). (emphasis mine)
We are told in Revelation where this “furnace” is:
“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:1-2). (emphasis mine)
The “furnace” is the great pit in the center of the earth – commonly called “Hades/Hell” in Sheol – where the unsaved dead (Isaiah 14:5-20 & Luke 16:19-31) and some of the fallen angels reside (2 Peter 2:4 & Jude 6) awaiting judgment and where Satan will be bound for the duration of the Millennial Reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-3).
The phrase “weeping/wailing and gnashing of teeth” is said for both “Hades/Hell” in Sheol, as well as the Lake of Fire. It’s a short step from Hades/Hell in Sheol into the Lake of Fire. One leads to the other – guaranteed.
In Luke, Jesus said of those Jews who rebel against Him that when they see the Patriarchs in the “kingdom of God,” which is the Millennial Kingdom:
“There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last” (Luke 13:28-30). (emphasis mine)
Both the Millennial Kingdom and Eternal Kingdom are in view in the Separation of the Sheep and the Goats as well as Hades/Hell in Sheol and the Lake of Fire.
In numerous articles I have shown that prophecy often has a near and far application, and this prophecy is no different.
When Christ said the following to the goats – in addition to their wait in Hades/Hell in Sheol – he had in mind their ultimate destination in the Lake of Fire:
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” (Matthew 25:41).
When Christ said the following to the sheep, He had in mind both Kingdoms beginning with the Millennial Kingdom and going on into the Eternal Kingdom:
“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” (Matthew 25:34).
“…but the righteous into life eternal.”– Just as the destination of the goats is secured, so too is “life eternal” for the sheep. This will be no different for them as it is for us alive today who have accepted Christ. Those of us who are alive yet destined for physical death (apart from the rapture) already have “life eternal,” and it has been this way for every believer for the past 2,000 years.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). (emphasis mine)
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). (emphasis mine)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36a). (emphasis mine)
The Separation of the Sheep from the Goats has everlasting, eternal consequences for all involved. The ultimate fate for each group is secured.
Scriptures and Speculations
Now that we’ve laid a foundation of our Lord’s prophecy regarding the Separation of the Sheep from the Goats, let’s move on to see if we might be able to glean some possibilities of where this all may lead.
When the sheep enter into the Lord’s Millennial Kingdom, I postulate that they will be regenerated along with the earth and the earth’s environment. After all, we know that people will live for the duration of the 1,000-year Kingdom.
“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:20).
Although not totally Edenic, the Kingdom will be Edenic “like.”
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
While those who go into the Millennial Kingdom will be regenerated and assured of eternal life, they will still be carrying the sin-nature that we ourselves still carry in the church age and will pass this sin-nature along to their descendants. Their total purity will have to wait, but their eternal life is as assured as ours is today.
Knowing that the sheep will have already attained unto “life eternal,” an important question remains: “How will God achieve for them this life eternal after the Millennial Kingdom?”
I can’t find anywhere in Scripture where we see a resurrection similar to those of the church – as well as the Old Testament and Tribulation saints – for these people that go into the Millennial Kingdom. We do know that they are in a totally different class of human beings than the church, Israel, and Old Testament and Tribulation saints, as they are the people who get to enjoy the dispensation of Christ’s 1,000-year reign in their earthly bodies.
Let’s take a visit over to the last book of the Bible and look into what Revelation reveals concerning this unique period in human history, and on into the Eternal Kingdom, to see if we might be able to get some idea of what their future may look like.
Satan Bound During The Millennial Kingdom
I don’t know about you, but even in my perfect, sinless, glorified body, I’m really looking forward to this reality!
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1-3).
The Great Tribulation Saints
What a fine group of precious saints these people are!
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).
Notice that these Great Tribulation Saints were those who “were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark,” and when John saw them, he “saw [their] souls.” But “they lived,” denoting their resurrection (Rev. 20:5), and “reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
These Great Tribulation saints (those beheaded by Antichrist in the last three and one-half years) are the last of the “blessed and holy… first resurrection” and completes the resurrection of the righteous. They will receive perfect, everlasting, and glorified bodies just as the church did at the rapture, which was the first stage that began the “blessed and holy… first resurrection.” (See Resurrections and The Marriage Supper of The Lamb for how I see these resurrections occurring).
Are these the same Great Tribulation Saints seen earlier in a vision John had in Revelation chapter 7?
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
“And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-17).
These Great Tribulation Saints “came out of the great tribulation.”
The Greek word for “came out” is 1537 “ek” and is (a preposition, written eks before a vowel) – properly, “out from and to” (the outcome); out from within. 1537/ek (“out of”) is one of the most under-translated (and therefore mistranslated) Greek propositions – often being confined to the meaning “by.” 1537 (ek) has a two-layered meaning (“out from and to“) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object).
Therefore, these Saints did not come “through” the Great Tribulation and are not to be confused with the “last sheep” we have been studying.
But are they the same Saints that had been beheaded by Antichrist in Revelation 20:4? Or are they Saints that had died during the Great Tribulation by other means – such as war, famine, plague, natural and man-made disasters, natural death, etc.? Or are they both?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. We know that the Saints that were beheaded will “reign with Christ a thousand years” and are certainly resurrected, while the Revelation 7 Saints are said to serve God “day and night in His temple.” And, in regard to the Revelation 7 Saints, “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.”
This is an interesting statement and, in regard to what we are about to be looking at, seems to provide us with more questions than answers with this unique class of Saints. But God knows!
The Final Revolt After The Millennial Kingdom
Such a sad commentary on the human condition. Living with Christ for a thousand years, being a part of – and witness to – our Savior’s love, and this is how most will repay him.
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).
Then the Great White Throne Judgment of the wicked dead as found in Revelation 20:11-15.
Then the New Heaven and New Earth with the Jew Jerusalem in Revelation 21.
Now we enter into Revelation 22 with John describing the New Jerusalem on the New Earth under the New Heaven, and we have yet to see what has become of the righteous who lived through the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Whether they were resurrected with new and glorified bodies or not, we aren’t told!
The Eden Connection?
When I was meditating on this unusual situation we find ourselves in – that of contemplating the destination of the Millennial Kingdom saints, which began with the sheep at the judgment of the sheep and the goats – I considered Eden. Honesty, Revelation chapters 21 and 22 have some very uniquely Edenic qualities.
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). (emphasis mine)
“A pure river of water of life” and “the tree of life” is there? For who? Aren’t our resurrected bodies everlasting? Of course they are. Is this just for memory purposes?
And who are these nations that seem to need healing? Remember, it’s the people of the nations that need healing – the nations themselves are inanimate constructs of government and the culture of its people.
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). (emphasis mine)
Who or what are we to be reigning over?
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). (emphasis mine)
Won’t we, by our very nature – having been purified and glorified with everlasting bodies with absolutely no sin-nature – already have been doing His commandments? And, again, why would we need the “right to the tree of life”?
It seems that those who lived through the Millennial Kingdom may very well be going into the Eternal Kingdom in perfect human bodies, similar in nature to the bodies originally created for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve had the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden and, here, the Tree of Life shows up again. Could it be that what God originally created as “very good” has now been restored for those people in the unique dispensation of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom? May they even procreate just as God commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” in the beginning?
Could Eden be restored and God’s original intent finally be realized?
Let the reader be the judge.
Verse 15 is a rather mysterious passage, which I’ll cite with verse 14 for context:
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15).
We discussed verse 14, above, but we have to keep in mind these words as we analyze verse 15.
The mysterious word is “without,” which can also be translated “outside.” What would be outside the gates of the city that would include the description of “dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie?”
This could only be where Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all the unsaved since creation will reside for eternity: The Lake of Fire.
We know this because we read in Revelation:
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Verse 15 is making clear to us the “foreverness” of the Lake of Fire and, apparently, the fact that it will reside somewhere “outside” or “without” the New Jerusalem. This would have to be the case because the heavens and the earth have been renovated and remade into perfect conditions.
The words “without” and “outside” are relative terms. The question we should be asking ourselves is, “Where outside?”
There is a possibility that the Lake of Fire will be located somewhere in the darkest recesses of the new heavens. Henry Morris, in the Henry Morris Study Bible, speculates in Rev. 20:15 concerning the Lake of Fire and what that all entails:
The lake of fire is obviously not located on this present earth, for this present earth will have burned up and “fled away” (20:11) by this time; yet the lake of fire will have been burning continuously for more than a thousand years (19:20). Neither will it be on the new earth, for that will be the home of “the Lord God Almighty” (21:22), whereas “[they] that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ … shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
The word “destruction” does not mean annihilation, but “ruin.” Thus, the unsaved will be moved far, far away from the presence of the Lord, and there they will remain forever. They may well be translated to a far distant dark star, for a star is itself a lake of fire, and the lost are said to be like “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13). There they must continue in their sinful state, hating God, never resting, without light, without love, without peace, without anything that speaks of the presence or power of God, forever.
Lest anyone think this fate too severe, there are several factors to remember. In the first place, those who have rejected God’s presence in their lives while they were on earth will be less miserable in hell than if they were forced to be in His presence in heaven forever. Second, only infinite punishment is fitting for those who have rejected or ignored the infinite love and infinite suffering of the Son of God for them. Finally, they must exist forever somewhere, since they had been created in God’s image, which by definition is eternal.
But there is also the possibility that the Lake of Fire will exist even further out than that – outside of God’s newly created heavens. In all possibilities, though, the Lake of Fire will, for all intents and purposes, be “without” or “outside” the gates of the city. The unknown is how far “outside” or “without.”
The bottom line is that it seems more than reasonable that all that have pleasure in those sins will never have access to the city – nor could they.
More importantly than all of this is, we must remember the target audience of the Holy Scriptures: The Old Testament for Israel and The New Testament for the bride of Christ. (But as Christians, we love, study, and revere both Testaments).
Being as Revelation is the final book of The Bible, with the church in full view throughout the New Testament, John is directed by an angel to witness the descending city:
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9-10).
The focus is the New Jerusalem, her beauty, and her purity, and both the Saints of Israel and the bride of Christ are her citizens as is made clear by the foundation and the gates of this glorious city:
“[The Holy Jerusalem] had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 21:12). (emphasis mine)
“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14). (emphasis mine)
In order to stress the purity of the city and those who inhabit the earth, in similar terms mentioned in Revelation 22:14-15, we read:
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:24-26). (emphasis mine)
Notice that “the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it” outside the city “and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.”
And remember Revelation 22:14?
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). (emphasis mine)
Therefore, it appears that the “Last Sheep” – those who lived with Christ through the Millennial Kingdom – are now living in their nations on the new earth during the Eternal Kingdom, as the Saints of the first 6,000 years are living in the city.
In conclusion, do these verses that we have looked at suggest that there will be a possibility that evil will exist in the Eternal Kingdom, specifically, on the new earth? I don’t think they do. But I’m not God and don’t know what His future plans are and what may or may not ensue. I see these verses as stating, emphatically, that evil will never be present again, utilizing extreme ends of the evil/righteous divide in making this point.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). (emphasis mine)
I believe that three groups may very well be in view here:
- “The Bride” is the “body of Christ” – the church – who knew Him intimately.
- “Him that heareth” seems to be all the Old Testament and Tribulation saints who have heard of the Messiah of God – but were not a part of the church, His bride – and have been resurrected. (Please see Resurrections and The Marriage Supper of The Lamb for how I see the order of these resurrections may take place).
- “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” seem to be the people of the “nations” (Rev. 22:2) – the “last sheep” that began with the Separation of the Sheep and the Goats after the Tribulation – who lived with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom in their flesh, gave their lives to Him, and now “have right to the tree of life” (Rev. 22:14).
This is how I see this amazing “Separation of the Sheep from the Goats” prophecy taking place, who the “sheep” are, and what their future may very well have in store. For me, it really is The Mystery of the Last Sheep, and I’m excited to see how this will actually all play out.
In retrospect, it seems reasonable to me that all who have lived the first 6,000 years of human history – whose resurrections are clearly laid out for us in Scripture, who have lived and died (along the raptured church) from creation through the Tribulation – will live in the New Holy Jerusalem. The sheep who survive the Tribulation and live through the Millennial Kingdom – along with those who are born during the Millennial Kingdom and don’t rebel with Satan after the Millennial Kingdom – will be allowed to enter the Eternal Kingdom in their perfectly regenerated human bodies, having access to the Tree of Life and the Water of Life forever.
As always, I’m never dogmatic in regard to future prophecy, as much of prophecy can be very speculative. I only offer these ideas based, in part, upon the Holy Scriptures with some speculation thrown in, as something for the reader to consider and to stimulate the believer’s enthusiasm when it comes to what God has planned for those who love Him.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ and are seeking answers about God, Jesus Christ, the gospel, and salvation, please email me at email@example.com for information.
- I am still taking questions for the Questions From the Body of Christ If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.
- A listing of past articles may be found at my Article Listings on Rapture Ready or my Home Page on FaithWriters.