letters to surfers

Question :How can you assume that the parable of the sheep and the goats refers to nations, not individuals?
 by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)

I agree there is a shift in the parable of the sheep and goats from the neuter nations to the masculine plural that refers to people in those nations.   There is a similar shift from the woes on the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:21) to the people in them who did not repent. Then Jesus refers to Capernaum that is going to be cast down into Hades (Matthew 11:23).   And in fact all three of these cities on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee were razed to the ground by the advancing Romans two years before the final attack on the city in AD 70.  There is a similar shift from Sodom to the people of that city.  And we make a similar shift in the language game for America as a nation, and talk about Americans doing this or that.

Matthew has a huge amount (including several parables) about the inevitable judgment on the city of Jerusalem.  Not allindividuals were involved in that responsibility, and many repented of their wrong attitudes (e.g. many Pharisees, and many temple priests, Acts 6:7), but the Jewish nation as a nation was certainly facing a coming of the Lord in judgment (Matthew 24:27, 30, 34) in that generation.

Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans about twelve years before the terrible events of AD 68-70, and in several espistles he refers to the imminent parousia that Jesus had predicted.  As he comes to terms with this, he keeps shifting from the judgment on the Jewish nation to the lack of faith of the individuals in it is (see Romans 8-11).

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