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.
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’
45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
This judgment, at the Lord’s second coming, of Gentiles who survived the Tribulation, is not the same as the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium when the wicked dead will be resurrected to judgment.
nations (v.32) — Gentiles
My brethren (v.40) — Israel
The reference to “these brothers” indicates that there will be a third group there in the presence of Christ. That phrase may refer to those who are Christ’s brothers after the flesh, that is, the nation of Israel; or it may refer to those chosen messengers, the 144,000 of Revelation 7, who will bear witness of Him during the Tribulation. Such ones will be under a death sentence by the beast. They will refuse to carry the beast’s mark, and so they will not be able to buy and sell. Consequently, they will have to depend on those to whom they minister for hospitality, food, and support. Only those who receive the message will jeopardize their lives by extending hospitality to the messengers. Therefore what is done for them will be an evidence of their faith in Christ, that is, what is done for them will be done for Christ. These will not be accepted because of their works, for no man is ever saved by works. But their works will demonstrate their faith in in the person of Christ that renders them acceptable to Him. — Pentecost, page 410
By rejecting God’s love and mercy, by continuing in unbelief they [the goats, v. 46] sided with the devil and his angels and now there is no other remedy for them but to share for all eternity the place prepared for the devil and his angels. At the close of the thousand years the devil is put into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Previously the beast and the false prophet were cast into that place before the Millennium (Revelation 19:20). The order of punishment then is the following: 1.) The beast and the false prophet. 2.) The unrighteous nations. These go there before the millennial kingdom. 3.) The devil with his angels. 4.) The wicked dead from the great white throne judgment. This takes place after the thousand years. — Gaebelein, page 548.
This judgment, which results in the goats being cast into everlasting fire, is in keeping with the previous prediction of Christ in the parable of the wheat and tares and the parable of the dragnet (Matthew 13:24-30, 31-43, 47-50), and is also clearly taught in Revelation 14:11 and 19:15. No adults who are not converted will be allowed to enter the millennial kingdom. The judgment here is not a final judgment, but is preparatory to establishing the kingdom of righteousness and peace, of which many Scriptures speak. — Walvoord, page 202.
Pentecost includes a helpful summary of the entire Olivet Discourse.
Christ’s announcement of judgment on Jerusalem undoubtedly was understood by the disciples in its eschatological context as a judgment preceding the second advent of Messiah to the earth. They asked when the judgment would come and what signs would be given to the nation Israel. Christ explained the signs in detail (Matthew 24:4-26), outlining the events of the first half of the Tribulation (vs.4-8) and also the events of the second half (vs.9-14). He then described the climactic sign (vs.15-26). Christ moved on to the next eschatological event, His second advent to the earth (vs.27-30), followed by the regathering of Israel (v.31). In a parenthetical statement in unfolding the eschatological events, He gave exhortations to watchfulness, preparedness, and faithfulness (vs.32-51). He then resumed the eschatological revelation, teaching that following Israel’s regathering, Israel will be judged to separate the saved from the unsaved. The saved will be received into the kingdom but the unsaved will be excluded (25:1-30). In concluding He spoke of the judgment of living Gentiles to separate the saved Gentiles from the unsaved. Again, the saved will be received into the kingdom but the unsaved will be excluded (Matthew 25:31-46). — Pentecost, pages 410-411