This passage elaborated the concept in 25:26 that not only blatant acts of evil would reap judgment. The failure to do the will of the Father and to use his gifts for the sake of others would also bring judgment. It also described the gathering and evaluation of the elect. The subjects of judgment would be people from all the nations. The separation of the sheep and goats depicted the judgment on the Gentile nations that would precede the inauguration of the kingdom and determine who would enter. The basis for entrance was faith, evidenced by works of kindness (25:35–39). No unbelievers (“goats”) would be permitted to enter.
The two commands in 25:34, 41 brought some surprises (cf. 25:37, 44) for both the saved and the unsaved. For each group Jesus stressed the way they treated their fellow brothers and sisters. He had already defined who they were in 12:48–50. He placed great emphasis on community life in the gospel ministry. Jesus taught that the rewards of the kingdom were based on the good deeds performed for others. Showing love toward others would prove love for God (1 John 4:7–8). Love for Jesus’ family rounded out the concept of “the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5) and summed up all the character traits desired by Jesus for his followers: gentleness, humility, compassion, and obedience.