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Matthew 25:41

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Depart from me, ye cursed - Or, Ye cursed! depart. - These words are the address of the king to the sinners; and contain the reason why they are to be separated from blessedness: Ye are cursed, because ye have sinned, and would not come unto me that ye might have life. - No work of piety has proceeded from your hand, because the carnal mind, which is enmity against me, reigned in your heart; and ye would not have me to reign over you. Depart! this includes what some have termed the punishment of loss or privation. Ye cannot, ye, shall not be united to me - Depart! O terrible word! and yet a worse is to come.

Into everlasting fire - This is the punishment of sense. Ye shall not only be separated from me, but ye shall be tormented, awfully, everlastingly tormented in that place of separation.

Prepared for the devil and his angels - The devil and his angels sinned before the creation of the world, and the place of torment was then prepared for them: it never was designed for human souls; but as the wicked are partakers with the devil and his angels in their iniquities, in their rebellion against God, so it is right that they should be sharers with them in their punishment. We see here, plainly, why sinners are destroyed, not because there was no salvation for them, but because they neglected to receive good, and do good. As they received not the Christ who was offered to them, so they could not do the work of righteousness which was required of them. They are cursed, because they refused to be blessed; and they are damned, because they refused to be saved.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

On the left hand - The wicked.

Ye cursed - That is, you who are devoted to destruction, whose characters deserve everlasting punishment, and who are about to enter into it. “To curse” is the opposite of “to bless.” It implies a negation of all the blessings of heaven, and a positive infliction of eternal sufferings.

Everlasting fire - “Fire,” here, is used to denote punishment. The image is employed to express extreme suffering, as a death by burning is one of the most horrible that can be conceived. The image was taken, probably, from the fires burning in the Valley of Hinnom. See the notes at Matthew 5:22. It has been asked whether the wicked will be burned in literal fire, and the common impression has been that they will be. Respecting that, however, it is to be observed:

1.that the main truth intended to be taught refers not to the manner of suffering, but to the certainty and intensity of it.

2.that the design, therefore, was to present an image of terrific and appalling suffering - an image well represented by fire

3.that this image was well known to the Jews Isaiah 66:24, and therefore expressed the idea in a very strong manner.

4.that all the truth that Christ intended to convey appears to be expressed in the certainty, intensity, and eternity of future torment.

5.that there is no distinct affirmation respecting the mode of that punishment, where the mode was the subject of discourse.

6.that to us it is a subject of comparatively little consequence what will be the mode of punishment.

The fact that the wicked will be eternally punished, cursed of God, should awe every spirit, and lead every man to strive most earnestly to secure his salvation. As, however, the “body” will be raised, it is not unreasonable to suppose that a mode of punishment will be adopted suited to the body - perhaps bearing some analogy to suffering here, in its various forms of flames, and racks, and cold, and heat, and disease, and ungratified desire, and remorse - perhaps the concentration of all earthly woes, all that makes man miserable here, poured upon the naked body and spirit of the wicked in hell forever and ever.

Prepared for the devil - The devil is the prince of evil spirits. This place of punishment was suited for him when he rebelled against God, Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:8-9.

His angels - His messengers, his servants, or those angels that he drew off from heaven by his rebellion, and whom he has employed as his “messengers” to do evil. The word may extend also to all his followers - fallen angels or people. There is a remarkable difference between the manner in which the righteous will be addressed, and the wicked. Christ will say to the one that the kingdom was prepared for them; to the other, that the fire was not prepared for “them,” but for another race of beings. they will inherit it because they have the same character “as the devil,” and are therefore suited to the same place - not because it was originally “prepared for them.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This is a description of the last judgment. It is as an explanation of the former parables. There is a judgment to come, in which every man shall be sentenced to a state of everlasting happiness, or misery. Christ shall come, not only in the glory of his Father, but in his own glory, as Mediator. The wicked and godly here dwell together, in the same cities, churches, families, and are not always to be known the one from the other; such are the weaknesses of saints, such the hypocrisies of sinners; and death takes both: but in that day they will be parted for ever. Jesus Christ is the great Shepherd; he will shortly distinguish between those that are his, and those that are not. All other distinctions will be done away; but the great one between saints and sinners, holy and unholy, will remain for ever. The happiness the saints shall possess is very great. It is a kingdom; the most valuable possession on earth; yet this is but a faint resemblance of the blessed state of the saints in heaven. It is a kingdom prepared. The Father provided it for them in the greatness of his wisdom and power; the Son purchased it for them; and the blessed Spirit, in preparing them for the kingdom, is preparing it for them. It is prepared for them: it is in all points adapted to the new nature of a sanctified soul. It is prepared from the foundation of the world. This happiness was for the saints, and they for it, from all eternity. They shall come and inherit it. What we inherit is not got by ourselves. It is God that makes heirs of heaven. We are not to suppose that acts of bounty will entitle to eternal happiness. Good works done for God's sake, through Jesus Christ, are here noticed as marking the character of believers made holy by the Spirit of Christ, and as the effects of grace bestowed on those who do them. The wicked in this world were often called to come to Christ for life and rest, but they turned from his calls; and justly are those bid to depart from Christ, that would not come to him. Condemned sinners will in vain offer excuses. The punishment of the wicked will be an everlasting punishment; their state cannot be altered. Thus life and death, good and evil, the blessing and the curse, are set before us, that we may choose our way, and as our way so shall our end be.
Ellen G. White
Child Guidance, 569

Another class stand pale and trembling, trusting in Christ, and yet oppressed with a sense of their own unworthiness. They hear with tears of joy and gratitude the Master's commendation. The days of incessant toil, of burden bearing, and of fear and anguish are forgotten as that voice, sweeter than the music of angel harps, pronounces the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.” There stand the host of the redeemed, the palm branch of victory in their hand, the crown upon their head. These are the ones who by faithful, earnest labor have obtained a fitness for heaven. The lifework performed on earth is acknowledged in the heavenly courts as a work well done. CG 569.1

With joy unutterable, parents see the crown, the robe, the harp, given to their children. The days of hope and fear are ended. The seed sown with tears and prayers may have seemed to be sown in vain, but their harvest is reaped with joy at last. Their children have been redeemed. Fathers, mothers, shall the voices of your children swell the song of gladness in that day?21 CG 569.2

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Stewardship, 123

There are men in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers who are holding fast their earthly treasure. It is their god, their idol; and they love their money, their farms, their cattle, and their merchandise better than they love their Saviour, who for their sakes became poor, that they, through His poverty, might be made rich. They exalt their earthly treasures, considering them of greater value than the souls of men. Will such have the “Well done” spoken to them? No; never. The irrevocable sentence, “Depart,” will fall upon their startled senses. Christ has no use for them. They have been slothful servants, hoarding the means God has given them, while their fellow men have perished in darkness and error. CS 123.1

My soul feels to the very depths on this point. Will the men of means sleep on until it is too late? until God shall reject them and their treasures, saying, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you.” What a revelation will be made in the day of God, when hoarded treasures, and wages kept back by fraud, cry against their possessors, who were professedly good Christians, and flattered themselves that they were keeping the law of God, when they loved gain better than they loved the purchase of Christ's blood, the souls of men. CS 123.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 640

The enemies of God's law, from the ministers down to the least among them, have a new conception of truth and duty. Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God. Too late they see the true nature of their spurious sabbath and the sandy foundation upon which they have been building. They find that they have been fighting against God. Religious teachers have led souls to perdition while professing to guide them to the gates of Paradise. Not until the day of final accounts will it be known how great is the responsibility of men in holy office and how terrible are the results of their unfaithfulness. Only in eternity can we rightly estimate the loss of a single soul. Fearful will be the doom of him to whom God shall say: Depart, thou wicked servant. GC 640.1

The voice of God is heard from heaven, declaring the day and hour of Jesus’ coming, and delivering the everlasting covenant to His people. Like peals of loudest thunder His words roll through the earth. The Israel of God stand listening, with their eyes fixed upward. Their countenances are lighted up with His glory, and shine as did the face of Moses when he came down from Sinai. The wicked cannot look upon them. And when the blessing is pronounced on those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy, there is a mighty shout of victory. GC 640.2

Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man's hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror. Not now a “Man of Sorrows,” to drink the bitter cup of shame and woe, He comes, victor in heaven and earth, to judge the living and the dead. “Faithful and True,” “in righteousness He doth judge and make war.” And “the armies which were in heaven” (Revelation 19:11, 14) follow Him. With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way. The firmament seems filled with radiant forms—“ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” No human pen can portray the scene; no mortal mind is adequate to conceive its splendor. “His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And His brightness was as the light.” Habakkuk 3:3, 4. As the living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the Prince of life. No crown of thorns now mars that sacred head; but a diadem of glory rests on His holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the noonday sun. “And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.Revelation 19:16. GC 640.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 252

Where shall we be before the thousand generations mentioned in this scripture are ended? Our fate will have been decided for eternity. Either we shall have been pronounced worthy of a home in the everlasting kingdom of God or we shall have received sentence of eternal death. Those who have been true and faithful to their covenant with God; those who, remembering Calvary, have stood firmly on the side of truth, ever striving to honor God, will hear the commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But those who have given God only halfhearted service, allowing their lives to be conformed to the ways and practices of the world, will hear the sad words: “Depart from Me; I know you not.” 9T 252.1

“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10. 9T 253.1

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Cross References
Depart
ye cursed
everlasting
prepared