When we come to Matthew 25:31-46, many scholars believe Jesus was speaking of the end of the world, the end of time—some say even of the universe. Many conclude it is not only the time of the coming of Christ (Matthew 25:31), but also of the time of the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Yet, no writer of the New Testament nor any prophet of the Old, ever taught about or even mentioned “the end of time.” Why would anyone even imagine the end of time at this point in the Olivet Discourse? While I would agree that Matthew 25:31 and following is, indeed, the time of Jesus coming, and that it is also the time of the resurrection and of the Great White Throne Judgment, Jesus did not prophesy of people and events 2000 years removed from the first century AD. After all, he came as the Servant of the Jews for the sake of the truth, in order that God could fulfill the promises made to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Romans 15:8).
Scattered throughout Jesus’ parables are words that are pregnant with meaning for any Jew who was listening to him speak in the first century AD. One of those words is mentioned in Matthew 25:4, when Jesus told those on his right hand to come and inherit the Kingdom that had been prepared for them from the very beginning. The word inherit (G2816) would have caused any Jew at that time to think of the promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It isn’t possible to come to the table with a Bible and a copy of Webster’s dictionary and expect to understand the context. Webster cannot offer the Bible student a correct understanding of what this word inherit meant for the Jew in the context of the Old Covenant. It would be impossible for a first century AD Jew who listened to another Jew who mention the word inherit, to remove the mental pictures of land and the kingdom, which associated themselves with this word.
The same Greek word, and related words, such as inheritance (G2817) and heir (G2818), are used by Paul and other New Testament writers, each one a Jew, writing to other Jews together with believing gentiles. Paul claimed that the Gospel he preached was nothing more than the promises God made to the fathers (Acts 26:6-7), which concerned the resurrection (Acts 26:8). In other words, Paul claimed before King Agrippa that he was nothing more than a faithful, good Jew, innocent of any wrongdoing (Acts 26:19-21).
With this in mind, Paul claimed that the inheritance (G2817) could not come through the Law, because it was given to Abraham by means of promise. The epistle to the Hebrews claims the fathers never received the promises, but confessed they had seen them afar off. They, therefore, looked for a better country, a heavenly city (Hebrews 11:13-16) and a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35).
It is, therefore, important to understand that these things, the heavenly city and the better resurrection could not come through the Law (Galatians 3:16). Why would this be important to understand Matthew 25:31 and following? Well, if the inheritance (Matthew 25:34) couldn’t be received through the Law, the Old Covenant (the Law) had to come to an end before the inheritance could be received. Nevertheless, with the ending of the Old Covenant (the Law), restitution had to be made to the faithful, and judgment was set to punish the wicked. As the Lord set aside the Old Covenant, he established the New (Hebrews 10:9). Matthew 25:31 and following describe this event, and that occurred in 70 AD, when Jesus came to judge Jerusalem and the Temple (Matthew 26:64).