Several passages in the Newer Covenant scriptures are often misinterpreted by readers of the Bible. Two of those passages are Matthew 24:7-9 and Matthew 25:32-33.
Greek Words Actually Used
Here are a few of the actual Greek words that are found in those verses:
Nations: G1484 ethnos; a race, a nation, pural – the nations — never “people”.
Kingdom: G932 basileia; kingdom, sovereignty, a royal power.
One, Another: G240 allelon; of one another: (translated as one another 90 times)
Many: G4183 polus; much, many, all.
Those, Them: G3588 ho: those, them, these, this, that
Nations Fighting Nations
Matthew 24:7-9 – “For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of birth pains. Then those nations will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name.”
Many people believe that when Yeshua speaks these words he is talking about individual people. This is a great misperception as the word translated nation(s) in the above passages is the Greek word ethnos [G1484], used over 150 times in the Newer Covenant scriptures. In all but two of these places it is translated as gentiles, nation, nations or heathen, not as people. Likewise, the word translated kingdom in the above passages is the Greek word basileia [G932] which means: a kingdom, sovereignty, or realm, not as people. Again, ethnos or basileia does not mean individual people!
Likewise, the “you” he is addressing is not the individual disciples, but actually the nation of Israel, corporately. This parallels the many other passages that speak of the end times hatred of Jerusalem and Israel, which will lead to the war in which all nations will be brought to the Valley of Judgment (Joel 3:2).
Matthew 24:7-9 – “For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
The NASB, NRSV, KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, ASV, ESV, HCSB, & DARBY translate this verse correctly, only using the word nation(s).
Nations Gathering for Judgment
Matthew 25:32-33 – “All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate these nations one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place at his right hand and the goats at his left.”
Likewise, many people also believe that when Yeshua judges between the sheep and the goats he is judging between individual people. This, too, is a misperception. The sheep and goats refers directly back to all the nations that have been assembled!
Matthew 25:32-33 – “All the nations will be assembled before him.”
The NASB, KJV, NKJV, NCV, ASV, and DARBY translate these verses correctly.
The Nations That Survive Judgment
The judgment of the nations determines which governmental or land groups, (nations or ethnic groups) will still be present during the Millennial reign. Scripture is very clear that nations, or should I say some of the nations, will continue to exist. Assyria, Egypt, and Israel are just three of them. Elam (southwestern Iran) is another nation that will survive and in which Yahweh says he will even set his throne (Jeremiah 49:38). Damascus is utterly destroyed, but all of modern Syria (ancient Assyria!) is not. Babylon (modern Iraq) will become a wasteland. Edom, Moab, and to some extent Ammon (modern Jordan) will be overthrown (Daniel 11:41) and then reoccupied by the remnant of the Israelis (Zephaniah 2:9). Edom, in fact, will be made small and will be utterly despised by humanity (Jeremiah 49:15). These are some of the judgments against the nations that will take place in the near future and which will be verified or confirmed at the Great White Throne judgment seat. So, again, the judgment of the nations is not the same as the judgment of individuals. Two completely different types of judgment!
That Non-Existent Little Word: “People”
The Greek words for people are not found in the original Greek manuscripts of the Matthew 24 and 25 verses quoted above. Those words are: anthropos [G444]: a man, a human, person or people, and lah-os [G2992]: a people. Scripture is very precise and concise to use ethnos when it means nation, and anthropos or lah-os when it means people. (See John 11:50, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:9; 7:9;10:11;11:9; 13:7; 14:6; and 17:5).
Matthew 24:9 – “Then those nations will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name.”
NCV, NIV, and CEV incorrectly add the word people! It doesn’t exist in the Greek manuscripts! NCV says “people will arrest you” CEV says “many people will starve” and “you will be hated by all people.” Only the NCV uses the word “people” in the parallel passages of Mark 13:9 and Luke 21:12.
Matthew 25:32-33 – “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
NRSV, NCV, NIV, NLT, ESV, & CEV incorrectly use the word people! It doesn’t exist in the Greek manuscripts! (CEV puts the words “the people of” before “the nations”).
The judgment of the nations is not the same as the judgment of individuals. Two completely different types of judgment! To properly translate, one must go back to the original and look up the actual words used. Translators sometimes mistranslate the Greek, or worse yet, frequently add words that do not appear in the original manuscripts and languages. This just adds to confusion, makes scripture harder to understand, and is why one must study to be approved.