In my preparation for preaching this week on Matthew 25:31-46 I read this helpful paragraph from D.A. Carson, Matthew, Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 523:

The final separation of ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’ is a recurring theme in the NT, including Matthew (e.g., 7:21-23; 13:40-43). Some have argued that this doctrine has turned many people into infidels; but so have other Christian doctrines. The question is not how men respond to a doctrine but what Jesus and the NT writers actually teach about it. Human response is a secondary consideration and may reveal as much about us as about the doctrine being rejected. Nevertheless two things should be kept in mind: (1) as there are degrees of felicity and responsibility in the consummated kingdom (e.g., 25:14-30; cf. 1 Cor 3:10-15), so also are there degrees of punishment (e.g., Matt 11:22; Luke 12:47-48); and (2) there is no shred of evidence in the NT that hell ever brings about genuine repentance. Sin continues as part of the punishment and the ground for it.


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