Kevin DeYoung answers the question and then gives two important caveats:
There may be no more quoted verse these days than Matthew 25:40. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” Hardly a week goes by without a plea from some Christian leader or politician to think of “the least of these”, which usually entails some new program for the poor or seemingly oppressed.
But, as many people have pointed out before, the text refers to “the least of these my brothers.” (Granted, verse 45 gives the “not” version of verse 40 and does not include “my brothers”, but the context from verse 40 surely carries over to our understanding of verse 45.) Jesus does not teach that whatever we do for anyone in need anywhere we do unto him. He teaches something a little different, and more consistent with the rest of the New Testament. Namely, that when we show care for members of Christ’s body (his brothers and sisters), we are showing care for Christ himself.
With this correction in place, let me hasten to add two other points… [continue reading]