If I am reading this correctly...
So we're arguing over what The Bible says again.
[N]o one is disputing the larger point of Christ’s compassion for the poor, which is found throughout the New Testament.
As Erickson told me in an email:
“I made clear in both prior and subsequent tweets that the Bible does require Christians to care for the widows, orphans, poor, and refugees (one reason I oppose the President’s immigration stance), but Matthew 25 does not."
Because in his reading...
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’...refers only to church leadership, not to the poor, because Christ referred to church leadership in that way in chapter 18, verses 6, 10, and 14.
This is chapter 25, verses 20-26.
[Walks down hall. Gets the Lattimore translation.]
Lattimore is my go-to guy in these matters. Some would say that he is not the most ideal translator because as a primarily classical scholar he may have been a little under-equipped to understand the Hebraisms and other colloquial expressions that crop up in the New Testament. On the other hand, he was the greatest Greek translator of his generation, and did try within the limitations of his poor capability to get the text into modern American English. So, as Alec Baldwin said in another context, "I'm goin' anyway."
This comes up right after the Parable of the Talents. And then Jesus said:
When the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon the throne of his glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him...
So I'm going with the topic here being every human being on earth, if not every human being that ever existed. Continuing:
...and he will sort them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will station the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those who are his right: Come, you who are the blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom which has been made ready for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. The just will answer him saying:
Now we are talking about the subset of people whose behavior was praiseworthy. Continuing:
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you to drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and come to you? And the king will answer and say to them: Truly I tell you, inasmuch as you have done it for any one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it for me. Then he will say to those on his left: Go from me, cursed, to the everlasting fire which has been made ready by the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was a stranger and did not take me in, I was naked and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me. And they will answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and not take care of you? Then he will answer them and say: Truly I tell you, inasmuch as you have failed to do this for one of those who are least...Nice opportunity here to clarify that this is just about church leadership, if that was where he was going.
...you have failed to do it for me. And these shall go to everlasting punishment, but the just to everlasting life.
It's also interesting to me that the larger point is valid even if we accept the alternate reading. In either interpretation it is good to feed hungry people, give drink to the thirsty, take in strangers in need, provide clothes for those who need them, care for the sick, visit those in prison. It is bad to not do those things.
I attended a Catholic conference once and heard (through a closed door) a nun just hammering a group of lay people, many of them quite affluent. "There is no ambiguity," she said - clearly and deliberately - "WE are on the SIDE of the POOR." Eight one syllable words. So clear even a Bible scholar could understand it.
Nicholas Kristof has had enough...I can't say I blame him.
Here is the text from Kenneth Wuest's Expanded Translation of the New Testament, which was intended to be as clear possible, using as many English words as necessary to convey the meaning of the Greek.
Now, when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He shall sit upon His throne of glory. And there shall be gathered before Him all the Gentile nations. And He shall separate them from one another even as the shepherd separates the sheep from the young goats. And He shall stand the sheep on His right hand and the young goats on His left. Then shall the King say to those on His right hand. Come, my Father's blessed ones. Inherit the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the foundation of the universe : for I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you received me hospitably, naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, in prison I was and you came to me.
Then the righteous ones shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did We see you hungering and feed you, or thirsting and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and hospitably received you, or naked, and clothed you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and we came to you? And answering, the King shall say to them, Assuredly, I am saying to you, in so far as you did this to one of these my brethren, to the least, to me you did it. Then shall He say to those on His left hand, Be proceeding from me, you who have been doomed, into the fire, the everlasting fire which has been prepared and is in readiness for the devil and his angels : for I was hungry and you did not give me food, I was thirsty and you did not give me drink, a stranger I was, and you did not receive me hospitably, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not look after me. Then they themselves shall also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungering or thirsting, or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not relieve your necessities? Then He shall answer them, saying, Assuredly, I am saying to you, in so far as you did not do it to one of these least ones, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go off after me. Then they themselves shall also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungering or thirsting, or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not relieve your necessities? Then He shall answer them, saying, Assuredly, I am saving to you, in so far as you did not do it to one of these least ones, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go off into everlasting punishment, but the righteous ones into life eternal.