All Will Be Judged
But What Does That Mean?
It is a common idea within the minds of many Christians that every one of the elect will be judged at the return of Jesus Christ at the resurrection, and others will be judged at some later time. There appears to be some confusion on the issue of judgment … what it means and when it will occur. Let us see what Scripture says about this most important subject to help clear up any misunderstandings.
The words judge, judged, and judging are used many times in the New Testament, translated from several different Greek words, but usually from the word krino.
krino. As a verb, “to distinguish, choose, give an opinion upon, judge; sometimes denotes ‘to condemn.’” Examples: Matthew 7:1; 19:29; Luke 6:37; 7:43; 12:57; 19:22; 22:30; John 5:30; 7:24; 8:15, 26; 12:47; 16:11; 18:31; Acts 4:19; 7:11; 13:46; 16:15; 17:31; 23:3; 24:6; 25:9, 20; 26:6; Romans 2:1, 3, 12, 16, 27; 3:4, 6; 14:3, 10, 13; I Corinthians 4:5; 5:3, 12; 6:2; 10:15, 29; 11:13, 31; II Corinthians 5:14; Colossians 2:16; II Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 10:30; 13:4; James 2:12; 4:11; I Peter 4:5, 6; Revelation 6:10; 11:18; 16:5; 19:2, 11; 20:12.
anakrino. “To scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, determine.” Examples: I Corinthians 4:3; 14:24.
kriterion. “A rule of judging.” Example: I Corinthians 6:2.
diakrino. “To separate thoroughly, discern, discriminate, divide.” Examples: I Corinthians 6:2; 11:31; 14:29.
hegeomai. “To lead, commend (with official authority, deem, consider.” Example: Hebrews 11:11.
The word judgment is usually translated from the Greek work krisis or krima.
krisis. “A decision, subjectively or objectively, for or against.” Examples: Matthew 5:21; 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:18, 20, 36, 41; 23:23; 27:19; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:14; 11:31, 42; John 5:22, 27, 30; 7:24; 8:16; 12:31; 16:8, 11; Acts 8:33; 18:12, 16; 23:35; II Thessalonians 1:5; I Timothy 5:24; Hebrews 9:27; 10:27; James 2:6, 13; II Peter 2:3, 9; 3:7; I John 4:17; Jude 6, 15; Revelation 14:7; 16:7; 18:10; 19:2.
krima. “ A decision (the function or the effect, for or against).” Examples: Matthew 7:2; John 9:39; Acts 24:25; 25:6, 10; Romans 2:2; 5:16, 18; 11:33; 14:10; Galatians 5:10; Hebrews 6:2; I Peter 4:17; II Peter 2:3; Revelation 17:1; 20:4.
praitorion. “The governor’s courtroom.” Examples: John 18:28, 33; 19:9, 13.
dike. “Right, justice.” Examples: Acts 25:15, 17.
diakaioma. “An equitable deed, a statute or decision.” Examples: Romans 1:32; Revelation 15:4.
dikaiokrisia. “A just sentence.” Example: Romans 2:5.
gome. “Cognition, opinion, resolve.” Examples: I Corinthians 1:10; 7:25, 40; II Corinthians 5:10.
hemera. “Tame, gentle.” Examples: I Corinthians 4:3.
kriterion. “A rule of judging.” Example: I Corinthians 6:4.
aisthesis. “Perception, discernment.” Example: Philippians 1:9.
All Will Be Judged
With these word definitions in hand, we know that Scripture teaches all people will be judged. Note these verses.
Romans 14:10-12.”But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Matthew 25:31-33. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”
Acts 10:42. “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.”
Acts 17:31. “Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
II Corinthians 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Jude 14-15. “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’”
Knowing that all people will be judged, or as krino means “have an opinion, choice, or judgment passed on them,” one might ask what that judgment will be. What is this judgment about?
It is obvious that this judgment concerns who is chosen to be raised to eternal life at either the first or second resurrection … i.e., who will be granted the spirit of God and be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This judgment is typified in Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep separated from the goats, wherein the sheep on Christ’s right hand, who clothed the naked, fed the hungry, visited the sick, and so forth, “… inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Those who did not do such good works to the least of His brethren were judged worthy to be cast away into everlasting punishment (death), while those who served Christ’s brethren were granted eternal life (Matthew 25:46).
Yet, Works Cannot Save You
These brothers of Christ had to first be drawn to Christ by the Father (John 6:44), whereupon they followed the process of repentance, faith in Him, baptism, and the laying on of hands to receive the spirit of God (Hebrews 7:1-2). We know that baptism is the pivotal point in the lives of the elect, when one’s sins are washed away in a watery grave so the person can begin a new life, one now dedicated in service to the heavenly Father.
Colossians 2:11-13. “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
Romans 6:3-4. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Sin and its death sentence are no longer imputed, but those sins have been removed from the person “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12); our heavenly Father does not even remember them! Then, as a consequence of this incredibly perfect gift of the spirit from the Father, the servant of God lives by faith, doing good works according to the intent of the Law … for that Law is now codified in the heart, not just on tablets of stone (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:10-12). The conceived son of God lives by good works, for faith without works is dead (James 2:20).
Matthew 5:18. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
II Corinthians 9:8. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”
Ephesians 2:10. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”.
Colossians 1:10. “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
II Thessalonians 2:17. “Comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”
II Timothy 3:16-17. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Note also the necessity of good works for the elect in I Timothy 5:10, 25; 6:18; II Timothy 2:21; 3:17; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:1, 6, 14; Hebrews 10:24; 13:21; James 3:13; I Peter 2:12. This is not saying the good works in any way can earn a person eternal life; salvation is a gift of God.
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
gift = dorea, “a gratuity.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
gift = charisma, “gratuity, deliverance, endowment.”
Many other scriptures assure us that salvation is a gift that cannot be earned by any amount of good works. Ephesians 2:8-10, partially cited earlier, makes the case abundantly clear:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
By the gracious [charis, “graciousness, thanks”] act of the Father, coupled with our faith [pistis, “moral conviction”], we have been saved [sozo, “delivered or protected”] from death and destruction, which is His gift of eternal life to us … an undeserved one at that. Yet, while that gift is not earned by good works, we see that our bodies and spirits were created to perform good works [ergon, “to work and toil, as an effort or occupation”], “… which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Thus, we see good works as a consequence of receiving the spirit of God, not connected with first receiving that free-will gift of the Father, for “… all of our righteousness is like filthy rags …” (Isaiah 64:6). This does not mean it is fruitless to do good deeds — we were made for that purpose — but they will not gain us salvation. We do them to please our Creator and consequently reap great blessings from fulfilling the Law in our hearts … a Law that automatically delivers great results to the doers, whether they are God’s people or not!
The Chosen Have Already Been Judged
Let us return to judgment. It is now clear that those have been called, chosen, and given God’s spirit have already been judged! The Father has already brought them to Jesus Christ, they have accepted that sacrifice of his spilled life-blood to cover their sins, they have been made white and clean, and have received the spirit, a spirit that promises eternal life. At the resurrection at the seventh trumpet they will be granted spirit bodies, be gathered by the angels and Christ in the air, and forever be with Christ and the Father (Matthew 24:30-31; I Corinthians 15:51-52; I Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 19:7-9).
It would make no sense to suggest that the saints, possessing God’s spirit, would need to face a further judgment at the resurrection when they have already been judged worthy to receive His spirit! Some may contend that, yes, the saints are judged worthy to inherit salvation, but once they are resurrected they will be assigned a position in the Kingdom of God based upon the works they have accomplished once receiving His spirit. Yet, this view falls short on several counts.
1. The gifts bestowed upon God’s people through His spirit are determined by the Father Himself, and the brethren cannot change these gifts He grants. “But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased Him.” (I Corinthians 12:18).
2. If a member of the elect was to claim a “higher” position in the Kingdom because of more good works here on earth, then he is already claiming a doctrine of salvation by works, at least in terms of the position obtained, that has already been predetermined by the One who knows perfectly everyone’s position and capability.
3. Gaining a “higher” position in the Kingdom necessitates that some others attain a “lower” position, which reflects a spirit of competition that is directly opposed to the character Creator. Notice what Christ said regarding servanthood and competitiveness in relation to one’s “position” in the Kingdom of God.
Luke 22:24-30. “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”
The apostles were to eat and drink with Christ at His table in the coming government of God, positions of responsibility that are similar for all of the disciples who will inherit eternal life because we are all brothers of Jesus (Romans 8:29), and God is no respector of persons (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19; Proverbs 24:23; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; I Peter 1:17).
4. The attitude of servanthood of a true Christian demands that he place himself humbly in a servant’s position, washing the feet of everyone else … showing that we are all to serve one another with joy and lovingkindness, with the greatest being the least. Christ turns the world upside down!
John 13:12-17. “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you: You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.’”
Matthew 19:30.”But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Mathew 20:16. “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
Mark 9:35.”And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’”
Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father upend the hierarchy of this world, which places powerful leaders above others in value and prestige. Rather, in God’s government the least esteemed in this world’s Satanic system, if they be doing God’s will, are the most esteemed in His world, and will be set on high in the coming age. Even then, however, they will be of a totally humble stature in serving those around them. Our heavenly Father possess all of the universe, yet is the most humble Being that exists!
5. Scriptures that may seem to say there will be positions granted in the Kingdom based on our work do not mean what some may think. Take, for example, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), which is the same as the Parable of the ten Pounds (Luke 19:11-27), with some variations. Spiros Zodhiates in the Key Word Study Bible (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 2008) makes the following case for these parables.
“The difference between this parable and the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 is that in Luke’s parable, the nobleman gave equally one pound to each person, but in the parable in Matthew he bestowed unequal endowments. He expects the proper yield proportionate to His endowment. This is in confirmation of Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 4:7: ‘… and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’ All things have been received from God. None can say that he or she has received nothing. No matter how much or how little one has, it must always be remembered that it has come from God, and that every person is responsible to Him for the way he or she uses what the Lord has given.”
John 14:2 says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions [mone, ‘a staying or residence, the act or the place’]; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Place = topos,”a spot in space, i.e., a location (position, home, tract, etc.), and figuratively a condition or opportunity.” Thus, in the abode of the Father — which we may typify as the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2-3) — are places of residence for the saints, who comprise that great edifice. Notice that Jesus speaks of a place — a condition or opportunity — being prepared for each of the elect. It is a position of responsibility that He gives each of us, based on our gifts and talents that He has also given us … and as far as we know it is a Priesthood and Kingship based here on the earth in the new Eden that will overspread this amazing planet of ours: “… and have made us unto our God Kings and priest: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). This is the very purpose for which our Creator originally called His nation Israel … to become a nation of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6).
We can now with confidence know that the elect have truly been judged, right now, and judged worthy to receive eternal life. John 5:24 says this plainly.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Likewise, I Peter 4:17-18 states this truth.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’”
We, as firstfruits, are the first to be judged, and as the above verse says, the righteous will scarcely [molis, “with difficulty”] be saved. This quote from Proverbs 11:31 is better stated in the Hebrew translation in Proverbs:
“If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.”
recompensed = shalam, “finish, complete, repay, reward; perfection in the sense that a condition as action is complete.”
What About the Second Resurrection?
We have confirmed that we are judged worthy of eternal life, having been called by our Father and brought to Jesus Christ, the Savior whose blood has paid the price for our sins, and washed us clean through the water of baptism. We are new creatures, set to inherit a Kingdom that has not yet appeared, but soon will, to replace this sin-laden, competitive world, ruled by the devil’s principles, with an Eden established worldwide!
Yet, we are saddled with needing to understand the judgment after the second resurrection, which is outlined in Revelation 20:11-15.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The dead were “… judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12). The Greek word for judged is krino, which we know means “to distinguish or choose.” Note in the beginning of verse 12 that John saw “… the dead small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.” What are these “books?”
Look at Psalm 139:13-16. Here we have the marvelous process of gestation within the mother’s womb described, and in verse 16 we read, “Your eyes say my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book [cepher, “writing; by implication a book”] they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” The term “ Your book” can only mean the genetic code that makes a person what he is, which guides the development of the person from a single cell to an adult … not discounting the reality of spirit control in some way throughout this process. At least we know that each individual has a “book” that defines who his is, which is reiterated in Revelation 20:12.
Our Creator knows exactly who we are, and where we fit into the New Jerusalem — His government. So, He could say that He has placed each of His saints exactly into the position of responsibility that is correct (I Corinthians 12:18), a “mansion” (condition or opportunity) reserved for each of the elect. The “book” that we are is placed exactly where we need to be in the Father’s infinite wisdom, and for these people resurrected in the post-millennial world we must assume that they will have a period of time during which they will live on the earth to make the choice of accepting Christ’s sacrificial blood to redeem them from the death that comes as the penalty for the son.
We do not know how long this period will be, but for the multiple billions of people who have ever lived on earth, but not been called and chosen by the Father in the previous 6,000 years of pre-millennial life, there must be a time of learning and growing into the fulness of Christ’s stature … at the very least being called by the Father and given His spirit at repentance and faith in their Maker. Once these who had died and were raised in the second resurrection are given His spirit, they are in the Book of Life … the record of those who are raised to eternal life (Revelation 20:12, 15).
We cannot presume that the process of salvation will be any different for those raised in the second resurrection than it has been for the firstfruits living during the 6,000 years of mankind during this present age. There must be repentance, faith in the Father and Christ, and most likely baptism and the laying on of hands to receive God’s spirit (Hebrews 6:1-2), followed by a change to eternally living bodies. We have no information as to how exactly this process will happen for these second resurrection saints, just that it will. Their judgment will then have been finalized: they will have been accepted into eternal life and cannot receive the condemnation of those who have been raised but will not repent of their sins and receive Christ’s shed blood … whose names are not written in the Book of Life and will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), burned up and utterly obliterated forever. The soul that sins and has not been not redeemed by Christ’s blood will die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
And They Were Judged …
How then can we understand the statements in Revelation 20:12 and 13 that these raised beings — presumably after living for a time and accepting Christ as their Saviour — were judged [krino, “distinguished or given an opinion upon”] out of the things written in their book [cepher], which is their genetic code and the gifts and talents bequeathed by that code? As it says in verse 13, “… and they were judged every man according to their works.”
We have just discussed that no amount of “works” can gain eternal life, which is the judgment that is being implicated here, for eternal life is a gift. What then can this mean? Since the Bible interprets itself, notice Revelation 22:12.
“And behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (King James Version).
reward = misthos, “pay for service.”
work = ergon, “work, toil, and act.”
Here almost the same words are used as in Revelation 20:12 and 13, but notice that Christ is speaking of giving rewards that are in reference to future work, “… as his work shall be”! Christ is speaking of the responsibilities the resurrected sons of God will be given in the next eon, within the government of Elohim after the millennium! Other translations agree with this futuristic interpretation, such as the Jubilee Bible 2000, the King James 2000 Bible, the Darby Bible Translation, Webster’s Bible Translation, and Young’s Literal Translation. The 1599 Geneva Bible agrees with the 1611 King James Version by referring to the “work” as future, whereas the Greek-English Interlinear Translation uses the present tense by saying “… to each as the work of him is.” It makes no sense to use the past tense of “works,” since then the reward would be based on works, not given as a gift — and likewise it makes no sense to utilize the present tense [“the work of him is”] except in terms of future efforts. The King James and certain other versions have correctly translated this verse.
We can now safely say that the judgment of those raised in the second resurrection will be the same as for those who are raised immortal in the first resurrection. The reward is eternal life for those judged worthy, a judgment not based on works but granted as a gift. Works are a consequence of the spirit dwelling within, not a test to determine one’s worthiness to attain eternal life. We were created to perform good works (Ephesians 2:10), to be servants of the Living God and of one another, expressing love to one another by exercising our spiritual gifts to one another. This comprehension of governmental structure today within the ecclesia is the very format of government that will be present in the next age. The “judgment” of Revelation 20:12 and 13 is about the responsibilities the second resurrection saints will be given for their future spirit lives, not a judgment portioned out by an accumulated catalog of good works.
Judgment has indeed began for the house of God today. All of us who have been chosen to receive the spirit need to thank our Creator continually for having found us worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, and judged worthy to attain a “better resurrection”(Hebrews 11:35), as we await the massive harvest after the millennial Eden. What a great God we have who has revealed these truths to us, and not left out anyone from His great plans … for He desires that none be lost (I Timothy 2:4; II Peter 3:9)!