What does the Bible say about Judgment?

Scripture Reading

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matt. 12:36-37

Judgment is Coming

In this week’s scripture reading on what the Bible says about judgment, one thing comes across very clear in this passage from Jesus. He does not leave any ambiguity in conveying a message about judgment to the multitudes who were listening to him. Nor does he leave any doubt in his message for people who are reading this passage today.

But first, let us always remember the importance of context in studying scripture from a faith perspective. In looking back on this scriptural passage from Matthew, many events just took place. Jesus healed a man possessed by a devil. Then as shocking as it was, the religious leaders known as the Pharisees, claimed the healing by Jesus was done by the prince of devils. Jesus tells them their claim is fraught with error since it would be the prince of devils working against devils, or a kingdom divided against itself.

Judgment of Blasphemy

Jesus then concludes by saying that if he casts out devils by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God will come upon them but they still could not comprehend his message. He condemns their accusations as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost which merits the unfathomable consequence of having no forgiveness from God. Fast forward through a few more verses of commentary, and we then arrive at this week’s scripture passage.

The passage for this week therefore comes with great context in a setting that involves an act of miraculous compassion and kindness from Jesus but then he is accused of working through the prince of the devils. From there, Jesus then casts judgment upon the Pharisees over their blasphemous accusations. This was indeed a very poignant statement from him on what the Bible says about judgment.

One must wonder how this could have taken place with the religious leaders who no doubt were intent on listening to every word from Jesus. Consider the contrast of their reaction to how Simon Peter reacted when he also saw a miracle from Jesus, “When Simon Peter saw [it,] he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.” [Luke 5:8]

Surely, if people really knew who was standing before them and realized that Jesus was not just the Son of man, but the Son of God, their reaction would be like that of Peter’s. Here he was the Lord of glory in omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience before them, but they would not fall to their knees as Peter did in his realization that God was standing before them.

But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.

Ps. 9:7

Old Testament Judgment

With that said, let us back up  for a moment to explore judgment in the scriptures. Judgment was first noted in the Bible in Gen. 18:19. The first time the LORD executed judgment was in Ex.12:12, with his pronouncement of judgment upon the people of Egypt under Pharaoh. As the Lord introduced the Mosaic law there was even a breastplate of judgment noted in Ex. 28:15.

The answer to what the Bible says about judgment is manifold. Judgment is mentioned 31 times in the book of Psalms as written by King David and 36 times by the prophet Isaiah as recorded in his self named book Isaiah. In scripture, it is important to know and understand that judgment starts and will end with the Lord. This eternal judgment from the Lord is described in this passage, “But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.” [Ps. 9:7-8]

The Lord’s nature of judgment is further confirmed from this verse in the Psalms, “Clouds and darkness [are] round about him: righteousness and judgment [are] the habitation of his throne.” [Ps.97:2] By his very nature, judgment is indeed a very large part of the Lord as expressed in the book of Proverbs, “Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; [yea,] every good path.” [Prov. 2:9]

…righteousness and judgment [are] the habitation of his throne.

Ps. 97:2b

New Testament Judgement

As we transition into the New Testament, we see the countless references to judgment from Jesus starting in Matt. 5:21-22, where Jesus speaks of judgment in a future tense. He continues in this same manner in Matt. 10:15, again speaking of a future day of judgment. Several other occurrences are given of a future judgment expressed by Jesus in Matt. 11:22, 24, 12:36, 12:42, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:14. This was therefore not simply a one-off comment from Jesus. He rather pronounced it over and over again for the multitudes to ponder upon this same theme on what does the Bible say about judgment.

Further on, Jesus continues to condemn the religious leaders called the Pharisees for omitting judgment in their approach to the multitudes, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” [Matt. 23:23] In this case, judgment carries noble merit along with mercy and faith since it would have been in demonstration of prudence in their leadership of the people.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

John 5:22

Jesus Pronounces Judgment

One of the most prominent gospel accounts depicting the message of judgment from Jesus is recorded throughout the book of John. This starts out very early as John records the affirmation from Jesus that judgment rests in his hands as committed unto him from the heavenly Father, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” [John 5:22] Jesus continues along this same theme by illustrating the incredible interrelationship between the Father and the Son as it relates to judgment, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” [John 5:30]

As the gospel account from John continues, Jesus again affirms how his judgment is completely interdependent upon the Father as shared, “And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” [John 8:16] Further to this, Jesus make a very bold statement in the sense that judgment is one of the principle reasons why he came into the world, or came down from heaven to earth as shared in this passage, {And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” [John 9:39]

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world,

John 9:39a

Of particular interest, with his imminent crucifixion approaching more closely, Jesus starts to proclaim how judgment is being cast upon this world, or rather upon the prince of this world The apostle John documents this comment from Jesus, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” [John 12:31] As events ultimately continue toward the cross, Jesus also starts to proclaim how the Holy Spirit will succeed him following his ascension back to heaven. In turn, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of judgment as expressed by Jesus, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” [John 16:8]

Apostles Echo Judgment

With so much commentary from Jesus over the notion of judgment, is it any wonder why some of his apostles wrote about the same subject? Consider the apostle Paul’s statements as he highlights judgment toward disobedient people toward God, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” [Rom. 1:32] In the next chapter of Paul’s same letter to the church in Rome he shares further affirmation of this divine judgment, “But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.” [Rom. 2:2]

In one of Paul’s other letters to the church in Corinth, Paul outlines the coming judgment of God after death, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.” [2 Cor. 5:10] This same message was further articulated by another apostle, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” [Heb. 9:27] This should leave no ambiguity to seekers of faith and people of faith that judgment was a very large part of the apostle’s dialogue in the early church.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;

2 Cor. 5:10a

To further corroborate this, even the apostle Peter described the ominous perplexity of judgment as it pertains to the house of God, or people of God, “For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?” [1 Pet. 4:17]

What a blessing it is to learn and know however that Peter confidently states how believers will be delivered from this perilous judgment, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” [2 Pet. 2:9] This passage of scripture helps to articulate how this judgment pertains to the unjust and not to believers. Let us also circle back to the words of Jesus as he stated a similar message to the multitudes, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” [John 5:24]

While that passage may not mention the word judgment, the parallel phrase connotes similar messaging over not coming into condemnation but passing from death unto life. We therefore start to see the distinction being set in scripture that a judgment is forthcoming among unbelievers and bypassing believers in Christ. Peter the apostle documents this in the most dreadful of terms in his second letter, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” [2 Pet. 3:7]

Judgment Gives Pause for Thought

Let us therefore close off this Bible study on what the Bible says about judgment by recapping some observations. Depending upon available commentaries and writers, there are several different types of judgment written and spoken about in scripture. For the purpose of this Bible study, it has focused on the evident distinction of judgment between believers in Christ and unbelievers.

Perhaps it is therefore fitting to leave seekers of faith with a passage on judgment from the last book of scripture recorded in the entire Bible. This prophetic verse once again leaves little to interpretation that a judgment awaits those who choose to pursue their own ways of so-called self-religion. The words of Jesus are very clear however when he claims that he is the way, the truth and the life and that no man comes to the Father but through him (John 14:6).

Dear seekers of faith, take a moment to shut off worldly distractions and ungodly influences that tout themselves as wiser than God ( 1 Cor.  20-31). For it is God who will declare in the end from the heavens a pronouncement of judgment of finality upon people who ultimately reject the gospel of grace, the way of salvation, the path of mercy, through the cross of Jesus and redemption through his shed blood. As John the apostle wrote from the heavenly influence, let us all take heed and bow before the knee of Jesus in reverence to this proclamation, “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” [Rev. 14:7]

Bible Study Questions

  1. In this study on what does the Bible say about judgment, why is it important to have proper context on this subject?
  2. In Luke 5:8, why do you think Peter said to Jesus to depart from him?
  3. Can you find a verse in scripture or from this study that speaks of God’s judgment from the book of Psalms?
  4. In simplest terms, what is one example of future judgment upon unbelievers from this study?
  5. Fill in the blanks from John 5:32, For the Father ________________ no man, but hath committed all _______________ unto the Son.
  6. How would you reconcile these two verses on judgment – 2 Cor. 5:10 and John 5:24?
  7. Commit to sharing the gospel to someone you care about to warn them over the coming judgment of remaining in unbelief of the gospel.

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