JESUS VS PAUL #14: Jesus the judge or not?

The following apparent discrepancy comes from JESUS VS PAUL #14: Jesus the judge or not?

(14) Paul–“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ….” (2 Cor. 5:10) versus Jesus–“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man” (John 8:15) and “…who made me a judge and a divider over you?” (Luke 12:14) and “…for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47) and (John 8:50). Somebody should have told Paul that Jesus doesn’t want the job.

So the apparent discrepancy is that Paul taught we are to be judged by Christ, but apparently Christ said He diid not come to judge the world.  How do we reconcile the two ideas? Let us look at the verses in the NIV.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

 6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7We live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Paul is saying we live by faith, but we are to live  holy life, pleasing to God, because everyone will someday be judged by Christ and will receive what is due him based upon things in this life.

Now let us look at the next verse mentioned in the apparent discrepancy, John 8:12-18

12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 13The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

 14Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.

In this passage, Jesus was speaking about a specific time and place. He was not passing judgement then and there. And we see a similar statement in Luke 12:13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

 16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

 20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 21“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Notice, in the above passage, that Jesus did not arbitrate in civil matters, for this was not His purpose. In fact, He warned about being preoccupied with the material life. It is being rich towards God that matters, not rich in things. Again, Jesus’ purpose in becoming human was not to be a judge of the things that matter not, particularly while He was in human form.

John 12:37-50

37Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
   “Lord, who has believed our message
      and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

 39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
 40“He has blinded their eyes
      and deadened their hearts,
   so they can neither see with their eyes,
      nor understand with their hearts,
      nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

 42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

 44Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

 47“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Again, Jesus’ purpose in coming to live in a physical body on this planet was not to bring judgement at that time. It was to be a light to the world concerning God. His office at that time was not that of Judge, but of Light, of Savior. But nmotice something a little different about the above passage. Let’s look at John 12:46-48 in the NASB:

 46“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 47“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

Jesus lived on earth as a human so who ever believed in Him would not remain in darkness.  But the very words of Christ would judge those who rejects Him IN THE FUTURE, “at the last day”. 

John 8:48-59

48The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

 49“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

 52At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

 54Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

 57“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

 58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Here we see that, at that time, God is the judge. But notice that there is no judgment at the time that Jesus spoke.

Some people want to think that Paul was teaching things that Jesus or the other Apostles did not teach. But let’s look at the words of Jesus concerning judgement.

In fact, Jesus said He came into the world for judgement, although He was not here to judge AT THAT TIME. This means He was preparing the way for people to be accurately and fairly judged.

John 9:35-39

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

 36“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

 37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

 38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

 39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

In fact, while  people might want to believe Jesus will not judge mankind, Jesus’ words say something very different. God the Father is the judge, but He gave Jesus authority to judge, at a point in time in the future – based upon whether someone believes in Christ or not. 

John 5:21-30

21For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

 28“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

In fact, Jude the brother of Jesus wrote  that the Lord is coming to judge everyone. Jude verse 14-16

 14Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Jesus tells us that He will give each person according to what He has done. Matthew 16:24-28

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Again, this is a FUTURE event. The Son of God did not take bodily form to judge us at that time. But this does not mean Jesus will not judge us in the future.

Let us look at what Peter said in Acts 10:34-43,

34Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

 39“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Notice, Jesus was appointed by God the Father to be judge. This is the same thing Peter, Jude, and Paul wrote – we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ and answer for our actions – the chief of which is whether we believed Christ was our savior (John 3:16-18).

No, there is no discrepancy between what Jesus said or what Paul said. They both said the same thing, Jesus will judge everyone, on judgement day.


5 Responses

  1. wb..
    This message is so needed! Thank you! Judgment will be eternal and so real!
    “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead; and He placed His right hand on me, saying, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, And the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever; and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Rev. 1:17-18)
    Fr. R.

  2. So when Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple with a whip and flipping tables – Or when he referred to the religious leaders as a brood of vipers – Was He not rendering a judgment?

    • Yes and no. Do not confuse the judgement which will occur at the end times to decide who will go to the second death (2 Timothy 4:1-3; Rev 20:11-15), and discerning between right and wrong. We are all told to recognize right and wrong and to condemn evil and rebuke those who sin (Ephesians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Jude 1:3-4). Jesus told people to be more righteous than those who taught righteousness, but He did not come to pass judgement at that time on who would and would not enter heaven. But He WILL judge people in the end.

      I’ve written more on this subject:

  3. Hey WB whats up it’s Harrison, i texted you a few years ago, and i have something on my mind, I thought jesus was mean and said: “This is nice, but YOU see jesus as harsh while he’s supposed to be loving…” But i made a spelling mistake (spell check) i wanted to write “this is nice, but you see, IM SEEING jesus as harsh while he’s supposed to be loving…” I just wanted to say that i wasn’t saying you did anything wrong or anything bad about Christ; I made a spelling mistake, didn’t mean to be mean… CHRIST BLESS(p.s solved the problem i had to, i think the 7 woes where said in sadness rather than anger. and that Jesus never yelled, since it said, “This is my servant…. he shall not CRY OUT(SHOUT ) :D) Thanks :D

    • Thanks for writing . I have been wondering how you are doing. I am glad you cleared up the typo. I think that helped clear up what you were saying.

      You may be right, that Jesus proclaimed theseven woes in sadness rather than anger. But it seems to me the verse you are mentioning has more to do with whether Christ cried out when he was being persecuted or tried or killed.

      Isaiah 42:2

      He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.

      Matthew 12:14-21

      14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

      15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
      18 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
      My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
      I will put My Spirit upon Him,
      And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
      19 “He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
      Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
      20 “A battered reed He will not break off,
      And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
      Until He leads justice to victory.
      21 “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

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