This article is a not-in-depth look at judgement in the Bible.
For a quick background I will summarize some points in which I agree with Ken Ham’s article here. That article has scripture reference and it’s overall pretty good so I recommend you read it.
- In the Old Testament it is clear that all authority to judge, give law, hold trial, rule, and enforce rulings and laws is ultimately the property of God the Father.
- In the New Testament God the Father gives all authority to judge to Christ.
- One notable scripture reference is John 5:22, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son…”
Now some other points.
- Once a person has become a Christian it is no longer they who live, but Christ who lives in them.
- Clearly a Christian has authority to judge, but that does not imply that we should judge.
- Should we?
At this point let’s pull a few sources:
- 100 verses about judging others.
- 100 verses about judging other Christians.
- Matthew 7, Interlinear
- John 7, Interlinear
John tells us we should judge, but Matthew says that any standard we judge with will also be used to judge us with, which would seem to imply that we should not judge. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 we are straight up told not to judge those outside the church and straight up told to judge those within the church.
Are all these kinds of “judging” the same language or are they conflated interpretation? Looking at the interlinear greek we can clearly tell that there is only one word used for judge. The idea that there is an “ultimate” vs a “practical” judgement is a theological, not an exegetical, concept. Exegetically, that is to say according to a direct interpretation of scripture, there is no distinction between practical and ultimate judgement.
All of this above is fairly unclear. My first rule of thumb is that if something is unclear in scripture it is not a critical issue for the Christian. A response based on this line of thinking might be, “Whether or not we should judge people is less important than X.”
My second response is to attempt to interpret the scripture, although because it is unclear there may be some diversity of interpretation. I would reconcile the biblical literature on judgement by saying that people should not judge one another. Christ, on the other hand, can and will judge all people. Because Christ lives in the Christian, Christians should voice Christ’s judgement, but not their own personal judgement. Furthermore, under the direction of scripture, Christians should only voice Christ’s judgement to other Christians, and they should do so in a way that is fit for a Christian to speak to another Christian.