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CONDEMN. In the OT the word used for “condemn” is רָשַׁע, H8399, and in the NT (in order of frequency of use) κατακρίνω, κρίνω, καταδικάζω, and καταγινώσκω, G2861. There are slight differences of meaning and usage between the different words, but essentially they all involve the thought of giving judgment against a person or treating him as guilty. Sometimes, but by no means always, the sentence or penalty for the guilt or supposed guilt is expressed.

Condemnation may be that of one man by another without any legal procedure—a person is reckoned guilty, and perhaps made to suffer as guilty. Men often “condemn the innocent” in their judgments (Ps 94:21; Prov 17:15), but in the end God reverses all such judgments (1 Kings 8:32; Ps 109:31; Isa 50:9). Christ’s injunction, moreover, is against all such judging, “condemn not, and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6:37; cf. Rom 2:1).

It may be said, in a different spirit, that the integrity and God-fearing quality of one man’s life condemns another, as Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah by his faith and action “condemned the world” (cf. Matt 12:41f.). Closely associated with this is the way that Scripture often says that a man is condemned by his own words and actions, since they show the kind of person he is, though he has not come under actual judgment (Job 9:20; 15:6; Titus 3:11). 1 John 3:20 goes further in speaking of a man’s own heart condemning him.

It is made clear, however, that the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ was “not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He made this salvation possible by bearing the sin of men, because thus He “condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3); that is, He showed the guilt of sin and bore its consequences that it might be said through what He did by His death, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). Paul in this context implies what John 3:18 states concerning the alternatives of salvation and condemnation, “He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”


Arndt and BDB on the relevant words, and the articles on καταδικάζω, G2868, and κρίνω, G3212, in TDNT.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

kon-dem’, kon-dem-na’-shun:

1. In the Old Testament:

(1) The causative stem of rasha` "to declare (or make) wrong," "to condemn," whether in civil, ethical or religious relations. Taken in this sense the word needs no comment (Ex 22:9; De 25:1; Job 40:8); "Who then can condemn?" (Job 34:29, the King James Version "make trouble").

(2) `anash, "to fine." "Condemned the land" (2Ch 36:3 the King James Version; the King James Version margin "mulcted"; the Revised Version (British and American) "amerced"; the American Standard Revised Version "fined"); "wine of the condemned" (Am 2:8; the Revised Version (British and American) "fined" (unjustly)).

(3) The active participle of shaphaT, "to judge." "From those that condemn his soul" (Ps 109:31 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "that judge his soul").

2. In the New Testament:

The New Testament usage is much more complicated, both because of the greater number of Greek words rendered "condemn" and "condemnation," and because the King James Version translates the same word in several different ways, apparently with no rule whatever.

(2) The more specific sense of condemn, however, is found in katakrino, "to judge one down" (Mt 12:41,42; Mr 14:64): "is damned if he eat" (Ro 14:23; 1Co 11:32 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "condemned"). See also Mr 16:16; 2Pe 2:6.

(3) For "condemnation" there is the noun krima, or krima (for accent see Thayer’s Lexicon), in a forensic sense, "the sentence of the judge" (Lu 23:40; Mt 23:14, omitted in the Revised Version (British and American); "condemnation of the devil" 1Ti 3:6; 5:12; Jude 1:4).

(4) Much stronger is katakrima, "condemnation" (Ro 5:16,18; 8:1) with reference to the Divine judgment against sin.

(5) krisis, "the process of judgment," "tribunal" (Joh 3:19; 5:24), with reference to "the judgment brought by men upon themselves because of their rejection of Christ."

(6) A stronger word is the adjective autokatakritos, "self-condemned" (Tit 3:11; compare 1Jo 3:20,21).