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JUDGMENT (Heb. dhîn, mishpāt, Gr. krima, krisis). A word found many times in Scripture. Sometimes it refers to the pronouncing of a formal opinion or decision by human beings, but more often it indicates either a calamity regarded as sent by God for punishment or a sentence of God as the Judge of all. Among the more important judgments of God prior to the Exodus are those on Adam, Eve, and the serpent after the Fall (Gen.3.1-Gen.3.24), the Flood (Gen.6.5), Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.18.20), and the confusion of tongues (Gen.11.1-Gen.11.9). God brings judgment to his creatures when they rebel against his will.

In the NT the idea of judgment appears in both human and divine contexts. Jesus warns against uncharitable judgments (Matt.7.1). Paul says that the spiritual man cannot be judged by unbelievers (1Cor.2.15), and in Rom.14.1-Rom.14.23 and 1Cor.8.1-1Cor.8.13-1Cor.10.1-1Cor.10.33 he warns against judging those who are “weak” in the faith.

In the NT judgment is one of the aspects of the coming of the kingdom of God. God’s judgment, says John the Baptist, will fall on those who do not make ready the way of the Lord (Luke.3.9). Jesus declares that someday he will come to judge both the living and the dead (Matt.25.31ff.).

See also Eschatology.——SB

An important doctrine of Scripture as Christ Himself stated: “For judgment I have come into this world” (John 9:39). This NT idea grew from the OT teaching of the Day of the Lord. That New Era was thought to be the final crisis of history when God would judge men and reward them for their works. Both testaments in describing God picture Him as a holy and righteous being who must judge sin. Many leaders of the early church focused on the idea of a general judgment at the end of history. Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Lactantius show the profound effect of this teaching as they argue for the resurrection of the body, the completion of the ministry of Christ, and the significance of the present work of God in history, all on the basis of the doctrine of God's judgment. After the Reformation and the development of Protestantism there was a great diversity of opinion on the precise number as well as the time of the judgment. Some continue to speak of a general judgment whereas others distinguish as many as seven actions in this work.

Evangelicals who believe in a number of judgments usually mention those at the cross, at the Bema seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), of the living nations at the end time (Matt. 25), of the angels (Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4), and of the wicked dead at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:5,7). Advocates of these elaborate schemes of judgment are usually premillennialists and dispensationalists who hold to a more complicated and detailed plan for the second coming of Christ. They agree with other evangelicals, however, that the final judgment is the climax of a process which was inaugurated by the coming of Christ, who claimed that a rejection of Him caused a person to be “condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:18). When the consummation comes, those who have not followed Christ will be eternally condemned to hell (Matt. 25:31, 46; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 20:14,15).

The judgment of God is to be universal, and even though Christians will not be judged for their salvation, they still will be examined as to their works (Rom. 14:10). The achievements of some will be superficial (“wood, hay, or straw”), while others will have done worthwhile acts for Christ (“gold, silver, costly stones,” 1 Cor. 3:12-15). In this judgment Christ's words of praise or blame will be the reward or punishment (Matt. 25:21-23; Luke 19:17).

J. Baillie, And the Life Everlasting (1934); O. Cullmann, Christ and Time (1951); L. Morris, The Wages of Sin (1955; rep. 1957) and The Biblical Doctrine of Judgment (1960); L. Boettner, Immortality (1956); A.T. Hansen, The Wrath of the Lamb (1957).