Eternal Judgment

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king. (Isaiah 33:22)

In the Old Testament the word "judgment" is used two ways. One refers to the statutes, testimonies, and laws of God. The other concerns God's judgment on men and nations. The latter meaning is how the word "judgment" is used in the New Testament. This is meaning that is used in study.


The word "to judge" means to separate or make a difference between. This includes bringing to trial, examining evidence, determining guilt or innocence, and deciding the penalty for sin. Eternal judgment is the great and final judgment spoken of in the Bible which determines the eternal destiny of all souls.



For the Lord is our judge. (Isaiah 32:22)

...God the judge of all... (Hebrews 12:23)

God judges the sinful behavior of mankind. God's real desire is not judgment but that all men come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ:

For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

God's desire is that all men everywhere repent. If they do not repent of sin they will experience His judgment:

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent; Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness... (Acts 17:30-31)


God has given Jesus authority to judge:

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

And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:22,27)


In the final judgment true believers will help judge the world:

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that ye shall judge angels?... (I Corinthians 6:2-3)

The word "saints" in this verse means all true believers. They will help judge the "world" [the unrighteous].


The standard by which we all will be judged is the Word of God:

And if any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:47-48)

It is not the standards, creeds, or traditions of man by which we will be judged. It is not on the basis of organizational or denominational rules. The standard by which we will be judged is the fixed standard of the Word of God:

Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89)


The Bible reveals judgment is necessary because of sin against God's law, ungodliness, unrighteousness, unbelief, trespasses, and evil deeds. Although these are different words, they are all words for sin:


For...as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. (Romans 2:12)


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. (II Peter 3:7)

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. (Jude 15)


The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished. (II Peter 2:9)


He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)


Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  (Romans 5:18)


And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)



God's law and the principles of judgment are fixed in His Word:

Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven. (Psalms 119:89)


Jesus warned:

Woe unto thee, Chorazin, woe unto thee Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to Hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:21-24)

The men of Ninevah shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41)

A general revelation of God is given to all men through the wonders of creation:

For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that we are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

This general understanding of God given to all men through creation is the basic standard by which men will be judged. Those who receive additional revelation by hearing God's Word will be judged by a higher standard of knowledge.


Each person will be judged individually:

The soul that sinneth it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20)


Paul wrote:

...But we are sure the judgment of God is according to truth...(Romans 2:2)


Each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will be judged according to our deeds. The Bible also calls this judgment according to " works":

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in this body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

...Who will render every man according to his deeds. (Romans 2:6)

...the Father...judgeth according to every man's work. (I Peter 1:17)

...the dead were judged out of these things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12)

God's record of man's "works" covers not only actions but also thoughts and motives.

God looks on the heart, not just on the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7).


The eternal judgment will be without partiality. This means without special favor. People will not be judged on the basis of their wealth, social position, nationality, or education.

...the Father...without respect of persons judgeth. (I Peter 1:17)

To have respect of persons means to be influenced in judgment by some external factor of appearance, relationship, position, wealth, etc. God's judgment is not influenced by any of these things:

...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7)


...as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law. (Romans 2:12)


And He shall judge the world in righteousness; He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. (Psalms 9:8)

...He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth. (Psalms 96:13)

...He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17:31)

...the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:5)

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)


Therefore judge nothing before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsel of the hearts... (I Corinthians 4:5)

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Romans 2:16)


The Bible indicates there is a past, present, and future judgment:


The Bible is a history of God's past judgment. From the time of Adam and Eve it records God's judgment of nations and individuals.

The Bible records two special past judgments that are important to believers.

These are the judgments of Satan and the world. God has already passed judgment and set the penalties for both.

-Satan And His Angels:

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God passed final judgment on Satan:

...the prince of this world [Satan] is judged. (John 16:11)

And having spoiled principalities and powers [the forces of Satan] He [Jesus] made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)

Satan has already been judged by God. He is allowed limited activity until he is cast into the lake of fire at the end of the world but he is already condemned as guilty. Satan's angels, who left their original position in Heaven as angels of God to join him in rebellion, are also already condemned:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6)

-The World:

Jesus said:

Now is the judgment of this world... (John 12:31)

Because it is ruined by the presence of sin, the physical world is already condemned by God's judgment. The Bible says the world will be destroyed by fire:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)


There is a present judgment that goes on continuously. All men are presently judged as sinful or righteous before God. The present judgment of man is on the basis of whether or not he has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior:

He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

God's present judgment on unbelievers is by showing His wrath because they hinder the truth:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)

God's present judgment of believers is in love. He corrects them when they do wrong:

...My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him; For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth... But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. (Hebrews 12:5,6,8)

Just as a natural father corrects his children, God judges the behavior of His children. If they sin, God corrects them in love just as a father does his son.

God's chastisement [correction] of His children is for a specific purpose:

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11)


It is the future judgment to which Paul refers in Hebrews 6 when he speaks of "eternal judgment.” Eternal judgment happens after death:

It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom. (II Timothy 4:1)

...Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all... (Jude 14,15)


There are three locations where final judgment will occur:


Those judged here will be all true believers:

,..We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)

...For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (II Corinthians 5:10)


And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. (Revelation 20:4-5a)


The Great White Throne judgment is recorded in Revelation 20:11-15.


There will be only two basic divisions of people who are tried in the final judgments: Believers and unbelievers.


Believers will be judged for their works and rewarded accordingly.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every man may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

Believers will be judged by how they have built their lives on the foundation of God's Word:

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved... (I Corinthians 3:12-15)

In the natural world, wood, hay, and stubble all grow visibly above the ground. They burn easily. They are examples of works done by believers to be seen by man. The motive for these works was wrong.

Gold and silver are not destroyed by fire. In the natural world, these substances develop below the ground unseen by man. They are an example of works done with the right motive, not done just to be seen and praised by man. They are works which are valuable in God's Kingdom because they were done with the right motive.

The works of true believers will be judged on the basis of obedience. The parables of the talents in Matthew 25 and the parable of the pounds in Luke 19 were told by Jesus to illustrate this truth.

In both these parables, servants were judged on the basis of what they had done with what they had been given. They were told to invest funds for their masters. Servants who were disobedient were judged unfaithful.

Just like these parables, our Master has given us a responsibility. That responsibility is known as the Great Commission:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We are to take what God has given us, the message of the Gospel, and reproduce it by sharing it with others throughout the world. As we obey this commission, we are investing what God has given us and increasing it.

Believers will be judged on the basis of their faithfulness to the responsibility God has given them:

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (I Corinthians 4:2)

Believers will not be judged on the basis of abilities, education, or spiritual gifts. They will be judged on the basis of obedience and faithfulness to what God has given them to do. The judgment of true believers is not one of condemnation. That is, the true believer cannot be condemned to eternal punishment. Through accepting Christ, he already has passed from spiritual death to eternal life:

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)

A true believer is one who has repented from sin and shown faith toward God by accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. He is one who has become and lived as a new creature in Jesus Christ. Paul confirmed:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

When a sinner comes to Jesus his record of former sins is erased by God. When a believer sins, he needs only to repent and confess his sin and God erases it from the record:

If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)


The unrighteous will be judged and punished for sin. God keeps a record called the "book of life" in which is listed the names of those who have repented, accepted Jesus Christ, and become true believers. Those who have rejected Him will be judged for sin and doomed to eternal punishment. Their names are not in the book of life:

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

It is important to understand that you must live as a new creature in Christ after conversion. It is possible to be saved and then because of continuing in sin to "backslide" into the old life. The Bible confirms that it is possible to have your name written in the book of life but then have it blotted out because of sin:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Exodus 32:33)

This is why learning to live a holy life is so important. By overcoming sin in your life, you can be assured God will not blot your name out of the book of life:

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life... (Revelation 3:5)


The righteous are destined to eternal life in the presence of God. The presence of God is called Heaven. In the Bible it is described by several names:


Jesus described it as His Father's house, a place of home, rest, and fellowship:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)


The Bible compares Heaven to a country to which we are traveling just as Israel traveled to the Promised Land:

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16)

Heaven is compared to a city:

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven... (Revelation 21:2)

The Bible reveals some wonderful things about Heaven. It is a place of:


And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27)


And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there by any more pain; for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)


And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. (Revelation 21:18)


Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

(Revelation 7:15)


Jesus promised...

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. (Revelation 3:21)


The Bible records that those in Heaven...

...fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever. (Revelation 5:14)


And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23)


Being in Heaven will give us a new perspective on everything:

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17)


And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)


Hell is the eternal destiny of the wicked. Hell is a place of:


And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)


And in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom... But Abraham said, Son remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. (Luke 16:23,25)


And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water; and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (Luke 16:24)


And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)


But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)


When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. (Proverbs 11:7)


Hell was originally prepared for Satan and his angels. Because of sin, man is also destined for eternity in Hell unless He is redeemed by Jesus Christ:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

Punishment for the wicked is eternal. The same word that is used for eternal life in the Bible (John 3:15) and the eternal God (I Timothy 1:17) is used to describe eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2). If one of these is temporary, then the other two would have to be temporary.

There is no way to escape the conclusion that if God is everlasting and eternal life is everlasting, then so is punishment in Hell. God does not send people to Hell. Man chooses to go there by rejecting Jesus Christ and living a sinful life. God has provided a way of escape from eternal punishment through the plan of salvation. He is not willing that any should perish.


How should the doctrine of eternal judgment affect our lives as believers? When writing on the subject of future judgment, the Apostle Peter answered this question:

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness... Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, blameless. (II Peter 3:11,14)

Understanding of eternal judgment should result in spiritual maturity in the life of the believer.


Psalms 89:14; 97:2; 99:1-5; Isaiah 28:5-6; 30:18; 61:8; Daniel 4:37


Psalms 72:2; Isaiah 9:7; 11:1-5; John 5:30; 8:15-16,26


To give life: Leviticus 18:4-5; Nehemiah 9:29; Psalms 119:149,156

To redeem His people: Exodus 6:6; 7:4; Isaiah 1:27

To establish: I Chronicles 28:7; Psalms 37:28; Proverbs 2:8; Zephaniah 2:3

To chasten [correct]: Psalms 119:75; Jeremiah 10:24; Habakkuk 1:12

To help His people: Psalms 76:8-9; 119:175


Comfort: Psalms 119:52

Reward: Psalms 58:11

Instruction and righteousness: Isaiah 26:8-9


These are listed in Ezekiel 5:6-17; 11:11-12; 14:21; Malachi 2:1-4; 3:1-6


Righteous: Deuteronomy 4:8; Psalms 19:9; 119:137; Jeremiah 11:20; II Thessalonians 1:4-6; I Peter 2:23; Revelation 15:4; 16:7; 19:2,11

Based on love: Psalms 33:5

True and just: Psalms 111:7; Proverbs 2:9; Jeremiah 4:2; John 8:15-16

Far above the wicked: Psalms 10:5

Eternal: Psalms 119:160

Great: Psalms 36:6

Renewed: Zephaniah 3:15

Unsearchable: Romans 11:33

They will be made manifest [apparent to us]: Revelation 15:4


All people: Psalms 7:8; 9:7-8; 96:10; Hebrews 12:23; Jude 15-16

Those who persecute the righteous: Psalms 119:84

The righteous: Psalms 7:11

Scorners: Proverbs 19:29

Every man: Proverbs 29:26

Young men: Ecclesiastes 11:9

Nations: Isaiah 2:4

Leaders: Isaiah 3:13-14

The wicked: Deuteronomy 7:10-11; Jeremiah 1:16; Hebrews 13:4; Jude 15-16

The world: John 9:39; 12:31

The prince of this world [Satan]: John 16:11; 12:31

Those outside the church [those without]: I Corinthians 5:13

His people: Hebrews 10:30

Teachers: James 3:1

Grudgers: James 5:9

The church [the house of God]: I Peter 4:17

The heathen: Ezekiel 39:21


Through Jesus Christ: John 5:22,27

By the Holy Spirit: John 16:11; Ezekiel 36:27

According to the Word of God: John 12:48

According to each man's works: I Peter 1:17

Through His ministers: Ezekiel 44:24; Hosea 6:5


We should:

Teach them: Ezra 7:10; Psalms 37:30

Observe and do them: Deuteronomy 11:32

Praise God for them: Psalms 48:11; 97:8; 119:7,62,164

Desire them: Psalms 119:20

Set them before us: Psalms 119:30

Hope in them: Psalms 119:43

Declare them: Psalms 119:13

Not depart from them: Psalms 119:102

Fear them: Psalms 119:120

Be aware of them: Psalms 35:23

Ask God to judge us: Psalms 35:24

Preach His judgments: Acts 24:25


His purposes for chastening of believers are to:

Make us holy: Hebrews 12:10

Bring righteousness in our lives: Hebrews 12:11

Bring life: Hebrews 12:9; Proverbs 15:31

Prepare us for the Spirit's guidance: Proverbs 1:23

Bring honor: Proverbs 13:18

Bring wisdom: Proverbs 15:5,32

Teach the fear of God: Proverbs 15:33

Perfect us: Colossians 1:28; II Timothy 3:16-17

Teach us patience: I Peter 2:20

Avoid condemnation: I Corinthians 11:32

Bring repentance: Revelation 3:19; Romans 2:4

Correct us: Jeremiah 10:24


Sin and backsliding: Jeremiah 2:19; John 3:20; 16:8; II Peter 2:16

Faults: I Peter 2:20

Unbelief: Romans 11:20

Disobedience: Luke 12:47-48

Respect of persons: Job 13:10


I Corinthians 11:31-32 [self-examination]; Romans 11:22; Philippians 2:12-16


God has a pattern of chastening in our lives. It moves from reproof, which is a simple form of chastening, through more severe levels of chastening (Hebrews 12:11):


To correct a fault, make a statement of error, give instruction or correction. God speaks to us and reproves us of wrong in our lives. Isaiah 11:4; Psalms 50:21; 141:5; Proverbs 1:23; Ephesians 5:13; II Timothy 3:16


A sharp reproof or reprimand. If we fail to listen to reproof, God will deal more sternly. Hebrews 12:5; Revelation 3:19; Psalms 6:1; Deuteronomy 28:20


After we are rebuked if we persist in our sinful ways and refuse God's correction, then His wrath may come upon us. Romans 2:8-9


God's wrath may be revealed through affliction. It may be financial, material, or physical affliction. (This does not mean all affliction is judgment from God.) Romans 2:9, Psalms 119:75; Deuteronomy 28:15-47; Leviticus 26:14-39; Amos 4:6-13


This is the final step of God's judgment when chastisement has failed to result in repentance. Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31; Jeremiah 14:11-12; II Peter 2:20; I John 5:16; Proverbs 1:25-32; 5:1-23; 15:10; 29:1


God's objective in chastening is that we return unto Him: Hosea 6:1


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