Questions of the Week

Question: What’s the difference between the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment? Are Christians going to be judged along with unbelievers?

Answer: The Judgment Seat of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15) is more like an awards ceremony than a judgment. The phrase comes from the Greek, “Bema,” which was a judges platform. Think of a panel of judges at an Olympic event (they had Olympics in ancient Greece, so the Corinthians knew what Paul was referring to). After a contest, the athletes would be given their reward according to how they placed in the contest.

Similarly, Christians will stand before the Bema seat of Christ to receive our reward for the things we have done. But Christians will not be judged. As Paul writes, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The Great White Throne judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15) is a judgment of those who have not received God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. The names of those who have trusted Jesus Christ are written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5). Those whose names are not in the Book of Life will face God’s judgment.

2 Responses to “Will Christians Be Judged?”  

  1. 1 Carol Brooks

    While it is true that Paul made several allusions to the Greek athletic contests using the Greek word Stephanos (translated crown), which was public recognition of victory in races, games and war …

    Scripture never once uses bema in the setting of an athletic contest with rewards. “However, the Scripture never once uses bema in the setting of an athletic contest with rewards. In Matthew 27:19 Pilate sat at the judgment seat. From there he decided the life or death fates of two men, Jesus and Barabbas. In Acts 18, Gallio heard charges of wrong against Paul while seated upon the bema (v. 12), and Sosthenes received a beating in front of it. In Acts 12:21, Herod delivered an address to the people from the judgment seat, but since he did not give God the glory, an angel of the Lord struck him at the bema so that he died. In Acts 25, Paul was brought before the bema (vs. 6, 10, 17) for judgment, with accusers bringing charges against him, trying to get him punished. Overall, Scripture references portray the bema as a place of examination and true judgment. This is in agreement with the two uses of the word bema in connection with Christ’s Judgment Seat”

    So what has this judgment seat to do with Christians? Plenty, if you consider the following two verses.
    But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:10-12, NKJV).
    “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
    The oft overlooked words in 2 Corinthians 5:10 are that deed will be recompensed whether good or bad. This is obviously NOT just a rewards or rah-rah ceremony, but one that also takes bad deeds into account, when believers must give an account of their lives to Christ

  2. 2 Stan Jantz

    Thanks for your comments and insights.

    Just to clarify, are you saying that Christians who stand before the judgment seat of Christ will face the possibility of death if their deeds don’t measure up? If that’s the case, how do you reconcile this with Romans 8:37-38?

    Also, what do you do with salvation by grace alone in Christ alone, as opposed to salvation by works? If we will be judged in the way you describe according to our deeds, then doesn’t it follow that salvation is by works and not by grace?