When we as christians read the word ‘judgement’, we usually have a preconceived connection with penalties, as the word has come to automatically imply a negative result. However,
- judgement in the Greek = Cresus, is an opinion or decision concerning everything (can be either for or against).
- Second word = Crema= decision or decree.
- Third word= Creno= distinguish or decide.
None of these words describe a form of punishment or penalty. Judgement really means to make a decision, it is not connected to penalty or reward. In short; the Greek for judgement is to decide, to decree, or to determine, and not wrath and or anger!
Great White Throne or The Last Judgement
Since the time of Constantine, the concept of the Great White Throne, or Last Judgement, has burnt fear and dread into the hearts of those confronted with its portrayed terrors. This condemning vision of the ‘just’ being granted heaven, and the evil heathens being cast into an eternal fiery torment, was first introduced to support the ‘just’ authoritarian rulership of the Caesar. This theme was later depicted pictorially in the architecture and decor of the churches to once again enforce allegiance, though this time to the church and its ruling class. But what was the understanding of the Christian congregations prior to Constantine, were they looking forward to condemnation and eternal punishment, or something else? The hope of Christians in the first centuries AD (Anno Domini) was that all injustices would be dealt with and that all victims of injustice would be vindicated; that this world which had become harsh and unforgiving would be re-created into a place of peace and plenty – a new heaven and earth. In The Coming of God, Jurgen Moltmann writes, “The expectation of judgement was a threatening and intimidating message, not a joyful and liberating one. Because psychologically it has done so much to poison the idea of God, it is high time to discover the gospel of God’s judgement and to awaken joy in God’s coming righteousness and justice.” His throne gives testimony to humankind’s redeemed acquittal by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Revelation 20:11-15 deals with the passing away of the old world, and with it the destruction of humanity’s enemies (sin and death), and then looks forward to the beginning of the new in chapter 21.
A consideration of 1 Corinthians 15, especially verse 55, leads us to understand that as Jesus is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep and is the leader of life, the general resurrection of the dead is then only the final step in the process of the new creation. However, an impression often portrayed from Revelation is that this is only an anticipation of a general resurrection on the Last Day, and that the Last Judgement has the final word regarding life. The first reference leads to a Christologically founded universalism, whereas the second forces an apocalyptic christology subordinated to the Last Judgement. Christ’s resurrection from the dead leads all to eternal life, but the legalistic apocalyptic ideas of judgement means talking about 3 judgments: the Judgement seat of Christ, judgement against the nations, and the Last Judgement. In the first viewpoint Christology dominates the eschatology; in the second, the apocalyptic eschatology that is presupposed dominates the christology. When we put Christ first, as we should always rightly do, then He, and His acts of an all encompassing victory, take precedence.
Despite the ‘wrath of God’ often portrayed, it is the judgement of God that You-manity is recognised as being His beloved children, IN whom He IS, and is well pleased.
John 12:32 (Mirror Bible) – “When I (Jesus) am lifted up, I will draw all judgement to me”. And from verse 34 we understand that You-manity was lifted up and judgement was passed on us as ‘innocent’, ‘total acquittal’,’free from sin’, ‘loved by the Father’!
-Hebrews 1:3, “after having made purification Jesus sat down”; that is, there is therefore no further judgement.
-Acts 17 Mirror Bible notes: “there exists no evidence that could be brought from every sphere or dimension that could possibly testify against the human race”.
In the scriptures we find 2 occurrences of judgement. The first is in the Garden when the first Adam judged God to be false and accepted the authority of Satan. The second and last judgement was when the last Adam judged Satan as the false God and declared You-manity, and creation, released from the consequences of the captivity imposed by Satan. The execution of the sentencing of Satan and his cohorts having been judged guilty, is described in Revelation 20:10, with Death and Hades following in Revelation 20:14.