The term “judgment” occurs 294 times in the King James Version of the Bible. In the Old Testament the most common Hebrew word for “judgment” is mishpat, while in the New Testament the Greek words for “judgment” are krisis and krima. The English words crisis, crime and criminal are explicitly derived from these Greek words. It is not surprising, therefore, that Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible translates krisis and krima as “condemnation” and “damnation.”1 Thus, the biblical term “judgment” is often perceived as profoundly negative.
The True Meaning of Divine Judgment
While the Greek words for “judgment” in the biblical New Testament have been translated for over a thousand years as “condemnation,” “damnation,” etc., this is a tragic mistranslation and misunderstanding. For example, when Jesus spoke to the blind man at Siloam after healing him, the Savior declared, “For judgment I am come into this world . . . ” (John 9:39). In context, did Jesus mean that he had come to condemn this world and send it to damnation? Of course not!
Fortunately, the writings of the Hellenizing Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria (30 BCE – 45 CE) — a contemporary of Jesus — still exist, and Philo emphatically stated that judgment and justice are identical.2 As another author confirms, “ . . . [T]he Jewish and Catholic Traditions make it clear that God’s judgment is always both just and merciful.”3
There is therefore no reason to indict our Savior, Jesus Christ, as the One sent for the condemnation and damnation of this world. Rather, he came to redeem the world and its inhabitants and to transform them for all eternity.
“For Judgment I AM . . . ”4,5
In the context of God’s judgment as “always both just and merciful,”6 Jesus Christ as the “I AM”7 declared himself to be the just and merciful Judgment (cf. Exodus 3:14). Thus he said, “I will be so that I will be (just and merciful for/to you); I will become so that I will become (just and merciful for/to you); I will effect so that I will effect (justice and mercy for/to you).”8
Jesus fulfilled this wonderful assertion by his life, death and resurrection and by his unceasing presence with us. And he will shortly fulfill this by his imminent Second Coming (parousia).
Therefore, the “final judgment” is the coming appearance of Jesus Christ himself (Acts 1:11). In justice and mercy he will raise the dead (Matthew 25:31, 32; John 12:32; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17), convene the “assembly” (John 5:22, 27; 12:31; Hebrews 12:23), and declare his ultimate purpose (2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:13; 1 John 3:2).
In response to his merciful utterances, “. . . [E]very knee should [Greek mello: “to be about to”] bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11).9
- Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, p. 78. (go back)
- Harry Austryn Wolfson, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 1:334. (go back)
- David M. Sherman (a k a Sri Bhakti Ananda Goswami), “The Greek Word ‘Krima’ is Cognate with the Sanskrit Word ‘Karma,’” in “Collected Works of Sri Bhakti Ananda Goswami,” at bhaktianandascollectedworks.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/. (go back)
- “And Jesus said, For judgment I AM come into this world . . . ” — John 9:39 (emphasis supplied). (go back)
- See “God as the Judgment,” Outlook (August 2008). (go back)
- See note 3. (go back)
- Cf. John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 23, 28; 9:5; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:6, 8, 37; Revelation 1:8, 11, 17, 18; 21:6; 22:13 with Exodus 3:14. (go back)
- See Thorlief Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1970), pp. 38-48. (go back)
- Cf. “. . . [U]nto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” — Isaiah 45:23. (go back)