Two Greek words are translated as judgment in the Bible: krisis and krima. To understand the difference, think of the two judgments of a trial. First, the judge needs to decide if you are guilty or not guilty. That’s krisis, which implies a separation or division; sheep vs goats, wheat vs tares. Second, the judge needs to impose a sentence. That’s krima. It’s the outcome of a judgment. Understanding the difference between krisis and krima – separation vs sentence – is essential to understanding the Biblical view of judgment.
When Jesus came to earth, he did not come to judge or condemn anyone (John 3:17, 12:47). But when Jesus returns in glory, there will be a day of judgment (Acts 17:30–31). Judgment Day is krisis day, a day of separation.
The end of days
Judgment Day is the end of days, the day when the Son of Man is revealed from heaven (Luke 17:30, 1 Cor. 1:7). It is the day when the Lord returns to repay each person according to what we have done (see entry for Rom. 2:6). It is essentially a day of separation.
The original word for judgment (krisis) is related to the English noun crisis. A crisis is a time of great importance or danger. It is a seminal moment or turning point. In much of the New Testament this moment of crisis is described as a day of judgment (Mat 10:15, 11:22, 24, 12:36, Rom. 2:16, 2 Pet. 2:9, 3:7, 1 John 4:17, Jude 1:6), but in Revelation it is an hour of judgment (Rev 14:7, 18:10) or the hour of testing (Rev. 3:10). Whether it is a day or an hour, the time of judgment will involve separating the wheat from the weeds (Matt. 13:37–43), the good fish from the bad (Matt. 13:47–50), and the sheep from the goats another (Mat 25:31–32). On that day, the secrets of our hearts will be laid be revealing either our contempt or gratitude for God’s kindness.
The day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16)
On the day the Lord returns, our true hearts will be revealed (1 Cor. 4:5). Our public image will count for nothing. What will matter is our response to Jesus. Have we responded to God with gratitude and faith? Or have we shown contempt for the riches of his kindness? This will be a time of exposure for hypocrites, but it will also be a time for realizing how the gospel has borne fruit in Muslim and Hindu countries, animist societies, and people groups that had been dismissed as unreached. Nothing and no one will be hidden from his sight (Heb. 4:13).
Although we await a Judgment Day, the judgment can be known now. It does not need to be a mystery. Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
For the believer, that day is in their past. “He who believes in him is not judged” (John 3:18a). Having already decided, their decision is made. The same is also true of the one who rejects Christ. “He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18b).
For the believer, their crisis or moment of decision is in the past. Having made their judgment, they have crossed over from death to new life. For the unbeliever, that moment of judgment is yet to happen. But everyone responds to Jesus one way or the other, sooner or later.
On that day we will all appear before the judgment seat of God (Rom. 14:10) or Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Those who have rejected the Author of life will rise for judgment, while the righteous will receive eternal life (John 5:24, 28–29, Rom. 2:6–7).
And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39)
When Jesus returns in glory he will not condemn anyone. He will simply separate those who have chosen him from those who have rejected him.
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