Amplified: For Christ died and lived again for this very purpose, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Why, then, criticise your brother's actions, why try to make him look small? We shall all be judged one day, not by each other's standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But as for you, why are you judging your brother? Or, as for you also, why are you treating your brother with contempt? For we all shall stand before the judgment seat of God. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: And thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or again, thou, why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand at the tribunal of the Christ
|Romans — 3:21-5:21||Romans — 6:1-8:39||Romans — 9:1-11:36||Romans — 12:1-16:27|
Jew and Gentile
|Demonstration of Salvation|
|Power Given||Promises Fulfilled||Paths Pursued|
Restored to Israel
|Slaves to Sin||Slaves to God||Slaves Serving God|
|Life by Faith||Service by Faith|
Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work Jensen's Survey of the NT
BUT YOU, WHY DO YOU JUDGE YOUR BROTHER: Su de ti krineis (2SPAI) ton adelphon sou:
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
See commentary on parallel passage: 2Corinthians 5:10-note
Related Resource: A W Pink's chapter God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
Middletown Bible - The Law of Love (Romans 14:1-15:3) - For further help in understanding how to live so as to not cause a brother to stumble, see their paper entitled, "Guidance: 67 Biblical Tests to Use in Deciding Upon a Course of Action."
But (de) - Godet "The but (Ed: See term of contrast), contrasts the incompetent judgment of a brother, with the judgment of this one Lord." (Romans 14:1-15:13 Directions Regarding a Difference of View)
Guzik commenting on Paul's question Why do you judge your brother says - Probably, the use of both judge and show contempt is meant to have application to both the “strict” and the “free” individuals. (Ed: Some like A T Robertson favor this is directed to "the conduct of the weak brother in Ro 14:3"). In either case, the attitude is wrong because we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. The strict Christian found it easy to judge his brother, writing him off as an unspiritual meat-eater-compromiser. The free Christian found it easy to show contempt against his brother, regarding him as a uptight-legalistic-goody-good. Essentially, Paul’s answer is “Stop worrying about your brother. You have enough to answer for before Jesus.” (Romans 14 - David Guzik Commentary on the Bible)
You (su) - first in the sentence for emphasis and "in contrast to the Lord" (Vincent). Denney says "You, in contrast with the one Lord and Judge of all. In face of our common responsibility to Him, how dare we judge each other?" The phrase, “your brother” is “another reason for not judging: it is inconsistent with a recognition of the brotherhood of believers. (Romans 14 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
Wuest - It is, “But as for you (in contrast to the Lord) why do you, (the weaker brother) judge your brother (your Christian brother)?” (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)
John Stott - Despising and judging fellow Christians (the same two verbs are used as in verse 3), ‘the smile of disdainful contempt’ and ‘the frown of condemnatory judgment’, are both now shown up to be totally anomalous attitudes. Why? Not only because God has accepted them, because Christ has died and risen to be our common Lord, but also because they and we are related to one another in the strongest possible way, by family ties. Whether we are thinking of the weak, with all their tedious doubts and fears, or of the strong, with all their brash assurances and freedoms, they are our brothers and sisters. When we remember this, our attitude to them becomes at once less critical and impatient, more generous and tender. (Romans- God's Good News for the World -Bible Speaks Today)
Judge (2919) (krino) primarily signifies to distinguish, separate or discriminate and then, to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, without necessarily passing an adverse sentence, though this is usually involved. Krino means to sift out and analyze evidence. Krino is present tense indicating that they were continually passing judgment. Passing judgment, by implication also usually conveys the idea of condemning.
We have no right to judge and condemn one another because the Judge is the Lord. Each believer will have enough to do in keeping his own account right without interfering with others’ accounts!
Referring to the conduct of the "weak" brother in Ro 14:3. Believers are not judges of other believers, whether weaker or stronger because we will all be judged by God (1Co 3:10-15; 2Co 5:10-note). However balance this truth with the fact that the church needs to keep its own fellowship pure while at the same time refraining from assuming God's role as Judge (1Cor 5:9-13). Thus the command not to judge one another does not mean we are to condone immorality and wickedness, etc, within the church. We must beware of falling into this trap for if known sin is allowed to persist, it will not lie dormant but will propagate, even as leaven spreads throughout the loaf (1Co 5:7) and ultimately will even corrupt good morals (1Cor 15:33).
We need to recall what the Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees who wanted to stone an adulterous woman…
He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. (John 8:7) (Comment: And not one threw an stones that day.)
JUDGING OTHER'S MOTIVES
One of the most sinister aspects of judging a brother or sister is judging their motives. When we do so we are saying in essence that we are omniscient and capable of reading their minds and discerning what has transpired in their life that might be impacting their words and deeds. This type of judgment is a slippery slope (cp Dt 32:35 "in due time their foot will slip") and is to be avoided at all costs. Seeking to please Christ and keeping a "Bema Seat Mentality" will help us avoid "motive" judgments. It also helps to remember that even our motives for doing "motive checks" on others will be accurately assessed (1Co 4:5, cp 1Th 2:4-note)
Let the world condemn him if it will, but simply because we are intimately related in Christ let us get alongside our brother and love him or at least overlook his failures without seeking to condemn him for his faults. Let no man judge another because one day, in the light of the judgment we have passed on others, every one of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Mt 7:2). Silence (forbearance) the censorious tongue is good advice for those who desire to walk worthy of their calling (Ep 4:1-note, Ep 4:2, 3-note). Cast the burdens of the misjudged motive and the misunderstood action at the feet of the Lord and leave them there until that day when He shall vindicate, for vengeance is His and He will repay (Ro 12:19-note, He 10:30-note, Dt 32:35, 43, Ps 94:1, 2-note, Nah 1:2, 3, Lev 19:18, cp Pr 24:17, 18).
Paul is saying "Silence that critical tongue, for we must appear before the Bema of Christ. Stop judging another, which has become the practice of so many lives, because Christ the righteous Judge is at the door (Jas 5:9) We must remember that the one we are judging is our brother not our enemy. (Ro 14:3-note)
That we shall all be judged has been amply foretold in both the old and new testaments…
Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. (Ecclesiastes 11:9)
The LORD… is coming, or He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness. (Psalm 96:13) (Spurgeon's note)
(This verse is painful to read for Jesus promised) "that every careless (argos from a = without + ergon = work = literally "not working words"!) word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment.' (Mt 12:36)
Under these circumstances (the religious leaders were plotting against Jesus trying to catch Him in something He might say), after so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all," Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Luke 12:1, 2)
There is no room in the family of God for one group to pass judgment on another. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus settled the issue:
Do not judge (present imperative with a negative can be paraphrased = "Stop doing this" - it was going on) lest you be judged." (Mt 7:1-note, one of the most inappropriately quoted text in the Bible! Why? Because they stop here - the context tells us more about "judging".).
As noted Jesus' warning about not judging has far too often been taken out of context and used by many to say that we are never to disapprove of anything another person does. What Jesus actually said in context was…
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then (this is critical, not before but after the log removal) you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Mt 7:5-note); full context = Mt 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Furthermore how would we be able to follow through on Jesus' charge He gives a few verses later declaring "You will know them by their fruits" (Mt 7:16-note -- speaking of false teachers)?
And so believers are called to be "fruit inspectors" but this assessment is still in the context of first being "log removers"! What Jesus is prohibiting in Matthew 7:1 is harsh and censorious criticism, not insight based on Biblical truth and the indwelling Spirit of Truth (cp 1Th 5:21, 22-note, Ro 12:9-note, 1Jn 4:1).
OR YOU AGAIN, WHY DO YOU REGARD YOUR BROTHER WITH CONTEMPT: e kai su ti exoutheneis (2SPAI) ton adelphon sou: (Ro 14:3,4; Luke 23:11; Acts 4:11)
Earlier Paul had declared that "The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions (See notes Romans 14:3; 14:4)
Denney - This is addressed to the strong and free thinking, as the first question is to the weak and scrupulous Christian. Censoriousness and contempt are never anything but sins, not to be practised but shunned, and that all the more when we remember that we shall all stand at one bar. God is the universal Judge.
Regard with contempt (1848) (exoutheneo from ek = an intensifier + outhenéo = bring to naught) means to treat someone or something as of no account and so to despise then based on the judgment that they are worthless or of no value. It means to show by one’s attitude or manner of treatment that the brother has no merit or worth!
Exoutheneo - 11x in 11v - Luke 18:9; 23:11; Acts 4:11; Rom 14:3, 10; 1 Cor 1:28; 6:4; 16:11; 2 Cor 10:10; Gal 4:14; 1Thess 5:20. NAS = contemptible(1), despise(3), despised(1), no account(1), regard with contempt(1), regard… with contempt(1), rejected(1), treating… with contempt(1), viewed with contempt(1).
Stop trying to take God's place. You, the weak, why do you judge your brother? And you, the strong, why do you look down on your brother? It is wrong. You are trying to take Christ's place when you do that. But remember that all of us, men and women alike, all brothers and sisters in one body of Christ, must individually stand before God's judgment seat.
FOR WE SHALL ALL STAND BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF GOD: pantes gar parasthsometha (1PPFMI) to bemati tou theou: (Ro 2:16; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 25:31,32; John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 1Corinthians 4:5; 2Corinthians 5:10; Jude 1:14,15; Revelation 20:11-15)
PAUL'S ADVISES A "BEMA SEAT MENTALITY"!
Related Resource: On site in depth study of The Judgment Seat of Christ - How to live with a "Bema Seat" Mindset (Commentary on 2Corinthians 5:10)
For - Always pause to ponder this strategic term of explanation. Paul is explaining what it is so absurd to judge our brothers on non-essentials, in light of the fact what we will all stand before Jesus (2Cor 5:10 has "Judgment Seat of Christ")! That truth should cause us to pause next time we are tempted to judge a brother! In fact that thought should serve as an impediment against all manner of sin!
Denney - When we all stand at that bar—and it should be part of our spiritual environment always—no one will look at his brother with either censoriousness or contempt. (Romans 14 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
Wuest - These verses speak of the general idea of judgment. However, we must distinguish between the Judgment Seat of Christ (2Cor. 5:10) where the saints will be judged, and The Great White Throne where sinners will be judged (Rev. 20:11-15). (Ibid) (See chart below for comparison).
Godet - The all is prefixed to remind us that no one will escape from that judge. It is well said, no doubt, John 5:24, that the believer “shall not come into judgment;” but that does not mean that he shall not appear before the tribunal (2Cor. 5:10). Only he will appear there to be owned as one who has already voluntarily judged himself by the light of Christ’s word and under the discipline of His Spirit; comp. John 12:48 and 1 Cor. 11:31 (Romans 14:1-15:13 Directions Regarding a Difference of View)
We… all - In context this judgment includes Paul and all believers of all ages. We all like to read the Bible for its promises and here is one of the more awesome promises for believers, which for some who are walking worthy of their calling is greatly anticipated but for others is looked at with a sense of dread (cp 1Jn 2:28). Paul the master teacher inserts this great truth about the certainty of God's future judgment of believers as a motivation or "incentive" to prompt us to be very careful not to judge others inappropriately. There is a difference between judging and exercising discernment. The former is to be shunned, the latter is be practiced by believers filled with the Word of Truth and guided by the Spirit of Truth! Paul wants us all to realize that we will stand before the Righteous Judge and give an account of our right and wrong judging of others (thoughts, words and deeds). A "Bema Seat Mentality" should serve to motivate all of us in this area, for it is so easy to be critical or have a "critical spirit" (whether in thought, word or deed!) especially in the realm of spiritual things, and we need proper motivation to cause us to choose not to despise, judge or criticize wrongly (1Cor 4:5). The hypocritical "white washed" Pharisees were masters of this evil practice (cp Lk 18:9, Acts 4:11). How sad when blood bought, heaven bound saints emulate such white-washed tombs (Mt 23:27)!
Let me ask you (even as I ask myself as I write) -- Given that this is a promise and God is not a man that He should lie about this promise, honestly, are you looking forward to the Bema Seat or are you dreading this great day, a day as sure as God's promise? How you answer most likely reflects how you are living in this present age. Are you living for this great day or are you living simply for today? We need to keep God's "context" (His view of time and eternity) in mind… in the passages below observe the terms of comparison used to describe the brevity of man's existence…
A voice says, "Call out." Then he answered, "What shall I call out?" All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8)
Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain. (Job 14:1-2)
Let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away… Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 1:10-note, Jas 4:14)
The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. (1Pe 2:12-note)
Remember how short my life is, how empty and futile this human existence! (Psalm 89:47, NLT)
Man is like a mere breath. His days are like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:4)
See related in depth study entitled - Live Wisely - Redeem the Time
Man is like to vanity. Adam is like to Abel. He is like that which is nothing at all. He is actually vain, and he resembles that unsubstantial empty thing which is nothing but a blown up nothing, -- a puff, a bubble. Yet he is not vanity, but only like it. He is not so substantial as that unreal thing; he is only the likeness of it. Lord, what is a man? It is wonderful that God should think of such a pretentious insignificance.
His days are as a shadow that passeth away. He is so short lived that he scarcely attains to years, but exists by the day, like the ephemera (ED: denoting a plant said to last only one day, or an insect with a short lifespan), whose birth and death are both seen by the self same sun. His life is only like to a shadow, which is in itself a vague resemblance, an absence of something rather than in itself an existence. Observe that human life is not only as a shade, but as a shade which is about to depart. It is a mere mirage, the image of a thing which is not, a phantasm (ED: an illusion or apparition) which melts back into nothing. How is it that the Eternal should make so much of mortal man, who begins to die as soon as he begins to live?
The connection of the two verses before us with the rest of the psalm is not far to seek: David trusts in God and finds him everything; he looks to man and sees him to be nothing; and then he wonders how it is that the great Lord can condescend to take notice of such a piece of folly and deceit as man.
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)
And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow. The unusual strength which overleaps the bound of threescore and ten only lands the aged man in a region where life is a weariness and a woe. The strength of old age, its very prime and pride, are but labour and sorrow; what must its weakness be? What panting for breath! What toiling to move! What a failing of the senses! What a crushing sense of weakness! The evil days are come and the years wherein a man cries, "I have no pleasure in them." The grasshopper has become a burden and desire faileth. Such is old age. Yet mellowed by hallowed experience, and solaced by immortal hopes, the latter days of aged Christians are not so much to be pitied as envied (ED: Psalm 92:13,14 Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age. They shall be full of sap and very green). The sun is setting and the heat of the day is over, but sweet is the calm and cool of the eventide: and the fair day melts away, not into a dark and dreary night, but into a glorious, unclouded, eternal day (ED: Pr 4:18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.). The mortal fades to make room for the immortal; the old man falls asleep to wake up in the region of perennial youth.
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. The cable is broken and the vessel sails upon the sea of eternity; the chain is snapped and the eagle mounts to its native air above the clouds. Moses mourned for men as he thus sung: and well he might, as all his comrades fell at his side. His words are more nearly rendered, "He drives us fast and we fly away;" as the quails were blown along by the strong west wind, so are men hurried before the tempests of death. To us, however, as believers, the winds are favorable; they bear us as the gales bear the swallows away from the wintry realms, to lands
"Where everlasting spring abides
And never withering flowers."
Who wishes it to be otherwise? Wherefore should we linger here? What has this poor world to offer us that we should tarry on its shores? Away, away! This is not our rest. Heavenward, Ho! Let the Lord's winds drive fast if so He ordains, for they waft us the more swiftly to Himself, and our own dear country.
Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah (Pause and Ponder!) (Psalm 39:5, cp Ps 39:11b)
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth. Upon consideration, the psalmist finds little room to bewail the length of life, but rather to bemoan its shortness. What changeful creatures we are! One moment we cry to be rid of existence, and the next instant beg to have it prolonged!
A handbreadth is one of the shortest natural measures, being the breadth of four fingers; such is the brevity of life, by divine appointment; God hath made it so, fixing the period in wisdom.
The behold calls us to attention; to some the thoughts of life's hastiness will bring the most acute pain, to others the most solemn earnestness.
How well should those live who are to live so little! Is my earthly pilgrimage so brief? then let me watch every step of it, that in the little of time there may be much of grace.
And mine age is as nothing before thee. So short as not to amount to an entity. Think of eternity, and an angel is as a newborn babe, the world a fresh blown bubble, the sun a spark just fallen from the fire, and man a nullity (ED: A thing of no importance or worth.). Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of a clock. Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity. This is the surest truth, that nothing about man is either sure or true. Take man at his best, he is but a man, and a man is a mere breath, unsubstantial as the wind. Man is settled, as the margin has it, and by divine decree it is settled that he shall not be settled. He is constant only in inconstancy. His vanity is his only verity; his best, of which he is vain, is but vain; and this is verily true of every man, that everything about him is every way fleeting. This is sad news for those whose treasures are beneath the moon; those whose glorying is in themselves may well hang the flag half mast; but those whose best estate is settled upon them in Christ Jesus in the land of unfading flowers, may rejoice that it is no vain thing in which they trust. (See notes on Jesus' advice in Matthew 6:20)
The point is that our mortal lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, and how we conduct ourselves today will be evaluated at the Bema seat, this judgment somehow (Scripture is not entirely clear to me on this subject) reflecting our eternal existence.
Stand before (3936) (paristemi [word study] from para = near + histemi = stand) is literally to place or stand beside and includes the idea of yielding to the disposal of another (used with this meaning 4 times in Romans - Ro 6:13-note; Ro 6:16-note; Ro 6:19-note; Ro 12:1-note). In secular Greek paristemi was a technical term in the legal field which meant “to bring” someone before the magistrate or judge. Note the future tense which in context speaks of a future event on every believer's calendar!
Luke used this same verb to describe Paul's pending appearance before Caesar "'Do not be afraid (an angel of God stood before Paul and spoke this encouragement), Paul; you must stand before Caesar (the supreme human ruler in Paul's day); and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.' (Acts 27:22)"
Barclay - In the old days of the Roman Republic, in the corner of the Forum farthest from the Capitol stood the tribunal, the judgment seat, where the Praetor Urbanus had sat dispensing justice. When Paul wrote, Roman justice required more than one judgment seat; and so in the great basilicas, the colonnaded porches around the Forum, the magistrates sat dispensing justice. The Roman well knew the sight of a man standing before the judge’s judgment seat. (Romans 14 Commentary - Daily Study Bible)
Paul's point in reminding us all of this future judgment of believers is that no believer has a right to judge (weaker judging stronger in context - Ro 14:3-note) or condemn (stronger looking down on weaker - see notes Romans 14:1; 14:3) one another because the Lord is the Judge. Each believer will have enough to do in keeping his own account right without interfering with others' accounts! The judgment seat of God (or Christ in 2Corinthians 5:10) will not entail a decision regarding one's salvation because Jesus said in John 5:24 that "he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." Thus every believer has crossed over from death to life, & eternal life is our present & permanent possession (cp 1Cor 3:10-15. The judgment Paul is referring to is one that assays the quality of one's life.
Warren Wiersbe - Both strong and weak must stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and they will not judge each other—they will be judged by the Lord. The Judgment Seat of Christ is that place where Christians will have their works judged by the Lord. It has nothing to do with our sins, since Christ has paid for them and they can be held against us no more (Ro 8:1). (The Bible exposition commentary)
William Newell - It is a matter of reward for our service, and not salvation, that is here in question. (Romans 14 - Newell's Commentary on Romans)
Charles Hodge - As we are all to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, as he is our sole and final judge, we should not usurp his prerogative, or presume to condemn those whom he has received. (Romans 14 - Hodge's Commentary on Romans)
Robert Haldane - The Apostle gives here another reason to prevent believers from judging or despising each other. Not only are they all the servants of Christ, and brethren, but they must all appear at His judgment-seat, each to give an account of himself. This is a good reason why they should neither condemn nor despise one another. To judge one another in this manner is to invade the prerogative of Christ; and to despise one another evidences pride and ignorance of the source of all our knowledge. This most clearly shows that Christians have no authority over one another’s faith or Christian practice in this world. Both as to faith and Christian practice Christians may endeavor to enlighten one another; but when they fail, they have no authority to force others to change their views. Each Christian, however, is bound to follow the Lord fully so far as his own knowledge extends, and not to be stopped by the ignorance of his brother. He is not to do what he knows to be wrong, in order to walk with his weak brother; nor is he to avoid doing anything that he judges to be the will of his Master, in order to retain fellowship with other Christians. (Romans 14 - Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans)
Judgment seat (968) (bema from bainō, "to step, ascend") (see also Judgment by the Saints) in its most common NT use refers to a raised platform on which an official is seated when rendering judgment on certain legal cases or athletic events. It is a platform before which someone would walk up to receive judgment; (figuratively) the administration of justice, given from "a tribunal-chair" (throne) at which there is a meting out rewards and punishments. Pilate sat on a judgment seat (bēma) in Christ's trial (Mt 27:19; Jn 19:13). Gallio sat on a judgment seat (Acts 18:12-17). All believers must stand before the judgment seat of God/Christ (Ro 14:10; 2Cor 5:10). This divine judgment will reward our works – not judge our sins, for that judgment occurred 2000 years ago on the mighty Cross when the humble Lamb bore ALL our sins, His temporal death giving us eternal life! However, it is a mistake to assume God "doesn't care" about the small matters (decisions) of life. Far from it! Each and every scene of life is a "partnership invitation" from God to live with Him – not just for Him! (Cp Lk 16:10 with Eccl 12:14, 1Cor 4:5)
A passage that should be written in calligraphy and hung on a very visible plaque in the entrance and exit hallway of every believer's home as a constant motivating reminder are these sobering words of our Lord Jesus Christ…
Behold, I am coming quickly,
and My reward is with Me,
to render to every man
according to what he has done.
An actual marble bēma was discovered in ancient Corinth, located in the center of the marketplace (agora) (see Acts 18:12 - Bema at Corinth photograph or Here or Images of Bema). This bēma "judgment seat" was discovered about a century ago in Corinth's agora and is composed of blue and white marble slabs. This high platform was flanked by two waiting rooms and may be the very one Paul was tried on by Gallio (Acts 18:12-17). A columned street (leading to the agora) with a row of 16 shops was also uncovered. One shop has the inscription, "meat market." See 1Cor 10:25 and Ro 14:21 which address the role of a believer's conscience in the eating of meat previously sacrificed at the temple of Apollo (temple of Apollo). Both Jesus (Jn 19:13) and the apostle Paul (Acts 18:12) appeared before an earthly judgment-seat (bēma) where they were judged unjustly. This worldly judgment (praise God) stands in utter contrast to what believers will experience at the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor 5:10)! The quality of every deed ("work") done by believers will be tested at the judgment-seat (bēma) of Christ. He will judge and reward the redeemed – concerning every scene of their lives to appropriately fit them with their glorified body. Our reward is not earned, but it will fit (Rev 19:8)! Each glorified body will have capacities that match the individual believer so they can enjoy the Lord throughout the aeons of eternity. That is, each glorified body seems to reflect the extent the believer hungered for righteousness (God's approval) in this life (cf. Mt 5:6 with Phil 3:11-21).
Polycarp (about AD 70-156), a pupil of John the apostle, wrote in The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, "We must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and every one must give an account of himself. Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us]" (Chapter VI – The Duties of Presbyters and Others).
Robert Moffat - "We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but we have only one swift hour before the sunset in which to win them."
C. S. Lewis - "If you read history you will find out that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next."
McComiskey - In secular Gk. bema is used in the sense of step or stride, as in walking (Pindar, Aeschylus). It has also the associative connotation of a pace as a unit of measure. The word is also used as a platform for a public speaker and, in legal contexts, it denotes the place where litigants stood for trial (Demosthenes, Aeschines)." (Brown, Colin, editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology)
The Early Church-fathers understood Scripture to teach two judgments – separated by a thousand years (Rev 20:1-6) – each with a (corresponding) resurrection. The first judgment ("the first resurrection") is only for believers. It happens at Christ's return when He rewards them for their faith-works (see "the judgment seat of Christ," 2 Cor 5:10). The second judgment (resurrection) happens at the end of the millennial kingdom at the Great White Throne Judgment. Here God punishes the sins of the unredeemed (Rev 20:11-15). The "first resurrection" (judgment) happily brings a unique redemption-body for glory (Ro 8:17-25; 1Cor 15:35-54). "The second death" however for the unredeemed brings a new body that matches their eternal damnation. Believers will never experience God's judgment (wrath) for their sins, as Jesus Himself attested declaring "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (Jn 5:24)
Bema is found 12 times in the NT (see below) and in the is translated as: ground, 1; judgment seat, 7; rostrum, 1; tribunal, 3. In the KJV it is translated once as crown.
Related Resources -
Sermon by Leonard Ravenhill = The Judgment Seat of Christ
Radio Bible Class booklet = The Judgment Seat of Christ.
Click for a picture of the remains of the bema at the ruin in Corinth.
Here are the 12 NT uses of bema…
Mt 27:19 And while he (Pilate) was sitting on the judgment seat, (bema = here the official seat of Pilate the judge of Jesus!) his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."
John 19:13 When Pilate therefore heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat (bema) at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
Comment: The bēma was a portable seat – a "judging chair" (throne) placed on the Antonia pavement for trials.. Roman justice was administered by a judge, pronouncing his verdict from a bēma (a portable chair with folding legs). Sitting in this chair gave the judge the (apparent) sense of unlimited authority. But the Bible unequivocally teaches all the physical scenes of history operate under the plan of God (cf. Acts 4:28; Eph 1:11).
Acts 7:5 "And He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground (bema); and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his offspring after him. (This is the only NT use of bema in the sense of step as a unit of measure).
Acts 12:21 And on an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum (or "tribunal") (bema = the structure, resembling a throne, which Herod built in the theater at Caesarea, and from which he used to view the games and make speeches and orations to the people) and began delivering an address to them.
Acts 18:12 But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat (bema),
Acts 18:16 And he drove them away from the judgment seat (bema).
Acts 18:17 And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat (bema). And Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.
Comment: Gallio summarily dismissed this case from the stone platform called a bēma. This "tribunal court" (a stone platform) still stands in old Corinth today, probably the same one Paul stood on.
Acts 25:6 And after he (Festus, the Roman governor or procurator who succeeded Felix in the province of Judea) had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea; and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal (bema) and ordered Paul to be brought.
Acts 25:10 But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal (bema), where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know.
Acts 25:17 "And so after they had assembled here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal (bema), and ordered the man to be brought.
Romans 14:10 (note) But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat (bema) of God.
2Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat (bema) of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (since Corinth had a literal bema where both athletic rewards and legal justice were dispensed [see Ac 18:12ff above], the Corinthians clearly would understand Paul’s reference)
As A W Tozer rightly said "Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will not be judged by how much I have done but by how much of me there is in it."
Spurgeon illustrates this same idea with a story…
You remember the old Romish legend, which contains a great truth. There was a brother who preached very mightily, and who had won many souls to Christ, and it was revealed to him one night in a dream, that in heaven he would have no reward for all he had done. He asked to whom the reward would go, and the angel told him it would go to an old man who used to sit on the pulpit stairs and pray for him. Well, it may be so, but both would most likely share their Master's praise. We shall not be rewarded, however, simply according to our apparent success. — Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon
Occasionally a benevolent action wrought in faith brings with it an instantaneous recompense in kind; therein Providence is seen as smiling upon the deed. The late John Andrew Jones, a poor Baptist minister, whilst walking in Cheapside, was appealed to by some one he knew for help. He had but a shilling in the world, and poised it in his mind, to give or not to give? The greater distress of his acquaintance prevailed, and he gave his all, walking away with a sweet remembrance of the promise, "He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given, will he pay him again." He had not gone a hundred yards further before he met a gentleman who said, "Ah, Mr. Jones, I am glad to see you. I have had this sovereign in my waistcoat pocket this week past for some poor minister, and you may as well have it." Mr. Jones was wont to add, when telling the story, "If I had not stopped to give relief I should have missed the gentleman and the sovereign too." — Spurgeon - Feathers for Arrows
Bema means a step forward made by a foot (the space which the foot covers). In most NT uses it refers to a platform that requires steps to ascend. Depending on the setting, the bema could be a tribunal from which the judge or magistrate would address an assembly from a chair placed on the structure (the bema). Thus the judge would sit elevated above those he was addressing and rendering judgment upon.
It is important not to confuse the Bema “judgment seat” in (Romans 14:10 and 2Corinthians 5:10) with the Great White Throne from which Christ will judge the wicked unsaved of all ages (Revelation 20:11-15-notes).
|2Cor 5:9,10||Rev 20:11,12, 13, 14, 15|
|Judgment Seat of Christ||Great White Throne Judgment|
|Only believers||Only unbelievers|
|After the Rapture
Before the Millennium
|After the 1000 year reign of Messiah
Before the New Heaven and Earth
rewards for service
amount of eternal judgment
The bema then was a raised place or tribune (the platform from which an assembly is addressed) to speak from in a public assembly or court of law.
The bema was also the stand on which the judges stood to observe and evaluate the actions of athletes in the Olympic contests. If any athlete broke a rule, one or more of the judges (referees or umpires) would point to him and cry, “Adokimos!" (96) (that is, “Disqualified!” see discussion of adokimos in 1Cor 9:24, 25, 26, 27-note). And thus he missed the prize (victor’s wreath -- see discussion of stephanos) (4735) regardless of the place he finished in the race or contest (see discussion of the necessity for athletes to compete according to the rules in 2Ti 2:5-note). Likewise, when an event was completed, the contestants stood before the bema to hear the judges’ announcement of the results, and to receive such reward as might properly be theirs. This is a uniquely fitting illustration to make clear to us the fact that service and life are to be evaluated by our Lord, with possible reward (cf Luke 16:2 "And he [a certain rich man who had a steward] called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.').
As noted above, the bema was also used for a tribune, two of which were provided in the law-courts of Greece, one for the accuser and one for the defendant; it was applied to the tribunal of a Roman magistrate or ruler. The judge invariably sat on a special seat or throne. Jerusalem and the smaller cities alike had their thrones for judgment (Judges 4:5-note; 1Ki 7:7; Ps 122:5-note). In Rome, magistrate and jury were seated together on the raised tribunal or bench. The custom extended also to the provinces.
In the NT, kriteria (2922), tribunals, is used of law courts generally 1Co 6:2, 1Co 6:4 - note who will be judge at these courts! Cp Rev 2:26,27-note Rev 3:21-note), while bema is applied to the judgment seat not only of the Emperor (Acts 25:10) but also of the governors:
In applying the term bema, may be thinking simply of the tribunal of the Roman magistrate before which he himself had stood, or he may be thinking of the Greek way of justice.
All Greek citizens were liable to serve as judges, or, as we would say, as jurymen. When an Athenian sat in judgment on a case he was given two bronze discs. Each had a cylindrical axis. One axis was hollow and that disc stood for condemnation; one was solid and that disc stood for acquittal. On the bema there stood two urns. One, of bronze, was called "the decisive urn", for into it the judge dropped the disc which stood for his verdict. The other, of wood, was called "the inoperative urn", for into it the judge dropped the disc which he desired to discard. So at the end the jury dropped into the bronze urn either the disc that stood for acquittal or the one that stood for condemnation. To an onlooker they looked exactly alike and none could tell the verdict the judges gave. Then the discs were counted and the verdict given. Even so some day we shall await the verdict of God (for rewards or lack of rewards but not for sin for there is "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" see notes on Romans 8:1). When we remember this great truth, life becomes a tremendous and a thrilling thing,
All believers are either making or marring a destiny
Winning or losing a crown
Time becomes the testing ground of eternity
In light of brevity of our life and the length of eternity and the certainty of the bema seat ponder these words by the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson (click to read his convicting biography):
A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity… the same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever… each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny… How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness… ! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked."
This is Coram Deo living before the face of God, Carpe Diem seizing the day, because Tempus Fugit, time flies and so our daily prayer should be "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12 - see Spurgeon's note), doing all things as "for the Lord"
The measure of a life
is determined by the Ruler of the universe
The Judgment seat - is meant for us professing Christians, real and imperfect Christians; and it tells us that there are degrees in that future blessedness proportioned to present faithfulness. Alexander Maclaren, 1826-1910
It is only Christians who are in view at the Bema seat of Christ. All that we have hidden shall be revealed. The bema seat will be an exhaustive evaluation of our lives. First Corinthians 4:5 says the Lord will come and
bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
Note that Paul says each man's praise will come to him from God, which indicates each will in fact receive praise. On the other hand, note that at the Bema seat God does not whip those who have been less faithful during their lives for Paul clearly teaches that
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (see note Romans 8:1)
Thus, the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is to examine each believer's entire life on earth, to recompense for the deeds, whether good or bad (2Cor. 5:10). The idea is that there will be a summing up and estimation of the total pattern of a believer's life. The focus will not be on every foolish or sinful thing we have ever done. The Bema is a time of reward, not punishment.
A W Tozer writes that…
Our motives in the Christian life should be both right and genuine. God is the Faithful One. We are to love Him and serve Him because He is God—not because of the gracious things He does for us or for the rewards He promises us!
However, it should be said that God does not expect us to forget or ignore the gracious future promises He has made to us. It is a glorious truth that if we believe God and honor His Word, if we walk by faith in love and obedience, there will be eternal rewards for each of us in that great coming day. The rewards will differ. Wisdom and knowledge and love reside in Him who is our God. He will make the right judgments for His people.
I for one will not be surprised if some of God's faithful people serving Him today should rise as high and shine as brightly as the heroes of faith listed in the book of Hebrews.
I say that in all truthfulness because I do not think that all of the heroes of faith are dead and gone!
Deeds done in the Spirit, in obedience to Christ and with the purpose of bringing honor to the Triune God, are seeds of endless blessedness.
The first gift of life is not by works, but by faith in the work of a sufficient Redeemer; but after the miracle of the new birth has been accomplished, the Christian to a large extent carries his future in his hands. If he denies himself and takes up his cross in meek obedience, his deeds will become seeds of life and everlasting glory.
He may forget his deeds of love or think them small and useless, but God is not unmindful. He never forgets.
The sweet harvest of a life well lived will be there to meet the sower after the toil is ended and the heat of the day is past
Spurgeon wrote that…
The service of God is a remunerative service; He gives wages in the work, and an abundant reward, according to His grace, when the work is done…
Your reward is not what you get at present, but it lies in the glorious future. When the Lord Jesus comes He will reward all His stewards and servants. No truth is more plain in the four Gospels than this fact, that when Jesus returns to this earth He will distribute recompense in proportion to work done…
He will certainly come in His own person to reward His saints; and ere He comes He sees what you are doing. If this does not nerve you to tireless diligence in holy service, what can?…
If the action is not done in the Lord's service, but with a view to our own honour, we cannot expect a reward from above.
Short is life; fleeting is time; quick is death; sure is judgment; long is eternity. Therefore, what thou desirest to do, do it quickly.
Thou wilt deeds of love repay;
Grace shall gen'rous hearts reward
Here on earth, and in the day
When they meet their reigning Lord.
He can labor without present reward who looks for a reward in the world to come…
God is both the rewarder and the reward of his people… He that wills to serve God for nought, will find that he does not serve God for nought. Our motive must be free from selfishness, but in the end the Lord will reward all the faithful.
Mind your work, and God will find your wages. If not today, nor tomorrow, yet very certainly and abundantly, according to his grace, he will reward every good work.
No pain, no palm. We must endure the toil and the suffering, or we may not expect the reward. The winner must first be a runner.
Soldiers of the Lord below,
Strong in faith resist the foe:
Boundless is the pledged reward
Unto them who serve the Lord.
'Tis no palm of fading leaves,
Which the conqueror's hand receives;
Joys are his serene and pure,
Light that ever shall endure.
For the souls that overcome
Waits the beauteous heavenly Home,
Where the blessed evermore
Tread, on high, the starry floor.
Spurgeon gives this illustration - You remember the old Romish legend, which contains a great truth. There was a brother who preached very mightily, and who had won many souls to Christ, and it was revealed to him one night in a dream, that in heaven he would have no reward for all he had done. He asked to whom the reward would go, and the angel told him it would go to an old man who used to sit on the pulpit stairs and pray for him. Well, it may be so, but both would most likely share their Master's praise. We shall not be rewarded, however, simply according to our apparent success. — Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon
John Flavel - Those who give to God only the shadow of duty can never expect from him a real reward.
William Childs Robinson - The judgement seat of Christ lends a seriousness to all life. (Ed: Beloved is this statement true of you?)
John Blanchard - The fact that the Christian can face the day of judgement secure in the knowledge that he will not be rejected does not mean that he is to think of it in terms of a glorified prize-giving… We shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ on the basis of our performance, not our profession… We will go past the judgment seat of Christ in single file. -- The Complete Gathered Gold
John MacArthur adds that…
At the same time, while we won't be condemned for our sins, our present lives do affect what will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Here's how:
Sin and indifference in this life rob us of our present desire for serving the Lord. That in turn means a loss of rewards, because we will not have used our time to His glory. That is why Paul exhorts us to "be careful how [we] walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of [our] time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5:15, 16-notes; 16).
Sin and indifference result in a loss of power in our lives because sin grieves the Holy Spirit.
Sin and indifference cause us to pass up opportunities for service, which we would otherwise perform and be rewarded for.
The greatest consequence of unfaithfulness here on earth is that it disappoints Christ. 1Jn 2:28 says, "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." That is a sobering thought—we could be ashamed as we stand before the Lord. At the same time, it should encourage us with the prospect of receiving His lavish rewards if we serve Him faithfully during our time here on earth. (from What is the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ?; see also Believer’s Rewards)
Bill Vaughn in his thesis submitted to Master's Seminary reaches the following conclusion - When Paul’s teaching on the judgment seat of Christ is stripped of the unbiblical teaching of punishment for sin at the judgment seat of Christ, what is left is the biblical picture of a future date before Jesus Christ that all Christians should anticipate. The nature of the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ is not to judge sin. No biblical basis for that position exists. The nature of the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ is to judge each Christian’s service for possible rewards. Jesus has let us see this future event so that we can use it as a motivation to serve Him now, in our bodies, in a manner that will please Him and, ultimately, merit rewards for us. Paul’s greatest ambition was to please his Lord, desiring that, when the deeds done in his body were tested by fire, most of them would remain as gold, silver, or precious stones to be rewarded by Jesus. Given the proper understanding of the judgment seat of Christ, Christians should follow Paul’s example and let the judgment seat of Christ be the reason for their ambition to please the Lord Jesus Christ in all of their service. (The Judgment Seat of Christ - Thesis)
There was a rabbinic saying "Let not thine imagination assure thee that the grave is an asylum; for perforce thou wast framed, and perforce thou wast born. and perforce thou livest, and perforce thou diest, and perforce thou art about to give account and reckoning before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed is he.
As a dedicated Christian worker once said "The pay may not always be too good but you can't beat His retirement plan."
Canadian Missionary J. Goforth (brief biography) gives a beautiful illustration of what every believer wants to hear someday "When he was fifteen years of age his father put him in charge of their second farm, which was twenty miles from the home farm. "Work hard," said his father. "At harvest I'll return and inspect." In later years Goforth stirred many an audience as he told of his arduous labors that summer, of his father's return in the fall and of how his heart thrilled when his father, after inspecting the fields of beautiful waving grain, turned to him and smiled. "That smile," he would say, "was all the reward I wanted. I knew my father was pleased. So will it be, dear Christians, if we are faithful to the trust our Heavenly Father has given us. His smile of approval will be our blessed reward."
I like Ray Stedman's prayer here:
Thank you, our Father, for these searching words which make us all feel a bit guilty. We have all been guilty of this, whether strong or weak. We have judged our brother, and condemned him. Forgive us for that, Lord. Help us to see that we have been usurping Your place, Lord Jesus, in doing so. Help us to stop that, and to begin to answer only for ourselves before Your throne, and upholding and praying for our brother or sister if we feel they need it. Grant to us, Lord, that illuminating understanding of truth that sets us free. We ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.
Who does God's work will get God's pay,
However long may seem the day,
However weary be the way;
Though powers and princes thunder "Nay,"
Who does God's work will get God's pay.
He does not pay as others pay,
In gold or land or raiment gay;
In goods that vanish and decay;
But God in wisdom knows a way,
And that is sure, let come what may,
Who does God's work will get God's pay.
— Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations
Wayne Barber explains why Paul brings up the Bema Seat in Romans 14. Why does he seem to interject this topic in a chapter that has to do with discussion of relationships? Wayne's explanation, although a bit lengthy, will help you understand one aspect of the Bema Seat judgment, an aspect that we can put into practice immediately in our Christian walks… before that awesome day when we must stand before Jesus our Righteous Judge and give an accounting!
Ro 14:10 says, "But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God."
The present tense is used (you are continually judging). This is spiritual pride. Some of the saints have understood the message of grace and they are hammering the people who don’t understand, making them look stupid, scorning them, shunning them. Paul is saying, "You had better stop doing that." As a matter of fact, the emphasis here is like, "Who are you to judge anybody? There is a Judge and you are going to stand before Him one day, but you are not Him. What do you mean judging?"
The word for "judge" is krino and we have seen it in Ro 14:3, 4, 5 and it means to come to a decision that you execute upon someone based on what you see and what you know and probably in front of their peers. Now, to apply that to Ro 14:10, you have judged that your brother in Christ is wrong and is hung up in legalism. But rather than choosing love him by gently instructing, exhorting and praying for him, you make him look bad in front of his peers. Isn’t it kind of fun to do that sometimes? Have you ever had a bad day and done that? Some of you have had those days in which you just won’t repent and just sort of feel the luxury of ripping your brother and tearing him down and saying things because you have picked up a weakness in that brother and you just enjoy talking about it. By your talking about his weakness, you are making yourself look better. All of us have done that, haven’t we? The Apostle Paul is saying, "Folks, you don’t seem to understand." We are going to be held accountable for the things that we say and the way we treat the weaker brother or in any other relationship of our life. We will stand before a Holy God one day.
"Who are you," he says, "to judge your brother?"
He goes on and asks the second question. He says, "Who are you to regard your brother with contempt?" The word "contempt" means to treat him as if he is nothing, to despise him. Again it’s the same attitude. The principle or the reason he says this is found in the last part of the verse. He says, "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God." That is a sobering statement. If we stopped right there, every one of us would just have to start repenting. We are all going to stand. There is going to be a reckoning. There is going to be an accountability that God is going to hold us to one day in the future. And there are many Christians who treat this thing lightly. Their families are split apart. They go through life with bitter relationships. They don’t really care what they say about people. They always are somehow building themselves up without understanding they are going to answer before a Holy God one day for what they have said and how they have treated their brother. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
That is in the future tense. There is an event coming. There is an appointment you and I have to keep. We are going to stand before God one day and we are going to give an account of how we live. He says, "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God." "Stand before" is the word paristemi. It means to be made to stand before the presence of an authority who has the power to judge.
I think Paul is trying to say, "Folks, do you really believe this?" I personally believe that most people don’t believe this. If they did, they would live differently. They wouldn’t say some of the things they say. They wouldn’t do some of the things they do. We have an appointment. The Judge is coming. He has given us the freedom and He has given us the privilege and He is coming to hold us accountable for what He has given to us. That is what he is saying. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
The term "judgment seat of God" is interesting. The Nestle’s text says "God" but the Textus Receptus says "Christ". Now you say, "Well, isn’t Christ God?" Yes, He is and there possibly isn’t any real distinction, but I am going to make one.
In the Textus Receptus it says the Bema Seat or the Judgment Seat of Christ. Now the term "judgment seat" is the term Bema. You have heard of the Bema Seat of Christ. What is the Bema? Well, Bema is the word that refers to a throne that was set up above the people to give the position of authority. It was a throne of judgment. It was on a platform. As a matter of fact, it was used for many things, not just judgment. Sometimes oracles were made there and sometimes debates were held. It was a place with a high rostrum. It was always given that place of distinction.
In Acts 12:21 we see Herod in Caesarea taking his place on a throne that was elevated above the people. It says, "And on an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum." The term "rostrum" or Bema and commonly meant a tribunal and was where a judge would sit to make judgments and give out sentences… I had the privilege of going to Greece several years ago… The ruins of Philippi were just marvelous. When I got there I got to stand on the Bema Seat, the place where the throne was set up where the public debates were held, where the judge would sit up and make his judgments and cast sentence. So the Bema was a well known to Paul's audience because every city had an elevated place where the judge would sit and judgments was rendered and sentences given out.
We are all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We know that all men will stand before God, but who is going to stand here at the Judgment Seat of Christ? The context is believers. Christ is going to make judgments about how we have lived on earth. So the first thing. is that all believers have an appointment with Him. (And so Paul's point in the context of Romans 14 is… ) Who are we to judge somebody else? Who am I to try to be lord over somebody else’s life? Who am I to demean somebody and scorn somebody because they don’t understand the faith? I am nobody. I am not to do it, and I am going to be judged if I do it.
Second, "What are we going to be judged for? I thought my sin was judged at the cross." Thank God, it was and we are not going to stand in that judgment. This judgment will be an accountability for how we lived life on earth. Now I am telling you, folks, people don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to deal with their relationships. They don’t want to make things right. They would rather sweep it under the rug than put it under the blood. They don’t realize they are going to stand before God one day, the Lord Jesus on that throne, and they are going to give an account for how they dealt in their relationships down here on earth. It concerns the evaluation of our life on earth and its character and its works.
The context in both Romans 14 and 2 Corinthians 5 is all believers and that is what we have got to see. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 it says,
For we must all [that includes Paul, me, you and everybody] appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body.
Do you know what the word "recompense" is? It means to pay back in full. In other words, if I owe you $5, I pay you $5, not $4 and not $6. Not more and not less, exactly what I owe. In other words, what we do here is going to be recompensed when we stand before Him. This should be a thrilling thing, but for most of us it is not. It is a real eye opener, a sobering thing.
The common misunderstanding is that when a person dies, their life as a believer on this earth is forgotten. They step over into a state of bliss, everything in the past is over and in that day it is all the same for everybody --"pie in the sky by and by." Oh, Lord, give me a little house over there in glory land. That is the thinking of most people. I hate to tell you this, folks, that is just not the way it is. You see, once you get saved, and are given everything for life and godliness (2Pe 1:3) and we will be held accountable for that "gift" one day. Part of our accountability has to do with our relationships and how we treat each other…
Now folks, you have got to get that in your mind. The way you live here now as a Christian has everything to do with the way you are going to enjoy where you are headed. You see, many people don’t believe that. I am afraid that you are going to misunderstand it. It has nothing to do with the glorified body. It has nothing to do with your eternal standing with God. That is not what he is talking about. But what Paul is talking about is there is going to be some kind of identity when we get to heaven in the presence of God that is going to depict how we lived down here. It is not a put down in any way. As a matter of fact, I think that is the garment which we will stand in when we stand before the Bema Seat of Christ. We will have no argument when the rewards are passed out. We will know immediately why we receive what we received. This is a motivation for the believer to know that one day when he or she stands before God they want to stand not ashamed of the way they lived down here. The context (in Romans 14 particularly) is all relates to relationships. I have said many times that if the devil has a place in your life, if he can get in there at all, it is on your tongue. That is where it is. How you talk about and deal with people is the key. The building and clothing are in accordance with our works of faith on this earth, whether good or bad.
If you are going to be paid back for something in 2Co 5:10, what is it you are going to be paid back? How are you going to be rewarded? According to the deeds done in the body, whether good—inherently good, that which only the Holy Spirit can do—or evil or bad…
There are responsibilities in the Christian life, folks. This puts integrity right back where it ought to be. People who say you can live like you want to live, do what you want to do, are people who do not understand the Word of God. Jesus is coming and when He comes, we shall all stand. Thank God, it is a wonderful thing and is for rewards and that He is not out to get us. He already has us. But now He want to reward us! Paul is saying is, we have an appointment one day to stand before God and the way we treat each other will directly impact our "rewards ceremony". Folks, you need to think about that before you say or do anything to demean or scorn a brother because God loves them and gave Himself for them. He died for us when we were ungodly sinners and enemies of God. He is going to judge us one day for how we treated brothers in the family of God.
So how should we live in light of this truth? This is the main reason Paul brought up a discussion of the Bema seat here in Romans 14. How shall we live? We are not to cause each other to stumble. Look in Romans 14:11. He reminds them of a truth found in the Old Testament.
For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' (Quoting Isaiah 45:23)
Paul is saying there has never been a time during man’s existence on earth when God has not specifically warned that there was going to be a day of reckoning or accountability. God was faithful to declare this truth from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Why we think that simply because we as NT believers are now under grace that we are not going to be accountable for what God has given us is baffling. We need to remember that the way we live directly relates to what is going to happen on this awesome day when we stand before Jesus at His Bema Seat judgment! (Reference)
Steven Cole - In Romans 14:10, Paul says (according to the best manuscripts), “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” In 2 Corinthians 5:10, he says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ….” Since God and Christ are one (John 10:30), it’s the same judgment seat. We all will give an account of ourselves to God and Christ.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “But I thought that there is no condemnation for Christians (Rom. 8:1). I thought that we will not come into judgment (John 5:24). How is it, then, that we all will stand before the judgment seat of God?”
Paul cites first a phrase from Isaiah 49:18, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord,” followed by Isaiah 45:23, “Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” Then Paul concludes (14:12), “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” The point is, God is the sovereign Lord of all and hence He has the right to judge all, including believers. For believers, it will not be a determination of heaven or hell, but rather a judgment of our works. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15:
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
I’m not sure what it means to “suffer loss” at the judgment, but I don’t want it to happen to me! It must involve a moment of deep regret and shame over what I have done or not done with the spiritual gifts that God has entrusted to me. But, clearly, I should live in light of that certain day ahead when I will stand before the Lord to give an account. Have I lived in light of His purposes? Have I used my time, talents, and treasure to seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33)? Will I be able to say, with Paul (2 Tim. 4:7), “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”?
4. Since God is the Judge of all, we must not judge other believers or regard them with contempt.
Romans 14:10, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Again, this does not refer to judging our brothers over matters of sin or serious doctrinal error. We must judge one another on these matters. In this context, it refers to not judging one another over non-essential matters where the Bible gives no commands. This calls for discernment. The fact that I will stand before the judgment seat of God gives me the courage to confront a believer who is in sin or who is promoting serious error when by nature I would not do anything (Ezek. 33:1-10). It gives me the courage to teach difficult truths from God’s Word that I would be prone to skip.
But the fact that I will stand before God’s judgment seat should also cause me to refrain from speaking against a brother who may be doing or saying something that is not clearly commanded in Scripture. If I think that what he is doing or saying is spiritually immature or will cause him or others spiritual harm, I may need gently to come alongside and offer correction at the proper time. But if it’s a neutral matter, then I should assume that he is doing it for the Lord and let the Lord be his judge.
Conclusion - A traveler, between flights at an airport, bought a small package of cookies. Then she sat down and began reading a newspaper. Gradually, she became aware of a rustling noise. From behind her paper, she was flabbergasted to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies. Not wanting to make a scene, she leaned over and took a cookie herself. A minute or two passed, and then came more rustling. He was helping himself to another cookie! By this time, they had come to the end of the package, but she was so angry she didn’t dare allow herself to say anything. Then, as if to add insult to injury, the man broke the remaining cookie in two, pushed half across to her, ate the other half, and left. Still fuming some time later when her flight was announced, the woman opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her pack of unopened cookies! Sometimes, we judge others very wrongly! (Leadership, Spring, 1991, p. 45.)
Perhaps our text can best be summed up by saying, “Don’t judge your brother on non-essential matters, because God will judge him. Judge yourself, because God will judge you” (paraphrased from F. Godet, Romans 14:1-15:13 Directions Regarding a Difference of View).
1 How can we determine whether a non-essential matter is spiritually harmful or not? When should we talk with a brother or sister about such matters?
2 Where are you at on the matter of Sunday being the Christian Sabbath? Could you use Sundays more profitably than you do?
3 What are some areas where you are prone to judge other Christians or to look on them with contempt?
4 Do you live in light of standing before Christ for judgment of your works? How can we make this more central in our daily lives? (Why We Should Not Judge Others Romans 14:5-12)
One sunny day, four high school boys couldn’t resist the temptation to skip classes. The next morning they explained to their teacher that they had missed her class because their car had a flat tire. To their relief, she smiled and said, “Well, you missed a quiz yesterday.” But then she added, “Take your seats and get out a pencil and paper. The first question is: Which tire was flat?”
No one gets away with lying. In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira thought they were lying only to Peter and the other believers. But the apostle said to them, “You have not lied to men but to God” (v.4).
Truth is one of the attributes of God. So when we tell a lie, we offend Him. And sooner or later He will uncover every falsehood—if not in this life, then at the final judgment, when we each give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:10-12).
We live in a highly competitive world, and sometimes we may be strongly tempted to shade the truth to get ahead. But the short-term gains from lying are worth little compared with the long-term benefits of telling the truth.
If you have deceived someone, confess it to that person and to the Lord. It may be humbling, but it’s the first step to restoring integrity in your life. (Which Tire Was It- - Our Daily Bread)
The road that leads to misery
Is caused by a tongue that wags;
Beware of lying lips, my friend,
And a mouth that boasts and brags.
If you always tell the truth,
you will never be trapped in a lie.
Amplified: For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God [acknowledge Him to His honor and to His praise]. [Isa. 45:23.] (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: For the Scriptures say, "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.'" (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God'. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For it stands written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for it hath been written, 'I live! saith the Lord -- to Me bow shall every knee, and every tongue shall confess to God;'
FOR IT IS WRITTEN: gegraptai (3SRPI) gar:
For - Pause to ponder this strategic term of explanation. Paul appeals to Scripture (quoting Isa 45:23) to authenticate (so to speak) what he has just said in Ro 14:10 that God is the Judge and we are not!
Written (1125)(grapho from root graph- = primarily means to scratch on or engrave as on an ornament, reports, letters, etc; English = graph, graphic, etc) means to engrave or inscribe with a pen or stylus characters or letters on a surface which can be wood, wax, metal, leather, stone, parchment, dirt (John ), paper, etc. (Click to review all 191 uses of grapho in the NAS)
It is written occurs 76 times in the NAS. When we were children and our parents told us to do something and we questioned "Why?", the answer was usually "Because I said so!". Why are we commanded to be holy? Because God said so! A popular saying is "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." This sounds good but isn't accurate because God's Word is true, regardless of whether we believe it or not. A more accurate "saying" would be "God said it, that settles it!" It is written should put a stop to every complaint or excuse. Paul is saying don't judge but remember you will appear before Me to give an account (as the next verse clarifies). This sobering thought should motivate us to obey this injunction.
NIDNTT has a historical note writing that "grapho is found in its original sense in Homer, Il. 17, 599. In Herodotus, 4, 36 the word is used meaning to draw, of lines on maps; and scholars of the 3rd cent. B.C. used it of drawing of mathematical figures. In Homer grapho is already used in the sense of scratching signs on a tablet as a kind of letter (Il. 6, 169). From the time of Herodotus. it is used generally in the normal sense of to write, and from the time of Pindar in the derived sense of to prescribe, to order. From the practice of handing in a written accusation, grapho came in judicial language to mean to accuse (Plato, Euthyphro 2b). (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
The verb grapho is perfect tense (gegraphtai) signifying that God's Word has been written down at a point of time in the past (cf Lev 11:44, 19:2, 20:7 were originally inscribed with a stylus by Moses probably on clay tablets under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit circa 1500BC) and remains on record as the eternal, unchanging Word of God. It stands written!
The perfect tense in this context also signifies the permanence of the written word of God. The phrase it is written (in perfect tense) is a regular "formula" in the New Testament (e.g., Mt 4:4, 4:6, 4:7, 4:10, 11:10 - some 60 times in all 4 gospels and by Paul and Peter) and always refers directly or indirectly to an Old Testament quotation and thus it carries great authority for the believer.
The idea is that this divine revelation was written down at a specific time in the past and stands written and effective. As Jesus declared "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away."(Mt 24:35)
Warren Wiersbe commenting on the significance of the phrase it is written reminds us that "Our Lord used the Word of God to defeat Satan, and so may we (Mt 4:1-11; see Eph 6:17-note). But the Word of God is not only a sword for battle; it is also a light to guide us in this dark world (Ps 119:105 - Spurgeon's note; see 2Pe 1:19-note), food that strengthens us (Mt 4:4; 1Pe 2:2-note), and water that washes us (Eph 5:25, 26, 27-see notes Ep 5:25; 26; 27). The Word of God has a sanctifying ministry in the lives of dedicated believers (Jn 17:17). Those who delight in God’s Word, meditate on it, and seek to obey it will experience God’s direction and blessing in their lives (Ps 1:1, 3-(Ps 1:1-3 - see notes Ps1:1; 1:2; 1:3). The Word reveals God’s mind, so we should learn it; God’s heart, so we should love it; God’s will, so we should live it. Our whole being—mind, will, and heart—should be controlled by the Word of God… Does this mean that the Old Testament Law is authoritative today for New Testament Christians? Keep in mind that the early Christians did not even have the New Testament. The only Word of God they possessed was the Old Testament, and God used that Word to direct and nurture them. Believers today are not under the ceremonial laws given to Israel; however, even in these laws we see moral and spiritual principles revealed. Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the Epistles, so we must obey them. (The Sabbath commandment was given especially to Israel and does not apply to us today. See Ro 14:1-9-notes) As we read and study the Old Testament, we will learn much about God’s character and working, and we will see truths pictured in types and symbols. first step toward keeping clean in a filthy world is to ask, “What does the Bible say?” In the Scriptures, we will find precepts, principles, promises, and persons to guide us in today’s decisions. If we are really willing to obey God, He will show us His truth (Jn 7:17). While God’s methods of working may change from age to age, His character remains the same and His spiritual principles never vary. We do not study the Bible just to get to know the Bible. We study the Bible that we might get to know God better. Too many earnest Bible students are content with outlines and explanations, and do not really get to know God. It is good to know the Word of God, but this should help us better know the God of the Word." (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor )
What was written? The passage Paul quotes from Isaiah 45 which was written and remains in effect. See below but for the full impact of this quote go back and read it in context (Isa 45:21-25)
Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. 22 "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. 23 "I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 "They will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame. 25 "In the LORD all the offspring of Israel Will be justified, and will glory."
Here you see the lovingkindness and merciful heart of our God. Here as is his usual practice instead of quoting the Hebrew, Paul quotes the Septuagint or LXX
AS I LIVE SAYS THE LORD: zo (1SPAI) ego, legei (3SPAI) kurios: (Numbers 14:21,28; Isaiah 49:18; Jeremiah 22:24; Ezekiel 5:11; Zephaniah 2:9)
As I live (which of course He does eternally!) - Isa 45:23 has "I have sworn by Myself" but Paul substitutes "as I live," a phrase is found 26x in 26v in the Old Testament (NAS) - Num 14:21, 28; Deut 32:40; Ps 63:4; 104:33; 116:2; Isa 49:18; Jer 22:24; 46:18; Ezek 5:11; 14:16, 18, 20; 16:48; 17:16, 19; 18:3; 20:3, 31, 33; 33:11, 27; 34:8; 35:6, 11; Zeph 2:9. Godet gives the sense of this phrase "As truly as I am the eternally living One, so truly shall this come to pass.”
Paul quotes verbatim from the last part of the Septuagint (Greek) translation of Isaiah 45:23. As alluded to above, whereas the Septuagint or LXX in the first part has ''kat' emautou omnnuô'' "I swear by myself", Paul replaces that with as I live which is an idiom that signifies the giving of an irrevocable oath.
Denney - The same passage is quoted more freely still in Philippians 2:10f. to describe the exaltation of Christ. In Isaiah it refers to the coming of God’s kingdom, when all nations shall worship Him. (Romans 14 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
This verse alone should cause reasonable men and women to seek refuge in the Rock of our salvation while the day is still called "today". For those who have hidden in the cleft of this Rock, we should be highly motivated to "walk (a command, not a suggestion, and only possible to accomplish by yielding to the filling and controlling power of the indwelling Spirit) in a manner worthy of the calling with which (we) have been called" (Eph 4:1-note), cf notes Col 1:10-note; 1Thes 2:12-note)
EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE (confess openly) TO GOD : hoti emoi kampsei (3SFAI) pan gonu kai pasa glossa exomologesetai (3SFMI) to theo: (same verb kampto in Php 2:10, Ro 11:4, Eph 3:14) (Isa 45:22, 23, 24, 25 Ps 72:11 Php 2:10)
Every knee shall bow - The bowed knee indicates every person will demonstrate homage to (this noun means something that shows respect or attests to the worth or influence of another) and worship of God. Every is repeated twice and reiterates that there will be no exceptions! No created (human) being will receive a "pass" at this universal judgment. Keeping this in mind provides a strong motive for neither judging or holding in contempt our brother for actions regarding which Scripture gives no clear instructions or commands.
In a parallel passage Paul writes that as a result of Jesus' obedience to His Father "Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (See notes Philippians 2:9; 2:10; 2:11)
The fact that this event will transpire is used by Paul to motivate the saints at Philippi to walk in a many worthy of their calling "So then (in light of the future event just described), my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out (present imperative = command to continuously make this their lifestyle - only possible because of the next verse - God's Spirit in us gives us the desire and the power to obey His command!) your salvation with fear and trembling (not shaking fear of punishment but fear that we might disappoint and bring the shame to the One Who emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives and became a bondservant unto to death, dying the death we should have died) for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note)
Alan Carr - One day that brother that we think is such a compromiser will stand before the Lord and he will give an account of his life to the Lord that saved him. Than, the accounts will be settled. Then he will be dealt with properly. There, he will either be blessed, or he will suffer the loss of reward, 1Cor 3:10-15. On that day, he will get exactly what is coming to him, no more and no less! However, just as that brother will stand before the Lord, so will every single on of us! It may just be that we will find out that everything was not as we thought it was either! It will be a day of perfect reckoning and just accounting. Therefore, may the Lord help us to learn to avoid judging the brethren and concern ourselves with living the right kind of life before the Lord. One day we will answer to Him and one another! (Romans 14:13-23 Free To Help, Not To Hinder)
Every tongue shall give praise - Shall confess openly (ex) (with the accusative as in Mt 3:6 = confessed their sins). In this verse with the dative so the idea is give praise to or give gratitude to (Mt 11:25 Lu 16:2 see Rev 22:12-note)
Give praise (1843) (exomologeo from ek - wholly out from or ex = out or intensify meaning [ implies full, frank, open confession, openly or publicly] of homologeo [see word study] - to say the same thing about from homos = same + lego = speak) means to speak the same thing that another speaks, to fully agree with someone else or to confess by way of giving praise.
Give praise or thanks - "to make grateful acknowledgements, to give thanks, to sing praises." (Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint)
In Luke 22:6 the idea is to agree with or consent (to profess that one will do something, to promise, agree, engage)
In all the NT uses exomologeo carries the idea of the openness of the expression and this same idea of openness is used in a negative way when Judas “consented (KJV = "promised") to help betray Jesus for the chief priests and scribes (Lk 22:6).
BDAG (summary) - (1) to indicate acceptance of an offer or proposal - to promise, consent, active voice (Lk 22:6) (2) to make an admission of wrong-doing/sin - to confess, admit, middle voice (Mt 3:6, et al) (3) to declare openly in acknowledgment, profess, acknowledge, middle voice (Phil 2:11, Isa 45:23) (4) From the meanings ‘confess’ and ‘profess’ there arose… the more general sense to praise, in acknowledgment of divine beneficence and majesty (Ed: This meaning found mostly LXX - see uses in Psalms below)
Souter - consent fully, agree out and out
W E Vine = ek, "out," intensive, and homologeo, and accordingly stronger than homologeo, "to confess forth," i.e., "freely, openly," is used (a) "of a public acknowledgment or confession of sins," Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5; Acts 19:18; James 5:16; (b) "to profess or acknowledge openly," Matthew 11:25 (translated "thank," but indicating the fuller idea); Philippians 2:11 (some mss. have it in Revelation 3:5 : see No. 1); (c) "to confess by way of celebrating, giving praise," Romans 14:11; 15:9 . In Luke 10:21 , it is translated "I thank," the true meaning being "I gladly acknowledge." In Luke 22:6 it signifies to consent (RV), for AV, "promised."… in the Middle Voice, signifies "to make acknowledgement," whether of sins (to confess), or in the honor of a person, as in Romans 14:11; 15:9 (in some mss. in Revelation 3:5 ); this is the significance in the Lord's address to the Father, "I thank (Thee)," in Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21 , the meaning being "I make thankful confession" or "I make acknowledgment with praise." (Confess, Confession - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)
Louw-Nida (summarized) - 1. agree, consent (Lk 22:6); 2. (dep.) profess allegiance (Ro 15:9), for another interp, see last; 3. (dep.) admit, confess (Mt 3:6; Mk 1:5; Ac 19:18; Ro 14:11; Php 2:11; Jas 5:16+); 4. (dep.) give thanks (Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21), for another interp, see last; 5. (dep.) praise, give words of praise or honor (Ro 15:9) (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek)
Gary Hill - Exomologeo = fully agree, and acknowledging that agreement openly (whole-heartedly) for a particular outcome: confessing ("openly declaring") without reservation (no holding back)… Agreeing with God is everything! That is, choosing His choices (preferring His preferences) which is the essence of receiving faith from God ("experiencing His persuasions"). Accordingly, exomologeo and faith (pistis) are closely associated in James 5:15,16… Exomologeo occurs only in the Greek middle voice and hence stresses the confessing (agreeing) is always personal (done with deep self-involvement and "for oneself")… Agreeing with God ("confession") includes acknowledging our sins, i.e. for missing His mark (living outside of faith, cf. 1Jn 1:9). It also means robustly speaking what is true – i.e. being in agreement with the Lord which reaches out to others. (See Dr Hill's excellent resource The Discovery Bible which enables deeper Word Studies without need to be fluent in the original language = http://www.helpsbible.org - see reviews)
Ralph Earle on exomologeo in Mt 3:6 - Ex means out – we almost get here the idea of "confessing out" one's sins. (Word Meanings)
Utley - There are two forms of the same Greek root used for confession or profession, homologeo and exomologeo… This word group had two seemingly opposite usages 1. to praise (God) 2. to admit sin. These may have developed from mankind’s sense of the holiness of God and its own sinfulness. To acknowledge one truth is to acknowledge both.
Gerald Cowens - The Greek Old Testament (Ed: Septuagint - see uses below) uses a compound form of the word exomologeo to translate Yadah, which can mean either "praise" or "confess an offense." This is a strange combination to us, but it is easier to understand in connection when a person in prayer confesses his faults, and the fact that without forgiveness, the punishment that might have come would have been just. One comes to the point where he/she praises God in the whole matter. An example of this is found in Joshua 7:19, where Joshua counseled Achan to give "glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him." He was asked to do this just before his execution. (Salvation- Word Studies from the Greek New Testament-)
Notice that in Acts 19:18 confession with one's mouth is intimately associated with (followed by) repentance by one's deeds in Acts 19:19. What a great picture of repentance -- they "burned their bridges" so to speak! How often my repentance is a soft "Sorry," when it should be a sober confession coupled with a sincere intent to repent!
The two main meanings in the NT are confessing sins on one hand (Mt 3:6, Mk 1:5, etc) and praising God on the other! Indeed, can we truly do the latter until we have done the former! Not without playing the hypocrite! Do I bow my heart and confess my sins before I lift my hands in worship as I sing praise songs on Sunday?
Classical Greek - Exomologeo is the intensive form of the more often used verb homologeo. Both verbs mean “to confess,” but exomologeo has the more intensive thrust of confessing freely, openly, and fully. They may be used interchangeably, but exomologeo was often used when the author wished to express more strongly an open confession. (Complete Biblical Library)
Vincent writes that exomologeo means "Primarily, to acknowledge, confess, or profess from (ek = out of) the heart. To make a confession to one’s honor; thence to praise. So Luke 10:21 (Rev., in margin, praise for thank); Rom. 15:9. Here, as Rev. in margin, shall give praise. (Romans 14 - Vincent's Word Studies)
Commenting on exomologeo in Mt 11:25 Vincent writes - I thank (exomologeo). Compare Mt. 3:6, of confessing sins. Lit., I confess. I recognize the justice and wisdom of thy doings. But with the dative, as here (to thee), it means to praise, with an undercurrent of acknowledgment; to confess only in later Greek, and with an accusative of the object. Rev. gives praise in the margin here, and at Ro 14:11. Tyndale, I praise."
Other NT uses relate to confession of sin (Mt 3:6, Mk 1:5,Acts 19:18, Jas 5:16), which is more than a mere acknowledgment of sin in one's life. It is an agreeing with God as to all the implications that enter into the fact that one has sinned. It is looking at sin from God’s point of view, and acting accordingly. It means the putting away of that sin. It means the determination to be done with that sin.
Exomologeo - 10x in 10v in NT - NAS Usage: confess(2), confessed(1), confessing(2), consented(1), give praise(2), praise(2).
Exomologeo - 86v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx) - Ge 29:35; 2Sa 22:50; 1Kgs 8:33, 35; 1Chr 16:4, 8, 34; 23:30; 29:13; 2Chr 5:13; 6:24; 7:6; 20:21; 23:12; 30:22; 31:2; Ps 6:5; 7:17; 9:1; 18:49; 28:7; 30:4, 9, 12; 33:2; 35:18; 42:5, 11; 43:4f; 44:8; 45:17; 49:18; 52:9; 54:6; 57:9; 67:3, 5; 71:22; 74:19; 75:1; 76:10; 86:12; 88:10; 89:5; 92:1; 97:12; 99:3; 100:4; 104:35; 105:45; 106:47f; 107:8, 15, 21, 31; 108:3; 109:30; 111:1; 117:2; 118:19, 21, 28f; 119:7, 62; 122:4; 135:21; 136:2f, 26; 138:1f, 4; 139:14; 140:13; 142:7; 145:10; Isa 45:23 (quoted in Phil 2:11); Jer 33:11; Da 2:23; 4:1; 6:10; 9:4, 20;
In the Septuagint (Lxx) exomologeo usually means “to praise” (Ge 29:35, 2Sa 22:50, Ps 7:17, 9:1), but also means to confess in the sense of acknowledging God (1Ki 8:33-35) but also in the sense of confessing one's sins (Da 9:4-5-note - "confessed and said… while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel"). Note the prominence of use of exomologeo in the Psalms - where it means to sing praise (Heb = Zamar = to pluck, and so to make music and so to praise God in Ps 7:17, Heb = Yadah in Ps 42:5, 11 = to confess or thank) or give thanks (Ps 9:1, 18:49, 28:7, etc)
Matthew 2:5 And they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet,
Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"
6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give His angels charge concerning You'; and 'On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'"
7 Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
10 Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'"
Matthew 11:10 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'
Matthew 21:13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' den."
Matthew 26:24 "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."
31 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.'
Matthew 27:37 And they put up above His head the charge against Him which read, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
Mark 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way;
Mark 7:6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
Mark 9:12 And He said to them, "Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
13 "But I say to you, that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him."
Mark 10:4 And they said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."
5 But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
Mark 11:17 And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations '? But you have made it a robbers' den."
Mark 12:19 "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, and leaves behind a wife, and leaves no child, his brother should take the wife, and raise up offspring to his brother.
Mark 14:21 "For the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."
27 And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, because it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.'
Luke 1:3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
63 And he asked for a tablet, and wrote as follows, "His name is John." And they were all astonished.
Luke 2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord "),
Luke 3:4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.
Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone.'"
8 And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'"
10 for it is written, 'He will give His angels charge concerning You to guard You,'
Luke 7:27 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'
Luke 10:26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"
Luke 16:6 "And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.'
7 "Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' And he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.'
Luke 18:31 And He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.
Luke 19:46 saying to them, "It is written, 'And My house shall be a house of prayer,' but you have made it a robbers' den."
Luke 20:17 But He looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written, 'The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone'?
28 and they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife and raise up offspring to his brother.
Luke 21:22 because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Luke 22:37 "For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'And He was numbered with transgressors'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment."
Luke 24:44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
46 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day;
John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
John 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me."
John 5:46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me.
John 6:31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'"
45 "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
John 8:8 And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
17 "Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two men is true.
John 10:34 Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods '?
John 12:14 And Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written,
16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
John 15:25 "But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'
John 19:19 And Pilate wrote an inscription also, and put it on the cross. And it was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS."
20 Therefore this inscription many of the Jews read, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek.
21 And so the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews'; but that He said, 'I am King of the Jews.'"
22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
John 20:30 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 21:24 This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.
Acts 1:20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no man dwell in it'; and, 'His office let another man take.'
Acts 7:42 "But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, 'It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel?
Acts 13:29 "And when they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.
33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, 'Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.'
Acts 15:15 "And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
23 and they sent this letter by them, "The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.
Acts 18:27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he helped greatly those who had believed through grace;
Acts 23:5 And Paul said, "I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"
25 And he wrote a letter having this form:
Acts 24:14 "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets;
Acts 25:26 "Yet I have nothing definite about him to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him before you all and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the investigation has taken place, I may have something to write.
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
Romans 2:24 For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," just as it is written.
Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "That Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, And mightest prevail when Thou art judged."
10 as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one;
Romans 4:17 (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
23 Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him,
Romans 8:36 Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
Romans 9:13 Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
33 just as it is written, "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed."
Romans 10:5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.
15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!"
Romans 11:8 just as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day."
26 and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob."
Romans 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
Romans 14:11 For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God."
Romans 15:3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me."
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, "Therefore I will give praise to Thee among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Thy name."
15 But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God,
21 but as it is written, "They who had no news of Him shall see, And they who have not heard shall understand."
Romans 16:22 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."
31 that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 2:9 but just as it is written, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness";
1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one.
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.
1 Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing." God is not concerned about oxen, is He?
10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.
15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.
1 Corinthians 10:7 And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play."
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
1 Corinthians 14:21 In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me," says the Lord.
37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment.
1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory.
2 Corinthians 1:13 For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end;
2 Corinthians 2:3 And this is the very thing I wrote you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy would be the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
9 For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
2 Corinthians 4:13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we also believe, therefore also we speak;
2 Corinthians 7:12 So although I wrote to you it was not for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 8:15 as it is written, "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack."
2 Corinthians 9:1 For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;
9 as it is written, "He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever."
2 Corinthians 13:10 For this reason I am writing these things while absent, in order that when present I may not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me, for building up and not for tearing down.
Galatians 1:20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them."
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree "--
Galatians 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.
27 For it is written, "Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband."
Galatians 6:11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Thessalonians 5:1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.
2 Thessalonians 3:17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.
1 Timothy 3:14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;
Philemon 1:19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (lest I should mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.
Hebrews 10:7 "Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (In the roll of the book it is written of Me) To do Thy will, O God.'"
1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
1 Peter 5:12 Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!
2 Peter 3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
1 John 1:4 And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.
8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
2 John 1:5 And now I ask you, lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.
12 Having many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that your joy may be made full.
3 John 1:9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.
13 I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink;
Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
11 saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
19 "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.
Revelation 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
8 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
17 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.'
18 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:
Revelation 3:1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:
12 'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
14 "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
Revelation 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.
Revelation 10:4 And when the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken, and do not write them."
Revelation 13:8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."
Revelation 17:5 and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
8 "The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.
Revelation 19:9 And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God."
12 And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.
16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."
27 and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Revelation 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
Amplified: And so each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Therefore, then, each one of us shall give an account concerning himself to God. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: so, then, each of us concerning himself shall give reckoning to God;
SO THEN EACH ONE OF US : ara (oun) hekastos hemon: (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Matthew 12:36; 18:23-35; Luke 16:2; Galatians 6:5; 1Peter 4:5)
EVERY BELIEVER'S FUTURE APPOINTMENT
Denney says, “Every word in this sentence is emphatic” (as does Cranfield) and so are intended to remind the Romans (and us) that God judges. Therefore, no man should judge another.
So then (ara oun) - This means as a result or therefore (in light of the Scripture Paul has just quoted and because God is the Judge of all), which serves to introduce the logical conclusion (See importance of interrogating terms of conclusion).
Each one (1538) (hekastos) means each believer (non-believers will not stand here as noted above) separately will stand at the Bema. There is no escaping this judgment. Notice for example even Paul does not give himself a pass on this judgment ("of us").
Cranfield - Each one of us (that is, each individual Christian) will indeed have to give account: none will be exempted. He will have to give account of himself (his fellow-Christian, who may be very ready now to interfere with him where he has no right to interfere, will not be able to answer in his stead then). And it will be to God, not to men, that he will have to give his account of himself. (A CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, volume II)
C H Spurgeon was once addressed by a young preacher once complained to Spurgeon that he did not have as big a church as he deserved. Spurgeon's replied with a question "How many do you preach to?" to which the young preacher replied "Oh, about a hundred". And what did Spurgeon say to him? Solemnly Spurgeon said "That will be enough to give account for on the day of judgment."
Wayne Barber - Ro 14:12 says that we will stand alone and we will answer for ourselves. Watch this. "So then each one [no one is exempt] of us shall give account of himself to God." That is very, very significant. Recently I took my son to Colorado on a skiing trip. I noticed that somehow we ran into some of the most obnoxious people I had ever met! I mean, people were rude and horrible. There were times on this trip when somebody would just act like you were an idiot because you didn’t do something, right or wrong, and I just wanted to take my ski pole and cram it clean down their throat. There were other things I felt like doing while I was there. But you know, Romans 12-14 has so drastically affected me, it was like God was saying, "Son, you are not going to be held accountable for what they did to you. But son, you are going to be held accountable by Me for how you responded to what they did to you." You know what it made me do? It made me stop and rethink, "Okay, die to self." Immediately I could say, "Lord, I can’t and You never said I could. Now Lord, You give me a kind word, give me a peaceful word, give me something to say that will build up and edify, not tear down." I started practicing that on that trip. I want to tell you something, I guess maybe I have done it over the years but not with the intensity of Romans 14 hanging over me because I know that one day I am going to be held accountable. You see, folks, we don’t understand that because we live in wicked bodies of the flesh and our mind says, "Well, I have a right to treat him that way. Look at what he did to me." You do not have that right. Period. And neither do I. We are not our own, we are bought with a price. We don’t have the luxury that the lost people have, but we have the privilege of being able to trust God and treat them the right way. Respond to them the right way. One day we are going to stand before God and it is going to be brought out before everyone as to how we lived. It may surprise you what you see. (Romans 14:7-12)
SHALL GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF TO GOD: peri heautou logon dosei (to theo): (Lk 16:2 Rev 22:12-note)
Shall give - Prophecy of a future date on our "day timer", our day of accountability, the Bema Seat Judgment. Depending on who one is living for (themselves, self centered, selfish, etc versus for Christ and His glory) this sure word of prophecy will afflict the "comfortable" (the one living a fleshly, self centered life), but will comfort the afflicted! Beloved, may the truth of this great event comfort and motivate you to live the rest of your days for Him and in Him and through Him, the One to Whom be all glory and dominion and majesty and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.
John Murray - It is to God each will render account, not to men. It is concerning himself he will give account, not on behalf of another. So the thought is focused upon the necessity of judging ourselves now in the light of the account which will be given ultimately to God. We are to judge ourselves rather than sit in judgment upon others. (Epistle to the Romans - NICNT)
Henry Morris - There is only one thing that is absolutely sure to happen to every person—each one will have to face God some day. Not even “death and taxes” are certain for everyone, but meeting God is (note Amos 4:12; Hebrews 9:27; etc.). Believers will meet Christ at His judgment seat to receive rewards or loss of rewards (II Corinthians 5:10; 1Corinthians 3:13-15), while unbelievers will meet God at His great white throne for consignment to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15). (Defender's Study Bible Notes)
Of himself - Not of his neighbor. Not of his pastor. Not of his wife. But of himself.
To God - 2Cor 5:10 says specifically "to Christ" because He has been given all judgment (Jn 5:17, 22, 2Ti 4:1, Acts 10:42, 17:31, Mt 25:31)
We all will be held accountable as stewards (one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns) of the mysteries of God (1Co 4:1). In short, Paul gives a pithy reminder of the judgment we will all face (but not for sins!) which form a fitting conclusion to this stage of his discussion regarding judging others! The fact that each will render account for himself leaves no room for despising and judging others. The verdict that should be passed on others is God's business not ours! He alone is the perfect, righteous Judge (2Ti 4:1-note).
To reiterate, the issue of the believer’s eternal destiny will not be at stake at the Bema Seat for that was issue settled by his faith in Christ's death, burial and resurrection (Ro 8:1- note). There is a little poem which you may have heard…
Tis only one life
This is good rhyme but not completely accurate theology, and might even give some the misleading impression we should do as many works as possible. Somewhat more "Scripturally accurate" is the version below where the preposition in is substituted for the for…
Tis only one life
The issue is not working for Him but surrendering to His Spirit and allowing Him to work in and through us. As Jesus plainly states in John 15:5 apart from Him we can do nothing (Greek negative for absolutely nothing or like the old preacher said "zero with the rim knocked off"!). The issue is not so much the amount of work I have done or the quantity of service I have rendered, but "qualitatively" what kind of person I have been as a believer. What were my motives (1Co 4:5, 1Th 2:4)? In whose power were the works and services rendered (cp Col 1:29, Php 4:13)? For whose glory (1Cor 10:31)? Martin Luther got it writing…
“Did we in our own strength confide,
Major lan Thomas, former British Army officer, who made it his lifelong ministry to travel all over the world and teach the wonderful truth of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" put it succinctly speaking of Paul's powerful enduring ministry --
He had to be what He was,
In the same way, Jesus had to be both God and man in order to die in our place, be raised again, ascend into the heavens, and send the Holy Spirit, and thus come into our life. Second,
He had to do what He did,
We could never have this new power, this new source of energy, this new comfort and strength in our life, if Jesus had not done what He did. It is on the basis of His death and resurrection that we have what He is. Third,
We must have what He is,
The world knows nothing of this mystery. You will never find it mentioned by the media, except by Christians. You will never learn about it in the great universities of the world. In all secular wisdom and knowledge there is no recognition of this incomparable source of supernatural power in a human life. It is found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why this message is such a powerful, world transforming, revolutionary statement, and why we ought to give ourselves to understanding it more than any other thing in life!
As MacArthur explains that "Our responsibility is not to judge, to despise, to criticize, or in any way to belittle our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will not be called on by our Lord to give an account of the sins and shortcomings of others, but rather each one of us shall give account of himself to God. (MacArthur, J: Romans 9-16. Chicago: Moody Press )
Stott summarizes the preceding passages - Four theological truths, then, undergird Paul’s admonition to welcome the weak, and neither despise nor condemn them. They concern God, Christ, them and ourselves. First, God has accepted them (3). Secondly, Christ died and rose to be the Lord, both theirs and ours (9). Thirdly, they are our sisters and brothers, so that we are members of the same family (10a). Fourthly, all of us will stand before God’s judgment seat (10b). Any one of these truths should be enough to sanctify our relationships; the four together leave us without excuse. And there are still two to come! (Romans- God's Good News for the World -Bible Speaks Today)
Hodge - In effect, “Therefore, as God is the supreme Judge and we are to give our account to him, we should wait for His decision and not presume to judge our brothers.” (Romans 14 Commentary)
Barnes writes that each believer will give an account "that is, of his character and conduct; his words and actions; his plans and purposes. In the fearful arraignment of that day, every work and purpose shall be brought forth, and tried by the unerring standard of justice. As we shall be called to so fearful an account with God, we should not be engaged in condemning our brethren, but should examine whether we are prepared to give up our account with joy, and not with grief. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
A W Pink (Practical Christianity) alludes to each believer's personal responsibility and accountability "Religion is an intensely personal thing which cannot be transacted by proxy. It consists of immediate dealings between the individual soul and its Maker. No one can repent for me, believe for me, love God for me, or render obedience to His precepts on my behalf. Those are personal acts which God holds me responsible to perform. Every man is responsible for his beliefs. Neither ignorance nor error is merely a misfortune, but something highly culpable, since the Truth is available unto us in our mother tongue. If some be deceived by false prophets, the blame rests wholly on themselves. Many complain that there is so much difference and contrariety among preachers, they scarcely know what to believe or what to do. Let them do as God has bidden: “seek ye Out of the book of the Lord”! (Pink, A. W. Practical Christianity)
Be Cautious When You Criticize by Theodore Epp on Romans 14:10-13 - When we realize that each of us must give an account to God, it will cause us to be more cautious about criticizing a Christian brother.
We will then heed what 1Corinthians 4:5 says: "So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness, and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God" (Amplified).
This is advice that Paul gave to the Corinthians, and it applies just as directly to each believer today.
We shall all be judged one day--not by each other's standards and not even by our own standards. We shall be judged by the standards of Christ. Before God alone, we shall give an account for our own actions and not for those of the other person.
I do not have to give an account for you, and you do not have to give an account for me. Before God, I will have to give an account for myself.
No wonder Paul said, "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (Ro 14:13). In other words, we should stop turning critical eyes on each other.
This is sometimes a difficult instruction to follow. It is natural to always justify oneself and one's own actions in the face of what others are doing. It is natural to criticize the other person because he does not see or do things our way.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). (Back to the Bible)