judge or not to judge
The Lord, our
Definition for the
Greek verb translated in our English Bibles as "JUDGE" (Strong's Concordance #3212)
- to separate, put
asunder, to pick out, select, choose
- to approve,
esteem, to prefer
- to be of
opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
- to determine,
- to judge
- to pronounce an
opinion concerning right and wrong
- to be judged,
i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined
- to pronounce
judgment, to subject to censure
- to pass judgment
on the deeds and words of others
- to rule, govern
- to preside over
with the power of giving judicial decisions
We must always
exercise moral judgment and judge (evaluate,
what is right or wrong according to the standard of God's Word:
"Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the
earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?"
"Do not judge according to appearance,
but judge with righteous judgment.”
"For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged."
1 Corinthians 11:31
"Do you not know that
the saints will judge the world? And if
the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest
1 Corinthians 6:2
said, 'Ask! What shall I give you?'
And Solomon said: '...O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king
instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know
how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your
people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be
numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an
understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern
between good and evil.'
"The speech pleased the Lord...."
1 Kings 3:5-10
"A good man out of the
good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil
man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to
you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account
of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be
justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Everything is judged (not referring to final
God's Word: His objective, unchanging standard for good and
evil, righteousness and sin
"...if anyone hears My
words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not
come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me,
and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—
the word that I have spoken will judge him in the
last day. " John 12:47-48
"'And if I tell the
truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s
words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.'
"Then the Jews answered and said to
Him, 'Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a
"Jesus answered, 'I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father,
and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is
One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if
anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."
"Do not think that I
shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you
in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe
Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his
writings, how will you believe My words?"
[See next verse for an Old Testament
reference to Moses]
"...the Lord said to
[Moses]: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for
them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put
My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I
command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My
words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I
have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other
gods, that prophet shall die.’"
according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet
if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am
with the Father who sent Me."
[Jesus, incarnate as Son
of God, did not personally judge people while on earth, but He spoke
the Word that brings judgment. Therefore there is no conflict
between this verse and the next verse.]
"And Jesus said, 'For
judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may
see, and that those who see may be made blind.' "
While we must
judge (discern) between good and evil (works, influences,
messages, practices, etc.), we are told not to pass judgment
unbelievers or hold them accountable to God's laws (which can
only be understood by those who are filled with the Holy Spirit).
"I wrote to you in my
epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I
certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this
world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since
then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have
written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who
is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a
drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person.
For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?
you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God
judges. Therefore 'put away from yourselves the evil person.'"
"But the natural man does not receive
the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him;
nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is
rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the
Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ."
Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face,
because he was to be blamed."
When we discern error
and the Holy Spirit prompts us to correct a brother or sister, we
must "speak the truth in love." We must help each
other in our walk with God. This means addressing our brothers and
sisters in Christ in ways that point them back to our Father's wise
Words and guidelines. For example, "Our Father told us not to
"...we should no
longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every
wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness
of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may
grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ...."
"Brethren, if a
man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore
such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you
also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the
law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when
he is nothing [apart from Christ],
he deceives himself." Galatians
anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way
will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
Since only God
knows the heart of a person, we cannot judge whether a "believer" is
truly saved (born again of the Spirit) or not.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be
judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."
nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both
bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the
counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from
1 Corinthians 4:5
do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For
we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: 'As
I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall
confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore...."
All must be done in
love and humility, demonstrating God's mercy and forgiving Spirit
"But love your
enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your
reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is
kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as
your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall
not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven....
"And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not
perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your
brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when
you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite!
First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see
clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye."
"And forgive us
our debts, as we forgive our debtors.... For if you
forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive
you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither
will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 6:12, 14-15
"Therefore I say to
you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.
But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
"And a servant of
the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach,
patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition,
if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the
truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare
of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."
While we must
discern or judge whether something is right or wrong according to
the Scriptures, we must guard our own attitude and shun revenge.
If we pass judgment on someone based on self-righteousness or
a desire revenge -- or if we have committed similar or greater sins
ourselves -- we will be judged as (or more) harshly by God.
that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you
will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be
measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your
brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or
how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your
eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First
remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see
clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew
the hearts of all people, we don't. So, while we are called to walk in
His steps, we can neither discern hearts nor proclaim condemnation as
Jesus did. But, as He told us, He himself didn't come to earth at
that time to judge
people. Instead, He proclaimed the Word of Truth -- the
unchanging moral Law (not the Levitical laws which were
fulfilled in Christ through the cross) -- which does judge
hearts by its holy standard -- and, therefore, bring
"Woe to you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the
prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we
had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been
partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are
witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered
the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of
are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in
whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge
practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God
is according to truth against those who practice such things. And
do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such
things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of
God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and
longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to
"For the Father judges
no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all
should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not
honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most
assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him
who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment,
but has passed from death into life." John
"And if anyone hears
My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I
did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who
rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—
the word that I have spoken will judge him in the
last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the
Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I
should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life."
"...if I tell the
truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears
God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not
of God." John
one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful
things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak
eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not
eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God
has received him. "
Handle legal disputes with each other from God's perspective.
"Dare any of you,
having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous,
and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will
judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you
unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we
shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?
If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this
life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to
judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a
wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge
between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother,
and that before unbelievers!"
1 Corinthians 6:1-6
...then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the
avenger of blood according to these judgments."
"You shall appoint
judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives
you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with
just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show
partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the
wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is
altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the
Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 16:18-20
"You shall do
no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the
poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you
shall judge your neighbor. ‘You shall not go about as a
talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the
life of your neighbor: I am the Lord."
Ultimate judgment is in God's hands and time.
"'The Lord will judge His people.'
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
"For by fire and by His
sword, the Lord will judge all flesh;
And the slain of the Lord shall be many...."
"...when the Lord Jesus is
revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire
taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do
not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord
and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to
be glorified in His saints...."
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10
Don't expect the world
to acknowledge our great and glorious Lord. Now as always, those who
reject His truth to pursue feel-good visions and contrary ways will
have zero tolerance for God and His saving truths. Few realize the
consequences before they are too blind to see and too corrupt to care:
"Because they hated
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised My every rebuke,
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way
And be filled to
the full with their own fancies.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil."
God will judge those who despise His ways and distort His truth.
Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again,
'The Lord will judge His
people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
That seems strange,
doesn't it? We don't like to hear about His wrath and judgment. We want His
love and grace, not His truth and judgment. But we belittle Him
when we twist His message, ignore His warnings and conform His ways to
popular views of love and tolerance. And --
"God will not be mocked!"
Jesus told His
disciples, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather
with Me scatters."