Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

This may be one of those passages that prevents us from confronting a sinning brother, so let’s seek to understand it. Here is a question to get us started: “What is Jesus calling for in this passage?” no judgment? self-judgment? fair judgment? divine judgment?

The religious leaders were guilty of exercising a false judgment about themselves, other people, and even the Lord. Their false righteousness helped to encourage their false judgment. It may be why Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with a discussion on judgment. There really are three judgments:

  1. Our judgment of ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5)
  2. Our judgment of others (Matthew 7:6-20)
  3. Our judgment by God (Matthew 7:21-29)

Our passage today brings us to the first section, judgment of ourselves. This is the first principle for a reason. Jesus did not forbid that we judge others, but we are to first judge ourselves. This involves careful discrimination and discernment. Christian love is not blind (Philippians 1:9-10). The person who believes all that he hears and accepts everyone who claims to be spiritual will experience confusion and suffer spiritual loss.

  1. We will be judged (Matthew 7:1) – the tense of the verb indicates a one-time final judgement. when we judge ourselves, we are preparing ourselves for that final judgment when we face God. The Pharisees played God as they condemned other people; and they never considered that God would one day judge them.
  2. We are being judged (Matthew 7:2) – this parallel passage in Luke 6:37-38 is helpful here. Not only will God judge us at the end, but people are being judged right now. We will receive from people exactly what we give. The kind of judgment and the measure  of judgment come right back to us. We reap that which we sow.
  3. We must see clearly to help others (Matthew 7:3-5) – the purpose of self-judgment is so that we are able to serve others. When we don’t judge ourselves, we hurt those to who we should minister. The Pharisees judged others to make themselves look good (Luke 18:9-14), but Christians should judge themselves so they can help others look good.

The eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, which Jesus used on a few occasions to make a point (like Matthew 6:22-23). We must exercise love and tenderness when we seek to help other people (Ephesians 4:15). There are two extremes to avoid in this spiritual self-examination:

  1. The deception of a shallow examination: we can be so sure of ourselves that we fail to examine our hearts honestly and thoroughly. The quick glance is not helpful (James 1:22-25).
  2. The debilitation of a perpetual autopsy: we can get unbalanced as we focus too much on ourselves, which leads to discouragement and defeat. Jesus forgives and restores, and Satan is the accuser (Revelation 12:10) and loves to condemn God’s people. Ask God to remove those things that blind us. When we KNOW of our sins and attempt to help others… that is called hypocrisy. That is the condemnation of Jesus.

We must exercise discernment because not everyone is a sheep, there are some wolves out there. We cannot let the wolves pull the wool over our eyes.

The reason we must judge (Matthew 7:6) – it is a privilege to handle the holy things of God, and he has entrusted his Word to us (2 Corinthians 4:7). No priest with throw meat from the altar to the street dog, or give pearls to a pig. So, while we are commanded to take the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), we cannot cheapen the gospel by a ministry that lacks discernment.

  1. Even Jesus refused to talk with Herod (Luke 23:9)
  2. Even Paul refused to argue with people who resisted the Word (Acts 13:44-49)

The reason for judgment: it is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Jesus always dealt with people according to the needs; there was no memorized presentation he used for everyone.

  1. Nicodemus – he talked about new birth.
  2. The woman at the well – he talked about living water.
  3. When the religious leaders tried to trap him – he remained silent (Matthew 21:23-27).

This is one of the most debilitating verses in the Bible, because if we say anything about someone else, they throw this verse back in our face, “Judge not, lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1-6). This is an issue that has confused many people.

  1. On one hand, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).
  2. On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil.
  3. How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?

Christians are often accused of “judging” whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, “Do not judge.”

  1. There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24).
  2. When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. Matthew 7:2-5 says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
  3. What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.

In Matthew 7:2-5, Jesus warns against judging someone else for his sin when you yourself are sinning even worse. That is the kind of judging Jesus commanded us not to do.

  1. If a believer sees another believer sinning, it is his Christian duty to lovingly and respectfully confront the person with his sin (Matthew 18:15-17).
  2. This is not judging, but rather pointing out the truth in hope—and with the ultimate goal—of bringing repentance in the other person (James 5:20) and restoration to the fellowship.
  3. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are to proclaim what God’s Word says about sin. 2 Timothy 4:2 instructs us, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.”
  4. We are to “judge” sin, but always with the goal of presenting the solution for sin and its consequences—the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
  5. According to Matthew 7:6, let’s also assess a person’s heart before we share the pearl of great price.

Calling Someone a Fool

Here are a few questions to get us thinking today:

  1. How did your parents settle disputes between you and your siblings when you were a kid?
  2. What was the best advice you have been given on how to deal with anger?

In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers that when someone is angry with his brother, saying “Raca,” he is answerable to the court, and one who calls him a “fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:21-22).

  1. What legal case has especially cause your attention?
  2. How are murder and anger related?
  3. What new standard of right and wrong is Jesus creating?
  4. Does Jesus say that anger leads to murder? NO, he says anger IS murder.

There is something called holy anger (Ephesians 4:26), but Jesus is talking about unholy anger.

Matthew 5:22 is the only passage in the Bible where the term raca is used. Raca comes from the Aramaic term reqa. It was a derogatory expression meaning “empty-headed,” insinuating a person’s stupidity or inferiority. It was an offensive term used to show complete contempt for another person. Jesus warned that the use of such a word to describe someone was deserving of the severest punishment, “the fire of hell.”

The term means “a settled anger, malice that is nursed inwardly.”Jesus describes a sinful experience that involves several stages: Causeless anger which then explodes into words (Raca, or Fool).

In Matthew 5:21, Jesus recalled the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). In characteristic fashion, Jesus took the old law one step further by explaining the TRUE significance of the law—a deeper, spiritual meaning they had never seen.

  • First, Jesus warns that the very act of murder finds its roots in an angry, murderous spirit: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22a). God, who examines the thoughts and intentions of the heart, will issue judgment upon unrighteous anger.
  • Next, Jesus warns against name-calling, using “raca” as an example (Matthew 5:22b).
  • Then He issues a third warning against those who call someone a “fool” (Matthew 5:22c).

The first-century Jews recognized that “anyone who murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21), but Jesus warns that even calling another person insulting names such as “raca” is sinful. Murder begins in the heart, and using a phrase such as “raca” is a sign that there is hatred within the heart. The hatred that causes one person to hurl insults is the same hatred that causes another to commit murder. The attitude of the heart is the same, and it’s this attitude that makes a person morally guilty before God.

Jesus not only warns us against expressing unrighteous anger, which CAN lead to murder, but he clearly commands that name-calling must be avoided. Such abusive words reveal the true intents of one’s heart and mind for which we will be held accountable: “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10; cf. 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9).

Anger is such a foolish thing. It turns builders into destroyers. It robs of freedom and makes us prisoners. Sinful anger robs us of fellowship with God and with others. It must be faced honestly and confessed; we put ourselves into prison when we refuse to be reconciled.

Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree

We don’t often find Jesus cursing anything, so this is an odd saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again (Mark 11:12-14, 20-26) – the cursing of the fig tree.

The account of Jesus cursing the barren fig tree is found in two different gospel accounts. First, it is seen in Matthew 21:18-22, and then also in Mark 11:12-14.

While there are slight differences between the two accounts, they are easily reconciled by studying the passages. Like all Scripture, the key to understanding this passage comes from understanding the context in which it happened. In order to properly understand this passage, we must first look at the chronological and geographical setting.

  1. For example, when did this occur, what was the setting, and where did it happen?
  2. Also, in order to fully understand this passage, we need to have an understanding of the importance of the fig tree as it relates to the nation of Israel and understand how the fig tree is often used in the Scriptures to symbolically represent Israel.
  3. Finally, we must have a basic understanding of the fig tree itself, its growing seasons, etc.

First, in looking at the general chronological setting of the passage, we see that it happened during the week before His crucifixion.

Jesus had entered Jerusalem a day earlier amid the praise and worship of the Jewish people who were looking to Him as the King/Messiah who was going to deliver them from Roman occupation (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11).

The next day, Jesus is again on His way to Jerusalem from where He was staying in Bethany. On His way, both Matthew and Mark record that He was hungry and saw a fig tree in the distance that had leaves on it (Mark 11:13).

Upon coming to the tree expecting to find something to eat, Jesus instead discovered that the fig tree had no fruit on it and cursed the tree saying, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:14).

  1. Matthew records the cursing and the withering of the fig tree all in one account and includes it after the account of Jesus cleansing the Temple of the moneychangers.
  2. Mark explains that it actually took place over two days, with Jesus cursing the fig tree the first day on the way to cleanse the Temple, and the disciples seeing the tree withered on the second day when they were again going to Jerusalem from Bethany (Mark 11:12-14 and Mark 11:19-20).

Upon seeing the tree “withered from the roots up,” the disciples were amazed, as that would have normally taken several weeks.

Having reviewed the general chronological setting of the story, we can begin to answer some of many questions that are often asked of it. First of all is the question, Why did Jesus curse the fig tree if it was not the right season for figs?

The answer to this question can be determined by studying the characteristics of fig trees.

  1. The fruit of the fig tree generally appears before the leaves, and, because the fruit is green it blends in with the leaves right up until it is almost ripe.
  2. Therefore, when Jesus and His disciples saw from a distance that the tree had leaves, they would have expected it to also have fruit on it even though it was earlier in the season than what would be normal for a fig tree to be bearing fruit.
  3. Also, each tree would often produce two to three crops of figs each season. There would be an early crop in the spring followed by one or two later crops.
  4. In some parts of Israel, depending on climate and conditions, it was also possible that a tree might produce fruit ten out of twelve months. This also explains why Jesus and His disciples would be looking for fruit on the fig tree even if it was not in the main growing season.
  5. The fact that the tree already had leaves on it even though it was at a higher elevation around Jerusalem, and therefore would have been outside the normal season for figs, would have seemed to be a good indication that there would also be fruit on it.

As to the significance of this passage and what it means, the answer to that is again found in the chronological setting and in understanding how a fig tree is often used symbolically to represent Israel in the Scriptures.

First of all, chronologically, Jesus had just arrived at Jerusalem amid great fanfare and great expectations, but then proceeds to cleanse the Temple and curse the barren fig tree. Both had significance as to the spiritual condition of Israel.

  1. With His cleansing of the Temple and His criticism of the worship that was going on there (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17), Jesus was effectively denouncing Israel’s worship of God.
  2. With the cursing of the fig tree, He was symbolically denouncing Israel as a nation and, in a sense, even denouncing unfruitful “Christians” (that is, people who profess to be Christian but have no evidence of a relationship with Christ).

The presence of a fruitful fig tree was considered to be a symbol of blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel. Likewise, the absence or death of a fig tree would symbolize judgment and rejection.

  1. Symbolically, the fig tree represented the spiritual deadness of Israel, who while very religious outwardly with all the sacrifices and ceremonies, were spiritually barren because of their sins.
  2. By cleansing the Temple and cursing the fig tree, causing it to whither and die, Jesus was pronouncing His coming judgment of Israel and demonstrating His power to carry it out.

It also teaches the principle that religious profession and observance are not enough to guarantee salvation, unless there is the fruit of genuine salvation evidenced in the life of the person.

  1. James would later echo this truth when he wrote that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
  2. The lesson of the fig tree is that we should bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), not just give an appearance of religiosity.
  3. God judges fruitlessness, and expects that those who have a relationship with Him will “bear much fruit” (John 15:5-8).

Why would the writers record this at all unless it had some special significance? Let’s tie this to Luke 13:6-9.

  1. This tree was continually unfruitful, year by year, for three years.
  2. Then the man in charge was told to cut it down, because it served no good purpose.
  3. It is hard not to conclude that this tree represents the city of Jerusalem.
    1. Unresponsive to Jesus and his message.
    2. Therefore bringing on their own destruction.
    3. Jesus cares about the city, wept over the city in Luke 19:41-44.

Baptism of the Dead?

Sometimes verses in the Bible jump off the page for me, like is one, 1 Corinthians 15:29, regarding  baptism of the dead.

This is the argument, like what we understand about our Mormon friends: Baptism for the dead is a non-biblical practice where a living person is baptized in lieu of a person that passed away, as a means of making a public profession of faith for a person that is already deceased. We can, essentially, think of it as the practice of baptizing a dead person.

Those who have this belief base these baptisms on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:29, “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?”

This is a difficult passage to interpret, but we know by comparing it with the rest of Scripture that it does not mean that a dead person can be saved by someone else being baptized on his or her behalf, because baptism is not a requirement for salvation in the first place (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:28; 4:3; 6:3-4). The entire passage (1 Corinthians 15:12-29) is about the certainty of the resurrection, not about baptism for the dead.

Let’s look carefully at the Bible itself:

The mention of people being baptized to save the souls of the dead is found nowhere else in Scripture. In fact, this interpretation (vicarious baptism) was condemned as heresy by many of the early church fathers! False teachers had infiltrated the church saying, “There is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12), so the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 addresses the historical fact of the resurrection of the dead.

What was being baptized for the dead? It is a mysterious passage, and there have been many different interpretations.

  1. The plain meaning of the Greek in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is that some people are being baptized on behalf of those who have died (proxy baptism)—and if there is no resurrection, why are they doing this at all?
  2. Either Paul is referring to a pagan custom (notice he uses “they,” not “we”), or to a superstitious and unscriptural practice in the Corinthian church of vicarious baptism for believers who died before being baptized.
  3. Either way, Paul certainly does not approve of the practice; he merely says that if there is no resurrection, why would the custom take place? The Mormon practice of baptism for the dead is neither scriptural nor sensible. Baptism for the dead is a practice that was common in the pagan religions of Greece and is still practiced today by some cults; but it doesn’t change a person’s eternal destiny, for that is determined while he lives (Luke 16:26).

First Corinthians 15 gives reasons why this practice is based on false teaching from false teachers:

  1. There were over 500 eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, most of whom were still alive at the time of this writing (1 Corinthians 15:5–7).
  2. Ultimately, a major inconsistency is evident: If they did not believe in life after death, then why are they being baptized for the dead. Paul is simply saying, “If you reject the resurrection of the dead, you shouldn’t baptize for the dead. It is illogical!”
  3. Those practicing baptism of the dead were the false teachers, not Paul or the other Christians. This is evident because Paul referred to the ones being baptized as “those” and “people” (not “I,” “you,” or “we”).
  4. Even for those who believe in the resurrection, the practice of baptism for the dead in order to earn another person’s salvation cannot be reconciled with Scripture. The Bible says that salvation comes as a gift of God’s grace, but only through each individual’s faith in Christ—that is faith alone, not any work of baptism. Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
  5. The Bible clearly teaches that there are no opportunities for salvation after a person has died. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

Perhaps it could it refer to the fact that people are being saved through faith and are being baptized because of the testimony and witness of the martyrs. Could it be the witness of those saints who are now dead, impacted lost people so that these new believers are being baptized (because of the testimony) of the dead?

The phrase could read something like, “being baptized to take the place of those believers who have died.” Wiersbe argues that if there is no resurrection of the dead, why bother to witness and win others to faith in Christ? That would mean life is a dead-end street.

Weep over those who have died, but also weep over those who still have the opportunity to be saved before it is too late.

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Paul’s Concept of Parousia

Parousia is a Greek word used 24 times in the New Testament to mean “coming, arrival, personal presence.” It is most often used to indicate the second coming and the arrival of the Son of Man though it can also indicate a visit by a Christian worker, apostle or even the “man of lawlessness.”. In the Greek world of the New Testament it meant among other things A State visit or the presence or appearance of a deity during worship. It has a range of meaning to that of the archaic English word “visitation.”

There are two views to this Christian doctrine: it is either largely disregarded, or it is the main theme in all preaching and teaching.

Paul’s pictures of the second coming are mainly Jewish: The Jews were the great pessimists in history, as well as the greatest optimists in history. They were the chosen people, always dominated by foreigners, longing for the time when God would intervene in history and put His people at the top where they should be. God would do this with a supernatural intervention in human affairs.

The Jews divided all history into two ages:This present age of trouble, wickedness and evil; The age to come – the golden age of God

  1. The age of plenty: abundance
    1. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine, And all the hills will be dissolved. “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live [in them], They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. (Amos 9:13-14)
    2. Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field And the fertile field is considered as a forest. (Isaiah 32:15)
    3. Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. (Isaiah 51:3)
  2. The age of friendship: even man and beasts
    1. “In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky, And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. (Hosea 2:18)
    2. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
  3. The age of relief: no more pain
    1. “No longer will there be in it an infant [who lives but a few] days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be [thought] accursed. (Isaiah 65:20)
    2. “They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, [so shall be] the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands. (Isaiah 65:22)
    3. And no resident will say, “I am sick”; The people who dwell there will be forgiven [their] iniquity. (Isaiah 33:24)
    4. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)
  4. The age of peace:
    1. And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. (Isaiah 2:4)
    2. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
    3. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; (Isaiah 32:18)
    4. “And all your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. (Isaiah 54:13)

The place of God’s people in the universe:

  1. Jerusalem as the center of the world
    1. Now it will come about that In the last days, The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3)
    2. And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. And many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-2)
  2. Jews having a missionary duty: very few believed this
    1. He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
    2. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see [it] together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:5)
  3. The dream of power: most common
    1. “For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, And the nations will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12)
    2. Thus says the LORD, “The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush And the Sabeans, men of stature, Will come over to you and will be yours; They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains And will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: ‘Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.'” (Isaiah 45:14)
    3. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no [rain will fall] on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (Zechariah 14:17-18)

The way in which these changes will come:

  1. Under human leadership
    1. Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)
    2. “For if you men will indeed perform this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David’s place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, [even the king] himself and his servants and his people. (Jeremiah 22:4)
    3. ‘But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (Jeremiah 30:9)
    4. “Behold, [the] days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. (Jeremiah 23:5)
  2. Direct intervention of God in history
    1. Destruction and terror
      1. Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. (Isaiah 13:9)
      2. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, And it will come as destruction from the Almighty. (Joel 1:15)
      3. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, (Zephaniah 1:15)
    2. Cosmic upheaval
      1. “And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. “The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. (Joel 2:30-31)
      2. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light. (Isaiah 13:10)
      3. Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger. (Isaiah 13:13)
    3. Judgment: Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:11)

Day of the Lord and Second Coming: Christianity was cradled in Judaism, so naturally there would be an identification of the Day of the Lord and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; both were the great intervention of God in human affairs. This doctrine was an essential part of the church’s teaching. The word, kerugma means “a herald’s announcement.”

  1. Fulfilled prophecies – new age inaugurated at His birth
  2. Born of the seed of David
  3. His death, to deliver us out of this present age
  4. He was buried
  5. He rose on the third day
  6. He is exalted at the right hand of God
  7. He will come again as Judge and Savior of men

Frequency of inclusion: In the book of Acts, only three references, but with Paul it is different. Paul mentions it in every letter except Galatians and possibly Ephesians.

Two special references by Paul:

  1. An essential part of the Gospel: “On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:16)
  2. A motive for the Christian life: “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1)

Thessalonians: beginning with the earliest letters:

  1. Paul believed He would return in his lifetime: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)
  2. Believers should be presented blameless to the Lord: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Romans: wake out of sleep. “And this [do,] knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)

First Corinthians: the time is short, concentrate on being ready. “But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:29)

Philippians: beginning the latter letters. “Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)

Ephesians: no mention, some say he had outgrown the concept. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

Corinthians: mid-life for Paul.

  1. 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 10:11)
  2. If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranatha. (1 Corinthians 16:22) – The Aramaic phrase would not be known to any Greeks, yet he ends the letter to the Greeks with maranatha.

Paul speaks of waiting for Jesus Christ:

  1. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
  2. And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
  3. For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
  4. So that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7)
  5. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (Philippians 3:20)

Paul often used language of the scholars: (Isaiah 26-27)

  1. The Lord’s coming
    1. For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed, And will no longer cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:21)
    2. Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, (2 Thessalonians 2:1)
  2. The coming judgment
    1. For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed, And will no longer cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:21)
    2. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
    3. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
  3. The resurrection from the dead
    1. Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. (Isaiah 26:19)
    2. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
  4. The sound of the trumpet
    1. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)
    2. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
  5. Gathering of the elect
    1. And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will start [His] threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. (Isaiah 27:12)
    2. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

The Jewish idea is repeated often:

  1. The Day of the Lord becomes the Day of Christ
    1. That you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:2)
    2. Who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:8)
    3. Just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:14)
    4. Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Philippians 2:16)
  2. It will come without warning – and with signs
    1. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
    2. Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for [it will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains [will do so] until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; [that is,] the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word [of mouth] or by letter from us. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-15)
  3. It will be God’s holy wrath on a rebellious world
    1. So that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
    2. Who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:8)
    3. And [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed–for our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
    4. For after all it is [only] just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
    5. And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
    6. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
  4. God will send judgment
    1. But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (Romans 2:5)
    2. On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16)
    3. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. (Romans 5:9)
    4. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, [but wait] until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of [men’s] hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
    5. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. (Colossians 3:24-25)
    6. Knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. (Ephesians 6:8)
    7. 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. (1 Corinthians 3:13)
    8. If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (1 Corinthians 3:17)
    9. But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 5:13)
    10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

What has grace to do with judgment?

  1. 1) Judaism is an intensely ethical religion (Matthew 7:20)
  2. 2) Paul was a missionary – preaching to the immoral
  3. 3) The greatest gift called for the greatest responsibility
  4. 4) Justification by faith is the beginning of new life, one must go on to sanctification

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.