T PIERCE BROWN
Although a study of the term “judgment” is not as important as many studies, it gives us an opportunity to present a thought, or suggest a lesson that is important. That is, every Bible student should attempt to find the correct meaning of every word or term he uses, and make sure that he is using that word the way the Holy Spirit used it in the verses under consideration.
The English word judgment is found 294 times in the Old Testament as a translation of the Hebrew word mishpat. In many of those, the Septuagint uses the word krisis which in the New Testament is translated judgment 41 times. The English word crisis comes from this word, but does not really tell us anything about its original meaning. Strong says its basic meaning is “decision (subjectively or objectively, for or against); by extension, a tribunal; by implication, justice (especially, divine law). Thayer gives three meanings: 1. A separating, 2. Selection, 3. Opinion or decision given concerning anything. A careful reader should be able to distinguish between the judgment of Paul in 1 Cor. 7:25 (from gnome) and judgment of God, which is God’s decision about something. I confess that any distinction between krisis and krima (which is translated judgment 13 times) is almost too fine a distinction for me to make. It is my opinion that it is probable that krima has to do with the effect of the decision, whereas krisis has to do with the process of making the decision. If we said, “The judge is now making his judgment on the case,” the word would be “krisis.” If we said, “The judgment of the judge is that he be sent to prison for life,” the word would be “krima.”
My primary point in this article is to point out that it is improper to simply look at the word “judgment” in the King James Version and decide it refers to something bad. Even when the “day of judgment” is mentioned, referring to the final decision that God will set forth concerning the destiny of mankind, it does not always relate to punishment. It is true that in many cases it signifies an adverse judgment, which will result in the punishment of the offender, but that is not always the case.
Also, the fact that there will be a final day when God will make known a decision about the fate of all mankind does not mean that God has not already made some judgments, and that we should make some. For example, in John5:30, Jesus says, “As I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just.” He tells us in John 7:24, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” We need to make a distinction between God making a decision, and executing or carrying out that decision. In the first sense, God’s judgments are already in the earth. God is now the judge of all the earth. It is apparent that his final judgment has not yet come. We also need to recognize that he will judge all in that day, not only in terms of his revealed word, which he has given us the responsibility to preach, but that he will judge all of us in terms of our own individual ability, opportunity, attitude, motive, etc. Those who claim that God has no prerogatives in judgment, but that we can tell for certain what specific individuals are going to be saved or lost assume wisdom and power God reserved for himself.