Wednesday, January 26, 2005

4. Overall New Testament: Final Judgement

My final conclusions for the three groups of books have been as follows:

It is quite clear that the vast majority of references to final judgement in the gospels depict a works based judgement. People will be judged on their works, on what extent they engaged in good and loving works versus the extent they engaged in evil and selfish works. It seems quite plausible to interpret this as a judgement of natures rather than of works – that God will judge each person as to whether they are good or evil in their heart, rather than merely mathematically adding up their works. The gospel of John complicates the picture by introducing also the concept of judgement by faith, but it appears that this is a secondary concept or a generalisation and that the primary concept for John is one of judgement by nature: the good people versus the evil people.

Pauline Epistles:
Whatever the case in the one exceptional verse in 2 Thessalonians, it seems clear that the primary Pauline understanding of the final judgement is of a works / nature based judgement in which God rewards good and punishes evil.

General Epistles:
Clearly the general epistles depict a works / nature based final judgement.

It seems that there is a very clear agreement throughout the different strands of the New Testament: The final judgement is a works / nature based judgement in which some sort of severe punishment happens to those who are evil / have done evil, and a very good reward is given to those who are good / have done good.


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