Judgment – definition

Judgment is More Relational than Judicial
Correctly understanding these terms leads to a better
understanding of the character of God and the Gospel.

Traditional Legal Model – judgment is the legal determination of guilt or innocence and pronouncement of arbitrarily-imposed punishment to match the crime which is understood to be death in every case of unconfessed sin – “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23)

Biblical Healing Model – Judgment is not so much legal as it is relational. We form an opinion (see definition below) about God or pass judgment on His character (Rom 3:4). His judgment of us consists of three parts:

  • Diagnosis – the determination of the state of the heart between persons or between man and God
  • Therapeutic interventions one form is as in “to judge the fatherless” (Psa 10:18)
  • Pronouncement of the natural result or outcome.

Definitions There are a number of meanings of judgment. Below are included those most general and most applicable to scripture.

Modern Dictionary

Judgment (noun):
4. The forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind:  Our judgment as to the cause of his failure must rest on the evidence.”
8. (usually initial capital letter) Also called Last Judgment, Final Judgment. the final trial of all people, both the living and dead, at the end of the world.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

1. The faculty of the mind by which man is enabled to compare ideas and ascertain the relations of terms and propositions; as a man of clear judgment or sound judgment. The judgment may be biased by prejudice. Judgment supplies the want of certain knowledge.
10. The righteous statutes and commandments of God are called his judgments. Psalms 119:66.
17. The final trial of the human race, when God will decide the fate of every individual, and award sentence according to justice.

Judgment is Both an Act and a Result

It is helpful to realize that “judgment” can refer to both an act and the result of that act. For example, we could say “The judge passed judgment (verb, the act of deciding guilt or innocence) on the accused and his judgment (noun, the result of the decision) was “guilty.” However, in Greek, there are separate words for the action and its result:

Krisis (noun, Strong’s G2920) the act of judging
Krima (noun, Strong’s G2917) the result of judging

Both words are related to the verb form:

Krino (verb, Strong’s G2919)

Thus, in scripture, we can have Jesus saying both:

“Ye judge (krino) after the flesh; I judge (krino) no man.” (John 8:15)


“… For judgment (krima) I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39)

Jesus does not judge – pass judgment (the act – krisis). However, because of the spiritual light and truth He shared, many people, both in His day and ours, formed opinions (judgments; the result – krima) that will even affect their eternal destinies. This result was predicted by Simeon at Jesus’ baptism:

“And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;” (Luke 2:34)

Read an article looking at the question Does God judge us or do we judge Him?

Additional Notes

How Does God Judge?

 God judges by allowing us to receive the natural consequences of our actions. For example:

“The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.” (Psa 9:15-16)

More verses that say judgment of sin comes from its consequences.

I Judge no Man

In John chapter 8, Jesus made some statements that could be seen to contradict each other:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” (John 8:14-16)

Is “if I judge” a contradiction of “I judge no man”? Not really; “I judge no man” is saying that Jesus does not pass judgement on others. “If I judge” could include judgment other than on other people. We judge and form opinions on many things other than people and their state of salvation or condemnation. Also, because Jesus could read the heart and have all evidence and motives available to Him He could, if He chose to, judge truly.

Jesus’ Opportunity to Judge

John chapter 8 also provides a good example of where Jesus had an opportunity to judge, to condemn someone for wrong, yet He did not; He only extended mercy. See especially the first 3 minutes of this video:

“… Execute true judgment, and shew mercy …” (Zech 7:9)

Go to The Character of God and the Gospel Glossary

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