It seems a bit confusing whether the Father or Christ will judge us at the last day. As least two passages seem to indicate that we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ:

Romans 14:10, 12: “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. … Each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

To confound matters, however, Jesus makes this cryptic statement in the Gospel of John:

John 12:48: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day."

How can we properly interpret what Jesus has said in John 12:48?


5 Answers 5


Because the Word is God, and the Word became flesh as the man Jesus (John 1:1-14), there is no problem. There is no contradiction. The Son of God always does the will of the Father; he always speaks the words the Father speaks (vs. 49); he always agrees with the Father and his judgment is always in total accord with the judgment of the Father. That is why the words Jesus spoke before the verse in question need to be brought into the equation.

Vs. 44 – “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.” The Father sent the Son. To believe the Son is to believe the Father.

Vs. 45 – “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” To see the Son is to see the Father. (“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” – John 14:9.)

Vs. 47 – “And if any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” At his first coming, Jesus did not come as Judge but as Saviour. At his second coming, Jesus will come as Judge and that is where vs. 48 fits in.

Vss. 49-50 - Now it becomes clear what these two verses following the text in question mean: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

Thus the judgment on the last day will result in condemnation to all who disbelieved Christ’s words, for the words of Christ are the words of the Father. To disbelieve the Son is to disbelieve the Father. That is why the Book of the Revelation interweaves the wrath of God with the wrath of the Lamb (the risen Christ); the judgment of God with the judgment of the Lamb. To suffer the wrath of God is to suffer the wrath of the Lamb – Rev. 6:16-17. In the center of the throne of the Father is the Lamb – Rev. 5:6 & 13; Rev. 7:13. And with regard to the “great white throne” on the Day of Resurrection and Judgment in Rev. ch. 20, it simply speaks of “him that sat on it”, with those standing before it standing before God. It does not say the Father, nor does it say the Lamb. God calls for books to be opened and the record therein determines the judgment. Those who disbelieved the word of Christ do not have their names recorded in the Lamb’s book of life – Rev. 21:27. Conversely, those who DO believe the words of Christ, who is the Word of God, have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life and have passed over from judgment to life everlasting.

We properly interpret what Jesus said in John 12:48 by reading the context of the chapter from vs. 37 to the end, plus weighing up what the Bible says about the last day when all are judged in the Book of the Revelation.

  • Good answer. +1. I agree with what you said, "have passed over from judgment to life everlasting" because Scripture seems clear that all saints will at once enter the paradise of God (Matt. 25:34, 2 Cor. 5:8, 1 Thess. 4:17, Heb. 9:28, etc.).
    – Xeno
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 20:52
  • 1
    This is a great answer. I see that John works well when the theology drawn out is expressed in terms of what is contained. I love the detail that you have drawn out from Revelation. Have you noticed that chs 4 & 5 draw heavily on both the throne room and temple concepts. It is the one on the throne who would have held the office of judge - but the sealed scroll containing judgements is handed to the Lamb (who is the Lion), who is worthy by his act of redemption to open the scroll. The elders begin by worshiping God on throne, but by end of ch 5 are worshiping the Lamb, and then both equally.
    – user36337
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 0:36

How will the "the Word Christ spoke judge us at the last day" (John 12:48)?

Answer: The Word of God is the Gold Standard by which the lost are judged.

Suppose we review the passages that relate specifically to the subject of judgment. First, let us examine the argument of universal judgment — the idea that everyone will stand before the Judgment Seat of God or Christ:

Romans 14:10, 12: "For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. Each one of us will give an account of himself to God."

2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

Finally, we have this:

1 Peter 4:17: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?"

Based on these passages it seems certain that everyone will stand before God in judgment. But is that true? Well, yes and no.

Perhaps we should ask a vital question here: If we have been baptized into Christ, have all our sins not been washed away just as we have been promised? How, then, can we stand in judgment? Suppose we contrast the preceding verses with several others that are also quite relevant.

We should understand that, upon His Resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven in unfathomable glory and honor to become the King of all Creation (Mk 16:19, Acts 1:11, Heb. 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2). In doing so, Christ now sits on His Throne governing everything that transpires on Earth. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15, Rev. 17:14, 19:6).

In other words, we are all standing before Christ's Throne right now, although we may seldom view things from that point of view. We have lived before the Seat of Christ all of our lives, and God/Christ is well aware of our acts.

Now, let us consider what the New Testament has to say about the faithful. Note the many times that Christ, as God, has proclaimed (or necessarily implied) that while we walk in the Light, we are not to be judged:

John 3:18a: "He who believes in Him is not judged" (emphasis added).

From another passage in John' s Gospel, we know the Father does not judge:

John 5:22: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son" (this was also noted by @Dave in his response).

Are we to view John 3:18a and John 5:22 as mere hyperbole regarding the faithful? Only two verses later we read yet another, similar pronouncement by the Son of God:

John 5:24: "Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears [obeys] My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (emphasis added).

How do we reconcile these diverse pronouncements? Why would Christ ever make such claims (those emphasized in Jn. 3:18a, 5:22, 5:24)?

It seems clear that He is addressing those who have exercised obedience to His Word. Consider this next passage that speaks to the status of the saints:

Romans 8:1: "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (emphasis added).

Has Paul not clearly stated that to those in Christ, the ones that have "clothed themselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27) there is now no condemnation? What does that mean? It means that there is nothing to judge in our walk with Christ. And, if there is nothing to judge, then how do we stand before a judgment seat?

Where there is judgment, some form of condemnation inevitable follows. However, any condemnation by God leads to eternal separation from Him. Those in Christ should understand that they have passed from being slaves of disobedience to become "slaves of righteousness" (Rom. 6:18) — the children of God. Consider Paul's Letter to the Colossians, which argues the point more emphatically:

Colossians 1:21-22: "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet [Christ] has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before [the Father] holy and blameless and beyond reproach" (emphasis added).

We were once alienated and hostile to God. We were "engaged in evil deeds" just as verse 21 states. That is how God sees everyone outside of Christ, irrespective of whether we consider them "good" or "bad" because what we happen to think is beside the point.

Precisely who stands in God's righteous judgment when they are holy, blameless, and beyond reproach? If this is not true, how do words have meaning? Paul's letter to the saints at Corinth appears to echo the same sentiments as those in his Letter to the Colossians from a moment ago:

1 Corinthians 6:11: "You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God!" (emphasis added).

As before, note the similarity of the words to Col. 1:21-22: "washed," "sanctified," "justified." Of course, those who have not been washed (baptized, immersed), sanctified (set apart as holy), and justified (removal of condemnation, guilt, and sin) are filling up the measure of their sins before the Throne of God right now.

On the other hand, those who exist in such a perfected state, will never stand in judgment. If one believes otherwise, perhaps they should ask themselves this question: Does being "washed, sanctified, and justified", not equate to spiritual perfection? How much more can any human being do? Our Heavenly Father is painfully aware of our limitations and human frailties. That is why He has provided the solution to our great dilemma (1 Jn. 1:7, 9) as we will see.

Here are another set of relevant passages:

1 Thessalonians 4:17: "Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

Obviously, Paul is speaking to the saints. However, where is there any mention of judgment in this verse? Are we to insert words that do not exist such as: "Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up to judgment and later be together with them in the clouds"?

How does such reasoning not suggest that we will stand guilty in judgment for sins that have been washed away by our godly life in Christ? Read what the writer of Hebrews has to tell us:

Hebrews 9:28: "[So] Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (emphasis added).

How can we read this and fail to understand that Christ will reappear to the saints without reference to sin, just as explicitly stated? What does it mean to appear "without reference to sin"? Do judges adjudicate cases when there are no charges and no case? Hear the apostle Paul's expectation, where he reveals the destiny of the saints when absent from the physical body:

2 Corinthians 5:8: "[We] are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."

How is anyone "at home with the Lord" if they must stand in judgment? Note that there is no detour mentioned in 2 Cor. 5:8, where "absent from the body — we will be judged — to later be at home with the Lord". Inevitably, these seem to prompt questions that beg to be asked!

Suppose we now observe some rather ominous words to the lost:

Romans 2:5: "[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" (emphasis added).

Naturally, Romans 2:5 is addressing the faithless who are — present tense — "storing up wrath for themselves" because they have not been cleansed. They have refused salvation and are therefore incapable of pleasing God. In stark contrast to John 3:18a from above, at the moment of physical death, all the lost stand guilty:

John 3:18b: "[He] who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed [obeyed, cf. Jn. 3:36, NAS] in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (emphasis added).

As before, Christ is witness to every sinful act that has ever been committed. On the other hand, there is nothing but "glory and honor and peace" (Rom. 2:10) for the godly, those who have attained everlasting life. And, what will the saints be told as they stand before God?:

Matthew 25:34: "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"

Note that "the King" does not say: "Now, stand in judgment for all your unrighteous deeds in the body". While the wording differs considerably, this passage is reminiscent of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where we are told that "we will meet the Lord in the air." In Matthew's account, the "sheep" have metaphorically been separated from the "goats" (Matt. 25:32-33) — the "goats" being those who will face God's Wrath (cf. Lk. 16:19ff).

Nowhere is there the slightest hint of any damnable detour for the faithful. They "will always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17) while the lost are to be cast into Hades, a horrific prelude to the Lake of Fire:

Matthew 25:41: "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels'" (cf. Matt. 7:23).

Of course, it is Christ who will proclaim these words; the damage has been done here, now, on earth. Suppose we now return to the verse that we considered at the outset of this discussion, one that seems to indicate universal judgment:

Romans 14:10, 12: "For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God... 12Each one of us will give an account of himself to God."

Christ's Kingdom was inaugurated on Pentecost in the first century A.D. A clause from the Lord's Prayer partially reads: "Your Kingdom come..." The reason that we still pray this is that, while the gates of the Kingdom were opened on the Lord's Day (first century), the Kingdom, the Church, has continued to receive new residents since that time. Each day, people are baptized to become citizens.

There seems little doubt that when the full compliment of the faithful are received into the Kingdom, God will bring the world to an end (2 Pet. 3:10), just as He brought a worldwide Flood on the Antediluvian age. This time however, the entire material creation will meet its end — "the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" (2 Pet. 3:12b).

Each time a person is saved, they have "put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27, cf. Matt. 22:13) as royalty (1 Pet. 2:9). All others remain slaves — slaves of sin and death (Rom. 6:16), their consciences continually bearing witness against them (1 Cor. 8:10, 1 Cor. 10:25, 29, 1 Tim. 1:5, 1 Tim. 3:9, Heb. 13:18).

The faithless will be judged against the Word of God by their own consciences. This is believed to be characterized in Revelation as "the books that will be opened" — a metaphorical reference that speaks not of books written in ink, but with the filth and stains of our sin and shame, the book of our hearts (liber cordis tui):

Revelation 20:12a: "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened"

Lastly, suppose we observe the third of the three passages introduced at the outset of this response:

1 Peter 4:17: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?"

Let us try to appreciate what this means. Imagine you are a police officer and your task is to maintain law and order while arresting criminals. With whom does the law begin? It begins with you, the law enforcement officer because you are a representative of the law. You are expected to know precisely what the law dictates and how it is to be discharged.

It is the same with the faithful. Yes, the judgment begins at the household of faith because, according to the words of the apostle Paul, the faithful are to judge the world through their righteous behavior. This is analogous to the police officer maintaining an orderly society as he enforces laws and regulations:

1 Corinthians 6:2a: "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?"

How can saints judge the world? Well, we are accomplishing this very task all of our lives in Christ. Based on the words of Scripture, we are expected to behave as "role models" to the rest of the world according to God's "Gold Standard" — His Word. If we do not do this, we are no longer "walking in the Light" and have become like the rest of the world, lost in our sins!

It should now be clear why neither the Father nor Christ will be a "judge" per se. It is because we are being contrasted to the Word of God every moment:

John 12:48: "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day" (emphasis added).

This life is nothing if not a test of our faithfulness to God. We have the choice to either serve God and receive everlasting Life, or to serve Satan, "the prince of this world." The great news for steadfast believers is they are continually cleansed as they walk in the Light:

1 John 1:7, 9: "7[But] if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (emphasis added).

Our faithful behavior is cleansing us at this very moment. Otherwise, our faithless disobedience condemns us. And, in that sense, our consciences, containing the entire record of our lives, will ultimately be our judge. The only words the lost may ever hear are these:

Matthew 7:23: "I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."

  • Mmmm interesting - you answered ... “The Word of God is the Gold Standard by which the lost will be judged.” ... so I would like to know - if the ‘Word’ is the standard by which the lost will be judged, then who is using that standard to do the judging?
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 23:48
  • @Dave That is a great question Dave. It is my belief that our actions at every stage of our lives are judging us. At the moment of our death, we are either innocent (washed in the blood of Christ) or guilty (the faithless). The only words the lost may ever hear from Christ are, Matthew 25:41: "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels" - or Matthew 7:23: "I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" Note that "lawlessness" is that which has never been "washed away" (Gal. 3:27) or "cleansed" (1 Jn. 1:7, 9).
    – Xeno
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 0:01
  • @Dave I should also hasten to add that at the moment of judgment, all the lost will understand why they are so due to the record of their consciences convicting them. This record contains the sins and stains of shame the lost have accumulated throughout their lives.
    – Xeno
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 0:04
  • Why oh why, and where do you get this idea that judgment means or leads to condemnation. Is this your conclusion? It is not from the text.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 0:32
  • Mmmmm, something for you to consider - You say .... “is my belief that our actions at every stage of our lives are judging us.” - BUT - the verse you used in the Q said something different (“the word I spoke is what will judge him”)..... . - AND - as well, take in Romans 1 from verse 18 into chapter 2 which says it’s man ‘himself’ [intuitively via his sense of self unrighteousness, provoked by creation] that judges at every stage of our lives - until ‘man’ suppresses that ‘intuition’.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 0:47

Regarding the “Son of Man” as final Judge instead of the Father, in the gospel of John & 1 Enoch.

John 5:22 [NASB]

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son

1 Enoch 69:27

“He sat on the throne of His glory, and the whole judgement was given to the Son of Man”

1 Enoch 69:28

“And those who led the world astray will be bound in chains, and in the assembly place of their destruction they will be shut up; and all their works will vanish from the face of the earth”

1 Enoch 69:29

“And the word of the Son of Man will go forth and will prevail in the presence of the Lord of Spirits”.

[1 Enoch (The Hermeneia Translation) by George W E Nickelsburg & James C VanderKam]

  • The New Testament is based on 1 Enoch theology.
  • Mark 14:21 = 1 Enoch 38:2.
  • 1 Peter 1:20 = 1 Enoch 48:6.
  • Jude 1:14-15 = 1 Enoch 1:9.

When John 12:48 states

“The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day”
this refers to the final judgement theology of 1 Enoch 51 and along with 1 Enoch 69.

1 Enoch 51:3

“And the Chosen One, in those days, will sit upon my throne, and all the secrets of wisdom will go forth from the counsel of his mouth, for the Lord of Spirits has given (them) to him and glorified him”


Neither God, nor Christ, His Image (2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15) are judgmental persons (one of the New Testament's main criticisms of the established Pharisaic elite); as such, they don't judge as men are accustomed to judge one another; their judgment is of a different nature. By sharing their beauty with us (by way of preaching, for instance), certain things, previously believed to be harmless, or even desirable, are now revealed to be rotten and putrid to the core; as such, their ugliness having been finally understood by the conscience, the mind is then unsettled by this spiritual discovery, and cannot find rest anymore, until it does not abandon them; otherwise, the inner understanding of said darkness, communicated by the divine word, will forever torment the mind, despite the fact that the revelation in question is utterly devoid of any meanness of malice directed at the person of the sinner.

  • Can you back up your argument with textual references? Also, do you draw a distinction between the type of judgement of the Pharisees and that of God? (Which doesn’t mesh with your statements, but I’m hoping that, in your journey of finding texts to back your argument, you would see just how much the NT really does talk about God judging the world - it’s everywhere..)
    – user36337
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 0:52
  • @AshleyRoberts: The question is not whether judgment happens, but of what type it is; its nature has to be compatible with that of the judge(s) from which it stems.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 1:03
  • I think what you’re saying is that God is love, which is supported by the scriptures, so the judgement will be loving too. But God is also just and full of fiery judgement and wrath against the iniquity of mankind. I chose those words very carefully as they come directly out of the very same scriptures that support his loving kindness. He doesn’t judge in love. He loves in love and judges in wrath. But these two aspects come together in the death of Jesus: the point of the Gospel (the message, in various forms, of the entire Bible) is that God pours his wrath out on his son. If we accept…
    – user36337
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 5:47
  • …God’s judgement on Jesus in our place, we are completely saved from wrath. This is not some outlying take on the scriptures. This is the heart of the Christian message!
    – user36337
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 5:49
  • @AshleyRoberts: All I said is that divine judgment is devoid of a judgmental attitude. For His fallen creatures, there is indeed a stark and unbearable contrast between divine holiness and their own sinfulness. Likewise, His wrath is not directed at persons, but at evil. These terms and phrases are anthropomorphic in nature, as are His beard, throne, or white garments, mentioned elsewhere in scripture; if interpreted too literally, one risks breaking the second commandment, which explicitly forbids picturing God in terms of (fallen) creation; see also Isaiah 55:8-9 or the Sermon on the Mount.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 11:13

The word krino for judge is used in the sense of "convict", make guilty here. "The word that I have spoken shall judge, &c. — For the doctrine which I have preached shall bear witness against them at the day of judgment; and because it has aggravated their sin, it shall heighten their punishment." (Benson). It stands, as it were, in the distance, as a witness and an accuser (Wescott).

They will be convicted on the basis of his word, his teachings, that despite his plain teachings, they rejected him (Matt 7:21-33). Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matt 10:15. Whoever does not do the will of the father, or does not obey the commands, will be judged and rejected. If anyone hears but does not keep his word, will be judged.

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