When interpreting the doctrine of the Gospel {euangelion, εὐαγγέλιον} in 1 Corinthians 15, we read of a fairly simple explanation of the “good news”:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

It would appear that the gospel according to Paul is about what Christ did for sinners/sins.

1.) “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures“

2.) “and that He was buried”

3.) “and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”

So this is the Gospel that Paul preaches, and any other “gospel” is no gospel at all, and it is to be condemned: (See Galatians 1:6-9).

Also, the word: euangelion {εὐαγγέλιον} occurs 41 times in the New Testament. One such occurrence is also found in Romans 2:16.

The definition of euangelion is: “glad tidings, good, or joyful news”.

My question then becomes very narrow, in relation to Romans 2:16.

We read:

“in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” Romans 2:16

Knowing the prior context of the wrath & judgment of God in chapters 1:18-32, and Romans 2:1-15, my question becomes more apparent!

Q: Why is it “good news” that God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ?

NOTE: Judgment in scripture is never “good news”!

  • 2
    Only someone who has guilty secrets would view it as 'bad news' that they are to be judged. Someone whose secrets were good ones ("pray to your Father which is in secret" for example) would not have any qualms about such matters being pubilicised (if God chose to publicise them).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 14:40
  • @Nigel J I can understand that in part, sure. What doesn’t make total sense to me is how Paul relates judgment to the gospel “good news”.
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 15:29
  • 2
    But Christ came to suffer judgment himself, by offering himself. And those who reject him will be judged accordingly. Which is good news to those who love righteousness.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:31
  • @Nigel J Well, I see your point there; yet “good news” & judgment against believers seem hard to understand in interpretation. Put it another way, (2 Corinthians 5:10-11) makes it clear believers will give account of both good & evil, but for the unbeliever, there is no “good news” in their sins being exposed on that Day.
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:34
  • 1
    @Cork88 Check Douglas Campbell's books and interviews on the subject of Paul and The Letter to Romans. He is one of the best Pauline scholar of today. Campbell argues that Paul in the first three chapters of Romans uses Socratic method. There are two voices in those chapters. One is Paul's and the other represents a typical Jew/Judaizing believer opposing the foulness of the Gospel. Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 12:45

2 Answers 2


Consider why the day that Jesus died in agony is frequently called "Good Friday". It was a terrible day for Jesus, who had chosen to endure God's righteous punishment on sin, though he had never sinned. Yet for all who have come to see that it was a glorious day of triumph over sin, death and the devil, and who put faith in what Jesus achieved by his death, it was a good day, indeed! That's why Christians call it "Good Friday".

Consider also that the only hope humanity has of righteous judgment and equity - total justice, in other words - is God rendering judgment on a cosmic scale. God's righteous judgment is based on his divine nature, which it utter holiness, purity, knowledge and justice. Jesus said:

"Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be known" (Matthew 10:26).

That is one reason why there shall be no more weeping in heaven, because all who are corrupt, lying, immoral, greedy, selfish and hateful will have been kept out (Revelation 21:8). Another reason is that all who are pure, truthful, moral, selfless and loving will be allowed in. They will have put faith in God's righteousness, displayed at the cross, and desire God's righteousness with all their heart, mind and soul.

God's judgment, in scripture, is awesomely righteous. Only because we are unrighteous do we find it hard to grasp how needed God's judgments are. And only when we unrighteous sinners are cleansed and purified by God's loving forgiveness do we then see matters that way. Don't forget, either, that there are many examples in scripture of good judgment, such as Jesus commending faithful stewards, "Well done, good and faithful servant! ...Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:14-23).

God is faithful and looks for faithfulness in those who love him. They have nothing to fear because Jesus is the gospel of salvation; he is 'the good news' embodied. So to belong to Christ by faith, to be "in Christ" is the best gospel there is. Those who don't want that will get what they want, and be judged on the basis of their sinfulness, which they ultimately preferred rather than to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

EDIT: 14 hours after posting this, I read an exposition of Romans 2:6-16 in conjunction with Revelation 20:12-13 (about that Day of Judgment when all shall be judged out of 'books') and feel this quote sums it up awesomely:

"For the dead are judged 'according to their works'. How is this? ...Someone will say, but are we not justified by faith? Yes; but why say it? However we are justified, John assures us that we are judged according to our works. If thou sayest, 'I am justified by faith', then show me your justification by your life, for that is the evangelical criterion now and it is the standard of judgment in that day. Now, as then, if you can, you will bring forth the record of your patient continuance in well doing, as, having been justified, you seek for glory and honour and immortality - Romans 2:6-16.

But know this, the greater multitude who profess justification by faith have no life, and bring forth no such works at all, nor do they once seek for glory and honour and immortality with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind, and with all their understanding, all the days of their life. Nevertheless, whatever their false hope, the works of their lives shall assuredly be judged by the same criteria as all the number of those who were truly justified by faith, and who brought forth the living fruits thereof. Nothing in time or eternity changes these words, or can change them: 'judged according to their works', Revelation 20:12, 13. (The Revelatiton of Jesus Christ, pp 570-571, John Metcalfe)."

Thus the apostles Paul and John are agreed on this evangel, this good news about cosmic justice, for God is no respecter of persons (Rom.2:11). As Jesus said, those who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness enter into the joy of their master, their lives showing such transformed thinking, desiring and living. This is the good news they seek to share with all - righteous judgment that results in glory, honour and immortality to those who embrace it (Rom.2:7).

  • Makes sense, thx. +1
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 18:57
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    Judgement is exceedingly good news for the righteous. I will post an answer later.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 19:36
  • @Dottard When you have time; I’m still down for that answer! ;)
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 16:32

Judgment in the Bible is extremely controversial for reasons that need not delay us here. The noun "judgement" actually translates several different Greek words:

Krino: This verb denotes the act of separating or deciding, judging. It occurs 8 times in Revelation (6:10, 11:18, 16:5, 18:8, 20, 19:2, 11, 20:12, 13) and 106 times in the rest of the New Testament.

Krisis: This noun denotes the investigation or court trial, the judgement process, the process of collecting evidence, preceding the final decision. The word is often used to refer to the end-time judgement in the phrase, “day of judgement”, that is the eschatological cosmic trial in which all matters will be resolved (Matt 10:15, 11:22, 24, 12:36, 41, 42, Luke 10:14, 11:31, 32, 2 Peter 3:9, Jude 6). Since a trial is a neutral process, this can refer to justice (Matt 12 18, 20, 23:23, Luke 11:42, Acts 8:33) or condemnation (Matt 23:23, John 5:24, 25, James 5:12, Rev 18:10).

The intensive form, katakrisis, literally means the process (or evidence) leading to condemnation (2 Cor 3:9, 7:3). In just one instance, this word for trial is used in the sense of verdict when one might have expected krima (John 3:19).

Krima: A noun which denotes the act of deciding following the process above; it is translated decision, verdict, sentence, condemnation, punishment, and judgement. However, in almost all cases, the most suitable translation would be verdict or sentence (Mark 12:40, Luke 23:40, 24:20, Rom 2:2, 3, 3:8, 11;33, 13;2, Gal 5:10, 1 Tim 3:6, 5:12).

The intensive form, katakrima, literally means a strong condemnation or severe sentence (Rom 5:16, 18, 8:1).

In the specific case of Rom 2:16 we have:

in the day when God will judge [κρίνω verb] the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”

This judging by God refers to the great eschatological judgement (see appendix below). The righteous earnestly seek the judgement of God for a variety of reasons:

  1. It is associated with the second coming of Jesus
  2. it is a time when all wrongs will be corrected and the saints vindicated
  • Dan 7:22 - until the Ancient of Days arrived and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for them to possess the kingdom.
  • Rev 6:10 - And they were crying in a loud voice, saying, "Until when, O Lord, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood from those dwelling upon the earth?"
  • Luke 18:1-8 - the parable of the importunate widow illustrates that the righteous earnestly seek judgement to have justice
  • Ps 19:9 - The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true, being altogether righteous.
  • Ps 119:39 - Turn away the disgrace I dread, for Your judgments are good.
  • Judgement described in Matt 25:21-46 where the righteous have this said of them: "*Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ... *"

The best way to illustrate this is the reaction of the two classes of people when they see Jesus return "in the clouds of heaven"

  • Righteous: Isa 25:9 - And in that day it will be said, “Surely this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He has saved us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
  • Wicked: Rev 6:15-17 - Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the commanders, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and free man hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”

Thus, it is not surprising that the Gospel contains good news about the (eschatological) judgement of God.

APPENDIX - Judgments in the Bible

In “The New Unger's Bible Dictionary”, we also have a list a several judgments. According to Unger, an inductive study of the Scriptures shows that there's more than one general judgement (with which I broadly agree) and goes as far as to specify eight distinct judgement described in the Bible

  1. Judgement of the Cross - This is the judgement upon sin effected by Christ when He said "It is finished" (John 19:30). It is the basis of the believer’s salvation when he believes. Christ has borne the sinner’s guilt and in Him, as a substitute for all on behalf of whom He died, sin has been judged. The one who believes on Christ has been released from judgment, and “there is therefore now no condemnation” (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:26– 28; 1 Pet. 2:24).
  2. Judgement of Believers - This takes the form of divine correction and chastisement (1 Cor. 11:30-32; Heb 12:3-13; John 15:1-9). The apostle Paul says: “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31–32). This, then, involves God’s disciplinary action against a sinning saint. “The sin leading to death” (1 John 5:16; cf. 1 Cor. 5:1–5; Acts 5:1–11) occurs when the believer, through deliberate continued sin, brings reproach upon the name of Christ and upon his salvation by free grace, and forfeits his physical life “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
  3. Believer's Works - This judgement concerns only Christians and it is not a matter of judgement for sins that have been judged at the cross and with which the believer will not again be faced (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1); it involves instead the divine appraisal of the Christian’s works and service. This will entail reward or loss of reward (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10, 12; Eph. 6:8; 2 Tim. 4:8).
  4. Judgement of Self - This is referred to in 1 Cor. 11:31-32. It has reference to stern criticism of a Christian of his own ways with accommodation to the divine will and immediate confession of and turning away from all sin (1 John 1:7–9). True confession is equivalent to self-judgment and involves immediate cleansing and restoration to fellowship and walking “in the light.”
  5. Judgement of the Nations - This judgement is referred to in Matt. 25:31-46. It involves divine dealing with the nations on the basis of their treatment of Israel. The “goat” nations on the left hand involve those peoples who are sent to the lake of fire. The “sheep” nations on the right hand enter the millennial kingdom. The peculiar basis of this judgment is the way all nations have dealt with Israel during the Tribulation period preceding the second advent of Christ. OT prophecy is clear in its prediction that some Gentile nations will enter the coming kingdom of Israel (cf. Isa. 60:3; 61:6; 62:2). These nations will be subordinate to Israel. As the millennial state merges into the eternal state, Gentile nations are still asserted to be on the earth when the heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven (Rev. 21:24, 26).
  6. Judgement of Israel - Ezekiel 20:33-44 clearly teaches that Israel must come into judgement before being restored in the millennial kingdom. This OT teaching has confirmation in the NT from the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1–13 (see Joel 3:11–15). Prophecy seems to teach that there will be a general resurrection of all truly regenerated Israelites of the past dispensation to be judged. Those who had a kingdom hope are to arise and enter the earthly glory (cf. Ezek. 37:1–14; Dan. 12:1–3).
  7. Judgement of Angels - These are fallen angels and are evidently judged in connection with the great white throne (1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6).
  8. White Throne Judgement - This last great judgement comprehends the judgement of all unsaved of all ages (Rev. 20:11-15). The basis will be works, which evidently suggests differences and degrees of punishment. All who are not found in “the book of life” are cast into “the lake of fire.” This is called “the second death,” which means final and complete cutting off from God’s presence and a sin-cleansed universe. [The other side of this judgement is the righteous are vindicated by the same process.]

To this list, Unger might have added one more:

  1. Judgement of God – this is the doctrine of Theodicy – where everyone is to judge whether God has been just or otherwise and is mentioned several times in places such as Rom 3:4 (“when You are judged”), Rev 14:7 (the judgement of God), Rev 16:4-6 where people declare God to be righteous and just. See also Ezra 9:15, Ps 51:4, 119:33, Neh 9:33, etc.
  • Well informed answer, thx, +1
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 22:37
  • In a Nutshell what you said “Thus, it is not surprising that the Gospel contains good news about the (eschatological) judgement of God.” 10/10 good point, made sense to me.
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 22:39

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