Eternal Judgment

Some parts taken from Derek Prince’s Spirit-Filled Believer’s Handbook


In this Bible study, we are dealing with subjects that are neither visible, temporary, nor exist in the present, but rather, the doctrine of eternal judgment touches upon the invisible, eternal, and those things that exist in the future. In light of this, the ONLY knowledge we have on this subject is that which the Bible mentions.

There are many things that we may want to know about this topic that are simply not mentioned in the Scriptures. Whatever is not mentioned, however, we must be content to leave alone, and trust that the Holy Spirit had a reason for not writing.

In other cases, there are passages of Scripture that have had many different interpretations in the history of the church, or passages that give us room to infer certain things (without stating them directly). We have tried to indicate where these things are so, and ask the reader to keep in mind that this is our most humble and honest attempt to get at the truth of the matter.

As always, if the reader is persuaded BY THE SCRIPTURES that what we have written here does not line up with God’s Word, it is paramount that we know where we erred so that both the authors and the readers would not stray from the Truth. Please, do not be shy to approach Brian Holda (the editor and one of the authors) or others with any conflicting Scriptures or interpretations.

With all this in mind, we hope you enjoy this supremely important and amazing doctrine: Eternal Judgment.

“Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of ETERNAL JUDGMENT.” (Heb. 6:1-2, emphasis ours)

What is God’s Nature?

Hebrews 12:18-24

  • 12:18-21 – Israel could not draw near God at Mt. Sinai (compare Exodus 20:18-21, especially v. 21)
  • 12:22-24 – But now, God can be approached by all who have repented and believed —

Description of God’s dwelling place

  1. “Mount Zion”
  2. “the city of the living God”
  3. “the heavenly Jerusalem”

Those who dwell there with God

  1. Angels – the angels who did not join forces with Satan
  2. Church of the firstborn – saints of the new covenant who belong to Christ, “the firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:18; also compare Psalm 2:7 with Acts 13:33)
  3. Spirits of just men made perfect – saints of previous ages (perhaps alluding to Old Testament saints, see Hebrews 11:39-40)

God Himself

  1. “God the Judge of all” – in the center of it all. If God were only revealed as Judge, there would be no place here for sinful men
  2. Jesus the Mediator” – comes between holy God and sinful men
  3. “the blood of sprinkling” – the means and the price that reconciled men with God

God as Judge is tempered by God’s mercy and grace seen in the office and blood of Christ Jesus.God longs for his people to draw near Him, but will never compromise his holiness.

Attributes of God

  • God is Judge (Genesis 18:25; Judges 11:27; Psalm 58:11; 94:2; Isaiah 33:22; 1 Peter 1:17)
  • God is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3)
  • God does not delight in judging and afflicting (Isaiah 28:21; 63:10; Lamentations 3:33; Ezekiel 18:30-32; John 3:17; 2 Peter 3:9)

In What Way Will God Judge?

  • 1 Peter 1:17 – God the Father holds the office of Judge
  • John 5:22-23,26-27; Romans 2:16 – God the Father will judge through God the Son
  • Office of Judge receives honor
  • The Son will receive the same honor as the Father
  • John 12:47-50 – Jesus judges by the Word of God
  • Revelation 19:11-16 (especially v. 15)
  • Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12 – the Word is compared to a sword

How Does the Word Judge Us?

Romans 2:1-16

  • 2:2 – “the judgment of God is according to truth” – IN TRUTH
    • John 17:17
    • We won’t be judged by our interpretation of the word, but by what the word truly says
  • 2:5-6 – “righteous judgment of God…according to his [man’s] deeds” – BY DEEDS
    • 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 20:12 (deeds are recorded in God’s books)
    • Internal deeds are judged as well (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 5:21-30; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 4:12)
  • 2:11 – “there is no partiality with God” – WITHOUT PARTIALITY
    • 1 Samuel 16:7 – Judgment is not by outward appearance
    • Matthew 11:20-24 – More severe judgment on those who Christ visited, because they had greater light
    • Luke 12:47-48 – differing judgments according to how much light they were given

What is the Difference Between Judgment in Eternity and Judgment in History?

Two kinds of judgment

1) In history

  • Amos 3:6-7
  • Punishment or blessing on succeeding generations (Exodus 20:4-6; Jeremiah 32:18; Psalm 37:25-26; 103:17-18)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25; 2 Peter 2:6; Ezekiel 16:49)
  • Israel (e.g. Leviticus 26:27-33,36-37)
  • Leviticus 26:44 – God shows mercy in the midst of judgment
  • Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10)
  • Herod (Acts 12:20-24)
  • Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
  • Jerusalem’s Temple (Matthew 24)

2) In eternity

  • Hebrews 6:2 – “eternal judgment”
  • Hebrews 9:27
  • Ezekiel 18
    • 18:1-4,20 – each individual answers for his own life
    • 18:24-29 – the destiny of the soul is settled by the condition you die in (see also Ecclesiastes 11:3)

Note: Ecclesiastes 8:11; 1 Timothy 5:24-25 – God’s judgments are not fully revealed in time

What Happens After we Die and Exit the Realm of Time and History?

Resurrection of the Dead

  • Ecclesiastes 3:18-21; 12:6-7; Luke 16:22 – at death, body is put in the earth and spirit/soul goes to God to be judged
    • Righteous spirits/souls – dwell in God’s presence and place of blessing (2 Corinthians 5:4-8; Philippians 1:21-24)
    • Unrighteous spirits/souls – dwell in place of suffering (Luke 16:23-24)


Who will be judged?

  • All of mankind – John 5:28-29; Acts 17:30-31; Hebrews 9:27: Jude 14-15
  • Heavenly beings – Matthew 25:41; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6

Judgment of Mankind

  • Eternal judgment follows resurrection of the dead
    • Hebrews 6:2 – (1) Resurrection of the dead, (2) Eternal judgment
    • John 5:28-29 – (1) Resurrection of the dead, (2) Eternal judgment
    • Pattern of Jesus: After death, received reward (which was His judgment) from Father (Acts 2:34-35; Philippians 2:8-9)
    • 2 Corinthians 5:10 – our judgment relates to deeds done in the body
      • Since judgment concerns things done in the body while on earth, man must appear in same body (resurrected) before he is judged
  • Hebrews 9:23-28 – judgment of men
    • 9:27 – judgment comes after death
      • Before Christ returns, this is the judgment of our soul/spirit (e.g. the unrighteous suffer in Hades after they die – Luke 16:23-24)
      • After Christ returns, this is the judgment of our spirit/soul/body (e.g. those suffering in Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire permanently and eternally – Revelation 20:11-15)
    • 9:28 – Christ’s return corresponds to our final judgment

What Happens When Christ Returns?

When Christ returns everybody will receive a new/resurrected body: those who are Christ’s at His coming (the dead in Christ will receive one before those living), as well as those who do not know Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; John 5:24-30).

Then, Christ separates the believers from the unbelievers:

  • John 5:28-29 – All will receive new bodies when Christ returns
  • Matthew 25:31-33 – Christ will divide the righteous from the unrighteous

What is the Order of Eternal Judgment?

  1. Christ Will Judge Christians
    1. Romans 2:9-10 – Jewish Christians and hypocrites judged before Gentile Christians and hypocrites.
  2. Christ Will Judge Ungodly
    1. Romans 2:9-10 – Jewish non-believers judged before Gentile non-believers


Matthew 25:34

After separating the godly from the ungodly, it appears that Christ’s attention will first be towards the Christians.

  • Romans 2:9-10 – perhaps Jewish Christians will be judged before Gentile Christians.

1 Peter 4:16-18

Judgment begins at the house of God

  • “begins with us first” = Christians (see v. 16)
  • The “us” is contrasted with those who do not obey the gospel
  • Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Revelation – first address God’s people before addressing other nations.

Matthew 25:20-24; Luke 19:15-20

In these parables of judgment, when the master returns he goes to the good servants first

John 5:29; Daniel 12:2

“Resurrection of life” listed before “resurrection of condemnation”.

From these passages, it appears that Christians will be judged before the ungodly.

What are the Main Features of Christian Judgment?

  1. Individual – each one will answer (Romans 14:7-13)
  2. Things done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)
  3. Only two categories: good or bad – no neutrality (2 Corinthians 5:10)
    1. Every act not performed in faith and obedience towards God is considered bad (Romans 14:23)
  4. Not for condemnation (John 3:18; 5:24; Romans 8:1)
    1. Believer is not judged in righteousness because their righteousness belongs to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  5. For assessment of service (1 Corinthians 3:9-17)
    1. Man’s work is judged, not his soul
      1. Soul is secured in Jesus Christ (v. 11)
    2. For rewards (vv. 14-15)
    3. Tested by fire (v. 13)
      1. Gold, silver, stones are refined by fire; wood, hay, straw are burned
    4. Not quantity; quality
      1. wood, hay, and straw are found in large quantities; gold, silver, stones are not

What is Required to Stand the Fire?

Only true and enduring value will survive and be purified and refined by the fire.

  1. Motive: WHY? Is it for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) (see Isaiah 66:17-18 – “works” and “thoughts” are judged)
  2. Obedience: WHAT? Are you doing things that accord with God’s Word? (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49)
  3. Power: HOW? Are you doing things by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God? (1 Corinthians 15:10; Romans 15:14-19)

Revelation 1:14-15

  • Christ’s feet judge the ungodly (v. 15)
  • Christ’s eyes assess the work of His people

What is the Pattern of Judgment for Christian Service?

Matthew 25:14-30

  • Gave “to each according to his own ability” (v. 15)
  • First two servants have 100% increase (vv. 16-17)
    • Both servants received same commendation and rewards (vv. 21, 23)
      • Lord assesses by percent increase
  • · The third servant lost his one talent, and was cast out of the Master’s presence (vv. 26-30)

Luke 19:11-27

  • All ten servants received the same amount (v. 13)
  • · First servant gained twice as much (vv. 16-19)
    • Reward was twice as great
    • Received commendation that the other one did not
  • · Service to Christ in the present age translates to authority in the eternal kingdom
  • · V. 22 – “wicked”
    • You can be wicked by not doing good (James 4:17; Malachi 3:18)


  1. Not to use is to lose (Luke 19:26; James 2:26)
  2. Not to do good when you can is sin (James 4:17)
  3. All who did nothing were totally rejected


Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 – Parable of the Wheat and the Tares/Weeds

  • Sower = Son of Man, Jesus (v. 37)
    • Wheat = true believers, sons of God (v. 38)
    • Tares (look like wheat, but really aren’t) = hypocrites, sons of Satan (v. 38)
    • Harvest = end of the age (v. 39)
    • Fire = hell (v. 40, 42)
  • It is tough to distinguish true believers from the hypocrites (v. 29)
  • The false believers are planted by Satan (v. 39)
  • The non-believers are gathered first to be burned, and the true believers are gathered in God’s place for them (v. 30)

Matthew 13:47-50 – Parable of the Dragnet

  • Dragnet = gospel of kingdom proclaimed in the world
    • creatures caught = those who make positive responses to the gospel
    • Same separating as seen in wheat and tares (v. 49)

From the above parables, it seems that the ungodly will be separated from the godly, yet they will await their sentencing until after Christians have received their rewards/judgments. Note: Others have argued that these parables teach those who claimed to be Christians but never really gave ownership of their lives to Christ will receive a special judgment first, before the judgment of the true Christians.


What Happens at the Judgment of the Ungodly?

2 Peter 3:1-13

Fire destroys earth and heaven, but the people of God look for a new earth and heaven

Luke 10:13-15; John 19:11

Non-believers will receive different levels of judgment based on what they have done.

Revelation 20:11-15

  • “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (v. 15)
  • It appears that this scene at the great white throne may only be referring to non-believers
    • Compare Revelation 20:13 with Revelation 20:5-6 and John 5:24-29
  • Books show the deeds by which they are judged (v. 12)
  • Lake of fire seems worse than the place of torture seen in Luke 16:24
    • Lake of fire will last for eternity
      • Remember: all will have resurrected bodies that cannot die

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

(1 Corinthians 11:31-32)