The Expository Files


The Judgment Seat of Christ

2 Corinthians 5:9-10


The fact of Christ's resurrection gives us confidence in our own resurrections to come. Paul, after discussing the resurrection of Christ, used it as proof of God's power to raise the dead and as evidence of our own future resurrections. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.“ (1 Corinthians 15:20). For the righteous in Christ, the resurrection will be a joyous union with Jesus and He and the angels escort us to our new eternal home in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:23-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). 

The confidence of being raised up to be with Christ is extremely important to the Christian -  we need to be confident in our victory so that we might be motivated to live faithfully.  “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord --   for we walk by faith, not by sight --    we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”   (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).  

Our goal, or ambition, because of our confidence in the future beyond the time we spend in the body, is to always please Him. “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.  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.”  (2 Corinthians 5:9,10).


Our Aim - V.9

The Christian has the privilege of being “well pleasing” to God. (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 5:10). This is good news! It is possible for you and me to please God with our lives. Knowing the Bible and application of what we know by faith is necessary (Colossians 1:9,10; Hebrews 11:5,6 

Also, God's appraisal of ourselves is far more important than anyone else's - (1 Corinthians 4:1-4). We must never be sidetracked into thinking because someone voices their disapproval of our discipleship that God necessarily disapproves as well. Of course, the opposite is also true. We can please others while not pleasing God.  

The only alternative to pleasing God is to suffer God's wrath - (Romans. 2:4,5). And notice that pleasing God - that for which the Christian lives - is a goal which does not end with death.  We continue to have purpose and goals in eternity. Our state and surroundings change, but our goal is to glorify God and thus share in His glory. ( Romans 14:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:10).  What more noble, honorable purpose could there be than to please God? 

The Christian makes it his “aim”  (vss. 9 & 10) to be well pleasing to God. The word translated  “ambition” or “aim”  means to have something as one's ambition; to act from a love of honor. One paraphrase of verse 9 is “We love it as a point of honor, ever to be well pleasing to the Lord  - not only to do what he says, but to have him take pleasure in us and in all we do.”

          The Christian strives, labors, aspires to please God - doing so is the height of his ambition, his supreme intent. (2 Timothy 2:15; Colossians 3:17 Pleasing God is a matter of deliberate choice. It does not happen by accident, or without thought and effort. We do not please Him by going along with the flow.  I must be willing to disappoint others and sacrifice even my own will to whatever it takes to do His (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 4:1).


The Judgment Seat - V. 10

          Man is accountable to God. The word translated “judgment seat” refers to a tribunal, judicial bench. All must ultimately be judged by Christ - (John 5:28,29; Romans 14:10). 

We must all “appear” before this final seat of judgment. This is a grand appearance where everything is revealed before the judge. The judgment will reveal our real character - all the truth about us will be brought into the open. No pretense will succeed. No motive hidden. I hope you are being both honest and righteous in your life and thought. 

Each of us will be judged by his or her own actions. There will be no favoritism. (Cf. Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25). There will be absolute justice (Romans 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:5,6).  

This event  will be a terror for those who have rejected Christ; for those who have been indifferent to Him (including lukewarm Christians!); and for those who have professed to accept His claims, but whose works have denied Him.  

All will reap  what we have sown (Galatians 6:7,8).  The judgment will deal with what each has “done, whether good or bad.” (Romans 2:6-11).  The judgment will be an examination of our faith - what will matter will be what we have lived and  practiced, not  only what we have professed with our lips.  

While man is not saved by earning his salvation with “works righteousness”; nevertheless without works his faith is dead -  and a dead faith does not save either. (James 2:17,26). 

The judgment of God will not be arbitrarily inflicted on the lost. They are lost as a consequence of being sinners in a universe created by a righteous God.   

Judgment will be on the basis of deeds done “in the body.”  Right now as we live we are sowing the seeds of eternity. At judgment, and forever after, we will reap the harvest. The process has already begun! Today, you are in the process of either winning, or losing, an eternal crown ( 2 Timothy 4:7,8).  

The hope of our resurrection and the knowledge that we will be judged by Him ought to motivate us to please God and to persuade others to do likewise. “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Pt. 1:17).  “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter. 3:11).


  By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 22.7; July 2015