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 5:10
In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul described a future judgment for Christians called the Judgment Seat of Christ. What did Paul mean when he talked about the “judgment seat”?
During his second missionary journey, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth, where he had a very productive ministry. Many Jews, as well as Gentiles, were coming to faith in Christ. But not everybody was happy with him. Some were so incensed by what Paul was doing, especially by winning Jews to Christ, that they arrested him and dragged him before the Roman governor, Gallio. Acts 18:12 says, “While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat.” The word translated “judgment seat” is “bema” in Greek. It refers to the raised platform on which the governor would sit. Sometimes he would hand out rewards to successful athletes, and sometimes he would mete out justice. Both rewards and justice came from the official on this raised platform.
When the Apostle Paul was brought in in chains before Gallio, who was seated on the judgment seat, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters” (18:14-15). Gallio was saying: “This is a Jewish dispute. You all handle it.” As Paul stood there, he realized, “Here is the man who has the power to extinguish my life.”
Ten years ago, I stood in the spot where Paul stood. I looked at that judgment seat and thought, “What gave Paul the courage to stand there, undaunted by the threats against him? What made him so faithful and courageous?” As Paul looked at that judge, Gallio, I believe he thought, “One day I am going to stand in front of another Judge on the judgment seat, and I am going to have to give an account to Him for the way that I lived my life. I would much rather be found commended to Him than to this human judge, who has no power other than what God gives him.” Paul had this mind-set: “I am going to live my life to please the true Judge, because one day we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, every one of us.”
We all have times in life when we rededicate our lives to God. I remember 10 years ago, standing in front of that judgment seat, I prayed, “Lord, help me the rest of my life to have a ‘bema’ mentality, to evaluate everything I do in light of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Give me the courage to stand for You, knowing that someday I am going to give an account to You.” That is what Paul had in mind here: we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. And that future reality affected Paul’s life until the day God called him home.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Will Heaven Be The Same For Everyone?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)