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What is the Great White Throne Judgment?

The Great White Throne Judgment is a future event when the Lord will judge the multitudes of humanity. The Great White Throne Judgment will be a final hour of decision, when the chaff is eternally removed from the world.



The Great White Throne Judgment is a future event that is prophesied in the book of Revelation, and referenced many times in the bible. In the White Throne Judgment, all of the dead will be released from hell, and judged according to their works. The ones found written in the book of life will receive eternal life, but those whose names are not found written therein, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Revelation informs us regarding the Great White Throne Judgment, "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [Hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20.11-15 KJV bible).

It is commonly taught and believed that when a person dies their soul goes to either eternal heaven or eternal hell. Those who have faith in Christ go to heaven, but everyone else goes to hell forever and ever. If we follow this line of reasoning, then for the great multitudes of unbelievers, there is no hope of eternal salvation.

The Great White Throne Judgment tells us something different. It informs us that in the future, the "dead" will be released from hell, and judged according to the totality of their works, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20.13 KJV bible).

So whereas followers of Christ are forgiven their past transgressions, and rewarded for their righteous works in Christ, the rest of humanity follows a different path. They will be judged by Christ and held to account for their all of their works, good and bad. Then some will be forgiven, and receive eternal life, but others will receive eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire. So we come to understand the White Throne Judgment as a day of reckoning for the multitudes of humanity who have not received Christ.

This leads us to Matthew 25, where Jesus depicts the White Throne Judgment as the separation of sheep and goats, "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. And these [the goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25.32-33,46 KJV bible).

In the Great White Throne Judgment, Jesus will divide the unbelievers into two groups. The ones who have been compassionate and merciful to others will be among the sheep, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25.40 KJV bible).

However, the ones who have been selfish, and delighted themselves in wickedness, will be numbered with the goats, "Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matthew 25.45 KJV bible). So even absent faith, there are some who are more righteous among the unbelievers. They will have a place in the eternity, but the evil ones will not.

The Great White Throne Judgment will be perhaps the most important event in the history of the world, because so much is at stake. However, we should also be aware that there is another time of judgment that will take place immediately at the return of Christ. This pre-judgment is sometimes confused with the White Throne Judgment, but they are not the same.

In the White Throne Judgment people will receive either eternal salvation or eternal damnation. However, the judgment and tribulation at Christ's return will be a forerunner that is in preparation for the final White Throne Judgment.

Romans 2.5-10 speaks of the time of judgment and wrath that will take place immediately at the return of Jesus Christ, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his deeds...Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile" (Romans 2.5-6,9-10 KJV bible).

Regarding this time, Jesus says, "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes..." (Luke 12.47-48 KJV bible).

The Revelation of Christ, with all of his holy ones, will be an hour of judgment and wrath upon the world. Many will be cast down and disgraced, but others will receive glory and peace, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" (2nd Thessalonians 1.6-7 KJV bible).

When Jesus returns at the start of the millennium, he will render judgment according to the fruits that individuals have brought forth with their lives, "For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head" (Obadiah 1.15 KJV bible). The Lord will pour out tribulation upon the enemies of truth, but reward his servants with life and peace.

So we come to understand that there will be two future times of judgment. First, there will be wrath and tribulation when Christ returns, and then after the millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment will take place (see also Resurrection at Christ's Return).

The White Throne Judgment will be a final hour of decision for all mankind, when the wheat is gathered from the chaff, and the chaff is eternally destroyed. At the White Throne Judgment, the evil ones will be entirely excised from the world, and have no future in the eternal Kingdom of God.

Comments: (8)
Topic: The White Throne Judgment
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Jack
This makes perfect sense, this is how I have interpretated the white throne judgment also. The wages of sin is death, not eternal punishment because if that were the case then Jesus would be in hell right now. Also the bible says that nobody can be saved without the lord Jesus Christ, but the father left all judgment to the son so technically the unbelivers are receiving their salvation through Christ at the white throne judgment, kinda.
10th May 2010 11:35pm
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Doug Buckley
Hi Jack, good to hear from you, that's what's so important about the Great White Throne Judgment. In the White Throne Judgment the nonbelievers will be judged by their works and either receive damnation or eternal life.
As you point out, the ones that make it will have to receive Christ in a sense, because if they are not willing to accept him as King of Kings they won't be given entry into the eternal Kingdom. So there will be salvation by judgment at that future time.
11th May 2010 7:37pm
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Emily
Is the Bema seat judgment in Heaven or on Earth? Is it immediately when you die or at the first resurrection. Heard different perspectives on this. Is the White throne judgment only for the evil or will any believers be present. When I say believers. I mean at the end of the millennium believers who have yet to be raised and in physical bodies. Thank you.
22nd May 2011 4:41pm
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Doug Buckley
Hi Emily, I think the Bema seat judgment refers to the judgment that takes place when Christ returns. This would be at the beginning of the millennium, not instantly when people pass away.
It's important to understand that this will be a time of wrath for the world and reward for the elect. It will be a difficult time for many, but its not the final judgment of nonbelievers.
Then the final white throne judgment will take place after the after the millennium. So it will happen at the very end (Revelation 20). However the white throne judgment is also part of the "last day". In some places such as Daniel 7 it seems like it will all happen right when Christ returns, but there is a thousand year gap in there.
Believers will have already been resurrected and in the Kingdom by by the time of the white throne judgment. So believers will be present, but not the ones facing judgment. So the judgment at Christ's return pertains more to the bride, and the white throne judgment to nonbelievers.
22nd May 2011 5:40pm
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Alfredo
"For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body whether good or bad." Doug, which judgement is this referring to?
11th November 2012 5:01pm
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Doug Buckley
Hi Alfredo, good question. That scripture (2nd Cor. 5.10) seems to be speaking of all men being judged according to their deeds, whether good or bad. This must include believers as well as nonbelievers.
So I don't think that Paul is talking about a particular judgment here, just that ultimately all are judged. The elect will receive a judgment of reward at Christ's return, but all the rest will be judged in the white throne judgment. So it's more of a general statement that we must all pass through the gate into the eternity.
12th November 2012 11:03am
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eaglet
The Judgement Seat of Christ and the White Throne Judgement is the same. Throne and Seat is the same in meaning. John and Paul had not had the opportunity to collaborate on this term given their circumstances. They termed the judgement the way they saw and understood it.

Judgement was not given yet at the second coming of Christ. In Rev. 20, it mentioned that the saints were given only authority to judge, and they reign with Christ in the millennium as priest only, not yet as kings. The saints will only be kings over the nations in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21) once they receive their rewards at the White Throne Judgement.
15th August 2015 6:59am
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Doug Buckley
Hi Eaglet, good post about the white throne judgment.

I had never heard of a "Bema seat" judgment before this article. It refers to a judgment that is thought to take place when Christ returns and before the white throne judgment.

Its clear to me that there is some kind of a judgment when Christ returns, "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes...(Luke 12:47-48 KJV bible).

However I certainly wouldn't call this judgment day or confuse it with the white throne judgment. Its more like a house cleaning that establishes the millennium priesthood. Christ will abolish all rule and authority that opposes him. Those that aren't his at his return will be in the white throne judgment.
10th September 2015 8:04pm
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