THE REWARD SEAT OF CHRIST
(a summary is in topics:
ORIENTATION TO DIVINE JUDGMENT
The bible teaches about a general everlasting destiny for all members of the
John 3:36, "The one who believes in the Son has everlasting life; but the
one who does not obey the Son (that is, does not believe) will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains on him."
Traditionally and simplistically, it is heaven or hell.
This is also described from the perspective of the resurrection of the body.
One OT summary is at at Dan. 12:2
At that time: This is given in an end-times context. Gabriel states that
there will be two resurrections. The details are not provided, but within
the scenario of end-time events, there will be
(1) a resurrection to everlasting life
(2) a resurrection to shame and everlasting rejection.
Jesus described it at John 5:29,
"a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and
will come out: those who did the good to a resurrection of life, those who
committed the bad to a resurrection of judgment."
The good that needs to be done is indicated by verse 24, "Truly, truly, I
say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has
eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death
At John 6:29-30 the people asked Jesus, "What are we to do, so that we may
accomplish the works of God?" And He told them that the only deed or work
that is acceptable to God for salvation is the action of putting faith in
Him as the Savior of the world.
"This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
The bad is indicated at John 3:36, "The one who believes in the Son has
everlasting life; but the one who does not obey the Son (that is, does not
believe) will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
At Acts 24:15, Paul described this as the hope of Israel that there will be
a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous."
Prior to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, everyone who died went
into Hades deep in the heart of the earth.
This area was divided into two parts: paradise and torment
All unbelievers went into the place of torment to await the resurrection
unto judgment. Of course at that time they were well aware of their failure
to adjust to God's justice through faith in the salvation promise. But the
formal judgment will not occur until they are resurrected and appear at the
great white throne after the 1000-year Davidic kingdom.
All who believed in God's plan of salvation through trust in the promise of
a Savior, were considered SAVED from sin.
The principle of Rom. 10:13, Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord
will be saved."
When these died they went into paradise, and experienced comfort and joy.
When Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He took those
believing souls into the third heaven to await the future physical
resurrection of the body.
The place of paradise is now located in the third heaven and believers who
die go right into the presence of the Lord in the third heaven. 2Cor. 5:8.
Now, in general, there is one recompense or expression of divine justice for
believers in Jesus
and one expression of justice to unbelievers.
This is found in many passages as a summary statement.
Such as at Isaiah 62:11, "Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your
salvation is coming;
Behold His reward is with Him, and His compensation before Him."
And at Isaiah 40:9, "Go up on a high mountain, Zion, messenger of good news,
Raise your voice forcefully, Jerusalem, messenger of good news;
Raise it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, Here is your God!
10 Behold, the Lord Yahweh will come with might, With His arm ruling for
Behold, His compensation is with Him, And His reward before Him."
Jesus stated it at Mat. 16:27, "For the Son of Man is going to come in the
glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person
according to his deeds."
Solomon summarized it at Ec. 12:14, "for God will bring every act to
judgment; everything which is hidden, whether it is good or bad.
As we saw earlier at John 5:29, there will be a resurrection to judgment and
a resurrection to everlasting life.
The resurrection to everlasting life; the resurrection of the righteous is
called the first resurrection and will occur in stages.
At 1Cor. 15:23, the first stage is "Christ the first fruits."
And the second stage is stated as, "After that those who are Christ's at His
That is, all believers from all of history up to and including those who are
alive at that time.
This is described at 1Cor. 15:52,
"in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the
trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be
And at 1Thes. 4:16-17,
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice
of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will
rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together
with them in the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in the air, and so we
will always be with the Lord."
And at Mark 13:27,
"And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect
ones out from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the
farthest end of heaven."
Also during the time frame of Christ's presence, all believers who will die
after the rapture will be resurrected at the start of the 1000 year earthly
And then, at the end of the 1000 year earthly kingdom all believers who have
died and are alive at that time will be resurrected.
The resurrection of the unrighteous will not be in stages but will be
completed in one event after the kingdom.
That is described at Rev. 20:11-15 as the judgment at the great white
I will look at that later.
Now, the evaluation of the believer's works is also different from that of
At the last judgment the unbeliever's works are mentioned to establish the
fact that they have come short of God's righteousness.
Believers on the other hand have trusted in Christ's one work that paid for
the sins of the world,
and on that basis are viewed by God as righteous. Rom. 3:22, "the
righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ is for all those who
And the believer's evaluation of life and deeds is actually separate from
This evaluation is described from two perspectives.
(1) the FACT of salvation; the possession of everlasting life. John 5:24
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who
sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has
passed out of death into life."
(2) the evaluation of the believers works to determine the quality of
rewards and recognition throughout eternity.
And this is where the issue of the judgment seat of Christ comes into our
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF GOD
The concept of the judgment seat is taken from the Greek, BEMA.
It was a place where justice is administered. Humanly speaking - a tribunal
or judicial bench. Mt. 27.19; Jn.19.13; Acts 12.21;18.12,16-17; 25.6, 10,17.
John 19:13, "when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat
down on the judgment seat."
Acts 18.12, "The Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him
before the judgment seat."
The BEMA is Paul's vocabulary
(only 2 times), and it is not used anywhere else in Scripture for divine
Rom. 14:10-12, "But as for you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or
you as well, why do you regard your brother or sister with contempt? For we
will all appear before the judgment seat of God.
For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, to Me every knee will bow, And
every tongue will make acknowledgement to God. So then each one of us will
give a word concerning himself to God.
2Cor. 5:9-10, "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home in
heaven or alive here on the earth, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive
compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he
has done, whether good or bad."
Both passages simply state the FACT of an evaluation event for every
believer. It does not say WHEN that evaluation will occur.
And at that evaluation event -
God will reject what is unacceptable in His eyes, and praise what is
And then He will assign rewards to each individual believer according to His
own standards of righteousness.
A more detailed description of that evaluation is written at 1 Cor. 3:10-15.
"According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master
builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each person
must be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay a foundation other
than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds
on the foundation with gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each
one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be
revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s
work. If anyone’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a
reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself
will be saved, yet only so as through fire.
This passage deals with the MECHANICS of evaluation rather than the time of
And I suggest that it will occur in an instant of time and is probably a
Now, there are two categories of works that are mentioned.
Valuable building material symbolized by gold, silver and jewels.
And non-valuable material symbolized by wood, hay and straw.
The issue is: good vs. bad; light vs. darkness; pure vs. impure; righteous
And it is the very nature of God's perfect justice - an indiscriminate fire
- that will do the purifying.
"the DAY will show it" (That is, the light of God's character), because it
is to be revealed by FIRE to test the QUALITY and show what is pure and what
The results of the evaluation will be a combination of "receive a reward"
and "suffer loss." (that is, suffer loss of reward).
And regardless of the disparity between the two, the believer himself will
Then, immediately at the conclusion of the evaluation, the believer will of
course, totally agree with God without question, all to the glory of God's
And here as before, Paul establishes the FACT of the evaluation without
indicating the TIME of the evaluation.
The question then - is this: when will this evaluation occur?
Many passages indicate that there will be an evaluation of the believer's
works at the time of Christ's second coming.
Let's look at some of them:
1 Cor. 4:5, "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but
wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in
the darkness and disclose the motives of human hearts; and then praise will
come to each person from God."
This certainly sees an evaluation of works at the time of Christ's coming.
It's at that time that every believer who is alive on the earth and is
raised up with Christ at the rapture, will receive an evaluation of life and
deeds. Paul is simply stating the fact that there will be this evaluation at
And on that basis, leave the judging of other peoples lives in God's hands
and He will evaluate what was good and what was bad.
Rev. 22:12, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to
reward each one as his work deserves."
The teaching to John and through him to the church, states the importance of
being prepared to meet the Lord.
The word group, "quickly" basically indicates the idea of "without delay."
That means that the plan of God is progressing according to schedule and
everyone needs to focus on faithfulness and service.
This is the same thing that John exhorts at 1John 2:28.
"Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have
confidence and not draw back from Him in shame at His coming."
1 Peter 1:6-7, "In this salvation, you greatly rejoice, even though now for
a little while, as necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so
that the approval of your faith, being more precious than gold which
perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and
honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
This is a specific promise to all believers, but the exhortation is to those
who are alive on the earth and suffering at the time of His coming. This is
not really an issue for those who have died and are presently face to face
with the Lord.
This, as with the other passages, is viewing the second coming as an event
that could occur in the foreseeable future of John's letter. But it should
be kept within the same context as 2Ths. 1:6-10. There, Paul wrote that the
present sufferings of the believers could possibly escalate into the
tribulation that was prophesied by Jesus.
Now, there are also crowns that are promised to faithful believers.
And they are mentioned also in a context related to the second coming of
Whether the crowns are literal or symbolic is not an issue for this study.
At 2 Tim. 4:7-8, the crown of righteousness is mentioned.
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my
departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the
course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is reserved for me the
crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to
me on that the day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His
This is the reward for consistent faithfulness in following the standards of
Christianity throughout one's life.
It seems that Paul has in mind the day of Christ's return.
But what is interesting is that he also seems to view this time that he
calls "on that day," as an event that will occur at sometime after his
death; that is, after his departure.
At James 1:12, the crown of life is mentioned.
"happy is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who
The TIME of "once he has been approved" is not indicated.
But as with the other passages, it probably has in view, the day of Christ's
At 1 Pet. 5:2-4, the crown of glory is mentioned.
This is a reward to recognize fulfillment of one's spiritual gift. The gift
in view is pastor-teacher, but the principle should apply equally to
everyone who fulfills his own spiritual gift. And if not - it doesn't change
the TIME of reward that is in view.
Verse 4, "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading
crown of glory."
This is stating the expectation of the reward that will be assigned or given
at the second coming of Jesus.
So at the second coming of Jesus, the rapture will occur. And all believers
will receive a resurrection body.
The souls of those who have died will be reunited with their resurrected
physical bodies and join the living believers for a meeting with the Lord in
the air. At that time each believer who was alive on the earth will stand in
the presence of Jesus for the first time. And at that moment his life and
deeds will be evaluated by the fire of divine justice.
There won't be any waiting for a future evaluation.
It is not reasonable to think that the raptured saints would live in heaven
after the rapture without having their evaluation completed.
Now - the rapture certainly includes all believers - both living and those
who have previously died.
But - what about all those believers who will have died before the second
coming of Christ?
It seems kind of pointless for the multitudes of believers who died before
the rapture to reside in the third heaven with Jesus (2 Cor. 5:8) and STILL
to not have had their life and deeds evaluated.
So I suggest that it is at the time of each believer's death - that his life
and deeds are evaluated by God and the various rewards in view are assigned.
It's at that moment, immediately upon being face to face with the Lord -
and in a mere instant of time - that anyone who died was evaluated.
And for any one of us who may die in the future, it will be at that time
that we will be evaluated.
This is in total agreement with the PRINCIPLE of divine evaluation.
And it doesn't conflict with the evaluation that is directly associated with
Furthermore, I suggest that this evaluation will not be a collective event,
but will be private and personal.
That is, it is only between each individual and God.
Let's look again at Rom. 14:11-12.
"But as for you, why do you judge your brother? Or you as well, why do you
regard your brother with contempt? For we will all appear before the
judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written:
As I live, says the Lord, to Me every knee will bow,
And every tongue will confess agreement to God.
So then each one of us will give a statement of acknowledgment concerning
himself to God."
The FACT of evaluation is stated here without reference to any specific
moment in time.
But at the time that evaluation is completed, then "each one will give a
word (statement) of acknowledgment concerning himself to God."
Verse 11 is a reference to Isaiah 45:23. It is not a direct quote.
The words are not the same either in the Hebrew or in the LXX.
The Greek word for give praise is exhomologeō. It means to say the same
thing. This means to confess or agree about something. It does not mean to
praise. The translation should be, "and every tongue will confess agreement
Paul explains what it means at verse 12.
"Therefore, each one of us shall give a statement concerning himself to
The structure here is the verb didomi which means to give.
What is given is a statement. The Greek word is logos, which means a word or
Then there is the preposition, peri, which means about or concerning, plus
the pronoun, heautos, which means himself.
Paul's reference to Isaiah is used to express the ULTIMATE and FINAL
acknowledgment by all of creation that God is perfectly righteous. This will
occur at various times before and at the time of the great white throne
He then makes a temporal application to the believer - and the point in time
when after the evaluation of life and deeds, that believer will "give a word
(logos) concerning himself to God." That is, he will make a statement,
totally agreeing with God about the results of the evaluation. Verse 12.
This is not giving any kind of excuse or explanation. It is simply stating a
total acceptance of God's evaluation.
In the Hebrew and the Greek of the LXX, the words indicate the idea of
giving glory to God.
And of course, when the believer acknowledges and agrees with God's
this certainly fulfills the idea of giving glory to Him.
But still - this is written in a context that sees it as a future
It's an exhortation to those believers who are alive -
and it can be viewed as either anticipation of what will happen at death -
or in anticipation of what will happen at the rapture when Christ returns.
Let's put the Old T. believers who have died into the mix. We learn about
them from the story of Lazarus and the rich man at
Luke 16. Both Abraham and Lazarus are in a place of comfort.
This suggests that any evaluation of their life would have already been
The place of comfort is called PARADISE, which indicates that any "bad
things done in life" would have been judged and rejected by God, and the
"good things done in life" would have been praised.
Likewise all the OT believers who are now in heaven, as "the spirits of
righteous men made complete" (Heb. 12:23) reside there having had their
lives and deeds evaluated.
MARTYRS AT THE 5TH SEAL
And then there are THE MARTYRS shown to John at Rev. 6:9-11.
He sees a specific group of souls that is A SYMBOLIC representation of
martyrs who died because of God's word and their testimony.
"When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of
those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the
testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice,
saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and
avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?” And a white robe was
given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a
little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their
brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was
1. They are seen in heaven BEFORE the 6th seal arrival of Jesus and the
2. They are at rest: "rest a little while longer."
3. They ask God how long before He brings justice. That means the specific
time of judgment is still future within the time line of John's vision.
4. It also indicates that in the mind of these martyrs as they call out to
God for Justice that the persecutors are still alive on the earth. The
martyrs are seen within the time line of the seals as dying AFTER the red
horse rider, which probably represents the rise of the beast.
5. Each was given a white robe. The white robe usually symbolizes
righteousness. This can indicate that they are saved - that is, possessing
the very righteousness of God. Or it can indicate they have already received
an evaluation of life and deeds, which is why they would be at rest.
The fact that they are specifically martyrs focuses on their faithfulness in
the face of death.
But evaluation of faithfulness includes evaluation of every aspect of their
life and deeds and will have already been completed at this time.
And of course, it is difficult to imagine that these believers are residing
there in heaven "at rest" without having been evaluated as per 1Cor 3.
6. And lastly, these believers are not in a resurrection body since they are
seen as "souls beneath the altar."
From a prewrath perspective, they represent martyrs who will die during the
tribulation and before the arrival of Jesus and the rapture at the 6th seal.
They will be seen later at Rev. 7:9ff in resurrection bodies as part of the
multitude that comes out of the great tribulation after the 6th seal
These believers at REVELATION 7:9 are in a condition of peace and comfort.
Evaluation and rejection of "bad" works will have been accomplished at that
time or rather BY THAT TIME -
The prewrath camp sees these believers as those who will be raptured at the
6th seal arrival of Jesus.
In that case, since the rapture raises dead and living saints -
-For those who had previously died, the evaluation would have occurred
immediately after their death and upon their arrival in heaven.
-For those who were living and then raptured, the evaluation will occur
immediately upon their arrival in heaven.
Thus, all the believers at Rev. 7:9 are seen as "clothed in white robes"
(righteous), which indicates that the evaluation of life and deeds had
already taken place. Or, as mentioned earlier, simply the indication that
they are saved.
Regardless, the description of their status indicates that at the time they
are seen here in heaven, their life and deeds will have been evaluated.
THE 24 ELDERS
Hebrews 12:22-24 tells us WHAT is in heaven at the time of writing and
accordingly at this present time in history.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and
church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of
all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the
mediator of a new covenant."
In the order listed there, we see -
the heavenly Jerusalem: This is a symbolic picture of heaven itself: The
city of the living God.
Present there are:
angels, deceased believers of the church, God the Father, OT believers, and
This is who we would see were we to be shown a vision of the heavenly
And this is what John was shown at Revelation 4 when
within his VISION he was taken to that heavenly setting and saw SYMBOLS to
represent things in heaven.
At Rev. 4:1 the vision takes John into
heaven. This is not symbolic of the rapture. It is simply bringing John into
a new setting to observe the things that will occur from a heavenly
And so, John is shown:
God the Father, angels, the 4 cherubim, the Holy Spirit, 24 old men, and
Jesus portrayed as the Lamb.
But there is no specific mention of the millions and millions of believers
who reside in heaven.
Except there is actually a SYMBOLIC mention of those believers.
The 24 old men - the word presbuteros refers to people; not angels; not
animals - but people.
Within that symbol there are 12 men to represent the OT believers (who were
transferred to heaven at the ascension of Jesus) and 12 to represent the NT
believers who have died. (absent from the body and face to face with the
And this symbolic group of believers is seen as dressed in white and having
This, and the fact that they are in heaven indicates that they have already
had life and deeds evaluated.
The crowns probably refer to the fact that these are overcomers by faith in
the Messiah, which of course, is pertinent to both Old Testament and church
Let's look at Rev 11:15-18
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven,
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His
Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who
sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,
"We give You thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the
nations were enraged, and Your wrath came,
AND the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to give their
reward to Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear
Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the
BRIEFLY - the rapture will occur at the 6th seal.
The trumpet judgments follow.
The 7th trumpet will end the 70th week. There will still be 30 more days
before the beast is destroyed at the battle of Armageddon. This will happen
at the 7th bowl judgment.
At the end of the week Christ will begin his OFFICIAL reign over the
kingdoms of the earth.
And it will NOW be time for several things to be set in motion.
All of these things will be triggered by the week coming to an end, but some
of them will not occur until much later.
One of those things is - it is time to give reward -
This indicates that there will be a FORMAL recognition and presentation of
the various rewards involved.
As seen already, every believer will have had life and deeds evaluated
either at the time of their physical death or at the rapture.
So this must refer to some later event that will formally bestow rewards
upon all who have earned them.
It seems then, that when the believers are evaluated - either at death or
rapture - any rewards will be assigned to them at that time, but not
actually bestowed upon them until a future and FORMAL presentation.
At Rev. 19:7-8 we see the
bride of Christ (all believers who are in heaven) fully prepared and clothed
"the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself. It
was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the
fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints."
The verb "has prepared herself" (aorist middle indicative) indicates that
the preparation has already happened. In other words, the evaluation that
results in being clothed with fine linen has taken place before this scene
This fact of preparation of the bride does not look at each individual
believer, but the entire body of believers - as one collective whole. It
sees that each individual contributed whatever they did, the least of which
would be simply saving faith in Christ; for although a believer might indeed
"suffer loss" of reward, "yet he himself will be saved." 1 Cor. 3:15.
So then, this indicates that all the believers located in heaven at that
time, will have had life and deeds evaluated. This could indicate that a
formal reward event has occurred. Or the formal reward event could be
delayed until a celebration during the wedding feast.
Whenever that FORMAL reward event will occur, it will be the fulfillment of
Rev. 11:18, "it is time to give their reward."
Now, this condition or status of the bride is seen to be in heaven.
And it is time for the formal marriage event and marriage feast.
It has not yet occurred but the bride is prepared and waiting in the new
Jerusalem until Jesus finishes the judgments on the unbelieving earth
The natural understanding is that the time for the wedding is here
the bride has made herself ready.
Ready for what? Ready of course for the wedding event to take place.
Of course, these things have been discussed and debated for centuries.
I suggest that this passage shows the bride in heaven waiting for the
wedding and the wedding feast. And I believe they will both occur at the
start of the earthly kingdom after the battle of Armageddon.
It appears that this group of saints is designated as the bride and not yet
the wife. It is the BRIDE (numphā) that descends onto the earth at the start
of the earthly kingdom. Rev. 21:2 and 9 shows that this group is the bride,
who is the wife of the Lamb. (numphā and gunā).
The word, gunā primarily means - woman.
This collective group of believers would not be BOTH the bride and the wife
at the same time, but certainly can be described as the bride and the woman
of the Lamb.
So ok - now -
Armageddon will be resolved 30 days after the end of the week based on
comparing Dan. 12:11; Rev. 14:17-20; Rev. 16:12-21 and 18:21-24.
And the earthly kingdom will begin 45 days after that. Dan. 12:12,
"happy is he who waits and attains to the 1335 days."
I suggest that after the bride is seen in heaven -
by the way - she is waiting in heaven - NOT participating.
so after showing John the bride, he is shown a vision of Jesus coming out of
the sky and descending ONTO the earth to engage in battle. This is His
physical descent onto the earth several months after His initial return that
is portrayed at the 6th seal. And the armies that follow Him are angels. The
bride is still waiting in heaven for the victorious king to return. As I
have claimed on several occasions, a king will simply not bring his bride
Now according to the Old Testament, when He descends onto the earth, He will
go first to Edom, then to the Mt of Olives in Jerusalem, and then He will go
to Megiddo for the final battle of Armageddon.
After Armageddon - chapter 20 shows the binding of Satan for 1000 years; the
reign of believers with Christ for 1000 years; the last battle after the
1000 years; the judgment of the great white throne after the 1000 years; and
the creation of the new heavens and earth after the 1000 years.
At Rev. 21:2, the vision backs up to the start of the earthly kingdom. John
is shown a vision of the new Jerusalem, which symbolizes the bride, coming
down to the earth prepared for her husband.
This represents the start of the 1000 year earthly kingdom and still sees
the marriage as yet to occur.
Rev. 21:9-27 indicates this by showing John the bride (gumphā), the woman (gunā)
of the Lamb.
And so the kingdom will begin with the bride ready for the wedding, and a
group of wedding guests invited to join the celebration. These are seen at
Rev 19:9 and refers to all believers alive on the earth after Armageddon.
The principle is seen at Dan. 12:12. "happy is he who waits and attains to
the 1335 days."
So, after the dust settles from Christ's defeat of the armies gathered
there will be a 45-day period of time to prepare for the establishment of
Christ's earthly kingdom.
During that time there will be an EVALUATION of all the people left alive on
They will be separated into two groups; believers and unbelievers righteous
This will not be an evaluation of life and works for determining ultimate
accolades and rewards in heaven. It will be a determination of who trusted
in Jesus as the Messiah-Savior and who did not.
This will result in the removal of unbelievers from the earth and the
confirmation of those who are believers, who then go alive into the earthly
The Jewish believers who enter the kingdom are seen at Ezek 34:17-31.
"Therefore, this is what the Lord God says to them: “Behold, I, I Myself
will also judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Since you push
away with your side and shoulder, and gore all the weak with your horns
until you have scattered them abroad, 22 therefore, I will save My flock,
and they will no longer be plunder; and I will judge between one sheep and
23 “Then I will appoint over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he
will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24 And I,
the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them;
I the Lord have spoken."
The Gentile believers who enter the kingdom are seen at Zech. 14:16.
"Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that came
against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord
of armies, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths."
Mat. 25:31-46 shows the believing survivors after Armageddon, but looks
beyond their entrance into the earthly kingdom and just declares their
"inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
"the righteous will go into everlasting life."
However, they will first go into the earthly kingdom as citizens under
These believers will enter into the millennial kingdom in normal, mortal
bodies and live their lives under the jurisdiction of Jesus the king of
kings and Lord of lords. The bride of Christ - all resurrected believers
from all previous time periods - will reign with Christ from within the New
Jerusalem and help govern the peoples of the world.
There will be marriages, births and deaths. We have no information about
what will happen with believers who die or when they will receive a
resurrection body for life throughout "eternity." But the pattern should
still be in operation that every believer who dies will go into the third
heaven and immediately have life and deeds evaluated.
At the end of the earthly kingdom, these and all believers alive at that
time will probably be given a resurrection body and join all the other
believers of human history for their eternal destiny with the Godhead.
At the end of the mil kingdom, after the Satanic revolution of Rev. 20:7-10,
all unbelievers, both living and dead, will appear before the great white
throne judgment and be sentenced to the lake of fire for all of eternity.
And that brings us to THE LAST JUDGMENT
To this very present time in history, whenever an unbeliever dies, they go
to the place of torments in Hades. They reside there until the great white
throne judgment of Rev. 20:10-15.
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose
presence earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them. 12 And I
saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books
were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the
dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according
to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death
and Hades gave up the dead who were in them; and they were judged, each one
of them according to their deeds. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into
the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if
anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into
the lake of fire.
Here it does appear to be a very formal and collective gathering of all
There is no indication that any believers appear there except for a couple
witnesses called by God. These appear to testify in order to demonstrate to
the unbelievers of the Messiah generation how serious was their failure to
accept God's grace provision for salvation via the very PERSON of the
Messianic promise; the Lord Jesus Himself. Mat. 12:39-42; Luke 11:29-32.
The men of Ninevah and the Queen of the South.
The greatest generation of all time to be recipients of God's grace is the
generation that saw and heard the very presence of God's Messiah/Savior.
The witness of the Ninevites will be something along these lines. "We
accepted the message of the prophet, Jonah, who faithfully proclaimed the
Messianic promise. We cannot help but accuse you for rejecting the words and
works of the Messiah Himself in the person of Jesus."
And the Queen of the South was so captivated with Solomon's - or rather
God's wisdom, that she embraced the divine viewpoint and accepted the
What she heard and believed MUST have been "redemption" information from
Solomon's wisdom certainly included his knowledge as stated at Ec. 12:13,
"the conclusion when all has been heard, is REVERENCE GOD and keep His
Reverencing God begins with accepting His policy for redemption.
The message of the everlasting gospel is "reverence God, give Him glory and
worship Him who is the creator."
Keeping His commandments is accepting His policy for living here on earth
So as a believer, the queen of
the South will stand as a testament to God's grace, and rebuke that "evil
and adulterous generation" for rejecting the very Person of the Messiah
THE BOOKS OF WORKS
The books that are opened at this judgment refers to the record of all the
humanly good deeds the unbelievers had done.
The deeds are listed and documented to establish the fact that no matter how
many good deeds the unbeliever might have done throughout their life, all of
them will come short of God's own righteousness.
Rom. 3:23, "for all have sinned and come short of God's righteousness."
Isaiah 64:6 states the principle, "all of our righteous deeds are like a
garment of uncleanness."
All their humanly good things simply will not equal the very righteousness
None of their good works can save them.
The principle is stated by Paul at Eph. 2:8-9. "we are saved by grace
through faith and that salvation is not from ourselves, it is a gift from
God; not from works.
The judgment on the unbelievers will also show that they failed to do the
one and only good work that will bring salvation from sin. That one and only
good work is to believe in Jesus. As He declared, "This is the work of God,
that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
And so, that is why the book of life is opened.
THE BOOK OF LIFE
From before the foundation of the world, the name of every single person who
would live had their name recorded in the book of life.
Anyone who died without trusting in Christ as Savior had their name blotted
Only those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation have their names
permanently recorded there.
This book is opened as additional documentation that these unbelievers never
trusted in Jesus.
But the fact that there WAS a spot for their name indicates God's grace in
doing everything He could to bring those people to a change of mind. But as
the Scripture indicates in many places and summarized at Mat. 23:37,
"but you were not willing."
And so, the perfect justice of God will assign all of them to the lake of
fire for all eternity.
It is described at Rev. 14:10-11. The unbeliever will "also drink of the
wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His
anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of
the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their
torment ascends forever and ever; they have no rest day and night."
Now whether this should be considered a literal FIRE or not, is not really
The issue is the experience that is described with the idiomatic expression,
"they have no rest day or night."
Now I must admit - that appears to be very harsh, unfair and unloving.
But that is the age-old accusation from Satan against God's character and
And it is perpetuated in the delusionary human logic of people all
But when we truly understand God's righteousness, justice - and YES - His
we are able to accept - and indeed approve of - this divine verdict against
all who have rejected Him.
But for those who have embraced God through faith in the person and work of
there is the promise of everlasting life.
And there will be no more sin and unrighteousness; no more curse and no more
All who have trusted in Christ during their life on earth will live and
reign with Him throughout the years, ages, time periods of eternity; and
only God knows the details of that future eternity.