03 February 2006

A Question

How do you understand 2 Corinthians 5:10-11?

2Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...

It seems to me that this must move beyond a simple "thumb up / thumb down" approach to the Judgment...

Any and all thoughts welcome!

8 comments:

Chaz said...

I must admit that I find it difficult to see this passage the way that you do... unless I sever it from baptism.

The new man in me is Christ who has obeyed the Law perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I may be totaly off here, but I take it to mean that judgment day is the day we find out what we have been working toward. What we have done in your body, meaning this life, will stand before God (or rather, grovel with fear) and will have to face Truth. Truth, as in, is true motives; even sins he told himself he didn't have will be undeniable. I also think it means that hell isn't a punishment, it is a sum of what we want. And by that I mean, we choose to go to hell or heaven, Earth is the place where we get to make up our mind and live out our choice- there will be no getting around the consequences when it comes time to go before the Judge (a merciful Judge!- that I am thankful for).

Anonymous said...

Here is St. John Chrysostom's views on this passage (split between two homilies):

Homily X.

Ver. 10. “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat.”

Then having alarmed and shaken669 the hearer by the mention of that judgment-seat, he hath 329not even here set down the woful without the good things, but hath mingled something of pleasure, saying,

“That each one may receive the things done in the body,” as many670 as “he hath done, whether” it be “good or bad.”

By saying these words, he both reviveth671 those who have done virtuously and are persecuted with those hopes, and maketh those who have fallen back more earnest by that fear. And he thus confirmed his words touching the resurrection of the body. ‘For surely,’ sayeth he, ‘that which hath ministered to the one and to the other shall not stand excluded from the recompenses: but along with the soul shall in the one case be punished, in the other crowned.’ But some of the heretics say, that it is another body that is raised. How so? tell me. Did one sin, and is another punished? Did one do virtuously, and is another crowned? And what will ye answer to Paul, saying, “We would not be unclothed, but clothed upon?” And how is that which is mortal “swallowed up of life?” For he said not, that the mortal or corruptible body should be swallowed up of the incorruptible body; but that corruption [should be swallowed up] “of life.” For then this happeneth when the same body is raised; but if, giving up that body, He should prepare another, no longer is corruption swallowed up but continueth dominant. Therefore this is not so; but “this corruptible,” that is to say the body, “must put on incorruption.” For the body is in a middle state672, being at present in this and hereafter to be in that; and for this reason in this first, because it is impossible for the incorruption to be dissolved. “For neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” saith he, (for, how is it [then] incorruption?) but on the contrary, “corruption is swallowed up of life:” for this indeed survives the other, but not the other this. For as wax is melted by fire but itself doth not melt the fire: so also doth corruption melt and vanish away under incorruption, but is never able itself to get the better of incorruption.

[6.] Let us then hear the voice of Paul, saying, that “we must stand at the judgment-seat of Christ;” and let us picture to ourselves that court of justice, and imagine it to be present now and the reckoning to be required673. For I will speak of it more at large. For Paul, seeing that he was discoursing on affliction, and he had no mind to afflict them again, did not dwell on the subject; but having in brief expressed its austerity674, “Each one shall receive according to what he hath done,” he quickly passed on. Let us then imagine it to be present now, and reckon each one of us with his own conscience, and account the Judge to be already present, and everything to be revealed and brought forth. For we must not merely stand, but also be manifested. Do ye not blush? Are ye not astonied? But if now, when the reality is not yet present, but is granted in supposition merely and imaged in thought; if now [I say] we perish conscience-struck; what shall we do when [it] shall arrive, when the whole world shall be present, when angels and archangels, when ranks upon ranks, and all hurrying at once, and some caught up675 on the clouds, and an array full of trembling; when there shall be the trumpets, one upon another, [when] those unceasing voices?

For suppose there were no hell, yet in the midst of so great brightness to be rejected and to go away dishonored;—how great the punishment! For if even now, when the Emperor rideth in and his train with him, we contemplating each one of us our own poverty, derive not so much pleasure from the spectacle, as we endure dejection at having no share in what is going on about the Emperor, nor being near the Sovereign; what will it be then? Or thinkest thou it is a light punishment, not to be ranked in that company, not to be counted worthy of that unutterable glory, from that assemblage and those untold good things, to be cast forth some-wither far and distant? But when there is also darkness, and gnashing of teeth, and chains indissoluble, and an undying worm, and fire unquenchable, and affliction, and straitness, and tongues scorching like the rich man’s; and we wail, and none heareth; and we groan and gnash our teeth for anguish, and none regardeth; and we look all round, and no where is there any to comfort us; where shall we rank those that are in this condition? what is there more miserable than are those souls? what more pitiable? For if, when we enter a prison and see its inmates, some squalid, some chained and famishing, some again shut up in darkness, we are moved with compassion, we shudder, we use all diligence that we may never be cast into that place; how will it be with us, when we are led and dragged away into the torture-dungeons676 themselves of hell? For not of iron are those chains, but of fire that is never quenched; nor are they that are set over us our fellows whom it is often possible even to mollify; but angels whom one may not so much as look in the face, exceedingly enraged at our insults to their Master. Nor is it given, as here, to see some bringing in money, some food, some words of comfort, and to meet with consolation; but all is irremissible there: and though it should be Noah, 330or Job, or Daniel, and he should see his own kindred punished, he dares not succor. For even natural sympathy too comes then to be done away. For since it happeneth that there are righteous fathers of wicked children, and [righteous] children of [wicked] fathers; that so their pleasure may be unalloyed, and those who enjoy the good things may not be moved with sorrow through the constraining force of sympathy, even this sympathy, I affirm, is extinguished, and themselves are indignant together with the Master against their own bowels. For if the common run of men, when they see their own children vicious, disown677 and cut them off from that relationship; much rather will the righteous then. Therefore let no one hope for good things, if he have not wrought any good thing, even though he have ten thousand righteous ancestors. “For each one shall receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done.” Here he seems to me to be alluding also to them that commit fornication: and to raise up as a wall678 unto them the fear of that world, not however to them alone; but also to all that in any wise transgress.

[7.] Let us hear then, us also. And if thou have the fire of lust, set against it that other fire, and this will presently be quenched and gone. And if thou purposest to utter some harsh sounding679 [speech], think of the gnashing of teeth, and the fear will be a bridle to thee. And if thou purposest to plunder, hear the Judge commanding, and saying, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness,” (Matt. xxii. 13.) and thou wilt cast out this lust also. And if thou art drunken, and surfeitest continually, hear the rich man saying, ‘Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may cool this scorching tongue;’ (Luke xvi. 24.) yet not obtaining this; and thou wilt hold thyself aloof from that distemper680. But if thou lovest luxury, think of the affliction and the straitness there, and thou wilt not think at all of this. If again thou art harsh and cruel, bethink thee of those virgins who when their lamps had gone out missed so of the bridal chamber, and thou wilt quickly become humane. Or sluggish art thou, and remiss? Consider him that hid the talent, and thou wilt be more vehement than fire. Or doth desire of thy neighbor’s substance devour thee? Think of the worm that dieth not, and thou wilt easily both put away from thee this disease, and in all other things wilt do virtuously. For He hath enjoined nothing irksome or oppressive. Whence then do His injunctions appear irksome to us? From our own slothfulness. For as if we labor diligently, even what appears intolerable will be light and easy; so if we are slothful, even things tolerable will seem to us difficult.681

Considering then all these things, let us think not of the luxurious, but what is their end; here indeed filth and obesity, there the worm and fire: not of the rapacious, but what is their end; cares here, and fears, and anxieties; there chains indissoluble: not of the lovers of glory, but what these things bring forth; here slavery and dissemblings, and there both loss intolerable and perpetual burnings. For if we thus discourse with ourselves, and if with these and such like things we charm perpetually our evil lusts, quickly shall we both cast out the love of the present things, and kindle that of the things to come. Let us therefore kindle it and make it blaze. For if the conception of them, although a faint sort of one, affords so great pleasure; think how great the gladness, the manifest experience itself shall bring us. Blessed, and thrice blessed, yea, thrice blessed many times, are they who enjoy those good things; just as, consequently, pitiable and thrice wretched are they Who endure the opposite of these. That then we may be not of these but those, let us choose virtue. For so shall we attain unto the good things to come as well; which may all we attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; by Whom, and with Whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, and honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily XI.

2 Cor. v. 11

Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men but we are made manifest unto God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

Knowing therefore, he says, these things, that terrible seat of judgment, we do every thing so as not to give you a handle nor offence, nor any false suspicion of evil practice against us. Seest thou the strictness of life, and zeal of a watchful soul? ‘For we are not only open to accusation,’ he saith ‘if we commit any evil deed; but even if we do not commit, yet are suspected, and having it in our power to repel the suspicion, brave it, we are punished.‘

Jack Kilcrease iii said...

Remeber the Formula of Concord states that we will be given higher or lesser degrees of heavenly reward due to our good works. This might explain this passage and ones similar to it that discuss judgment based on works. Namely, that the judgment undertaken is not one as to whether one is saved or not, but rather as to what degree of reward or retribution one will receive. Christ himself says that the cities that ignore is message will suffer more than Soddom an Gemorah (I don't think that's how you spell that). In any case, those wicked cities will suffer, but less than those that have rejected the Disciples.

William Weedon said...

Jack,

Good thoughts. How then do you understand him saying: "Knowing then the TERROR of the Lord"? I am not sure that I understand this passage, but it seems to me that "terror" would not be the appropriate response to "you made it into the kingdom, but you get less rewards than St. Paul." Am I making any sense?

unhingedsquare† said...

Pastor Weedon, I have come to believe it is the terror of the Lord on those without faith is of what St Paul is speaking. Later in that section he speaks of his ministry of reconciliation. One who is in Christ is an ambassador and God appeals thru us.

Needing to have our salvation work out of us with fear and trembling makes me believe it is God's own work is what will be rewarded. This follows closely the fact we are granted eternal bliss on the efforts of God in the first place.

Wow you Lutherans make me think which can cause headaches.

Ben Johnson said...

Pastor Weedon, St. Irenaeus addressed the idea of levels or gradations at the end of Against the Heresies, Book 6. There he discussed how all Christians would behold God as they were able. Perhaps his words might be appropriate in this context?

Ben Johnson
Western Orthodox blog.

William Weedon said...

Dear Ben,

Thanks so much. I will look that up. Sounds a bit like St. Maximos' ideas two about our hearts being like wax or like clay when exposed to the Divine Fire that is God's presence.