John 12:47 If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
John 12:48 He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptural quotes are from the World English Bible version; Greek and Hebrew words are transliterated into English; God’s Holy Name has supplied as “Jehovah”.
While we haven’t been able to find a translation that renders the Greek KRINO (transliterated) as “condemn” in John 12:48, this is the thought some have read into that verse. In effect, it would say that Jesus came to save to world (John 12:47) that the world might be condemned in the last day. Is a new condemnation actually a salvation?
John 12:48ho athetwn eme kai mee lambanwn ta rheemataTHE (ONE) DISREGARDING ME AND NOT RECEIVING THE SAYINGS3588 0114 1473_5 2532 3361 2983 3588 4487mou echei ton krinonta auton ho logos honOF ME IS HAVING THE (ONE) JUDGING HIM; THE WORD WHICH1473_2 2192 3588 2919 0846_7 3588 3056 3739elaleesa ekeinos krinei auton en tee eschateeI SPOKE THAT (ONE) WILL JUDGE HIM IN THE LAST2980 1565 2919 0846_7 1722 3588 2078heemeraDAY;2250
The “last day” that Jesus speaks of is the day of resurrection. Jesus speaks of that day as the day in which both believers and unbelievers are to be raised.
This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise them up at the last day. — World English throughout, unless otherwise stated.
John 6:40 This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.
John 6:54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Martha attested to belief in the resurrection on “the last day.”
John 11:24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Are the unbelievers also to be saved from the condition of death in the “last day”? Yes, due the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, the unbeliever will also be raised from the realm of death (hades/sheol) in the last day.
Revelation 20:12 I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.
In fact, Jesus went into the oblivious condition of sheol/hades to pay the price, not just for the believer, but also for the unbeliever — the world (kosmos) that Jesus stated that he came, not to judge, but to save. (John 12:47) “And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world [holou tou kosmou].” (1 John 2:2) Some would claim that John, by saying “our sins”, meant the sins of Jews, and that by saying “the whole world”, John meant to include the Gentiles. However, in the parallel scripture of John 12:47, Jesus could not be referring to the “world” as Gentiles; Jesus was speaking of those who had heard his words, but still rejected him. Since Jesus was only sent to Israel, not to the Gentiles, he was not speaking there of Gentitles, but rather of the Jews who had rejected him. (Matthew 15:24) Jesus instructed his disciples to not go to the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:5) Therefore, when Jesus spoke the words of John 12:47,48, he did not use the word “world” (kosmso) to designate the Gentiles, but those Jews who had heard him, and yet did not believe. Likewise, the context of 1 John 2:2 shows that John was not, by “our sins”, referring to Jew, but rather to “we” who believe in Jesus, and therefore, this would mean that the “world” includes all who do not believe in Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile.
It was into the world (kosmos) that sin entered into through one man. (Romans 5:12) Due to Adam’s disobedience, the “whole world” came under the judgment through Adam, as Paul tells us (Romans 5:15-19), so when Jesus stated that he did not come to judge the world, he was speaking of a new judgment beyond the judgment through to Adam. Jesus did not come to add such a new judgment on the world, but we read that “the wrath of God remains” upon those who do not obey the Son. (John 3:36) This wrath that remains is the “wrath” that came upon mankind through Adam, as Paul speaks of in Romans 1:18-2:1; 5:12-19. It is from this original condemnation that Jesus says that he came to save to world. (John 12:47) Thus, John confirms this:
He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our [the believers’] sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world [kosmos, the same world that Jesus spoke of in John 12:47, and that Paul spoke of in Romans 5:12]. 1 John 2:2, World English.
John further writes:
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. — 1 John 4:14.
And Paul affirms:
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. — New King James Version.
1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
Thus Jesus died, not just for the sins of those who believe in this age, but for the sins of the whole world, the world that does not recognize Jesus. (John 1:10) Did Jesus suffer for the world, so as to save the world, just so the world might be condemned anew in the “last day”? The scriptures certainly do not give us any reason to think this, for what good is salvation if it is just to saved from condemnation to condemnation?
Rather, the salvation of the world through Jesus’ sacrifice brings another judgment, what some refer to as “a second chance”, another day in which the world will not be judged due to sin of another (Adam), but by their own works. Indeed, this “second chance” salvation is for all of us, for without this second chance, all would be condemned forever in Adam. This second chance judgment, as applied to the unbelieving world, is what is foretold in Revelation 20:12,13 quoted above. It is this day of judgment that Paul speaks of as recorded in Acts 17:31:
[God] has appointed a day in which he will judge the world [kosmos] in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. — World English.
Again, we find the word “kosmos”, and it is the same “kosmos” that Jesus speaks of in John 12:47, the unbelieving “kosmos” that Jesus said he came to save.
Paul, by his words recorded in Acts 17:31, refers back to Psalm 96 and Psalm 98. How is that day of judgment described in those Psalms? Is it a day of condemnation? Let us read the descriptions of that coming judgment day as given in the Psalms.
Psalm 96:1 Sing to Jehovah a new song! Sing to Jehovah, all the earth.
Psalm 96:2 Sing to Jehovah! Bless his name. Proclaim his salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96:3 Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples.
Psalm 96:4 For great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised! He is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But Jehovah made the heavens.
Psalm 96:6 Honor and majesty are before him. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Psalm 96:7 Ascribe to Jehovah, you families of nations, Ascribe to Jehovah glory and strength.
Psalm 96:8 Ascribe to Jehovah the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Psalm 96:9 Worship Jehovah in holy array. Tremble before him, all the earth.
Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations, “Jehovah reigns.” The world is also established. It can’t be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.
Psalm 96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and the fullness of it!
Psalm 96:12 Let the field exult, and all that is therein. Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy
Psalm 96:13 Before Jehovah; for he comes, For he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world [Hebrew, Tebel] with righteousness, The peoples with his truth.
Psalm 98:1 Sing to Jehovah a new song, For he has done marvelous things! His right hand, and his holy arm, have worked salvation for him. 2 Jehovah has made known his salvation. He has openly shown his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
Psalm 98:3 He has remembered his lovingkindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Psalm 98:4 Make a joyful noise to Jehovah, all the earth! Burst out and sing for joy, yes, sing praises!
Psalm 98:5 Sing praises to Jehovah with the harp, With the harp and the voice of melody.
Psalm 98:6 With trumpets and sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful noise before the King, Jehovah.
Psalm 98:7 Let the sea roar with its fullness; The world, and those who dwell therein.
Psalm 98:8 Let the rivers clap their hands. Let the mountains sing for joy together.
Psalm 98:9 Let them sing before Jehovah, For he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world [Hebrew, Tebel] with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. — World English.
Rather than being condemned, these prophetic Psalms depict the world as rejoicing in that day of judgment. And that judgment day is said to be “in equity.” This parallels with other prophecies of that day of judgment. — Psalm 72; Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:3,4;
The word “Kosmos (Greek) / Tebel (Hebrew)” is often related to a heavens and earth, as well as “sea.” Peter associates “Kosmos” with such in 2 Peter 3:5.6:
There were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God; by which means the world [kosmos] that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. — World English.
Peter speaks of that kosmos that then was as consisting of a heavens and an earth. We know that Peter was not speaking of the planet earth, for the planet did not pass away in the flood of Noah’s day. Likewise, we know that Peter is not speaking the heavens where God resides, nor was he speaking of starry physical heavens, since neither of these perished in the flood. But there was a ruling “heavens” over the earth that did perish in the flood of Noah’s day, and the social arrangement of people on the earth that perished.
“Kosmos” can carry different applications, such as to the peoples on the earth in general, or it can refer to the social and ruling arrangements over the people, or both.
From one aspect, Peter refers to the present heavens and earth that is to be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:6,10) In this it should be obvious that he speaks of the social and ruling arrangements. (He is not speaking of the planet earth, nor the physical heavens.) However, in Psalm 102:25-27 and Hebrews 1:10-13, Jehovah speaks to his son as the one who has made the heavens and earth, saying that the heavens and earth are to both perish and to also to be ‘changed.’ It should be obvious that one speaks of the corrupted condition of the world in its ruling and general society, which is to perish while the other speaks of the people who make of the heavens and the earth, which is to be changed. From these two aspects, the present world is both destroyed (as respects the ruling and societal conditions) and yet it is also saved (as respects the individuals who make up this world) so as to be “changed.” This agrees with the salvation that Jesus spoke of in John 12:47,48.
It would be meaningless to save the world simply to judge them by their past works, which would be, in effect, a duplication of the first judgment through Adam from which Jesus had suffered and died so as to deliver them out of. (John 12:47,48; Romans 5:12-19) Thus, the fact that they will judged in the “last day” by their works according to the things that are written in the books that opened at that time must signify their works, not in this age, but that age to come. With this the prophets agree.
Isaiah 2:2 It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be raised above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.
Isaiah 2:3 Many peoples shall go and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of Jehovah, To the house of the God of Jacob; And he will teach us of his ways, And we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. [corresponding to the opening of the books]
Isaiah 2:4 He will judge [through, by means of, Jesus and the saints —
Daniel 7:22; Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 6:2] between the nations, And will decide concerning many peoples; And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more.
The purpose of the resurrection of the saints in the first resurrection, before the resurrection of the world for judgment, is that the power to judge is given to them.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.
The thrones depicts their ruling with Jesus, whereas the “judgment given to them” depicts the authority to judge. It is the same time spoken of in Daniel 7:22: “Judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” In John 5:22, Jesus is recorded as stating: “Neither does the Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment to the Son.” Directly, the authority to judge the world is given to the son, but as we have seen, the saints who belong to Jesus, having become the seed of Abraham through faith (Galatians 3:26,29), are also included as judges of the world. Thus, Paul wrote: “Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world [kosmos]?” (1 Corinthians 6:2) Being the seed of Abraham, Jesus and the saints will bless all nations – all the unbelieving peoples of the world – in the “last day” with that new day of judgment.
See also our studies:
Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment
The Day of Judgment