1 Corinthians 6:2–3—How will the saints judge the world and angels?
Problem: The Bible asserts that God is the judge of the world (Ps. 96:13; Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:11–15), including evil angels (2 Peter 2:4; Rev. 12:9). Why, then, does Paul affirm that Christians will be the judges of the world and angels?
Solution: Obviously, God is the judge of wicked humans and angels in a different sense in which Christians will be. Whatever judgment we have will be as God’s delegates or representatives, not by any right we have inherent in ourselves. We are simply the instruments through which God executes His judgment. We do not make the ultimate decisions.
It is not clear exactly what Paul envisioned in this passage, but we do know from other Scriptures that there are some legitimate senses in which it can be said that Christians will judge the world. First, during Christ’s reign, the apostles “will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).
Second, those who were faithful to Christ during the tribulation “reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). John said, “I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them” (Rev. 20:4).
Third, some believe that God will judge the godless by the godly conduct of believers. Jesus said even of the men of Nineveh that they “will rise in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah” (Matt. 12:41). Apparently, God will hold up repentant sinners as examples to those who did not repent, and those who did not repent will, therefore, be justly condemned by their own contemporaries. Likewise, the angels who sinned in the perfect environment of heaven will be judged on the basis of the conduct of humans who were saved in the imperfect environment of earth (cf. 2 Peter 2:4).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.